Csak a szél (Just the Wind). Hungarian film, a take on the shotgun massacre of family of gypsies. We follow a mother with her daughter and son, the father living abroad. The mother works with cleaning, getting up early and coming home by late night. The daughter goes diligently to school while the boy mainly play around in the woods. Yet it is he alone who realize the imminent threat by building a bunker and trespassing on the house of previous murders to find clues. A shaky camera showing nothing more than the faces of the characters as their discomfort and fear slowly unveils. We see them coldly pass by rape attempts, racial slurs and threats as an everyday occurrence. Tense minimalist soundtrack set the rhythm to the impending doom in this slow-paced, thriller-like drama.
L Greece. Absurdist comedy a la Dogtooth. A man, a family man delivers honey with his car. Suddenly a better driver takes his place. He joins the motorcycle gang instead. The movie centers around different vehicles; namely cars, motorcycles, boats and bears. Yes, if you as a biker grow long enough beard you can attempt to go into the wild on all fours in order to live with them. Formal, emotionless language guides the weird dialogues.
Quoting a reviewer: "A crucial scene (in hindsight) is when he sees a wounded motor driver and his bike lying on the pavement. He stops to see what is going on. Rather than helping the man who is obviously in pain, he stays in the car, staring and doing nothing. When the friends of the motor driver return from calling for help, a peculiar dialog enfolds about the apparent "war" between cars and motor bikes. And how strange it is that the wounded motor driver needs to be rescued by a car, in the form of an ambulance. Also, given that our main character looks like a professional driver, he is inferred to be a professional killer. After this eccentric speech by the leader of the motor gang, the car driver leaves the scene unharmed and continuous his ride."
The sitting requires some patience, but it is not exactly rewarding.
De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone) Famous director Jarques Audiard (Un prophète) with yet another movie easy on the eyes. Here we get to see Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts gained some fat after Bullhead but still a testosterone monster easily believable as a professional kick-boxer) as a macho and blunt man who leaves Belgium with his son to live with his sister in France (Antibes).
Alain meets a girl while working as a bouncer in a club, accidents happen. A love story of two young people sparkling with life - this film doesn't contain a single tedious scene. Also containing some humorous dialogue by the incredibly alpha-male character Alain that seems to be able to fuck anything by just glancing in the general direction. Exciting drama with memorable characters, yet slightly lacking in personality from Audiard.
Holy Motors. France, from Leos Carax. An old man Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) goes around in a white limousine through the streets of Paris, performing various assignments. The film tries to cross the boundaries of acting and reality (well, since it is a movie; acting or acting within acting). Some great shots in the nightlife of Paris, but what it has in aesthetics is hampered by the lack of depth (I know a lot of people like this so I'll unprofessionally plead subjectivity and move on).
Like Someone in Love. Praised Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry, Close-Up), creates his first Japanese drama. The audience is thrown straight into what could be just about any bar, revealing to be a hostess/escort club with a closer eye. We follow a girl quarreling with her boyfriend and then reluctantly going into a taxi to another customer. As often with Kiarostami the glimpses of the story is grasped through the dialogue. We don't know her reasons for becoming a hostess or why she went to Tokyo, yet we are aware that her grandmother is worried and comes to visit. With a good eye for details Katsumi Yanagijima (Takeshi Kitano's usual cinematographer) helps add some style to these ordinary events. An accurate commentary of Japanese timid culture which is impressive due to the nationality of the director.
Rebelle (War Witch) . Kim Nguyen releases the movie through Canada, although the movie is from Republic of Congo in Africa. A 12 year old girl abducted by rebels. Brutal, tough movie.
Noor is a Pakistanian movie portraying a male broken free from the Pakistani Khusras trying to find a girl to live. He steals a truck and goes on a journey for a lake that grants wishes. Adorable little tale, but not without faults. Mesmerizing country customs and people as we cross the great landscapes and mountains.
Kazoku no kuni (Our Homeland) is a Japanese movie by female director Yong-hi Yang. The family son is sent back to Japan briefly for treatment after having lived in North Korea for the majority of his life. The father is a member of the association of North Korea in Japan, which along with donations granted the temporarily leave. The son is accompanied by another North Korean for surveillance. The man merely sits outside and silently monitor the conversations as the son is struggling to keep his emotions under control in order not to be overwhelmed by the vastly different society. We mainly follow the daughters perspective - which is very much the director herself impersonated, with slight alterations.
NOTE: In reality she actually has three brothers in North Korea whereas one of them died. After creating this film and her previous documentaries, she is not allowed to meet them anymore. Yong-hi is a cheerful individual despite this, reassuring us that the brothers support her from over the border despite not able to see her films.
As a film done with a very small budget and just two weeks of shooting, there are a few minor mistakes in the filming and the camera is slightly shaky which doesn't really mix well with the quiet mood. The actors did very well, being some more well known names than this budget would normally allow. The main character, the little sister is portrayed as someone who shows emotions and speaks up for herself. Yong-hi states that the actress is a lot more lively than she herself was during this period. Perhaps this and various other instances would have made more impact with less dramatic effects. Yong-hi has only made documentaries in the past, for this movie she worked together with Ik-Joon Yang (Breathless), perhaps overcompensating so that it wouldn't feel like her previous works. In any case, the result is still a strong, touching tale of a family stuck between two countries.