Mitsuko Delivers (Hara ga kore nande) - 1/10: Yay, my first walk out of the festival! This movie was terrible; it was trying to be funny and quirky with various love stories intertwined, but it was painful and unfunny. It's about a pregnant you lady who returns to her modest home to have her child and seems to rekindle an old love. I toughed it out for about an hour, then decided a coffee and butter tart from the local patisserie was a much more tantalizing prospect than anything this movie could offer in the final 40 minutes. I feel confident I made the right decision as that butter tart was delicious!
Target (Mishen) - 5.5/10: This was a tough one. I wanted to like it more than I did. It's a sci-fi tale set in the near future (though it feels surprisingly like a 70's movie) where some wealthy Russians go to this abandoned astrophysics lab in rural Russia and gain, seemingly, eternal life. It seemed to owe a lot to Tarkovskiy, Stalker in particular, but it lacked the gravitas and beauty of a Tarkovskiy film. Fortunately it also lacked about 90 minutes of length that Tarkovskiy most assuredly would have included in his version of this film since at 2.5 hours I was pretty spent by Target. I did enjoy some specific sequences as these people deal with their newly found eternal life back in the real world, but it was all a little too muddled and never felt like it really came together. The Director was funny though, he commented before the film that if we could all tough it out and make it to the end of this thing we would be treated to a nice final shot and he was right; we had to "tough it out" and the final shot was indeed quite beautiful.
Life Without Principle (Dyut meng gam) - 8/10: was a fun film on the financial crisis and how it impacts different people in different walks of life. It all take place in Hong Kong and I think the Director Johnnie To did a good job of blending the stories, though admittedly the resolutions to some situations are left wanting. The highlight in this film is Ching Wan Lau playing the bumbling Brother Panther; he was awesome and hilarious and really stole the movie. I kind of wish the entire film was about his character. Good stuff.
Khodorkovsky - 8.5/10: is a documentary detailing the story of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the one-time richest man in Russia (he was actually the richest man in the world under the age of 40). He is now in prison for what seem to be political reasons. I found this fascinating; seeing Khodorkovsky's rise to prominence as the curtain came down, then his take down by the Putin government was a interesting and frightening tale of how nobody is safe from government corruption. Of course, this is a pretty one-sided story as the director quite obviously believes Khodorkovsky was wronged here and presents that argument well, so now I want to read more on the story which is often all I ask from a good documentary. There are some very strange animated sequences throughout the film which seem completely unnecessary, but aside from that I thought it was well composed.
Miss Bala - 7.5/10: A Mexican film about a young woman who attempts to enter a beauty contest then gets caught up in the rampant crime of Mexico. A very grimy, dirty film (it actually felt like the director put a filter of some sort on the camera to make everything look dull and brown) that is very effective and portraying the despair and helplessness of this young girl as she tries to just do something simple with her life and follow a basic dream. Has some great bursts action, but it also has a lot of slow parts with minimal dialogue that are very effective. I liked this quite a bit.
White (Hwa-i-teu: Jeo-woo-eui Mel-lo-di) - 3.5/10: Honestly a pretty bad Korean horror film about a K-Pop band that ends up using a cursed song...blood and violence ensues! It's pretty standard fare with some very generic J-Horror style scares, but I have to say I did have a bit of fun with it even though I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen. What can I say, I'm a sucker for pretty girls (Eun-Joo is gorgeous!) and horror so while I rolled my eyes pretty often at some of the scenes, and the horrible subtitles (2th??!? Is that supposed to be 2nd or 20th? Who knows.) by the end of it all I'd had a few good chuckles. Not really recommended for anyone but a goof like me who can watch stupid horror movies of any kind.
My Piece of the Pie (Ma part du gâteau) - 6.5/10: Another financial crisis related film, this one taking place in France and following a Mother who attempts suicide after losing her job at a plant she's worked at for the past 20 years. She then ends up going to work as a housekeeper for a wealthy investment banker. This was actually quite a bit of fun with several laugh out loud moments and while their were a few silly parts that I found a bit too trite, I was along for the ride and enjoying myself...up until about the last 15-20 minutes where it takes a massive turn. I understand why it happened, but it was such a shift it left me a little baffled. I did like this I just wish the last act had been handled a little differently.
How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? - 8.5/10: Pretty straightforward documentary about Norman Foster, one of the best architects on the world. If you have any interest in architecture I highly recommend this as you get to not only see beautiful shots of many amazing buildings, but the thoughts behind them, plus you get to delve into the life of the man himself. Not much else to say.
Lost Bohemia - 9.5/10: Great documentary on the Carnegie Hall apartments above the great theatre which housed many great artists and teachers over the years. If you have seen Bill Cunningham New York, and if you haven't you really should as it is awesome, then you absolutely must see Lost Bohemia as they essentially feel like companion films. So many unusual and interesting characters that have lived in that place for up to 50 years and we see them trying to deal with the Carnegie Corporation attempting to take the apartments away from them. Excellent and touching documentary. Highly recommended!
Alps - 6.5/10: Well it's no Dogtooth, but it definitely contains many of the same stylistic and even thematic elements of that film. The concept is great, but I did not quite find it as compelling or funny as I would have hoped. It did have its moments; the charades scene had me howling and I found one of the later scenes dealing with the attachment of one of the fill-ins to actually be touching. I liked this movie, but I think my hopes were a bit too high after Dogtooth. I'll need to watch this again to give it a fair shake. He sure likes to have awesome dancing in his movies!
Le Havre - 7/10: this is the first Aki Kaurismäki film I have seen (man Without a Past has been on my ZipList for quite a while) and to be honest I found it a tad befuddling. I loved the main character and found him very amusing, but the overall feel of the film left me bit bewildered as I was not sure whether some of the things (like the poor acting with clunky dialogue in a few spots) were intentional. This was another film that felt like it was from 30 or 40 years ago, which I suppose is to give you a sense of arrested development in this town, but just left me confused. I sound overly critical, but I actually did like this quite a bit, I think I'm just not entirely sure what to make of it. I'm probably over thinking it and should just enjoy it for the nice tale that it is. My favourite parts were, by far, anything with the main guy and the inspector; both of those characters were awesome. I'm quite interested to see some of Aki Kaurismäki's other work now.