Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seattle International Film Festival 2007

This year I have bought tickets to 15 films--out of 400--offered! What an ordeal in making one's choices! Very difficult, but I won't go into the torturous process! I will just list the titles with a short statement about each of the films I have seen so far.

Death at a Funeral British, 2007
This is a droll comedy. To give one a taste for what could wrong at a funeral, the first error was the delivery of the wrong corpse! Things went down hill from there! I enjoyed this film very much. I laughed from beginning to end.

Tell No One French,2006
A mystery with enough twists and turns to make one dizzy! It is about a French physician whose wife was abducted and murdered 8 years ago while vacationing at a secluded lake. He has rebuilt his life and now, new evidence emerges implicating him in his wife's death. This one kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Recommended!

Man in the Chair USA, 2006
This is a touching coming-of-age film about a L.A. teen-ager from a broken home who is dead set on becoming a film director--without the resources of his wealthy peers. With the help of residents of a retirement home for aging Hollywood film folks and a legendary, but forgotten screenwriter, he enters a student film contest with his docu-drama about neglected 0ld-timers in nursing homes. Wonderful Oscar-worthy performances, especially by Christopher Plummer as the teen's alcoholic mentor. This was a heartwarmer that I liked very much. It was fun to see all of the older actors do their stuff again.

Love & Dance Israel, 2006
Another inspiring coming-of-age film, an Israeli "Billy Elliott," in which the main character tries to resolve the marital conflicts between his Russian-born mother and Israeli-born father through the power of dance. An uplifting ending. A sweet film that I highly recommend.

2 Days in Paris French/German, 2006.
Story about a couple--she a French photographer and he an American interior designer--who visit her parents in Paris after their European vacation. This is a comedy which I didn't find to be very funny. It must have been everyone's obsession with sex! However, Daniel Bruhl's cameo performance as a "real" fairy was priceless!

White Palms
Hungarian/French, 2006
The story of an injured Hungarian Olympian gymnast, turned coach. He has come to Canada to begin his career. His authoritarian methods appall his Western employers. However, they give him one more chance--a chance to train a brilliant, yet tempermental gymnast. This a true story acted by a real gymnast and is brilliantly-acted and photographed. I especially liked the scenes at the end where the present and his past "career" in a circus performer cut in and out.

Her Best Move USA, 2007
This a sports film, the sport being women's soccer, but is more than that. It is a gentle love story and coming-of-age film about a gifted teenage soccer star, who is torn between working to become the youngest ever member of the national hockey team (her father's dream for her) or allowing herself to grow and become a more well-rounded individual.
This is a pretty accurate depiction of the teen years. I enjoyed this one.

Hula Girls Japan, 2006
Wow! This film, based on a true story, really captured my heart! And from the applause and cheering of the other audience members, I think everyone else seemed to really enjoy it, too! This was set in 1965 Japan in a remote northern mining town which was having an economic setback after the end of the Korean War necessitated mass layoffs. To rescue the area's economy an unlikely scheme was hatched: to build a Hawaiian cultural center to attract tourists. For this many women and girls were recruited to learn the hula and a sophisticated teacher from Toyko was hired to teach them the art. This was the best of show as far as am concerned. Get it!

Getting Home China/Hong Kong 2006
This is a gentle comedy, with lots of wonderful characters--not to mention lots of lovely Chinese scenery. The story is about a Chinese man who vows to take his buddy, who has suddenly died while they were out drinking together, to their hometown for burial. The next scene shows them both on a bus, the dead man disguised as a drunk. Needless to say, his deception is revealed--due to an encounter with some robbers who attempt to hold up the bus--and Zhao and his dead buddy are kicked off the bus! What ensues is an epic and comic and resourceful journey for both! I highly-recommend this film. I just "loved" the actor who played Zhao!

The Life of Reilly USA 2006
This film is the autobiography of the actor, Charles Nelson Reilly, and was filmed from his last two performances of a monologue which he staged under the title of Save It for the Stage. It proves my theory that, out of much pain, often comes great comedy! I enjoyed this film very, very much and am glad to hear a three-hour uncut version will be coming out late this year. I highly recommend this one!

A Parting Shot France/Switzerland 2007
This is the story of a young woman who is seriously depressed because she is estranged from her father, broken up with her boyfriend and does not find satisfaction in her job as a nurse. She, a champion marksman, therefore, decides to shoot herself. She takes her rifle to the woods, is about to shoot herself but, just before she is going to do this, she is distracted and annoyed by two quarreling teenage boys passing by and impulsively shoots at them, wounding one in the knee. She then runs off and tries to forget about the incident. When her victim is admitted to her hospital and she is assigned to nurse him, she is challenged in her relationship with him. For some reason, I did not "like" this young woman and couldn't feel sympathy for her. I didn't like this film.

Ballets Russes USA 2005
This is a wonderful documentary chronicling the rise and fall of the Ballet Russe from its beginnings in Paris in the late 1920's until its demise in the 1950s. With all of the vintage film footage of the fantastic ballets with elaborate costumes and scenery, plus interviews with the stars of the company, you are transported to the inside world of the ballet. Many of the stars--now in their 80's and 90's--were still dancing and teaching. This was such fun! I really enjoyed "getting to know" such fabulous and eccentric personalities. They demonstrate how the love of their art has kept them eternally young! This will soon be available as a DVD. It is a "must have."

More to come . . .

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