Shadows Film FestArthouse films ’06
Films unlikely to be showing at your local multiplex...
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last update 12.May.06
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Atomised 3.5/5 Elementarteilchen [aka The Elementary Particles]
Roehler takes on the difficult task of adapting French novelist Michel Houellebecq's controversial bestseller. And the result is a strikingly powerful film--challenging, provocative and emotionally wrenching.
  So she could live a free-spirited life, Jane (Hoss) deposits her two sons with their respective grandmothers; they only meet each other in their teens. Later, Bruno (Bliebtreu) becomes a sex-obsessive, dangerously unstable teacher, while half-brother Michael (Ulmen) is a genius genetic scientist who can't form relationships. Late in life they both find love--Bruno with a woman (Gedeck) who shares his passions and Michael with his childhood sweetheart (Potente). But fate has some more unexpected turns in store.
  The central idea is that, even as the world changes drastically around us, redefining sex and relationships, the truth is fundamental, elementary, atomic. This is a haunting, emotional and brainy film that really digs into its central themes. These people make decisions, suffer regret, struggle with their daily lives and do whatever it takes to find a level of happiness. And Roehler mixes the bitter with the sweet, layering in humour and tragedy with irony, joy, destiny, hope and despair.
  Bliebtreu and Ulmen are terrific in the central roles as brothers who continually swap places as far as success is concerned, but are both completely ill-prepared for the world around them. Their journeys are clearly metaphors for the modern world--the way Victorian/Industrial families and morals have given way to a very different type of society in the 21st century. And both Gedeck and Potente are superb as well.
  This is powerfully observational filmmaking, jumbling seemingly random scenes together to take us on an evocative, stimulating voyage into the inner workings of human relationships. Although it's gorgeously filmed, with a seductive 1970s song score, it's not always easy to watch. Roehler makes sure to include plenty of lightness and optimism, as well as beautiful details that are meaningful and moving, but some viewers may find the film a bit sprawling and too-intellectualised. Still, there are moments of transcendent emotion that take our breath away. And it lingers long after the lights come up.
dir-scr Oskar Roehler
with Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Ulmen, Martina Gedeck, Franka Potente, Corinna Harfouch, Nina Hoss, Thomas Drechsel, Tom Schilling, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Michael Gwisdek, Ulrike Kriener, Nina Kronjäger
bliebtreu and ulmen release Ger 23.Feb.06,
UK 14.Jul.06
06/Germany Constantin 1h45
Best Actor, Bliebtreu:
15 themes, language, sexuality, nudity
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Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!   3/5
Billed as "an authorised bootleg", this inventive concert film was shot by 50 fans using home video cameras. The result really captures the energy of this ground-breaking group.
  On 9 October 2004, at the end of their Challah at Your Boy "travelling pageant", the Beastie Boys played a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden, giving 50 Hi-8 cameras to audience members (plus five DV cameras wielded by professionals) and telling them to just keep shooting. Hours of videotape are combined to depict the experience of the event, from the vigorous performances to the revelry in the crowd, and even trips to the snack bar and toilet, plus one guy who sneaks backstage.
  The footage was compiled by band member Adam Yauch (who performs as MCA and directs as Hörnblowér). As a film, it's rather indulgent; he gives each song its own visual style. Some are monochrome or heavily polarised, others add animation effects, one flickers back and forth to negative images. All of this fast-cut, grainy imagery combines with a powerfully crisp sound mix to deliver an appropriately full-on sensual assault.
  Fans will love the way the movie conveys the raw force of Yauch, Adam Horovitz (Ad Rock) and Michael Diamond (Mike D). Their music bristles with righteous anger and punchy attitude. This is a fans' eye view, and the crowd is clearly loving every moment, singing along with each song, moshing in the pit, fighting for their right to party. On the other hand, casual fans may find the film somewhat wearing, as it's not easy to understand the lyrics, so the tracks sound rather repetitive. And the one song everyone wants to hear never arrives (which seems a bit on the pretentious side, frankly).
  But this is one of the most remarkable concert videos you'll see. The sheer quantity of material is visible in Yauch's rapid-fire editing. And the film vividly documents how hard these guys work every night. It's an essential experience, both in a cinema and in the home DVD collection, for anyone who enjoys either the Beastie Boys or concert films in general.
dir Nathaniel Hörnblowér
with Mike D, Ad Rock, MCA, Mix Master Mike, Money Mark, Doug E Fresh, Alfredo Ortiz, Ben Stiller
the beastie boys release US 31.Mar.06,
UK 6.Jul.06
06/US ThinkFilm 1h29

15 language
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Innocent Voices   3.5/5   Voces Inocentes
As a true story about childhood during wartime, this is a powerful film made with a level of technical quality rarely seen in Latin cinema. Although it does feel overly sentimentalised.
  Chava (Padilla) is terrified of his next birthday, because in early-1980s El Salvador, the both the army and the peasant guerrillas draft 12-year-olds into active service, fighting an increasingly brutal civil war that started over a land rights issue. Frequent gun battles around their homes, church and school make life a real strain for Chava's mother Kella (Varela), grandmother (Medina) and especially the local priest (Cacho). Everyone's caught between the two sides, and American intervention is just making things worse.
  Despite the effort to give a non-political child's perspective, the film definitely sides with the peasants as it tells a strong story of innocence lost and the corrupting influence of US foreign policy, which backed the increasingly brutal government. There's an admission that both sides committed atrocities, but there's no doubt who the good guys are here. And Mandoki also can't resist wielding a weapon he collected during his Hollywood years (see Message in a Bottle): manipulative sentimentality.
  That said, Mandoki also returns to Mexico with strong filmmaking skills. This is expertly photographed and edited, drawing vivid performances from the cast. The young Padilla holds the film together beautifully, and the marvellous Varela is as amazing as always--Kella's journey is even more compelling than Chava's. This a vitally important story, told with artistic skill and real emotion that comes from the details of writer Torres' childhood experiences.
  We really feel the constant threat this fragile family lives with--the gunfire is terrifying, and the political situation seems utterly hopeless. Mandoki can't resist slushing up the childhood romance, but at least he balances it with true sadness. The film often feels like a lyrical lament over a land torn apart by injustice and imbalance: how can a nation recover when even its children are so horribly victimised? And as it echoes what's happening all over the planet right now, it's an essential story to tell.
dir Luis Mandoki
scr Oscar Orlando Torres, Luis Mandoki
with Carlos Padilla, Leonor Varela, Gustavo Muñoz, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Jesús Ochoa, José María Yazpik, Ofelia Medina, Xuna Primus, Alejandro Felipe, Jorge Angel Toriello, Adrian Alonso, Paulina Gaitan
padilla with a soldier friend release Mex 28.Jan.05, US 14.Oct.05,
UK 11.Aug.06
04/Mexico Fox 2h00
Crystal Bear: BERLINALE
15 themes, language, violence
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One Day in Europe   3/5
There are four entertaining stories in this film, tied together only because they all take place on the same day, while a major football match is underway. It's charming and watchable, but nothing extraordinary.
  In Moscow, where the big match between Deportivo La Coruña and Galatasaray is taking place, a British tourist (Gay) is robbed on the way to her hotel. Unable to speak Russian, she's helped a kindly local woman (Tsvetkova). In Istanbul, a blond German (Lukas) fakes a robbery to make an insurance claim. He's helped by a friendly cab driver (Yikdiz). In Spain, a Hungarian pilgrim (Scherer) has his camera stolen, then makes the rounds with a sceptical cop (de Lira). And in Berlin, a pair of French street clowns (Brakni and Arquier) develop a dubious plan to make ends meet.
  Shared elements include tourists with language issues, a crime that's either real or staged, trouble with the police and encounters between strangers. And of course the stories are set against the backdrop of revelling fans more obsessed with watching the match on television than on what's happening right in front of them. But that's as far as it goes with the subtext.
  The cast is natural, lively and endearing. Surprisingly, Lukas is the most likeable, mainly because the ordeal he goes through is genuinely annoying. Scherer is the most sympathetic, since there's a spiritual element to his story, and no one remotely understands him. And Brakni and Arquier are engaging in their frustration with life and each other, and their ludicrously ill-prepared scam.
  Stohr directs with energy and spark; the film vividly and colourfully captures the settings with an understated eye that focuses more on culture than iconic landmarks. There's also a terrific sense of language, as English, Russian, German, Turkish, Spanish, French and Hungarian all function as both barriers and bridges to the interaction.
  But the stories themselves are slight, rather contrived and ultimately pointless. These are intriguing characters in incomplete plots that aren't really about hooligans, crime, economics, racial tensions or any of the other themes they brush against. But as a slice of Euro-life, it's worth a look.
dir-scr Hannes Stöhr
with Megan Gay, Luidmila Tsvetkova, Florian Lukas, Erdal Yildiz, Peter Scherer, Miguel de Lira, Rachida Brakni, Boris Arquier, Luis Tosar, Facundo Diab, Goldi Martinez, Andrei Sokolov
lukas and yildiz release Ger 7.Apr.05,
UK 19.May.06
05/Germany 1h35


15 themes, language
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