Monthly Archives: June 2010

“The Oath” opens closed doors

It has become a standard documentary trope to bring cultural clarity by focusing on an otherwise unknown subject (often poor, non-white, oppressed); we get to know these people personally and therefore break down cultural barriers .  What happens, then, when the character doesn’t even know himself? The Oath‘s analysis of Osama Bin Laden’s former bodyguard, Abu Jandal, is fascinating for, if nothing else, Jandal’s ability to deliver self-contradiction with such sincerity. Continue reading

“Winter’s Bone” Director Q & A (no spoilers)

I know the video quality isn’t great (my camera can’t handle low light situations), but I figure it might be worth the audio to interested parties.

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EIFF Daily Roundup (part 11)

*The Dry Land drops some PTSD knowledge

*Soul Boy is a lot of fun

*Restrepo is mildly depressing.

“Restrepo” digs into Afghanistan combat

From The War Tapes to Generation Kill, the moving image has tried to convey the current U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The difference between those fiction and non-fiction accounts is that they didn’t spend fifteen months shooting their productions in hostile territory. Continue reading

“Soul Boy” a great ride

Films that don’t come from traditionally Western nations rarely get cinema attention.  However, with films like City of God (Brazil) and Slumdog Millionaire (India) seizing the spotlight, Soul Boy could bring the rest of the world to Kibera, Nairobi. Continue reading

PTSD at the heart of “The Dry Land”

There are quite a few war films, but not many that concern a soldier’s life when he returns to the real world (Born on the 4th of July, Deer Hunter, Rambo).  What sets The Dry Land apart is its direct engagement with how war-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects a soldier’s life and those around him. Continue reading

EIFF Daily Roundup (part 9)

* Only killed one thing when spending an afternoon with The Hunter

*and then took a trip to Snowman’s Land

*Spoiler free Q & A with the Monsters cast and crew.

other news

I utilized the EIFF’s videotheque to check out the above titles.  While I was bored during parts of The Hunter I would look around at what other people were watching.  One guy was just loving his film, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I was delighted to see a lot of people watch Au Revoir Taipei and HIGH School.

The person next to me was watching Snowman’s Land and after seeing an old man run in the snow in slow-motion and someone about to (what looked like) get their foot chopped off, I was curious how it all fit together (and figured it would be better than what I just watched).

If you’re in the Edinburgh area this weekend, you should try to get tickets for the Best of the Fest.  On Sunday they’ll screen a selection of films from the festival and some of my favorites will be showing.  So now that you’ve read my reviews, you can check out Monsters, Au Revoir Taipei, Jackboots on Whitehall, or The People vs George Lucas.  Click here for Sunday’s films.

reviews to come

The Dry Land, Soul Boy, Restrepo

“Monsters” post-screening Q & A (no spoilers)

Director Gareth Edwards is to the right, actors Whitney Able and Skoot McNairy to the left.

Continue reading

I didn’t know there was so much blood in “Snowman’s Land”

Walter’s a regular guy: he wakes up, eats some food and goes to work – killing people.  However, when Walter whacks the wrong guy in a men’s bathroom, his boss puts him on hiatus.  One of his hitman colleagues, Francois, tells him to take a job in the mountains: get some fresh air, time away from the world, relaxation!  Of course, vacations never turn out as you expect and given Walter’s line of work, the unexpected can be lethal. Continue reading

The Hunter

Like Police, Adjective, The Hunter is a slow-paced film which probably has more cultural significance than viewers outside its place of origin will recognize.

Ali Alavi, an ex-con who works the night shift, comes home to find his daughter and wife missing.  Ali goes to the police and discovers they were killed by gunfire between police and a rebel group.  Taking his rifle, he goes up to a hill and hunts cars on the freeway.

The film takes its time to arrive at the two main plot points and after he starts shooting cars, you’re not really sure why this is his reaction to the death of his wife and child.  It might be interesting to discuss the decisions made at the conclusion, but other than that, there’s not a strong engagement with the audience.  Very few characters interact with Ali, so we spend most of the time watching his moody mug go to his boring job, look for his family, and MINOR SPOILER run from the police SPOILER OVER.

None of this would be a problem if the audience were thrown more breadcrumbs to understand the character’s motivations – but something tells me there’s a cultural significance to the killing of his family by police/rebels that audiences outside of Tehran can’t grasp.

If you liked Hanake’s opaque Cache (Hidden), I’m sure you’ll love this.  For the rest of us, we’ll pass.