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iCMFF: International I and II Thread
Topic Started: Nov 20 2017, 01:55:42 AM (1,412 Views)
outdoorcats
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Welcome to the 2017 iCheckMovies Film Festival!

This is the first annual festival to be held here on the iCM Forum, and the third of its kind which originally started on the IMDb message boards (you know, back when those existed).

For the full program guide and a brief explanation of what the festival is, look no further than here.
For the unofficial challenge thread, look no further than here.

Please rate the films the films you've seen on a scale from 1-10 to help contribute to this year's Audience Award. This is not connected to the Unofficial Challenge and therefore it does not matter when you saw the films in question.

Other sections:

Main Slate
English-Language Independents
Animation
LGBT
Arthouse
Documentaries
Just Before Dawn
Shorts Programs

This is the thread where we rate and discuss the films in two sections (which are really two halves of the same coin): the International I (Europe, North America, South America) and International II (Asia, Africa, Oceania) sections.

International I:

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Body dir. Malgorzata Szumowska. 2015, 90 min. Posted Image
Starring Maja Ostaszewska and Justyna Suwala.
A darkly comic and visually striking drama about grief with--perhaps--a supernatural twist. Szumowska intertwines the stories of a widowed father, his anorexic and suicidal daughter, and a therapist who works at the clinic where the daughter is staying, who tells her that her mother is trying to contact her from beyond. Winner of the Silver Bear at Berlin.

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Land of Mine dir. Martin Zandvliet. 2015, 100 min. Posted Image
Starring Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, and Joel Basman.
During WWII, the Nazis filled Danish beaches with hundreds of thousands of mines, expecting the Allied forces to land there. In the war’s aftermath, Denmark charged German POWs with defusing every single mine. Sgt. Carl Rasmussen hates the Nazis who occupied his country with a passion, but when he is given command of a squadron of teenage POWs in charge of defusing mines, he finds his blind hatred tested, even as his squad of underfed and overworked soldiers are pushed past the breaking point. An instant classic anti-war film.

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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence dir. Roy Andersson. 2014, 101 min. Posted Image
Starring Holger Andersson and Nils Westblom.
For almost 50 years, Roy Andersson has honed his skills to become the Swedish master of deadpan, absurdist comedy. His latest continues in that grand tradition with the story of two salesmen who wander through a series of surreal, time-bending episodes which conflate tragedy and comedy in remarkable ways. Less of a traditional narrative than an unforgettable experience, this is one you’ll want to talk about here long after it’s over.

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The Tribe dir. Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi. 2014, 126 min. Posted Image
Starring Hryhoriy Fesenko and Yana Novikova.
A film starring all deaf-mutes, with no dialogue or subtitles to translate for the audience, doesn’t sound like an appealing prospect, but The Tribe was one of the biggest festival hits of 2014, albeit one that stunned audiences with its bleakness and shocking bursts of violence. The lack of dialogue only adds to the impersonal nature of this story of a new boy at a deaf-mute boarding school who quickly adapts to the school’s vicious hazing rituals, extreme bullying, drug dealing and prostitution, before conflicts with some of his other thuggish classmates push him over the edge.

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The Unknown Girl dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. 2016, 106 min. Posted Image
Starring Adèle Haenel, Jérémie Renier, and Olivier Gourmet.
A doctor (Haenel) who runs a small clinic hears the doorbell shortly after she’s locked the doors for the day. She ignores it. Later, detectives come to visit her asking about who rang, and she learns that the girl who was trying to get in her clinic was murdered shortly afterwards. The detectives apologetically tell her that it’s not her fault and they were just looking for a witness, but Dr. Davin becomes obsessed with investigating the young girl’s life and death, putting her own life at risk in the process. The Dardennes, meanwhile, have returned with yet another strong, quietly powerful social drama that gets under your skin without pulling any punches.

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International II:

Quote:
 
After the Storm dir. Hirokazu Koreeda. 2016, 117 min. Posted Image
Starring Hiroshi Abe and Yôko Maki.
A private detective and deadbeat divorced dad (Abe) is given a chance to reconnect with his estranged wife and son during a typhoon is Koreeda’s powerful family drama, where characters are redeemed not by big, life-changing gestures, but by the nuggets of wisdom that they manage to derive from their day-to-day lives.

Posted Image




A Hard Day dir. Kim Seong-hun. 2014, 111 min. Posted Image
Starring Lee Sun-kyun, Jeong Man-sik, and Jo Jin-woong.
In only his second film, Kim proves himself a Hitchcockian master of suspense in his tale of a corrupt cop whose bad day only gets worse when he runs over a homeless man and goes to outrageous extremes to cover it up - only to find himself stalked by someone who claims to have witnessed the event.

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Raman Raghav 2.0 dir. Anurag Kashyap. 2016, 133 min. Posted Image
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal and Sobhita Dhulipala.
The serial killer procedural gets turned on its head in this stunning and visually stylish turn from Gangs of Wasseypur director Anurag Kashyap. Inspired by real-life 1960s serial killer Raman Raghav, disturbed killer Ramanna (Siddiqui) finds himself in a deadly dance with corrupt cop Raghavan (Kaushal), his match in moral depravity.

Posted Image




Three dir. Johnnie To. 2016, 88 min. Posted Image
Starring Wei Zhao, Wallace Chung, and Louis Koo.
Hong Kong auteur To (Election, Mad Detective) flexes his filmmaking muscles in this suspenseful cops-and-robbers action drama that pits the wits of a master criminal, a surgeon, and policeman against each other in a hospital ward.

Posted Image




Timbuktu dir. Abderrahmane Sissako. 2014, 97 min. Posted Image
Starring Ibrahim Ahmed, Abel Jafri, and Toulou Kiki.
A pastoral comedy gradually gives way to tragedy as jihadists occupy the peaceful existence of cattle herders living in the dunes of Timbuktu, in the latest film from Mauritanian master Sissako, the director of Bamako and Waiting for Happiness.

Posted Image

Edited by outdoorcats, Nov 20 2017, 02:19:57 AM.
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Nathan Treadway
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As a juror for International II, I will keep track of what I've seen in this post, and review the films throughout the thread.

Seen
After the Storm
Timbuktu (will rewatch, to give it a fair score, as it's been a while)

Unseen
A Hard Day
Raman Raghav
Three
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cinewest
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outdoorcats
Nov 20 2017, 01:55:42 AM
I
I've seen two of these:

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence- 7.5 (would round to 7). I preferred the two previous ones, but thought this very worthwhile, which is what 7's are to me.

Timbuktu- 8. Very good, but not as good as Waiting for Happiness (8.5).
Edited by cinewest, Nov 21 2017, 07:17:56 AM.
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tommy_leazaq
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Seen this before: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - 7/10

Second best in the Living trilogy after "You, the Living". Some of the sketches were down right hilarious but went redundant towards the end. The two-point perspective camera angle captured the off-settling mood perfectly.
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St. Gloede
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Starting of with the two I have already seen, with A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence having been a favorite for over a year already, and The Tribe becoming an instant favorite (saw it more or less the moment the categories became official), this selection looks to be beating the main slate for me.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014, Roy Andersson)
The conclusion to Andersson's living trilogy is a culmination of his genius and the tragically comedic stylings of humanity. In long, cold takes we witness people talk about nothing, try to leave, and let everyone know how happy we are they are doing well. It is simply hilarious, and perfectly shot and stylized in every way. It feels unfair to come into this selection with such a clear favorite, but A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is one of 5 movies I have given a clean 10/10 from the past decade, and I strongly doubt that anything could match it. Granted, The Tribe came shockingly close.


The Tribe (2014, Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi)
Cold and brutal, the Tribe is an exercise in spectacular cinema, with long striking takes, vulnerability, and not a single word spoken throughout. The tracking shots, the suspense, the gradual and calm, yet horrifying way it explores this world - albeit it could be seen as oddly villifying the deaf/mute - is, in lack of a better word, and in no way meant as a pun, deafening. It's like a dance, and a very dangerous one.

