Shadows @ Film FestsShadows: Arthouse Films ’03

Send Shadows your reviews!On this page: ANGELA | HISTORIAS MINIMAS |

< < M O R E | M O R E > >
More mainstream art films have their own pages.
Even more offbeat films are at the SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL.
last update 31.Jul.03

back to the top ANGELA
dir-scr Roberta Torre
with Donatella Finocchiaro, Andrea Di Stefano, Mario Pupella, Erasmo Lobello, Tony Gambino, Matteo Gulino, Maria Mistretta, Guiseppe Pettinato
release UK 15.Aug.03 • 02/Italy 1h31 2½ out of 5 stars
Based on a true story, this tale of crime and passion is certainly intriguing and gripping, even if the film never quite does it justice. Angela (Finocchiaro) works with her husband (Pupella) in the family shoe shop, which is actually a front for a drug-dealing business. But the cops are onto them, quietly keeping an eye on the shop ... and on Angela as she delivers "shoes" to the customers. Then the young Masino (Di Stefano) arrives to help out, and a spark slowly grows to a flame between him and Angela that will make what happens next even more difficult for them all.
  Writer-director Torre films all this in a darkly austere style--black is the dominant colour, with shadows lurking everywhere like a horror film in which we never know when something might leap out to devour one of the characters! In some ways that's exactly what it is, with sneaky cops and vicious mobsters everywhere. Yet while it looks fascinating, it doesn't really help the story much, because it mutes the life and energy needed to make the relationships spring to life. The meandering structure is a bit alienating as well, with lots and lots of small scenes, some of which are quite confusing. That said, Finocchiaro is excellent; even though it's difficult to identify with Angela, watching her cope with the events is fascinating and surprisingly moving. Di Stefano is also superb as the darkly mysterious stranger who charms his way into everyone's life. But the most sympathetic character is the wronged husband, nicely played by Pupella. His scenes with Finocchiaro are brilliant--deeply touching and steeped in the emotion that seems missing from the rest of the film. [15 themes, language, violence] 31.Jul.03
back to the top MINIMAL STORIES [Historias Minimas]
benedictti and friend
dir Carlos Sorin; scr Pablo Solarz
with Antonio Benedictti, Javier Lombardo, Javiera Bravo, Julia Solomonoff, María Rosa Cianferoni, Rosario Vera, Aníbal Maldonado, Carlos Montero, Mario Splanguño, César García, María del Carmen Jiménez, Armando Grimaldi
release Argentina 24.Oct.02; UK 25.Jul.03 • 02/Argentina 1h31 3½ out of 5 stars
From Argentina, this charming three-strand comedy takes us to an isolated part of the planet to introduce us to three people in the tiny village of Fitz Roy. Justo (Benecidtti) is an 80-year-old living out his life in front of the roadside shop he started in the middle of the Patagonian wilderness. Then he finds out that his long-missing dog has been spotted in the nearest town, San Julian, about 200 miles away. So he sneaks off ... hitchhiking! Meanwhile, Roberto (Lombardo) is a 40-year-old travelling salesman obsessing about his plans to surprise a young widow (Cianferoni) in San Julian with a birthday cake for her son. Or is it a daughter? And finally, 25-year-old single mother Maria (Bravo) has just won an appearance on a TV game show, but must travel to San Julian to appear on the programme and possibly win the grand prize: a multiprocessor! Whatever that is.
  Director Sorin and writer Solarz tell a truly delightful interwoven tale about three people taking miniature epic journeys. Each has a specific task, and each will discover something completely unexpected both along the way and at the end of the road (strangely, the filmmakers leave most of Maria's trip off screen). All together the film has a relaxed comical tone and lively, strong characters who are all hiding something. This lets the film layer what's happening on screen with what's really going on inside each person's life. As a result, it's both engaging and utterly gripping, making terrific use of the bleak Patagonian landscape and the lively faces of the superb, mostly non-professional cast. It's absolutely packed with fantastic scenes that are funny, moving and surprising. A real gem. [15 themes, language] 14.Jul.03
back to the top NOI THE ALBINO [Nói Albinói]
tomas lemarquis festival
dir-scr Dagur Kári
with Tomas Lemarquis, Throstur Leo Gunnarsson, Elin Hansdottir, Anna Fridriksdottir, Hjalti Rognvaldsson, Kjartan Bjargmundsson, Petur Einarsson, Greipur Gislason, Gerard Lemarquis
release release Iceland 28.Feb.03; UK 14.Nov.03; US 19.Mar.04 • 03/Iceland 1h33 4 out of 5 stars
This quirky Icelandic fable is an intriguing and extremely clever blending of comedy, tragedy and coming-of-age angst. Noi (Lemarquis) is a 17-year-old albino with no drive at all. He's very bright, but he can't be bothered to attend classes or do his homework, preferring instead to wander around his tiny, isolated village getting in trouble ... or hiding out in the box-sized cellar beneath his house. Then he spots a new girl (Hansdottir) working in the local cafe and develops an interest in life again. Meanwhile, his drunken father (Gunnarsson) is trying to reconnect with him, his spiky grandmother (Fridriksdottir) is quietly spurring him on, and a grouchy shop owner (Rognvaldsson) is trying to keep him away from his daughter. Then Noi visits a fortune-teller (Bjargmundsson) who makes a rather scary pronouncement.
