Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Berlinale: Day 5 and 6

Here are the films I watched yesterday and today:

Coriolanus - D+

Fiennes' first directorial attempt proves that great acting doesn't always translate into great directing. The film is set in nowadays Rome, but besides adding bits and pieces of news clips embedded into the narrative and swapping swords for machine guns the Shakespeare's play goes unchanged. Fiennes tries to make a commentary on modern day politics, where the appearance is much more important than actions. But there was much more that needed to be done to make this story contemporary. Fiennes' acting is especially bad, as he cannot find the right balance in dividing his acting and directorial duties - some monologue pieces feel rushed and calculated, Fiennes' engagement in the story seems partial at most.   

The Turin Horse - B+

Bela Tarr was known to me only through Gus Van Sant who has written essays and articles on the director's work and used a lot of his aesthetic ideas (especially those long steady shots) in his own films. The Turin Horse brings greatness of directorial craft from the first to the last shot - it feels monotonous but compelling at the same time; the simplicity of the story and its monumental scope are at the same time bizzare and fascinating. 

Rent Boys - C+

The film was clearly made for television and it doesn't pretend to be anything more than that. It has a very steady narrative, yet the plot takes surprising diversions from the main theme at times (especially when presenting the story of an abused Romanian living in Vienna) and feels educational to a certain extent. Unfortunately the historical/ political background is missing - something rather crucial for a foreigner who is unfamiliar with the hustling culture taking place at the infamous Zoo S-Bahn station. Also, the stories compiled for the film are all extremely sad and depressing, bringing the viewers to a conclusion that only abused and disadvantaged took part in sex cruising at the station. 

Even The Rain - C+

The film had a potential for greatness. It presents two parallel stories: one is about a film crew coming to a small town in Bolivian mountains the other is the film they make - the story of Christopher Columbus coming to the New World to bring the Word of God and eventually enslave the Indians and take over the land. The film-making process represents corporate culture abusing the poor Latin American countries and exploiting their people and resources. The story of the film the characters are making as presented in parallel to the ongoing struggle of the nowadays Bolivia shows a certain pattern embedded in the history and tries to prove that the corporate enslavement is only a continuation of the abuse which began centuries ago when the Europeans discovered the Americas. There is a specific moment which I can remember clearly when the film changes its tone dramatically and from a politically involved drama turns into a soap opera. One of the producers who was exploiting its Bolivian actors the same way the Spaniard once used to exploit the Native Americans, has a sudden change of heart and the story focuses from this moment on only on his emotional evolution. The ending is sweet and cuddly, filled with clich├ęs and Hollywood-like one liners. Blah.

The Mortician - F!!!

It's a bad student film. That's all I can say.

Our Grand Despair - B-

What is most fascinating about this Turkish drama is the subtlety of its homosexual undertones and socio-political content. The trio of main actors create a very vibrant and erotic tale without exposing their desires physically. It is a very cute film, funny at times and sad at the end. I wouldn't call it a must-see, but compared to other "masterpieces" presented in Competition it felt particularly good.

And that's it for now folks! Below some more pictures:

got my ticket!

No queue? Are we still in Berlin? 

 The arthouse cinema goes 3D in Berlin. And Adam looks smug in these glasses!

Mariusz scaring ppl on a train.

My morning routine - queuing up for the tickets.

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