The fact that almost every character seems to be a teenager, and the lack of supervision in the boarding school, leaves a very bitter and worrying taste in my mouth. The only things pulling it slightly back from masterpiece status, are a few slightly tired tropes and elements of bleak simplicity - that is just too simple - such as the ending or the "romance" and the sex element in general/organized crime. It just feels slightly pulpy - which in this case lessens the blow - but just barely. Spectacular cinema, and one of the very best films of this decade. 9.5/10.

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Nathan Treadway
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After the Storm 7/10

Decent family drama about a divorced father trying to rekindle the straining relationship with his near-teenage son and, yes, his ex-wife (who's seeing someone else). All the performances are quite strong in this one, but, I couldn't and you feel for the guy. But, clearly he has some issues... Overall, it's rather forgettable, honestly, but, not a waste of time to watch.
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joachimt
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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

6/10

Third of the trilogy. I've seen the first two as well and I must admit I'm getting less and less interested. Feels to much as a repetition. There are some very funny scenes ("What are we going to do with this? He already paid for it."), but a lot of scenes seemed pretty pointless to me. I didn't hate it though, it kept me interested and the shots are great to look at in all its bizarreness.
Edited by joachimt, Nov 20 2017, 08:44:45 PM.
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beavis
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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - 8.3
the Unknown Girl - 7.3
Body - 7
the Tribe - 6

Pigeon. I also prefer the two previous films in the Anderson trilogy of very dark comedy, but it is still so good that I can't help but love it. He has perfected his style so much that I can't fault him for repeating himself a bit, but the reflections dind't gel together just as well as before, maybe

The Unknown Girl is the D'ardennen bros trying to make a thriller, their way. And it works mostly, but I actually was more interested in just the main character than in some of the nods to the genre that felt a bit forced to me.

Body. Strange little movie that deals with serious issues in a somewhat forced (have to use that word again) funny way. It didn't totally work for me but I appreciate the weird style it creates

Tribe. I didn't like the writing on this one at all. The setting felt unrealistic, the stereotypes over-the-top, and I failed to see any point in the end. The mood of it has something typically Ukrainian/Russian that works for me sometimes (My Joy, a Stoker, Twilight Portrait) and sometimes doesn't, but I can see how others will be impressed by that, next to the silent story telling that is actually very well done (I didn't felt like I lost something by not having the sign language subtitled).

I won't judge this International 1 section, so my votes are general audience votes here
I've seen 31 films of the festival so far and plan to see 9 more
in the coming days I will try to write something on each of the movies I have already seen, taking it section by section
Edited by beavis, Nov 20 2017, 09:18:05 PM.
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sacmersault
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Land of Mine: Is a very simple, yet emotional film. It humanizes a very hard situation that came as a result of horrible war. The acting is very good. The photography is unassuming yet beautiful. This movie is about simplicity and creating a narrative that speaks on its own. 9/10

The Unknown Girl: If you've liked other Dardenne Bros. films, you'll really like this one. I really liked the realism of the story, even though this is one that relies on a bit more of made up story. The movie tells of a mystery that the main actress tries to solve since she feels guilty and things slowly unravel. As always in their movies, the main actors are very good and feel natural. The story is more engaging than most other Dardenne's films. Very good overall, but not amazing. 8/10

After the Storm: This one is also a very simple, realistic film. It deals with family troubles and does so in a very smart and easy way. I love this time of films that deal with normal things, everyday things, relatable subjects and do so by focusing on the story instead of cinematic tricks. 8/10

Timbuktu: I have to be honest. I saw this movie a while back and loved it, but I remember very little of the film. The few things that I remember is the anxiety of seeing how the people's lives are transformed by religious extremism. It was very relevant given the context of what happened and was happening. 9/10
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cinephage
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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - 8/10
The Unknown Girl - 7,5/10

------

After the storm - 7,5/10
A hard day - 7/10
Timbuktu - 7/10
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joachimt
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Just read the whole thread. Seems like I'm alone in not loving Pigeon.
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cinephage
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joachimt
Nov 21 2017, 09:28:01 AM
Just read the whole thread. Seems like I'm alone in not loving Pigeon.
My wife hated it, she was bored and wanted out of the theatre... One has to admit Andersson's films are very unusual, and not for everyone. I myself appreciate the mastery and surreal approach, and the tongue-in-cheek humor of most sequences. Songs from the 2nd Floor is to me his best picture to date.
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Cynical Cinephile
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Tribe - 5

Count me in the camp of people that didn't like Tribe. I've seen it over a year ago and my memory of it isn't all that great. I agree with beavis, I didn't like the writing in it, but I also disagree with beavis, if I remember correctly, I felt that subtitles would've improved the experience. I think the director wanted to put a viewer into a place of a deaf person, by making us not be able to hear (understand) what the characters are "saying" and that's a good approach, I guess, but it didn't work for me. If I remember correctly, cinematography was the high point of it.

Timbuktu - 8

I've seen this a while ago as well. It's a very relevant film in this time in history, captures the problems that radical Islam creates all over the world, but mostly in Middle East and Africa. The scene that hit me hard was the one with kids playing football without the ball behind the back of their oppressors. You'd think that every child in the world can play football in peace, it's poor people's game because all you really need is a ball, goals can be improvised. I guess that's why it's so popular all over the globe. But even something so simple and harmless is off the limits for them. Great music in the film as well.
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joachimt
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Timbuktu
7/10
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te18
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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) 7/10
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Eve-Lang-El-Coup
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joachimt
Nov 21 2017, 09:28:01 AM
Just read the whole thread. Seems like I'm alone in not loving Pigeon.
I didn't love it. From memory, the comedy was spread evenly and I really liked the marching army drops by a tavern (or was it a grocer?) scene.

I think the best movie of this sort is The Time That Remains, I found that far funnier.
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joachimt
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Land of Mine - 8/10
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joachimt
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Body AKA Cialo
6/10
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sacmersault
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Cialo AKA Body: Such a weird little movie. The movie is a bit odd, chaotic, weird, unusual, all over the place, but in such an amazing way. The acting of Maja Ostaszewska (Anna) is so odd and interesting; she is a mix of church lady proper with lots of new age hippie. She reminded me of The Culps' lady from SNL. The amazing thing about her acting is that if you look at pictures of her, she's this super hot lady and she had an amazing transformation. The director had an good idea and a strong point of view, but the film was developed in an unusual way that made things muddled and ultimately had a lot of flaws. Enjoyable nonetheless. 7/10
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Cynical Cinephile
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Land of Mine - 8/10

Tough viewing, it's very tense throughout and emotionally taxing. Acting and photography are great.
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Body (2015) - 6
Yeah, as others pointed out, weird little film. The awkward humor didn't work well with me, so it ended up just being awkward. It has something to say, but frankly, I was a bit bored by it.
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joachimt
Nov 21 2017, 09:28:01 AM
Just read the whole thread. Seems like I'm alone in not loving Pigeon.
I just finished A Pigeon.../En duva.... Well crafted? Yes. Absurdist? Yes. Funny. Not really. However, I'm willing to say 'it's just not my thing' and move on to the next film. I've now seen the entire trilogy and while I don't remember the other two by name, I see my rating reaction was similar (though I can't say ultimately the reaction was the same without effort to revisit the first two). :mellow:

Had watched Land of Mine earlier in the year and really dug it - much more emotionally resonant for me if maybe a touch heavy handed. However, I'd say it's successful in making its point.

Is there another reason for breaking this category into two that I'm not seeing? Or is it just to make things easier for the judges?

Of the non-European films, I've only seen Timbuktu to date, responded favorably, but only vaguely remember the imagery (and had to really separate it in my mind from Kandahar for some unknown reason.
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Cynical Cinephile
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xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 08:39:28 AM
Is there another reason for breaking this category into two that I'm not seeing? Or is it just to make things easier for the judges?
There would be to many films for 1 category. It wouldn't make sense to have a sub category larger than the main slate and it wouldn't be fair to jurors that judge International; other jurors need to see 5 films + main slate, Int jurors would have to watch 10 films + main slate.
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LuxNatalis
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Timbuktu (2014) - 6.5 (thumbs up)
Under Sandet (2015) - 6 (thumbs up)

