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BEFORE THE LAST CURTAIN FALLS |
ELECTRIC BOOGALOO | THE LOOK OF SILENCE
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last update 10.Jun.15
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Before the Last Curtain Falls
Bevor der Letzte Vorhang Fällt
dir-scr Thomas Wallner
prd Christian Beetz
with Gerrit Becker, Richard Dierick, Vanessa Van Durme, Andrea De Laet, Danilo Povolo, Rudy Suwyns, Griet DeBacker, Hendrik Lebon, Dirk Van Vaerenbergh, Yong Li, Ashref Mahmoud
release Bel May.14 dff,
US Mar.15 afvf,
UK Jun.15 ocdf
Artfully assembled, this documentary profiles a group of retirement-age transgender performers by going deep rather than concentrating on the flashy cross-dressing surfaces. And by blurring boundaries, these people emerge as strikingly varied individuals with one significant thing in common.
There are six performers at the centre of this film, and they have returned to Ghent for the final performance of their show Gardenia, which tells their stories through music and movement. They've travelled to 25 countries to get here, and as the evocative show progresses, we meet each of them as they ponder their past and present, expressing their thoughts and feelings as they look through old photos and go about their day jobs. They also make pointed comments about their parents, partners and friends, as well as their hopes for the future.
Their stage show looks magnificent, surprising and provocative, touching on deeply emotional feelings while obliterating cultural taboos. And each person's personal segment is revelatory and distinctly life-affirming. Filmmaker Wallner edits this together with sensitivity and wit, juxtaposing images for maximum effect to both entertain and dig beneath the surface. This intimacy leads each person into areas they clearly don't want to discuss. For example, Rudy was terrified to be gay at a time when it was illegal, so he kept silent.
"Gardenia was the greatest gift I ever received," says Danilo,, reminiscing about his days as a female hooker. He still works in a house of prostitution "wiping up the mayonnaise". Andrea shows photos of herself as a little boy, unable to understand why she couldn't be a girl. Vanessa reminisces about when she was a leggy model and showgirl with more men than she could count. Richard laughs that he wanted to be a model but knew he couldn't be one with this nose! Gerrit lived for 26 years as a woman and lost faith in men.
The best thing about this film is that it never lets us put these people into a box. Frankly it doesn't matter which of them are male-to-female or female-to-male, a cross-dresser or trans-gender, gay or straight: each has his or her own history, feelings, joys and a hope of finding real love. As Danilo observes, the show captures the melancholy of people who live on the outside edges of society. Frankly they look like rather drab men, and utterly fabulous women
15 themes, language
R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir-scr Veronika Liskova
prd Jana Brozkova, Zdenek Holy
with Daniel Kubec, Barbora Cihakova, Petr Mancal, Lukas Prchal, Alois Svehlik, Ondrej Trojan, Lucie Vopalenska, Karel Zak, Efix, Host, Kascz, Kvetak, Teenbl, Tojejedno, Silesia, Simgiran
release Cz 19.Feb.15,
UK Jun.15 ocdf
15/Czech Republic 1h18
OPEN CITY DOC FEST
By continually challenges preconceptions, this sensitive documentary isn't easy to watch. It's a profile of a disarmingly honest, thoughtful young man coming to terms with the fact that he is a homosexual paedophile who can never express his internal longings and will probably never find love. His openness makes the film essential.
At 25, Daniel studies literature and writes children's stories. He's known about himself since he was 15, and is determined to never do anything harmful or illegal. So he has never dated and speaks frankly with his friends, including the parents of a young boy he feels strongly for. But his loneliness is overwhelming, so he looks for others like him who are willing to join him in Prague's Pride march, admitting their proclivities and promising never to offend with an enigmatic banner that says, "Not only gays have their coming out".
By being so relentlessly truthful, Daniel can't help but change perceptions. He knows that he can never express himself sexually, and is dealing with this in a remarkably mature way, proving that he can have a positive role in society. Filmmaker Liskova tells his story through fly-on-the-wall conversations, interviews with experts, artful inner musings and some dramatisations. She also constantly makes the distinction between a paedophile (someone attracted to pre-teens) and child sex offenders (someone who physically assaults a child).
Yes, this is a very fine line, so watching the film isn't a comfortable experience. But the fascinating conversations gradually crush preconceptions by explaining that it's Daniel's behaviour that's a choice, not his yearnings. "These are my feelings," he says, "but I don't want to have sex with a child, that would be awful! I want to know how to live my life." Even in groups (with their faces obscured), his similarly minded friends talk about their determination to keep their urges as fantasies and nothing more.
The filmmakers bravely refuse to play it safe, addressing the issue of child porn and including imagery of Daniel at a crowded playground. What's most amazing is how people respond to Daniel's openness with support and understanding, avoiding judgement while remembering where the boundaries are. Most importantly, the film forces us to examine perhaps the strongest taboo we have. And it ultimately suggests that if people were able to speak without fear of condemnation, they'd be able to plot a more constructive path through life.
15 strong themes, language, imagery
R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
dir-scr Mark Hartley
prd Veronica Fury, Brett Ratner
with Sybil Danning, Bo Derek, Elliott Gould, Robert Forster, Dolph Lundgren, Molly Ringwald, Marina Sirtis, Tobe Hooper, Boaz Davidson, John G Avildsen, Franco Zeffirelli, Barbet Schroeder
release US Sep.14 fff,
Aus 6.Oct.14, UK 5.Jun.15
14/Australia RatPac 1h47
From the mid-1960s to the early 1990s, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus produced an almost impossible number of movies through their company Cannon Films. Most of these were exploitation films packed with nudity and explosions, but there were occasional critical gems as well. Whatever anyone thinks, their enthusiasm for cinema was infectious. And it changed the industry forever.
Israeli filmmaker Golan and his cousin Globus took over Cannon Films in 1979, carrying on the studio's low-budget tradition by producing a blinding number of B-movies in a range of genres: comedy (The Last American Virgin), period drama (Lady Chatterly's Lover), sci-fi (Lifeforce), fantasy (Hercules), musical (Breakin'), adventure (King Solomon's Mines) and of course action (The Delta Force). But they also produced high-brow films with the likes of John Cassavettes, Franco Zeffirelli, Norman Mailer and Andre Konchalovsky before closing shop in 1994.
Golan and Globus not only pioneered ways to make big movies quickly and cheaply, but they completely transformed the way the industry uses marketing to develop a project. Before shooting a frame of film, Cannon would pre-sell their movies using fake posters at events like the Cannes Film Festival, building audience and industry anticipation long before the movie was made. Of course, now companies like Marvel have turned this process into a production assembly-line.
In addition, Cannon proved that they could make a a huge number of movies on moderate budgets, with one big hit funding the next slate of films. But this led to trouble later on when their big event films were so clearly underfunded, such as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), which had its $34 million budget slashed in half. And it showed. Filmmaker Hartley traces this with high energy and lots of humour, carefully picking clips for maximum entertainment value, including scenes from little-seen classics like Golan's bonkers rock musical The Apple (1980), which frankly looks unmissable.
This documentary is clearly the work of a fan unafraid to admit that things often went wrong. The vast array of interviewees speaks to the cousins' unbridled passion for cinema, fiery tempers, astonishingly quick decision-making and, most enjoyably, how it felt to be on board this wild ride. Hartley's film is a fast-paced thrill ride through an iconic period in movie history that produced a library of guilty pleasures. And this documentary needs to be in there too.
18 themes, language, violence, sexuality
R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
The Look of Silence
dir Joshua Oppenheimer
prd Signe Byrge Sorensen
with Adi Rukun, Rohani, Rokun, Kemat, Inong, Amir Siahaan, Amir Hasan, MY Basrun
release UK 12.Jun.15,
VENICE FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
BERLIN FILM FEST
A companion piece to Oppenheimer's unforgettable The Act of Killing (2013), this documentary is an even more harrowing exploration of Indonesia's violent recent past. As the title suggests, it takes a more introspective approach, focussing on a survivor offering reconciliation and forgiveness to people who still don't see themselves as monsters.
Born after the purges, 44-year-old optician Adi asks residents of his hometown about the 1965 revolution, during which his brother Ramli was violently killed in public by men who are in authority today. He meets the witnesses, offering eye exams to get into their homes. One death-squad leader, 72-year-old Inong, doesn't understand why people are afraid of him, even after he mentions drinking his victims' blood. And everyone blames Adi for opening old wounds. But he knows that silence is no longer an option, even if the truth is horrifying.
Adi's questions are startlingly bold, especially in a culture that would rather let the past lie. His mother Rohani thinks it's enough that these men will suffer in the afterlife, so she wants him leave them alone. Until he discovers that her 82-year-old brother was a prison guard and she loses her cool. In each tense conversation, Adi's quietly tenacious approach corners these men, often without them realising what they're revealing. One of the strongest scenes in the film involves a woman listening in dawning horror as her father matter-of-factly confesses to hideous war crimes.
Along the way, Oppenheimer and his anonymous crew capture everyday life including Adi's giggly children, whom Adi wants to make sure understand the truth about their nation's history. School curriculum still teaches that communists deserve death, so their unapologetic killers are national heroes. They believe that since these were evil people, human decency didn't apply, so they used machetes to hack them up alive. In other words, this film isn't about the past at all: Indonesia is still in the middle of this story.
This is a powerfully emotional, beautifully shot and edited film about an entire nation clinging to their ignorance. As Oppenheimer says, "I felt like I'd wandered into Germany 40 years after the Holocaust, only to find the Nazis still in power." Knowing the truth is an urgent priority here, so the way Oppenheimer quietly documents the refusal to face facts is seriously shocking. "America taught us to hate communists," says the killer Siahaan. "This was our heroic struggle. We deserve a prize for what we did." As Adi points out, how do you forgive someone who feels no regret?
15 strong themes
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall