Saturday, November 03, 2007

Searching for the last mistress

Venturing into new cinematic territories, Catherine Breillat offers with The Last Mistress, a period piece starring Asia Argento, probably her most classical works, where sex is this time in the background rather than forefront, used only for a metaphoric purpose. Built on great dialogues, this elegant production keeps a constant emotional edge, hope and fate battling until the end – and with Miss Argento as the mistress, you can expect things to be complicated.

Israeli entry The Band’s Visit, the tale of an Egyptian police band that gets lost in Israel on its way to a show, used a humoristic angle to tackle loneliness and a rapprochement of politically-opposed cultures. With spare dialogues, a simple setting and a great cast, this is no surprise that this film has become a fave on the internation film circuit.

It is kinda funny that AFI Fest screened Searchers 2.0, a film which plot centers around kicking the butt of some evil screenwriter the same weekend as the writers’ strike in LA kicks off. A satirical journey into movie nerdiness with political tones in the background, the latest from Alex Cox – who attended the screening with his cast – is a treat if you’re familiar with genre films such as spaghetti westerns, vigilante movies and if you’re a Hollywood insider – otherwise you might get lost in dialogues that refer to many b-movies and to the industry behind-the-scenes. The only regret, which is linked to a lack of budget, is that the film would have gained to be shot in film – or even in cinemascope – to emphasize the homage it was paying.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tales of Sigur Ros

Only faux pas here, I kicked off the festival with the screening of Southland Tales, Richard Kelly’s notorious sci-fi political epic, which has been missing in action since it’s panned representation at the Cannes film festival two years ago.

The director who was present with his troops – from The Rock to Kevin Smith with whom I shared an elevator ride – announced before the film that he was finally done with post-production. While I haven’t seen the earlier cut of the film, this final version proved to be a bloated and confused piece of work, which is all over the map and takes itself too seriously despite its satirical format. If that was up to me I would classify Southland Tales as Torture Porn, for how painful this 140mn film was to me – fortunately I was able to sleep through parts of that mess, courtesy of the Absolut bar on the rooftop. I’m not sure how Kelly went from the subtle Donny Darko to that failed attempt at being Alex Cox but he certainly lost a lot of credibility in the process.

The second half of the evening offered an unexpected treat, an intimate show from Iceland fave Sigur Ros, which preceded the screening of their live show documentary with an acoustic set of new material. If you’re a fan of the band, you will certainly enjoy that documentary but one can regret the filmmaker went for clich├ęd shots of Iceland instead of going for an artistic approach that would have matched the visual identity of the band. The band came back for a Q&A afterwards, those 4 nerdy guys offering welcome sarcastic answers to some of the lame questions coming from the audience.