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Indies, foreigns, docs, videos, revivals and shorts...
On this page: BERLIN '09 | LONDON L&G '09
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unreleased and unreviewed


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berlin film festival Blog reviews from the 59th Berlin Film Festival
The Countess
dir-scr Julie Delpy
withJulie Delpy, William Hurt, Daniel Bruhl, Anamaria Marinca, Nikolai Kinski, Andy Gatjen, Frederick Lau, Jeanette Hain

The Countess After her fabulous comedy 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy shifts gears drastically for this dark period thriller about 17th century Hungarian Countess Bathory (Delpy), who notoriously believed that the blood of virgins could keep her young. The film is gloomy and grisly, with stiff dialog and oddly paced drama. But it also has a deranged charm, dryly hilarious wit, plus enjoyably nutty acting from Delpy as well as Anamaria Marinca, William Hurt and Daniel Bruhl. Pictured at their photo call are actor Sebastian Blomberg, actress Marinca, writer-director-star Delpy and producer Andro Steinborn.

10.Feb.09 bff

The Good American
dir Jochen Hick
with Tony Weise, Chi Chi La Rue, Alex Baresi, Ce Ce Peniston, Frederik Berlin, Jeffrey Davids, Talvin DeMachio, Mike Jones

The Good American This low-fi doc about male escort promoter Tony Weisse tells a fascinating story of a man who moved to America and then disappeared illegally into the system, where he turned to prostitution to survive and eventually helped launch the most successful rent boy website on earch, accompanied by a circuit of parties. The film follows him around America and then as he returns to Berlin for the first time in oevr a decade, knowing he might never be able to go back to New York. It's all rather indulgent, never quite sure whether it's documenting the man or his business. But it's lively and entertaining, sometimes almost uncomfortably intimate, and when it sticks to one aspect of the story, pretty revealing. Filmmaker Hick, along with Weisse and many of the guys from the film, took to the stage at the end for an intriguing Q&A that centred on what it was like to live with a camera peering at your every move the years the film was in production.

9.Feb.09 bff

Light Gradient
3/5   Ruckenwind
dir-scr Jan Kruger
with Sebastian Schlecht, Eric Golub, Iris Minich, Denis Alevi, Rainer Winkelvoss 09/Ger
light gradient This German improvisational film looks absolutely breathtaking as it follows two young cyclists through the countryside, where they have a few adventures and end up in an isolated farmhouse with a woman and her teen son. A sense of tension and impending tragedy infuses the whole film, and we never have a clue what might happen as the characters swirl around each other. On the other hand, the characters never deepen beyond the surface - there's no backstory at all - and what actually happens, while photographed and edited with real skill, remains just a bit too elusive in the end.

11.Feb.09 bff

Little Joe
dir Nicole Haeusser
scr Joe Dallesandro
with Joe Dallesandro
Little Joe This straightforward doc follows the life of Joe Dallesandro from his childhood through his years in Andy Warhol's factory to his career in European B-movies and finally his renaissance as a bit player in top Hollywood movies. It's all narrated by Joe himself, using interviews to link together a wonderful selection of clips, home movies and gorgeous still photos. But that's about it, really. While Dallesandro is revealingly frank about himself and his career, and the people he has worked with, we get no other perspectives on him at all. Yes, he might be the most photogenic man who ever lived, but surely a more rounded portrait would dig a bit deeper.

10.Feb.09 bff

Short Cut to Hollywood
dir Marcus Mittermeier, Jon Henrik Stahlberg
dir Jon Henrik Stahlberg
with Jan Henrik Stahlberg, Marcus Mittermeier, Christoph Kottenkamp, Marta McGonagle, Asli Bayram, Iris Lohninger, Allison Findlater-Galinsky, Jerry Perez
short cut to hollywood
Short Cut to Hollywood From Germany, this rowdy fake-doc follows a lively, slightly crazy young guy (played by co-director Stahlberg), who dubbs himself John F Salinger and heads to the USA with his two goofy pals with just one goal: to become globally famous. The way he achieves this is pretty outrageous, and the film contains some bracingly sharp satire of celebrity culture and the voracious demands of the media. But the tone is all over the place, from broad slapstick to dark emotion, with a bit of grisliness and sex as well. It's great fun to watch, but never quite comes together to deliver the final gut punch.

13.Feb.09 bff

Strella: A Woman’s Way
dir Panos H Koutras
scr Panajotis Evangelidis, Panos H Koutras
with Mina Orfanou, Yannis Kokiasmenos, Minos Theoharis, Akis Ioannou, Argyris Kavvidas, Christos Mazis, Konstadinos Siradakis, Betty Vakalidou
strella This bold, ambitious drama is set in Athens, where a man gets out of prison and, as he's searching for his estranged son, meets a pre-op transsexual. Their relationship goes through some serious twists and turns, drawing in side characters and personal history along the way for a strikingly emotional look at people living on the fringe of 'normal' society but facing the same issues as everyone else in perhaps even more intense ways. It's all a bit melodramatic, but is also strongly involving and challenging.

10.Feb.09 bff

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london lesbian & gay film festival Blog reviews from the 23rd BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
After Him
3/5   Après Lui
dir Gael Morel
scr Christophe Honore, Gael Morel
with Catherine Deneuve, Thomas Dumerchez, Guy Marchand, Elodie Bouchez, Elli Medeiros, Adrien Jolivet, Luis Rego, Amina Medjoubi
07/France 1h33
deneuve and dumerchez
apres lui Catherine Deneuve gives a rippling, emotional performance as a woman whose son dies in a car crash, leaving her utterly shattered. To fill the void, and try to achieve a kind of peace with herself, she begins obsessing about her son's best friend (Le Clan's Thomas Dumerchez). The film is sharply well shot and acted, with a seriously intense script by those French masters of familial angst, Gael Morel and Christophe Honore. It's a genuinely wrenching film with a darkly emotional tone that really catches a sense of loss and yearning, mixing creepy stalker behavious with maternal hope.

8.Mar.09 llgff

Japan Japan
dir-scr Lior Shamriz
with Imri Kahn, Naama Yuria, Tal Meiri, Amnon Friedman, Irit Gidron, Avishag Leibovitz, Benny Ziffer, Pnina Grietzer
07/Israel 1h05
japan japan This experimental movie from Israeli filmmaker Lior Shamriz centres on a 19-year-old who moves to Tel Aviv and shares a flat with a rather crazy young woman while he goes out looking for boys and tries to figure out what to do with his life. He has a dream of moving to Japan, but is distracted by his best friend's video-blogs from her New York holiday as well as the Palestine-Israel conflict. The film is a witty, intriguing exploration of identity, shot with split-screens and some pretty outrageous imagery. There's no real plot, but the film catches a terrific autobiographical tone along the way, and vividly shows that sometimes there are bigger issues beyond us that put our own lives into perspective.

4.Apr.09 llgff

dir Morgan Jon Fox
scr Morgan Jon Fox, John Tom Roemer
with Jake Casey, Andy Harper, Ed Porter, Ritchie Longoria, Amber O'Daniels, Suzi Crashcourse, Morgan Stewart, Eileen Townsend
08/US 1h21
omg/hahaha Subtitled "another piece of homo-propaganda", this fake doc indeed gets rather preachy as it goes along, pretending to be a video-blog by an emo 18-year-old talking about his dying mother, teen pregnancy, relationships and generation-gap issues. Even if it doesn't ring fully true, it feels extremely improvisational, with revealingly open conversations. It has an airy, light-filled photographic style that's reminiscent of free-form Gus Van Sant, plus laidback music and a genuine attempt to catch that whole MySpace thing. On the other hand, the on-screen captions get rather annoying with their text-spellings and emoticons. And when the big themes start to come together in the end, it feels a bit forced and gimmicky.

3.Mar.09 llgff

Tru Loved
dir-scr Stewart Wade
with Najarra Townsend, Matthew Thompson, Jake Abel, Joseph Julian Soria, Tye Olson, Alexandra Paul, Cynda Williams, Nichelle Nichols, Jasmine Guy
08/US 1h42
townsend and thompson
tru loved From the maker of the charming Coffee Date, this enjoyable high school comedy deals with some serious themes as it progresses to a very cute and corny finale. Tru (Townsend) is a new girl in school whose open-minded background (she has four parents - a gay couple and a lesbian couple) gets her into the middle of the coming out crisis for a football star (Thompson) who thinks his whole life will end if anyone finds out that he's gay - so he asks her to play his girlfriend. The plot wrinkles are pretty predictable, but it's played with warmth and honesty. And there are some terrific small roles for the fabulous Jane Lynch, Marcia Wallace and even Bruce Vilanch.

4.Apr.09 llgff

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