The Tribe (2014) - 1
A film in Afrikaans isn't supposed to be watched w/o subtitles, so why is this one? For its full length I wasn't interested about what was going on nor was I understanding any of it. I respect the reasons why many people loved it, but this was a really painful experience for me which doesn't allow me to rate it anything other than a 1. Absolutely insufferable.
Edited by LuxNatalis, Nov 28 2017, 06:39:25 PM.
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Nov 28 2017, 01:00:12 PM
xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 08:39:28 AM
Is there another reason for breaking this category into two that I'm not seeing? Or is it just to make things easier for the judges?
There would be to many films for 1 category. It wouldn't make sense to have a sub category larger than the main slate and it wouldn't be fair to jurors that judge International; other jurors need to see 5 films + main slate, Int jurors would have to watch 10 films + main slate.
:thumbsup: thanks!
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te18
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Body (2015) 5/10
A dramedy that sets itself up well before gradually deflating over the course of its runtime as the cast try in vain to redeem their dull characters. I like the direction and the cinematography, but the story is largely devoid of merit.
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Lonewolf2003
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San ren xing (Three) (2016): 7.0 - after a long built-up that although the characters are stereotypes never really bores because of the slow building tension, this movie climaxes into a long action take that proofs To still is one of the greatest action directors working these days. The use of slomo, blocking, camera movement and color scheme is absolutely superb.



I already seen some of the other films in these categories before. Tomorrow I will post my ratings and reviews for them
Edited by Lonewolf2003, Nov 29 2017, 10:55:52 PM.
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Lonewolf2003
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Kkeut-kka-ji-gan-da (A Hard Day) (2014): 6.5 - lots of typical movie coincidences, but the movie has a good pace to keep me entertained.
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flaiky
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xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 06:49:14 PM
Cynical Cinephile
Nov 28 2017, 01:00:12 PM
xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 08:39:28 AM
Is there another reason for breaking this category into two that I'm not seeing? Or is it just to make things easier for the judges?
There would be to many films for 1 category. It wouldn't make sense to have a sub category larger than the main slate and it wouldn't be fair to jurors that judge International; other jurors need to see 5 films + main slate, Int jurors would have to watch 10 films + main slate.
:thumbsup: thanks!
..And the specific divisions were introduced last year to make sure at least some Asian and African films featured; the first festival was a bit too Euro-American.
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sacmersault
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flaiky
Nov 30 2017, 11:19:02 PM
xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 06:49:14 PM
Cynical Cinephile
Nov 28 2017, 01:00:12 PM
xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 08:39:28 AM
Is there another reason for breaking this category into two that I'm not seeing? Or is it just to make things easier for the judges?
There would be to many films for 1 category. It wouldn't make sense to have a sub category larger than the main slate and it wouldn't be fair to jurors that judge International; other jurors need to see 5 films + main slate, Int jurors would have to watch 10 films + main slate.
:thumbsup: thanks!
..And the specific divisions were introduced last year to make sure at least some Asian and African films featured; the first festival was a bit too Euro-American.
The problem is that Latin America is grouped with Euro-America and didn't have a single representative. I think that should change.
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xianjiro
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sacmersault
Dec 1 2017, 12:01:02 AM
flaiky
Nov 30 2017, 11:19:02 PM
xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 06:49:14 PM
Cynical Cinephile
Nov 28 2017, 01:00:12 PM
xianjiro
Nov 28 2017, 08:39:28 AM
Is there another reason for breaking this category into two that I'm not seeing? Or is it just to make things easier for the judges?
There would be to many films for 1 category. It wouldn't make sense to have a sub category larger than the main slate and it wouldn't be fair to jurors that judge International; other jurors need to see 5 films + main slate, Int jurors would have to watch 10 films + main slate.
:thumbsup: thanks!
..And the specific divisions were introduced last year to make sure at least some Asian and African films featured; the first festival was a bit too Euro-American.
The problem is that Latin America is grouped with Euro-America and didn't have a single representative. I think that should change.
after we finish this year, might be nice to jot down some lessons learned so we can refer back to them next year

I'm really enjoying the festival and want to see it continue! (And yes, I too would like to see films from Latinoamerica included as well, but I'm guessing we need people who can recommend them during the consideration process???)
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te18
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Land of Mine (2015) 7/10
Perhaps my favorite film of the festival so far, in which a Danish Sergeant begins to empathize with a group of defeated Nazi soldiers tasked with clearing a beachfront of Nazi landmines following the conclusion of WWII. Performances are stellar all-round and every inevitable death scene is handled with maximum shock and emotive effect without being tastelessly done. Roland Moller is excellent as Sgt. Carl Rasmussen.
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sacmersault
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Three: Wow! I cannot believe how bad this movie was. It was a weird mix of 90s action movies (The Manchurian Candidate, Speed, etc.) and The Matrix and a bunch of other stuff. The interesting thing about this movie is the look it had, but it failed to do anything. The acting was horrible. The chief inspector looked like he had PMS all through the movie. The dr. looked confused. The writing was very bad. The soundtrack was bizarrely ineffective and antiquated. The special effects most of the time were laughable. And the movie as a whole was a copy of others, but it really didn't work and was just not realistic. 3.5/10
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te18
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The Unknown Girl (2015) 6/10
In an attempt to clear her own conscience, a young doctor attempts to discover the identity of a recently killed woman. Although it was nice to see Adele Haenel (from Water Lilies, one of my favourite films) giving a committed performance, she is arguably miscast in her role and, for all its positives, the film comes off as one of the Dardennes' lesser realist works.
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Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016): 5.8 - Most of the parts with the psychokiller antagonist were okay, but everything with the dark troubled detective was completely uninteresting. Although the end it finally makes sense why the movie needs him to be disturbed, it's too little to late to safe the movie.


Like said above I've seen some before the festival already. These are my ratings and stuff I wrote then or now from memory.

International II:
Umi yori mo mada fukaku (After the Storm) (2016): 7.5 - Another typical nice character drama by Koreeda, but it takes a bit too long with its introduction till it gets to its centerpiece; the protagonist, his son and his ex gathering at his old mom to shelter from said storm. It's all handled with much care, like always with Koreeda, but the movie just didn't have the impact some of his better work had on me.

Timbuktu (2014): 6.5 - I don't really remember why I rated this movie this low, seems better in my memory. Because I probably won't find time to rewatch this before the deadline this is my rating.

International I:
Under sandet (Land of Mine) (2015): 7.5 - very decent war movie. It has some good suspenseful scenes combined with non-sentimental drama.

En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence) (2014): 7.5 - Funny in its very absurd and deadpan style. Some parts are better than others, highlights to me are the flashback to the bar in 1943 and Karel XII's legion suddenly dropping in at a bar. But it is too artificial for me to really love this. Some people seem to also get a humane message about modern day life out of these Roy Andersson movies beside just enjoying the absurdist comedy, I just don't get that from it.

Plemya (The Tribe) (2014): 8.0 - I remember just loving how the movie without the use of dialog, since as a viewer you can't understand anything that is said, takes you into the world of deaf people. Remember it to be completely immersing.

La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl) (2016): 8.2 - liked how the Dardenne used it a bit more traditional genre of murder mystery as a stepping stone for their typical insightful movie about their protagonist and less fortunate people in Western society. I do get why people call this a weaker Dardenne, but a weaker Dardenne like this is still very good in my book.
Edited by Lonewolf2003, Dec 3 2017, 10:53:24 PM.
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Lonewolf2003
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Body/Ciało (2015): 6.5 - great use of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone". The movie tries to do too much and is therefor uneven. Like other mentioned above the absurdist humor conflicts at times with the underlying drama of the movie.
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St. Gloede
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Body (2015, Malgorzata Szumowska)
Quirky and spirited, Body is a darkly comedic and very lightly surrealistic/experimental film. I liked the way it touched on loss, not so much in plot and character action, which is limited, but in the mood, and the clear lack of a center. Overall the style is what makes it stands out, while the semi-elusive plot and characters remains a little less intruiging. Overall a very good film. 7/10.


Land of Mine (2015, Martin Zandvliet)
Land of Mine has the classic and timeless feeling to it, with a very straight up plot, but an interesting center - the bonding between a Danish Sergeant and the German POWs he's guarding/making clean up mines, one centimeter at the time.

The film does brilliantly well in capturing the near certain doom of this daily routine, and slowly letting us care for these very young boys and the horrible situation they are in. Showing the nearly endless beach, the boys crawling and repeating the very same task, which each time can cost them their lives. Death lives with them every day, and it's ingrained in the frames.

To an extent it is confronting Denmark's role as the winning party in WW2 and if not directly judging, showing the cruelty of the post-war reaction of a new place of contemplation. World War 2 was a very, very real point of anger in Scandinavia until very recently, and this is a great reflection of this anger - and how it may be misplaced.

In the end it may feel a little too simple, a little too over-produced and simply trying to leave the audience of on a hopeful/sentimental note - but overall the film has great strength. 8/10.


The Unknown Girl (2016, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
I really enjoyed the quiet obsession and guilt, and the melancholy, futility and understanding each shot contained. The cinema worked perfectly here, slowly following our protagonist's need to make amends for a very slight overstep. The Dardennes' truly manages to show how this one moment (not letting someone into her clinic, who later is found dead) hurts her. We can feel her pain, and the film is in no way set up as a mystery (despite all the pieces of whodunit being present), but as a study of conscience. It's ideas might be too clean or idealistic, but this was a very powerful experience. 8/10.
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beavis
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International II

1. Timbuktu - 7.5
2. Raman Raghav 2.0 - 7.3
3. After the Storm - 6.8
4. A Hard Day - 5.3
5. Three - 2


Timbuktu has a good mix of "message" and a few strong and beautiful other elements. I wasn't totally wowed by the movie at the time, but I must admit, the images and place have stayed with me!

Raman, at face value, does nothing special for the thriller genre. But I did find it more and more intriging towards the end. And it has those wonderful deep colours that these kind of Asian movies sometimes have.

After the Storm is a bit of a lightweight Koreeda movie. I liked Kirin Kiki (as always) but that's about the only thing I can say for it.

A Hard Day is really not my thing. unrealistic, predictable, very unsympathetic main character... I see there was some skill in the making and assume some people must like this kind of thing

Three really is the worst though. And I generally do like Johnnie To movies.... unrealistic to the max, everything is so fake in this, so unlikable, so stupid...

There were certainly better options out there, some balls seem to have been dropped :) But nice to see that (at least for me) a film from India and the African continent came out on top!
Edited by beavis, Dec 7 2017, 07:41:30 PM.
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Perception de Ambiguity
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끝까지 간다 / A Hard Day (Kim Seong-hun, 2014)

Civil servant tries to cover up his crime with an increasing number of crimes and gets out of it in the only logical way without exiting the social game, which is to abandon all pretenses within himself of being better than a gangster and to solve his problem by following gangster law – killing your problem – and even animal law as everything comes down to a raw one-on-one fight where hiding behind any rules can't help you. Initially prepared to sell his soul for the sake of succeeding in the social game his blackmailer becomes the savior of his soul, but not without a hard trial on the (ex-)civil servant’s own part.


Screenshots




Old comments/reviews/descriptions:


海よりもまだ深く / After the Storm (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2016)

The plot of Kore-eda's loser portrait 'After the Storm' concerns divorced dad (Abe) who has hopes to become an established novelist but does little to work towards that goal and instead "temporally" works as a private detective in order to nominally find inspiration for his next novel while also getting his paycheck for the month. Too bad that Abe mostly gets to handle uninspiring adultery cases, he has a gambling problem, and his ex-wife presses him to pay his overdue alimony. Chance has it that one evening at his mother's apartment he is presented with a chance to talk out things and maybe even reconnect with his estranged wife and son because a typhoon forces them all to stay inside together.
As usual for Kore-eda it is a sensibly told, understated drama with part of the magic being how easy he makes it look, keeping the various elements in an exquisite balance. On the surface a protagonist-centric film it can just as easily feel like an ensemble piece for how its director seems equality affectionate towards all his characters.. With its private detective setup 'After the Storm' initially makes some forays into the trappings of noir but again while the film has a plot that slowly evolves it never feels driven by it but rather feels more like life just taking its course with its protagonist struggling from moment to moment to hopefully push things a little further into a direction seemingly advantageous to him. Kore-eda deals with serious subjects, many of which are related to themes of family and just getting through the month, week and day as part of a family unit, but it never feels heavy, indeed 'After the Storm' certainly lacks no humor. All of this results in the sort of domestic drama where characters are redeemed not by big, life-changing gestures, but by the nuggets of wisdom that they manage to derive from their lives.


