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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Montreal 2004 (Read 35,652 times)
cal-Q-L8
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #15 - 20. Aug 2004 at 06:43
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The Best Thief in the World

stars Michael Silverman

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The Best Thief in the World





By Kirk Honeycutt
Showtime Independent Films

PARK CITY -- Jacob Kornbluth's "The Best Thief in the World" belongs in the childhood-in-peril genre, where family tensions or adult problems threaten to rob a youngster of his childhood. The adolescent here is 11-year-old Izzy (quietly effective newcomer Michael Brandon Silverman), who feels the world closing in on him when his dad (David Warshofsky) suffers a paralyzing stroke and his English-teacher mom (Mary-Louise Parker) is overwhelmed by insurance problems and a lousy paycheck while struggling to raise three children in a cramped New York tenement.

Almost all of Izzy's escapes self-destructive. Sometimes he stands on the small ledge bordering the roof of their building as if daring his body to fall off. Other times, he breaks into apartments through open windows to wreck havoc, scrawl obscenities and steal things.

Once these unfortunate circumstances become established, however, it is writer-director Kornbluth who seems paralyzed. The narrative stalls in this Sundance Competition film as the break-ins and family turmoil keep repeating themselves. An audience clearly understands that the mom, despite being a schoolteacher, lacks the social skills to cope with a misbehaving son. And the son keeps pushing the envelope without ever coming to terms with circumstances that he is bright enough to realize are beyond his parents' control.

One interesting sidebar is Izzy's involvement with neighborhood kids, most of whom are black. It is rare when a white kid in a movie feels alienated because of color. Kornbluth creates a kind of Greek chorus in which two very young black kids rap obscene lyrics while clowning for the camera, a sound and image the director returns to repeatedly to underscore how black hip-hop culture dominates the younger generation.

Budget constraints limit the film's locations, but Kornbluth makes the resulting claustrophobia work for the film. Ben Kutchins' DV cinematography is resourceful, but colors in interior scenes often appear washed-out.

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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #16 - 20. Aug 2004 at 08:48
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This one sounds like something I'd really like to see!
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #17 - 20. Aug 2004 at 13:39
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Wow, I love festival time!  This is another great thread!   Grin

Thanks Zab and josephk, and cal for all of the additional info.  Now I have several new ones to search out in the future.  Smiley

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #18 - 28. Aug 2004 at 23:31
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Well, I saw my first movies at the festival today. They were:

Cold Light

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Very good Icelandic film. Reminded me a lot of Noi Albinoi, another Icelandic film I've seen recently, although the lead character in that one was older.

The film is split about half and half between the main character's childhood and adult life, but instead of having the childhood part first followed by adulthood, you go back and forth between the two. That was a big plus, since I was more interested in the childhood part, for obvious reasons. Still, though, both storylines were interseting and they are linked thematically in an important way, so the movie might not have worked as well if it was only the childhood part.

The boy who plays Grimur (the lead character) is called Áslákur Ingvarsson. He is seen on the poster. His acting was top notch and his character is very appealing. As you can see from the poster, he is also very good looking. You can't really tell from that picture, but like the actor who plays him as an adult he also has beautiful blue eyes. (One of the reasons I like Icelandic movies is that they all seem to have these piercing blue eyes!)

There was another boy actor with a much smaller but significant role. I forgot the character's name, but based on the credits on IMDb, I think it was this guy: Elís Philip William Scobie.

The movie was preceded by a Swedish short film called Passing Hearts ( (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)) which I also enjoyed very much. The main character was played by Max Enderfors and was probably about 14 or 15. Here is a picture of him from the set of the next movie he will appear in, Populärmusik från Vittula. I don't even know what the title means, but looking at the cast list on IMDb, I think it might be worth keeping track of this one. Anyway, he's the boy on the left. He looked a bit younger in the short film, I think.

The Best Thief in the World

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This movie has a terrible rating of 1.9/10 on IMDb. I knew this before buying the ticket, but I was hoping it wouldn't suck too much.

