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More Russian Fest reviews

06.29.2004

JoBlo here: Here's the second report on the Moscow International Film Festival, courtesy of one of our Russian discussion board members, 'Mad Maggot'. You can read PART 1 here.

Conversaciones con Mama - 8/10
by 'Mad Maggot'


< IMDB info page >

Plot: Jaime loses his job and has nothing to do but mortgage his mother's apartment. She bluntly refuses to let him do that, as she, at the age of 82, found a new love, a 69-years old homeless anarchist and now shares her flat with him. But there's always a way…

Review: I had two distant associations with this movie before I even saw it. Firstly, it was Pedro Almodovar, because the title seemed similar to his All About My Mother and because the movie is half Spanish (it's not like all Spanish movies are the same, though). The second association was Requiem for a Dream, because its first minutes were also about a desperate mom and her son's mortgaging her TV set. The movie turned out to be nothing like those two mentioned above, but in no aspect worse.

Conversaciones con Mama is both tragic and amusing, it's filled with wonderful dialogues, both wistful and humorous. There are no tactical scene maneuvers that are potentially aimed at the public (read: jury) of international festivals, no showy movie personas and no splendor of competition. It's a nice and mildly sententious story of people dealing with a situation that happens in the lives of real people from all over the world all the time. It's not your typical popcorn flick that leaves you with no thoughts and feelings (except for the seething in your stomach), but one that makes you think about life and those nasty and noisy people who care about you. It shows old age from a whole different point of view, which you might take into consideration as well forget, but it'll probably make you remember that senility is just one big step away from youth and you'll still want to live happily after years of grief and joy.

Stunning performances from the two leads, not to mention a simple, yet "worthy" screenplay make the movie a remarkable experience. By far the best film I've seen here. Highly recommended to anyone having a family crisis or looking forward to having one.

La Piel de la Tierra - 7/10
by 'Mad Maggot'


< IMDB info page >

Plot: Pablo runs away from a steel plant and settles down in a village where people can be counted on fingers. It's war and Mateo, the grave digger/philosopher has more work to do than anyone around. Demented Raquel asks Pablo to cast a bell that would peal to make God hear about the bad things happening and stop the bloodshed.

Review: That's quite a something, truth be told. The movie is saturated with hope for the best in the non-defined future. Betrayal and love, faith and despair, bordering with impending doom have mixed in the heroes of this film, in the last few inhabitants of a small Italian village. No ray of light seems to be able to go through the gray sky of the war. The deserter (Pablo's flight from the plant makes him one) starts casting bells, so that maybe not the first one and not even the second, but probably the third will make the doves bring the good news of soldiers coming home, mother bearing a child and fertility filling the fields again. With all the seeming simplicity of the story, it's actually a decent one.

Sometimes it drags a bit, not knowing where to go next, but then it goes back to its initial bed and makes you shudder at the thought of people living this way. The director has no hurry to spit his story into your face, but where would it come from, if the main topic of the movie - war - has neither initial nor ending point? It's just some kind of war and some people dealing with it in their own way. However, it gives you some food to ponder upon... I guess it's one of those movies you'd want to see again, but only in some years, after the haze it left you with has gone and you think you'll be able to dig it fully; but apparently that won't work out with this flick, since it seems to have too many director's "things", something like his own private jokes (sad ones) that you won't get in a lifetime.

Varea Anthigina - 5/10
by 'Mad Maggot'

Plot: 1944. Balis saves a group of his fellow countrymen, who'd been kidnapped by the Germans, but falls down into a ravine. People consider him dead and erect a monument in his honor. Thirty years later Baris comes back to his native village, but peeps don't seem too happy about his sudden resurrection.

Review: Problems of negation and aversion have been raised by the director of Varea Anthigina (what means "hard and hopeless"). Balis, who accidentally happens to visit a place where he was born, finds out that he actually is a local hero there, but he's shocked at the fact that the people would rather worship the bronze monument than a real person, whom they do not want alive for some (secret) reason.

It's the first Greek movie I've seen, but I'm sure the Greeks could have done so much better! The land that gave birth to Homer, the Olympics and one of my best friends suddenly films their own personal version of Mel Gibson's latest. Balis is clearly Greece's Christ, who once died and now resurrected and is not accepted by anyone. Yawn. We've been through this too many times and it gets too boring now. Of course, the story ends in a better way than the one in the New Testament, but I wouldn't advise anyone to expect much from it. Yawn.

Except for the dilatory and humdrum plot, the movie features a few nice scenes of Greek coloring, music, dances and nature, which have no apparent connection to the movie itself. The film will probably do well at the home box-office, since it's made according to all rules of mainstream flicks, which are to cry and to laugh, but it's so not festival material (as much as I hate to say that) that I'm still wondering how it managed to get into the competition. And also why they don't have pillows in movie theaters.

Detaljer - 6/10
by 'Mad Maggot'


< IMDB info page >

Plot: Editor Erik leaves his wife for Anna after falling in love with a young writer Emma. Emma's ex, dramatist Stefan accidentally comes to a hospital where Anna works. And the soap begins.

Review: Anna doesn't want kids, Erik wants dozens; Stefan is a drug addict, Emma has mental problems. Is that a movie about my neighbors?

There are many films with parallel and transverse plotlines and in most of cases they do keep you entertained and interested to some extent. This one does, too, but it only has your mind on it while you are seeing it, as soon as you leave the theater, the hype is gone and you don't even remember how it all ended (let alone started), you just come home and watch Love Actually to get all soppy about a well-done flick with parallel stories.

A didactic sermon of the movie doesn't feel pretentious, but it makes you feel as if you were sitting on a school bench once again, listening to your teacher pushing a speech about how kids are conceived. It's nicely shot and the actors are good, but there's an obvious lack of something. Reality, perhaps. Everything is too right, too fantastic for a movie that pretends to be a social drama.

Source: JoBlo.com
Tags: Hollywood

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