This post will kick your ass like an autistic Thai pre-teen on a sugar high.
Yes indeedy-doo: everything you need to know about what's really worth your scratch at this year's Denver Film Festival in ten minutes (or however long it takes you to read this, slowpoke), courtesy of Cap Hill movie madman and Booth commenter Pike Bishop.
1. Chocolate – An autistic girl picks up martial arts skills from Tony Jaa movies and goes out on an ass-kicking spree to get local businesses to pay the debts they owe her mother. This movie really has that late 80s/early 90s Hong Kong sense of kinetic action down. I think it is far more entertaining than either Ong Bak or Tum Yom Goong. If Dynamite Warrior is the Thai version of a Jet Li wire-fu extravaganza, then this can be seen as the Thai Rumble in the Bronx.
2. An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt Some of the older shorts plus his new long player I'm so proud of you. Don Hertzfeldt will also be in attendance.
3. Idiots and Angels – Bill Plympton's stuff might not be for you, but check out the description and trailer as I think it might be tempting. As a bonus, it looks like Tom Waits adds a song or two.
4. The Class – A film looking at the tensions inherent in a modern, multi-cultural France through the workings of a middle school classroom. I've seen Time Out by this director and liked it quite a bit. It is about a man who loses his job but refuses to admit it to the people around him, much less himself. He then continues with the rituals that surround a job (get up, shower, leave home, return in the evening, etc.) all the while not having a job to go to. As this continues, his dislocation in the world becomes more and more severe, leaving him with only the fabricated existence of this detached self to live and work for. It is an interesting film about man and his methods of self-definition. Another movie directed by Cantet is Human Resources which I have not seen but have long been interested in. It is about man who returns to his provincial home after business school to work as management in the factory his father has worked at for thirty years. He is then asked to make lay-offs of which his father is one. It then becomes a labor vs. management, father vs. son drama. The director, Cantet, seems to be attracted to pointing out the political through the personal without reveling in sentimentalism. The new one looks good. It won the Palm d'or at Cannes.
5. Three Monkeys - Nuri Bilge Ceylan, first and foremost, has a great cinematic eye. Many times in his films a shot will come across the screen that is literally breath taking. At the same time though, what the characters on the screen are doing to each other can be offsetting in its cruelty. It might look like Antonioni but it feels like Bergman. I really liked Uzak (Distant) and to a lesser extant (marginally), Iklimler (Climates). I've heard that this is Nuri Bilge Ceylan's first foray into genre style filmmaking in that it resembles a psychological thriller. As a side note, this film won Ceylan the director's prize at Cannes.
Other notable titles:
Gomorrah - The ins and outs of mafia life in Naples. This hit such a nerve with the mafia that they put out a hit on the film's writer and say he'll be dead by Christmas.
Waltz with Bashir - An animated doc about a man struggling with post war trauma after the 1982 Lebanese/Israeli war. It looks like Heavy Metal and Sounds like NPR.
Wendy and Lucy - By the same folks who did Old Joy (2006). People who liked that one seem to like this one. You can also see what Will Oldham has been up to lately as he is in both Old Joy and this.
The Wrestler - I have not liked anything I have seen by Aronofsky. I doubt this will change my mind. The word is that Mickey Rourke is in top form if that means anything to you.
Cherry Blossoms - Yet another Homage to Ozu by a European director (and the second French one this year. The other being 35 Rhums by Clair Denis). Apparently this is a riff on Tokyo Story.
Donkey Punch - Looks like a middling post-Hostel exercise of stupid kids on vacation doing stupid things. Kids on vacation end up in a tight spot when one makes the mistake of actually trying the fabled "Donkey Punch" on his lady friend. It’s all fun and games until someone breaks their neck.
Eden Log - French Sci-fi. Le Matrix or Le Cube, if you like. Futuristic Existentialism at the bottom of a deep, dark hole.
Not Quite Hollywood - A doc about Australian Exploitation cinema of the 70s. The DVD company Synapse is putting out a ton of the films talked about in this Doc. Hopefully soon someone will put out The Man From Hong Kong. George Lazenby and Jimmy Wang Yu (The One-Armed Swordsman) in an all fight/no fat Australian Bruce-sploitation is absolute bliss.
Surveillance- Jennifer Lynch's follow up to Boxing Helena. It looks like "Twin Peaks" meets "CSI" meets No Country for Old Men.
Tokyo! - An omnibus film by Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind), Carax (Pola X), and Bong (The Host).
(Dex sez: If I can throw my two cents in, I've seen bits of Chocolate and loved it, and the book "Gomorrah" was a Nation notable a couple of years ago I've been hankering to read. Also, I have no idea what a donkey punch is. People should be nice to donkeys, I think. They look like they lead rough lives.)