Saturday, February 09, 2008

Beloit International Film Festival Day 2

Day 2: Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 2, as far as I remember, probably began with coffee, and was interspersed with visits to the Pleasant Street Coffee Shop.

And now, the films:

Taming Tammy
This was a low-budget relationship comedy, somewhat stiff and telegraphed in places, but overall not bad. This looks, potentially, like the first steps on the road to professional filmmaking. Not bad, and the filmmaker could get better.

Flood Street
An outstanding documentary about a youth boxing program in New Orleans, pre-Katrina (though it of course ends with an epilogue on the aftermath of Katrina). Some of the spotlighted kids are interviewed around age 12, and again around age 17, and the progression and their comments are compelling and insightful. Outstanding black-and-white cinematography too.

Short Slot 1
Coucou Clock: a computer-animated wordless slapstick kitchen romp, a la some of the Pixar shorts that precede their features.

The Job: *SPOILERS* hilarious gag short featuring an Hispanic man driving a pickup truck looking for day laborers... for such jobs as CEO, software engineer, HR director, etc.

Holm Away From Home: a documentarian takes a guy who's never been outside the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the big city, Chicago. Amusing, good but not great.

Carmichael and Shane: outstandingly funny short about a father with twin boys, and his novel approach to parenting with limited resources: choose one as your favorite, throw all your attention on him, and let the other fend for himself.

Diggers: gravediggers speculate on the cause of death of their latest subject. Not nearly as good as it should have been.

Black Rockfordians: a horribly bad documentary that drains every bit of life and interest out of its featured subjects, prominent black citizens in Rockford, Illinois. Even the interviewees seem bored, and there's literally no information conveyed other than a string of names you won't remember.

Small Talk: food items begin to talk to a teenager. Cute, not great.

The Lives of Others
A fantastic movie, probably the best of the festival. The East German police (Stasi) monitor a writer with potential sympathies for the West, and the monitoring agent begins to get personally interested in his life. Stellar performances, writing, and concept. Restrained when it needs to be, and only a small deus ex machina mars the script.

We were shocked to find out the lead actor, Ulrich Muhe, died of cancer in 2007. He did leave a very rich film legacy, one we're going to pursue - he was extremely good.

La Cucina
Three women discuss their relationships. Incredibly talky, even for a film of this type. Flawed by the staggering volume of dialogue, countless too-cute and too-insightful answers, and a flawlessly wise character who gives flawless advice to her flawed friends.

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