In terms of the overall quality of the film, I am sad to report that it probably deserves the rating it has on IMDb. I think I would give it a 3, but that's extremely generous.

The dialogue is extremely poor, probably some of the worst I've ever heard. The cinematography is poor. The editing is poor. The acting is poor. It's just not a good movie, no matter how you look at it.

Thankfully, Michael Silverman is appealing enough to make it bearable to watch. His character had a lot of potential and his story could have been really good if it had been more skillfully crafted.

As an actor, Silverman did not really impress me. He was OK in some of the scenes, but most of the time he didn't seem very comfortable. I had the feeling he didn't really understand what he was doing and just followed the instructions given to him by the director. Maybe in the hands of a better director he would have been more convincing. Who knows?

I'd say the movie is probably worth checking out if it even plays on TV or something like that. I certainly wouldn't pay to buy a DVD.

Next on my schedule are Edelweiss Pirates and Sugar Orange, which I will be seeing Monday. I'll keep you posted.
  
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Sir Jacob
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #19 - 29. Aug 2004 at 03:11
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'Cold Light' sounds wonderful, josephk!  Thanks for posting about that one!   Grin

Thanks for giving an honest opinion about 'The Best Thief in the World', too.  I'm sorry that it wasn't so good, and I'm glad to know that it isn't one to pay for a dvd of.  Not glad that it's that bad, but glad to save the money.  :0

I'm looking forward to your thoughts about 'Edelweiss Pirates' and 'Sugar Orange', too!

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #20 - 29. Aug 2004 at 14:46
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I'm feeling better about having to have missed The Best Thief in the World, but I really wish I could've seen Cold Light - especially knowing it was paired with Passing Hearts.

Passing Hearts is the best short film I've seen this year so far. The story is very touching. Too say much more would spoil your enjoyment of the film, but all here should see it if they have the chance.
Enclosed is a still from the film.
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My movie marathon starts tomorrow, I'll let you all know how it went upon my return.
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #21 - 31. Aug 2004 at 06:49
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Edelweiss Pirates

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If you look closely at that picture, you will see that the actors all seem to be in their very late teens/early twenties. Those guys are the pirates of the title, a group of Gernan teenagers who fought in resistance agains the nazis during the war.

The director and one of the contributors to the film (who was a real Edelweiss Pirate) gave an overlong introduction to the film, trying way to hard to convince us that it was an "important" picture before we had even seen it. I really wish that hadn't. The film tells a story that no doubt needed to be told, but I really hate to be told how I'm supposed to react to a movie, as if the subject matter itself was enough to make it a success.

The movie was not bad. Although it suffered a little bit from its low budget production values and poor ADR work (dialogue re-recorded in post production), it had some solid characters and told the story nicely. I was never bored and the actors did a decent job.

I have seen and mentioned recently The Battle of Algiers, which this movie is very similar to in terms of theme, structure and style. I could probably write a long and detailed analysis of the two films and try to explain why Battle of Algiers is a masterpiece and Edelweiss Pirates is merely a nice effort. But I won't bore you with that.

There is one younger character who has a significan role. The lead character in the film, one of the Edelweiss Pirates, has a younger brother, probably about 15, who is at first a member of the Hitler Youth but eventually becomes part of the Edelweiss Pirates. There is also a little boy who has a much smaller role.

Although the film is interesting to some extent, I can't really give it a full recommendation, especially in terms of the main interest of this website. It's a borderline case for inclusion in our database. I would be inclined not to create a profile for it, because the actors are too old.

Sugar Orange

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This is another movie that deals with characters as adults facing a crisis, with flashbacks to significant events in their childhood. Unlike Cold Light, which was more or less evenly divided between the past and present timelines, Sugar Orange spends a lot more time on the adult characters, with only brief and sometimes enigmatic glimpses into the past. And that really is a pity.

