Saturday, April 16, 2011
The exposure is great and between Cinefest press pass and PFS giving me the opportunity to interview Morgan Spurlock (stay tuned for post) I'm doing great on fun film content; however, I really need help keeping the food content alive. I did attend a networking dinner at Marrakesh Restaurant (stay tuned for post), but I'm looking for a way to off-set the cost of writing about my dining experiences. Hmm....
Okay, back to Cinefest:
Project Nim Director James Marsh / Featuring Nim the Chimp
Quick About: It's 1973 and a hippy mother of 6 agrees to raising a hairy 7th child, Nim, a chimpanzee, as part of a language experiment at Columbia University, headed up by Professor Herbert Terrace. Over the 26 years of Nim's life, people come and go, most with good intentions, but ultimately chimps are not people and raising one as such and then abandoning him when the project fails, is more than a mistake, it should have been a crime.
Pleasing: It's very compelling, not boring even for a minute. So well edited. The interviews with those involved some 40 years later are heartfelt, except for Professor Terrance who basically was a womanizing, clueless "tool". He comes off as the villain in the piece, accepting his part, yet feeling no remorse. The reenactments are done to perfection. There's one scene in which they describe Nim having killed a dog by throwing it against a wall. You don't see the gruesomeness of this act, but by seeing the yappy poodle and then the blood smear on the wall, you feel as though you have.
Not So Pleasing: Okay, so I'm no bleeding heart PETA type, and Nim was no saint, but it's hard to watch when he's taken to a experimental drug facility and kept in a cage, when his whole life he was free to run around and sleep in human beds.
Brother & Sister (Dos Hermanos) Director Daniel Burman (Argentina)
Quick About: Susana (Graciela Borges) and Marcos (Antonio Gasalla) are siblings past middle age, who become somewhat dysfunctionally closer after the passing of their mother. Marcos is staid, quiet, patient and a bit lost after having devoted a good portion of his adult life to the care of their mother. Susana is a bit of a con-artist, always impeccably dressed if not a bit over done. She holds herself as a woman of means and elevated station, when in truth that life has forever eluded her.
Pleasing: It's a very nice film. It's the kind of thing you want to watch in the theater on a rainy afternoon, when you're playing hooky from the world. The beats of the film are subtle, the humor is underplayed with funny one-liners that take you by surprise. There's a great food in film scene of Marcos preparing risotto for a local theater director he's befriended, with undertones of romance.
Not So Pleasing: I felt the description in the guide book leaned toward this being more of a farce. Bigger, funnier, louder, more plot. It's fine that it wasn't, but I hate to be in the mood for one tone and find myself watching something entirely different.
The High Cost of Living Director Deborah Chow (Canada) Featuring Zach Braff
Quick About: Henry (Braff) is an American with an expired Visa living in Montreal making a living by dealing illegal pharmaceutical drugs. Nathalie (Isabelle Blais) is 8 months pregnant, happily looking forward to motherhood despite the fact that things are not very satisfying between she and her husband Michel (Patrick Labbe). Henry and Isabelle's world's collide one night while Isabelle is waiting for a cab to take her to the hospital and Henry is driving drunk going the wrong way on a one way street - bam! Hit and run. Days later he finds her and befriends her without revealing his identity as the driver.
Pleasing: Going in I was skeptical about Zach Braff credibly pulling off a low-life character. Fortunately, they don't try to go this way. He is a drug dealer and he is guilty of driving drunk, but early in the film he's shown to also be a caring, likable guy. He doesn't form a relationship with Nathalie to cover his tracks, but rather is drawn into her pain and anguish and wants to make amends.
Not So Pleasing: I'm not sure. Hard to put my finger on why I wasn't really engaged in the goings on. It's not too slow. It's not too sentimental or too romantic or even implausible. It's just watchable, nothing more. The plot does kinda remind me of Ben Affleck's The Town, but you care about that deception and reveal, a good 80% more than you do this one.
Quick About: A gray toned drama that interestingly examines the giving and taking of life.This is not Twilight or Vampire Diaries or Bram Stoker. The main character Simon (Kevin Zegers) does feel the need to drink blood, but he's completely human. He's a caring high school biology teacher, who also cares for his Alzheimer stricken mother. All his victims are seeking death; believing they are entering into a suicide pack, not becoming a vampire's sustenance; still you've got to give him credit for not taking the life of innocent victims.
Pleasing: The commitment of the filmmaker to the style, and tone of the film, so lonely. Not haunting, just bleak. The awkward, yet open dialogue that takes place between Simon and each of his "victims", before he drains their blood.
Not So Pleasing: The ending scene where we hear him saying in his head, "I'm anemic", seems too much like a last minute decision to create an explanation for the character's actions, when an explanation wasn't required.
Also the fact that Simon looks uncannily like my last boyfriend who was a Dracula authority, Bela Lugosi's been his idol since he was 6 years-old. I'm mean truly, if Kevin Zegers was a little older and larger, I would have sworn I was seeing my ex up on the screen. Now I just feel glad that I made it out of the relationship with all my blood intact.
Mini Reviews on Terri, Living Alone & Womb
Mini Review on Ceremony