Saturday, November 04, 2006

AFI Fest 2006 - Next

In Next: A Primer on Urban Painting, filmmaker Pablo Aravena documents graffiti art around the world, from the gritty streets of New York to the dark catacombs of Paris. While the journey is visually exciting, Aravena’s vision remains too subjective.

Friday, November 03, 2006

AFI Fest 2006: The Banquet & The Host

Call me retarded but for having misread AFI Fest’s film guide, I missed the film I was looking forward to see, because this was a gala screening which required a ticket, even if you were a pass holder. Rather than experiencing 3 hours of postmodern mind-twisting cinema, my night unexpectedly turned into Asian night, with the screening of two widely different films, The Banquet & The Host.

Set in the Chinese empire, The Banquet, the transposition of Hamlet’s Night Banquet, was a welcome surprise, as I had lost interest for the epic films, following the saturation of overdone productions such as Hero. While visually stunning, what differentiates The Banquet from the latest works from the genre is that its violence is made of brutal—rather than cartoonish—ballets and that the plot is twisted and filled with strong characters.

As for The Host, you probably will read everywhere – including on this site in French – how great it is, but after some film-geek-student type programmer introduced it as one of the best films of the year, I suddenly wasn’t sure if I was at a serious festival or at the American Cinematheque, for one of their recurring Asian Monster retrospectives. I guess a good definition of The Host would be Little Miss Sunshine meets Alien with a slightly satirical political background, but neither did I find this film amusing nor menacing. However, if you’re an Army of Darkness-type nerd, you will probably love The Host.