The two actors who play "Sugar" and "Orange" are very appealing and the characters they play are fascinating. They are very close friends who have an erotically charged relationship, although we never actually see any explicit "consumation" (if I may be permitted such a term) of their desire.

Unfortunately, we don't get enough of their story to really appreciate it. I was constantly craving for more insight into their relationship and exactly what happened when they were young. Instead, we mostly see one of the two former friends as an adult, obsessing over his lost friendship while quarrelling with his girlfriend and refusing to admit (to himself as much as anyone else) that he longs to be with his friend again.

A frustrating experience, but with that warning in place, I would still recommend watching the film if you have a place, if only to see the two boys on screen and the beautiful, though brief, glimpses we get into their relationship.

I also saw a short film, Little Terrorist, about a Hindu kid who accidentally crosses the Pakistani/Indian border and has to survive a day with a day with a Muslim family before returning to his side of the border. I don't have much to say about this one. Way too cute for my taste, full of patronizingly simplistic great sentiments about how we are all alike in spite of cultural differences. Very noble, but too easy.

Next on my schedule are a couple of movies I won't be  reviewing here, as they don't feature any boy actors. My next films reviewed here will be Viper in the Fist and The Crying Wind, both of which I will see on Thursday.

Also, Zabladowski was at the two screenings with me yesterday. He will probably post his comments when he gets back home after the festival. He is crazier than I am, so he's cramming about 30 movies into his schedule, almost all of which feature boy actors. I look forward to his review of the festival as much as I'm sure you all do.
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #22 - 31. Aug 2004 at 11:52
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Thanks for these two excellent reviews, josephk!  (Well, three if you count the short film that you saw.)  I'd be interested in seeing both of these, and you've made me want to see 'The Battle of Algiers' even more by mentioning it in relationship to 'Edelweiss Pirates'.

I'm looking forward to Zab's reviews of the festival, too!  I'm thrilled that the two of you got to meet in person, and I hope he was the type who shared his popcorn with you.  Wink

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #23 - 31. Aug 2004 at 12:09
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hmm. they don't serve popcorn at film festivals.

Smiley
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #24 - 31. Aug 2004 at 13:18
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Oh?  Shocked

Does that mean that you and Zab are part of the wine and cheese crowd?   Cheesy

If it means that they don't serve anything at all, then I'm waiting for the dvd's to come out!

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #25 - 31. Aug 2004 at 18:23
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Thanks Joseph and Zab.  I wish I could see all of them.  I'd love to see 'Sugar Orange'.  'Edelweiss Pirates' sounds similar in subject and theme to 'Swing Kids' which also had older boys and young men, in this case expressing their defiance of Nazism by listening to banned US band music.

  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #26 - 03. Sep 2004 at 09:05
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It seems there has been quite a reaction to 'I Love the Cinema'.........

_____________________________________________

Washington D.C. (07/08/2004) - On July 7, 2004, Coptic youth gathered to protest a newly released Egyptian film for its scornful and insulting depiction of Coptic faith and culture. The film, ‘I Love the Cinema,” portrays the trials of a modern Coptic family. However, the depiction is one of an angry extremist father, an adulterous wife, and a sacrilegious son. Other Copts in the movie include an unmarried couple whose illicit sexual relationship takes place inside a church. The film proceeds to ridicule church traditions, ceremonial rites, and doctrines.

The film is unique, as Copts are not usually depicted in such major roles in the Egyptian media. I Love the Cinema is, in fact, the only movie produced in the last several years about Copts, and its content degrades Coptic clergymen and depicts Christian women as prostitutes and men as close-minded religious fanatics. In light of the film’s uniquely Coptic nature, the defamatory slurs targeted at the Church and the overtly negative insinuations regarding Christian family relations have enraged the Coptic community. In response, a large number of young Copts assembled at St. Mark’s Cathedral in El Abaseeya, Egypt chanting slogans and distributing flyers targeted at the removal of the film. As the youth chanted, “Copts for peace, not surrender,” “Copts remain silent, but we don’t forget!” and “By the spirit, by the blood, we will rescue the Cross!”