三人行 / Three (Johnnie To, 2016)

cops-and-robbers(-and-doctors) suspense, prolonged-build-up action movie, morality play, chamber piece

From a reply to someone:

Johnnie To at times certainly fully embraces the over-the-top and even sentimentality, and isn't afraid of some artificiality if it helps him achieve an ambitious setpiece he thought up. All the action is in the final 20 minutes and it's only then that the film gets really bonkers, but it generally is a pretty comedic film. Most of all thanks to the one crazy patient, of course, but it isn't only him. (That "NO BONE" written on the head bandages, haha.)
In 'Sparrow' he did a similar slow-mo thing for an operatic mass pick-pocketing stand-off in the rain over a passport that the protagonist needs to have, which is as crazy as it sounds. Except that this sequence wasn't all in one take which is what for me very much justified the approach in 'Three' because to make that sequence slick and perfect would have probably been crazy-expensive and the result would have felt no less artificial, just in a different and ultimately pretty boring super-CGI-y way. I think the fact that he made this ambitious scene (and to some extent also the action sequences that followed) in this relatively lo-fi way is a big part of what makes it fun and also very likable since he doesn't try to hide the effect.

In the case of 'Sparrow' it didn't really work for me, perhaps because I wasn't so taken by the film overall, so I know where you are coming from. On the other hand I had really enjoyed 'Three' so far, so when that scene came up I embraced it and it made the film actually better for me, especially since this wasn't just some action sequence that was thrown in, the whole film basically built up to this one action explosion for 70-something "action-less" minutes, and it has been set up brilliantly, so that when it finally does happen with its shi!tload of mini-events and mini-stories it is a pay-off for all the information the film asked us to process and store. This one-take action scene means little on its own, but thanks to everything you know from watching the film you now totally know where you are, what is what, who is who, what's at stake, etc, and it is as much about the visceral experience of the action as it is about the continuation/resolution/conclusion of the various story strands. Laughable? Maybe so. But I think it is pretty much all the things that a big action scene in a movie could ever hope to be.

And I think Johnnie was aware enough of how ridiculous and sappy especially the "Mein Doktor, I can walk!" scene is, but he just went for it. I laughed about it too, and thought that maybe he is pushing it a bit, but I rolled with it, because again this moment in all its silly overdramatization was kind of earned. The doctor is experiencing the worst day of her life, which is probably true for many of the characters in the film given how things turn out, but what the doctor is concerned the film establishes that something inside of her is slowly dying on that day with every new misfortune, basically her belief that her life matters runs risk of falling apart. And it didn't look anymore like there was any stopping it, watching that character throughout the film was like watching a train speed towards a wall, there is nothing to do but to wait for the crash. So the infamous soap-opera-like wheelchair moment is genuinely emotionally loaded as it marks a sudden shift for that character, she has reason to feel hopeful again. And as the film ends her spirits are up again, but she has lost the nativity/idealism of thinking that she has total control, that she has the power to save every life and that chance is not a factor in her profession. I found that to be a pretty nice character arc considering that she is only one of three protagonists (and many side-characters) in an action movie.
Edited by Perception de Ambiguity, Dec 8 2017, 11:05:55 PM.
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Melvelet
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À la recherche du temps perdu...
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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence 7/10
Seen in cinema back then. I remember that there was a tall guy before me and for once I was not completely satisfied with the decision to watch it with subtitles :D
I'm really behind with my viewings, I had 4 of them on the watchlist anyway and never got around to see them during the festival :/
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