Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Habana Eva

I will not waste too much time blogging about Cuban entry Habana Eva (Habana Eva review) as a review will follow soon but the biggest question that comes to my mind is what in the hell were the programmers of the LA film fest thinking when they decided to include that unintentionally funny piece of cheesy soap in their Cuban selection.

I know that there aren't hundreds of Cuban movies available to screen internationally but I can think of a dozen of films that would have pay homage to the island rather than embarrass it. If the idea might have looked interesting on paper, the two lovers of a young Cuban girl acting as metaphor for the two choices the country has (capitalism/entrepreneurship vs. traditions), the direction was horrendous and the acting was Mexican-telenovela poor. The director and the peppy lead actress Prakriti Maduro were present for a Q&A.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - The Guard

While you might not be familiar with the work of writer/director John Michael McDonagh as the Guard (The Guard review) is his first feature as a director, the fact that his brother is none other than the man behind the viciously funny In Bruges should give you an idea of what to expect. Politically incorrect, mean and furiously hilarious, The Guard uses an investigation as a pretext to confront an African-American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) with a somewhat close-minded Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson). Of course the two protagonists are representative of their culture and the resulting clash managed to poke fun at both worlds without being condescending. A Q&A with Gleeson and McDonagh followed the screening, the two men showcasing their Irish sense humor while answering to quite a few idiotic questions from he audience.

2011 LA Film Festival - Love Crime

French thriller Love Crime (Love Crime review)wasn't on top of my list of films I wanted to see at the LA film festival as I'm not particularly fan of the perfect crime subgenre; and to be totally frank, it is the presence of gorgeous French actress Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) at the screening that decided me to give it a shot.

The last film from the late director Alain Corneau proved however to be an exciting piece of manipulation with corporate backstabbing in the background. Not only were the mechanisms behind the crime finely tuned but the casting centered on Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas was right on target. The sreenning was followed by a Q&A with Sagnier.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Elite Squad 2

While I wasn't sure what to expect from the sequel of the hugely successful Elite Squad, as I hadn't embraced it as much as everybody else, I must admit having been pretty surprised by Elite Squad 2 (Elite Squad 2 review), writer/director José Padilha having delivered a pretty nervous film that grabs you from the beginning to the end. Slick and action-driven without falling into over-the-top action, the film is reminiscent of those vicious Italian crime thrillers from the 70's, which were usually featuring a lonely crusader going against a corrupted system; This is actually the message that Mr. Padilha repeats several times throughout his film, reminding you in the process that you are not here to watch such a subtle work, but his direction is tight and intense enough to make you forget a few mafia cliches.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - The Fatherless

Don't ask me why but I've always had a thing for family dramas, you know those formulaic films where a family gathers but things take a wrong turn. Usually secrets are revealed during diner, brothers, sisters and lovers start fighting and, when the end comes, some relationships have broken for good. While the French are usually good at this, this is a German take on that subgenre which throws an additional dose of drama by setting it up in a former hippie collective where everybody was sleeping with everybody. The film is certainly interesting but it lacks to provide anything more than other films in that niche, the allusions to incest and the nearly suffocation of a baby (following Bad Intentions, this is the second film so far in this year's LA film festival selection to show this - I've noticed a trend at various film festivals where recurrent themes can be found among several films the same year) not being enough to elevate The Fatherless (The Fatherless review) beyond its genre.