While the furor of the demonstration increased, clergy within the church attempted to quiet the crowd. However, the young Copts would not be abated; moreover, several members of the clergy had accompanied the youth in support of their rally. Out of fear that the demonstration would spill into the streets of Cairo, security forces were called to surround the church. As the young Copts attempted to take the demonstration outside the church, clergy pleaded with them to remain inside, reminding them of prior protests in which Copts had been severely injured by police officials.

Similar fury had been exhibited two years ago, when scandalous pictures of a former Coptic monk engaged in sexual relations with a woman were published in the Egyptian newspaper, El Naba. The unusual publication of such explicit photos, alongside various slurs against Coptic faith and culture, infuriated the Coptic community. Thousands of Copts rose in protest against the defamation of their faith and community, but several were injured in clashes with police.

This unique depiction of a Coptic Egyptian family on Egypt’s broad screen and its destructive and atypical portrayal of the Coptic community only serves to fuel the growing culture of intolerance within the country. “The Egyptian government continues to play with fire by permitting this blatant attack on Christianity,” states Michael Meunier, president of the U.S. Copts Association. “While the government entrusts El-Azhar with the approval and censorship of all materials believed to be offensive to Islam, the objections of the Coptic church went unheeded and the movie was released,” he continues. In light of the courageous stance taken by the Coptic youth, Mr. Meunier goes on to state, “We are extremely proud of our Coptic youth who now understand that they must take actions to gain their lost rights and we fully support them in their peaceful protests against the endless onslaught of their rights and freedoms.”
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #27 - 03. Sep 2004 at 09:22
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Joseph...  I assume there is sufficient on topic content in 'Sugar Orange' to warrant a BA profile?
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #28 - 03. Sep 2004 at 10:25
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Interesting article, Cal. I decided not to see I Love the Cinema, because there were too many other films that appealed to me more and I decided only to buy 10 tickets.

Yes, Sugar Orange definitely has enough on topic content for a BA profile.

I saw three movies yesterday.

The first was a free screening of Gas Bar Blues, a French-Canadian film that was released last year. It's about a father who owns a gas station and works there with his three sons. Two of them are adults, but the third is about 14 years old and played by Maxime Dumontier. Not a great movie, but pretty good. Maxime doesn't have a huge role, but he's important enough and gave one of the best performances in the film.

I also saw The Crying Wind.

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This japanese film is not on IMDb yet, but it should be soon. The director is credited for a few other movies, including Village of Dreams, which some of you may have seen. There are several boys in the film, two of which have important roles. They do a good job, but I have to say I didn't like the film very much. I thought it would never end, and that may have been in part because it was my third screening and I was getting tired, but probably not. The characters are just not well developped at all and their stories seem pointless because you don't feel anything for the people involved. Nothing special, but if you're a fan of Asian films featuring cute boys, it might be worth a rental. Prepare to be bored.

The most exciting film I saw was Viper in the Fist.



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Really good story, great sense of humour, not afraid to be offensive, and featuring top-notch acting from everyone involved (both kids and adults).

The movie was funny, engaging and at times even moving. Jule Sitruk is the main character and gets the most screentime. You may remember him from I, Cesar or Monsieur Batignole. After seeing him in Viper in the Fist, I think he has become my favourite French young actor working today.

He was present at the screening, with the director. He said a few words in front of a fairly large audience and didn't seem uncomfortable at all. He was smiling and seemed very happy to be there. I met him outside the theatre and shook his hand and told him I had liked the film. He is remarkably small for his age (14) and could easily pass for 12 or maybe even 11 years old.

I will check out his other movies that are available (I have a copy of I, Cesar at home), and I hope to see him in future releases soon.
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #29 - 03. Sep 2004 at 10:41
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Joseph,

It sounds like you've been having a good time. Smiley

I agree about Jules Sitruk, he's a fine young actor. Do try to get a copy of the recent version of 'Sans Famille' in which he plays the central character.

  
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