  Obviously a Jim Jarmusch fan, writer-director Kari creates an astonishing tone that brilliantly blends dry humour with impending tragedy. The film pokes along randomly (just like Noi), observing each quietly comic scene and building an overwhelming sense of nature out of balance. Like a tragic hero, Noi is stubbornly unaware of his moral blindness, refusing to acknowledge the consequences of his behaviour. Yet even as life begins to bite back with a vengeance, we're never prepared for where Kari takes us! Performances are spot-on from the entire cast; each memorable character is finely detailed and full of eccentricities that are beautifully underplayed. And even though it moves at an extremely slow pace, the film looks fantastic, with a wacky 1970s-style design (clothing, decor, cars) contrasted against the bleak wasteland around the snowbound village. And it's in the ironic conclusion that Kari delivers his powerfully resonant punch. A terrific feature debut from a filmmaker to watch. [15 themes, language] 4.Aug.03
back to the top SWIMMING POOL
dir François Ozon; scrEmmanuèle Bernheim, François Ozon
with Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance, Marc Fayolle, Jean-Marie Lamour, Keith Yeates, Sebastian Harcombe, Mireille Mosse, Emilie Gavois-Kahn, Michel Fau, Jean-Claude Lecas, Lauren Farrow
release release US 2.Jul.03; UK 22.Aug.03 • Canal+ 03/France 1h42 3½ out of 5 stars
Writer-director Ozon changes genres again and reteams with two of his former leading ladies for this astonishingly clever look at the creative process. Sarah Morton (Rampling) is a best-selling British author in the tradition of female crime novelists like Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell and PD James. Seriously repressed and stressed out about writing yet another detective novel, she takes up the offer from her publisher John (Dance) to use his house in Provence. So off she goes to France, enjoying her orderly solitude until John's daughter Julie (Sagnier) arrives to stir everything up. Soon Sarah feels like she's right in the middle of one of her murder mystery tales!
rampling   Everything about this film is carefully and expertly assembled, giving fascinating insight into the vivid characters while making wry observations on English versus French cultures, female solidarity and, most of all, the origins and effects of artistic inspiration. In some ways this touches on the same themes as Adaptation, although it's nowhere near as wacky and frenetic! Rampling gets into the skin of this lonely, set-in-her-ways woman remarkably, while Sagnier's Julie is so sensual and naively seductive that we're almost afraid to watch her. Ozon holds everything in firm control throughout, revealing little details in every scene with finely tuned direction and a minimalist script that lets us put the pieces together. In this way the film itself feels like a literary English novel! It's absolutely fascinating, touching on themes of revenge and compatibility, all while dropping hints galore that lead to an unusual--and unusually provocative--conclusion. [15 themes, language, nudity, sex, brief violence] 15.Jul.03
back to the top THE TIME OF THE WOLF [Le Temps du Loup]
dir-scr Michael Haneke
with Isabelle Huppert, Anais Demoustier, Lucas Biscombe, Hakim Taleb, Olivier Gourmet, Beatrice Dalle, Patrice Chereau, Brigitte Rouan, Maurice Benichou, Marilyne Even, Rona Hartner, Florence Loiret-Caille
release France 8.Oct.03; UK 17.Oct.03; US 28.May.04 • Canal+ 03/France 1h53 3 out of 5 stars
Austrian filmmaker Haneke (The Piano Teacher) is back with another relentlessly bleak drama, this time taking the end of the world as his theme. The title refers to an ancient German poem about the apocalypse, which is what Anna (Huppert) and her family wander into when they enter their holiday home in the French countryside. Yes, the tragedy is deeply personal, but it also engulfs the world around them as Anna and her two children (Demoustier and Biscombe) wander the countryside in search of help. They end up in an abandoned farm, where the assembling wanderers form a makeshift society now that all systems seem to have failed around them.
  What ensues is intensely involving and almost unbearably abrasive as Haneke tells the story without frills--no background music, frequent long takes, naturalistic lighting and performances. This is stark, creepy filmmaking with moments of sheer terror that violate all the rules of horror or sci-fi filmmaking, two genres Haneke seems intent to reinvent. Huppert gives another staggering central performance--strong and brittle at the same time--while the young Demoustier and Biscombe are superb, especially as both take seriously interesting journeys all their own. Surrounding them is a strong ensemble of desperation, greed and surprising flashes of kindness. As an examination of the depth of our "civilisation", this is brilliant filmmaking. So it's a shame that Haneke seems unsure where he's going with it; the story starts to meander, gets repetitive and concludes on a note that's both a stroke of genius and a wasted opportunity. Haneke's films may be very difficult to watch, but they're also impossible to turn away from. Or to forget. [15 themes, language, violence] 29.Jul.03
back to the top Send Shadows your reviews!

< < M O R E | M O R E > >


© 2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall