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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Montreal 2004 (Read 35,648 times)
josephk
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #30 - 04. Sep 2004 at 08:49
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Interestingly, the two movies I saw yesterday dealt with similar themes - revolution, communism, civil war - and were both from South America. One was from Chilie and is probably the best film I've seen at the festival so far. The other was from Peru, and is one of the most worthless and insulting pieces of crap I've ever seen.

The Peruvian film Paper Doves was simplistic, manipulative and one-sided. Communist revolutionaries are demonized cardboard figures who fight for their simplistic ideals because they don't want "everything to be bad like in the USA." The biggest problem I had with the film was that you never get a sense that these people have a cause worth fighting for. The film takes place in a small farming community bullied by a small group of "terrorirsts" (i.e., communists), but provides no social context or explanation of the political situation. If you are not familiar with Peru's history (which I am not), then you have no idea what is really going on. These people live normal lives. There is no sign of oppression from either sides, except every once in a while army people come to take a few suspected terrorists away, and every once in a while the "terrorists" come to paint graffiti on the walls.

The story follows one kid who is sent to the nearby communist training camp about halfway through the movie, where he is told that if he tries to escape they'll kill his mother. We then get an extremely simple-minded explanation of communist doctrine - which might be justified somewhat by the fact that a lot of it is being told to a child - but I don't buy it. In one scene, the leader of the revolutionaries explains that they want people to work for free. The boy asks what will happen if he wants to buy a cracker and has no money and the man explains that it won't matter because crackers will be free. Later in the conversation, the man explains that they had to kill the boy's friend's father because "he didn't want crackers to be free".

So there you have it. Communists in Peru were fighting because they wanted crackers to be free. But even aside from the political message, the film was simplistic in other ways. During the first 10 minutes of the film, whenever you see a child on screen he or she is laughing like an idiot. Doesn't matter what they're doing - they're laughing. This is of course to show a contrast between happy times and the sad times that are coming. But does it really need to be that obvious? It annoys me that children are used to manipulate the audience that way, without any concern for character development or subtleties. Like the communists using kids as tools to fight the civil war, the filmmakers here are using kids as tools to manipulate the audience.

After this painful experience, I had the pleasure of watching another film dealing with similar themes, but treating these difficult questions with infinitely more finesse and honnesty. Machuca is a beautiful, deeply moving, authentic, sincere, honnest, realistic snapshot of the transition in Chilie from the communist Allende government to Pinochet's reign of terror - all of which is explored through the eyes of a young boy from a rich family who befriends Machuca, a poor boy who ends up in his class when the communist priest who runs the school decides to teach poor kids at the private school for free.

Unlike in Paper Dove, the supporters of both sides are shown as human and fully developped characters. The life under the communist government is certainly not romanticized or idealized, but compared to the horrors that we witness after Pinochet's coup, you realize that some options are a lot worse than communism.

But the film succeed on a much deeper level as well. I would even hesitate to call it a political film, because it has at its heart the story of these two boys (and one older girl who hangs out with them) and the difficult friendship they are trying to maintain in spite of the increasingly tense situation in their country. What is most amazing, however, is that we are not told any fairy tales. The boys don't behave like heros and there is no cheap happy ending. Their friendship is doomed and the two friends will eventually betray each other, leading to some tragic but inevitable circumstances.

I have a feeling the film's honesty will rub some (mainstream, American) audiences the wrong way. One of the co-producers was at the screening and announced that the film had secured pretty much worldwide distribution and that it would be Chilie's official submission for the Oscars this year. But I will be (pleasantly) surprised if it even gets a nomination. Oscars tend to go to sappy stories that can be advertised in the trailer with phrases like "a triumph" and "the spirit that ignited a nation" (Zatoichi, Hero, etc.).

Too bad. Because this is one of the best movies I've seen this year.

PS: Forgot to mention that the boy who plays Machuca is probably the most beautiful boy I've seen at the festival, too. Wink

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cal-Q-L8
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #31 - 04. Sep 2004 at 10:48
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Thanks Joseph...

Machuca sounds like my kind of movie.
  
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josephk
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #32 - 06. Sep 2004 at 23:28
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Well, the festival is over.

The last two on topic movies I saw were Beat the Drum and Dear Frankie.

Beat the Drum

I'm going to let Zabladowski tell you about this one, I think. He liked it a lot more than I did. It's about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and how it affects children. An important story that needed to be told, but the film was too didactic for my taste. Maybe there's something wrong with me, but my eyes were the only dry ones in the house. The film failed to move me.

Dear Frankie

I was, however, very moved by this movie. A very touching story, with great acting and an extremely likeable character (Frankie) at its center. This will be released in North American theatres soon. Be sure to check it out if you can.

I'll post my summary in a new thread.
  
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Zabladowski
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #33 - 07. Sep 2004 at 01:26
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I'm back and am prepared to get going on this year's version of Zabladowski's Montreal diary. My in depth coverage of nearly a week's holiday devoted to films.  Smiley

The total take on this year's visit was 60 films, 27 of which were features. I padded my totals with a couple of visits to the Cinerobotheque of the National Film Board of Canada to sample some rare Canadian shorts. This is a place worth recommending to any film lover who visits Montreal.

Monday

Making better travel arrangements than last year places me in Montreal by noon on Monday. It's too early to check in the hotel, but they are kind enough to stow my luggage until my room is ready.
I'm ready to purchase my tickets  Grin
As joseph has alluded to in an earlier post, I obtain the 30 pack of passes since the tickets are cheaper in bulk and I will be in town long enough to use 'em all. I am pleased to note that nothing on my must-see list is sold out yet, so it's just a matter of deciding what I want to see most.
With the mechanics of attending the festival out of the way my first screening is

Edelweiss Pirates

Since the synopsis is listed in the earlier review, I won't repeat it. My impresssions are similar to joseph's. The director is very proud of his very important film and he wants you to be as well. He tries so hard.......that he loses me. Some good moments but not enough for me to recommend.

Boy Actors - Only Nikolai Tyurin (Anton) is under 16 and his role is rather small. Simon Taal plays Peter, a boy who is supposed to be in his mid-teens, but in actuality Simon will turn 20 in January.  Shocked

Content Warning: Girl nudity, Brutality
Rating : 5/10

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Little Terrorist

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Once again I'll dispense with the plot since joseph has filled you all in. This short film laid out a simple message of peace for the troubled India/Pakistan border area.
Nothing too challenging but enjoyable enough for what it was.

Boy Actor: Julfuqar Ali is the lead actor in the film. His biography states that he was rescued off the streets of Dehli and now lives in an institution started by director Mira Nair after the success of her film Salaam Bombay.

Rating : 6/10
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Although joseph and I shared the theatre (along with a few hundred others), we hadn't actually met up yet. I use the one hour gap in between screenings to settle in at the hotel and head off to my next screening. It is on the way to this one that I meet my first celebrity during the film festival, josephk!  Grin

Although we had watched several films together previously, my next screening was the first time I knowingly took in a film with joseph. Unfortunately what we saw was

angekommen

Udo refuses to give up hope that his wife's health will improve. He nurses her with all his love. In shutting his mind to reality, is he losing sight of the truth?

This morbid little short deals with Udo's dead
wife so I guess he has lost sight of the truth.

Boy Actor: None, Jona Mues is the youngest cast member he's 23.
Rating: 5/10

Sugar Orange
cal was kind enough to furnish us with a plot, so I'll just expound.
This was my most disappointing film of the festival.  Sad
Kai Müller was outstanding in the 15 or so minutes of screen time he was given. Although I was aware that the film's boy scenes were flashbacks I did think they would take up more running time than they did. It also might have saved this film. If a  director wants his audience to empathize with the lifelong demons his adult characters are battling, a fuller explanation of the source would be in order.
This film is a see on video only... so you can fast forward through all the dreck to get to the good parts.

Boy Actors: Kai Müller, Yury Han
Content Alert: Speedos
Rating: 5/10
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Since joseph was attending on a budget, my festival continued on alone with

Héctor
Héctor, a tall, fair-haired boy of 16, has just lost his mother, Sofía. She died when her car plunged into a ravine. It was his mother who raised him with some input from his aunt Tere. Héctor has grown up without a father. He has never seen him, not even once. Without a minute's hesitation, his aunt Tere decides to look after him. But while Héctor never expresses his grief openly, it is clear that he has taken his mother's death very hard. There are other changes, too. Héctor has to go from living in a house with a garden in the centre of Madrid, to a small apartment on the outskirts of the city. He tries to understand the new reality that is taking shape before his eyes. A way of life that is very different from the one he knew but one that is becoming more familiar each day. But everything is thrown into question when Martín, Héctor's father, arrives. He has travelled from across the ocean to meet his son. The boy knew that his father existed though he never wanted to meet him. Martín has come in order to explain the reason for his long absence and, in that way, win his son's heart and also offer him a new life in Mexico. Héctor will have to decide between his newly discovered family and adventurous possibilities abroad.

There is a line early on in this film where Aunt Tere, who hasn't seen Hector for 3 years, remarks about how he has changed in that time. This line really hit home for me because the role of Hector was played by one of our summertime favorites here, Nilo Mur.
Nilo has just turned 18 IRL  so he was probably 17 when this was filmed. Check out the provided link to see what Nilo looks like today.
His character had enough boyish qualities to be of marginal on-topic interest. The film itself was quite good, my first "hit" of the festival. I could've gone for more of the father/son conflict, the filmmaker gave the role of Aunt Tere a lot of screen time.

Boy Actors: Ian de Muns, Martin Mur - both play Hector at younger ages. Neither role is very large.
Rating: 8/10
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Through My Thick Glasses

The little girl with the thick glasses doesn't like to wear her winter hat. Each time her grandfather puts it on her head, she takes it off and throws it to the ground. In order to distract her, the grandfather follows the suggestion of his wife and begins one of his interminable war stories...

Animated short film, perhaps made for children. It's done in English but the accents were tough to get past.
I didn't get the reason the film was made.

Rating: 5/10

Masha
According to 14-year-old Muscovite Masha, Paris is a small city with many people where no one works and everybody sits all day long in a café and eats, and on weekends they go to the Louvre to look at naked men and women. Masha runs away from her native Moscow to find her father, Dima, in Paris. Dima, a Russian translator, hasn't seen Masha since she was a baby. Although he is willing to let her live with him, her presence puts a bit of a kink in his carefree bachelor lifestyle.

No boys here, but it was the best option in the latenight Monday time slot. Masha Shalayeva held my interest in this quirky Russian story.

Rating : 7/10

Tuesday

Sabado
Just minutes before she is about to get married, the prospective bride learns that her husband-to-be has another lover. Already dressed in her wedding gown, the furious young woman drives around the city in search of revenge. As he covers her route, a young cameraman is on hand to record what happens -- non-stop, right to the final denouement of the story.

Another off-topic film but worth seeing nonetheless. Capitalizing on the popularity of "reality" stories, this Chilean film was reportedly made for less than $100. With essentially no production $, the handheld camera views can be annoying, but the scene where the groom tries to negotiate his way out of trouble with his intended makes up for it.
The film is just the right length, a little over an hour. Any longer and it would've gotten on my nerves.

Content Alert: Adult male nudity
Rating: 6/10
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Napola
Germany, 1942. The Nazi regime is at the peak of its political and military power. Seventeen-year-old Friedrich Weimer, from the Berlin working-class district of Wedding, is a fine boxer. Thanks to his talent, discovered at a boxing match by a young teacher, he receives an invitation to study at an elite political school, the NAPOLA of Allenstein, which trains the future leaders of the German Reich. Friedrich sees it as the chance of a lifetime, an opportunity to free himself from the restrictions of his class, and, against the wishes of his parents, he enrolls in the school which is located in an old castle. There the young teacher becomes his mentor, guiding him through the rigours of the strict scholastic regime. Among Friedrich's new friends is Albrecht, the son of a high-ranking Nazi official. A sensitive young man who prefers to train his mind rather than his body, Albrecht is critical of the racist dogma that is being force-fed to the students. Friedrich begins to see that there is no room for anyone unwilling to follow the party line. After the students are forced to participate in a nighttime massacre of unarmed Russian youths in the nearby woods, Albrecht writes an essay condemning the barbarity. Friedrich knows that his best friend is on a collision course with the authorities, but he is powerless to change the young man's mind. It is a principled obstinacy that will eventually involve Friedrich as well.

This film was outstanding! Although the leads were a touch older than what we focus on here, there is an air of innocence and youth that will hold everyone's attention. Friedrich also has a 12 year old brother Hans, who snuggles in for a cuddle with big brother before being shipped off to the country to wait out the war.
The music is fantastic, the story heartbreaking. Friedrich and Albrecht's relationship is another strong point of the film. Highly recommended for all, this film may be a player come award season. IMDB already has someone who saw it in Montreal stating his case as to why it should win the Oscar.  Grin

Boy Actor: Max Dombrovka
Content Alert: Nudity, Extreme Violence, Suicide
Rating: 9.5/10

Baytong
When his sister is killed in a terrorist attack on a train station, Tum, a monk in a remote Buddhist monastery, must travel to the southern city of Baytong (a predominantly Muslim area of Thailand) to care for Maria, his seven-year-old niece. Having lived an isolated, monastic life since childhood, Tum is a novice in the ways of the world. His days had been spent in quiet contemplation of the Buddha's teachings. He is as little aware of such contemporary concepts as "technology" and "globalization" as he is of the everyday emotions of ordinary people living in the modern world. He becomes confused in his attempts to adapt to the worldly surroundings of his dead sister's hair salon and her boisterous group of friends. But through the eyes and actions of Maria, the child whom he barely knows, Tum comes to terms with secular life and the realities of the modern world. Just as he starts to like his new surroundings, everything changes...

A little girl was the child at the center of this one. A comic film about the secularization of the monk with a hypnotic score. The differences between Muslims and Buddhists another important side plot. My first Thai film ever was not too bad.

Rating : 7/10

Other than Napola and Hector it's been a slow festival up to this point. Thankfully it does improve as the week goes on. I'll be back with more tomorrow.  Smiley
« Last Edit: 07. Sep 2004 at 21:18 by Zabladowski »  
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cal-Q-L8
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #34 - 07. Sep 2004 at 11:42
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Thanks Zab...

..that was a good read, I'm looking forward to the next lot.

Napola and Hector are obviously ones that I'll look for. Hopefully they will make it to my 'World Movies' channel in the not too distant future.
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #35 - 07. Sep 2004 at 21:07
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Thanks cal, I'll try to keep up the quality.  Smiley

My survey continues on Tuesday afternoon where my festival experience reaches its low point. I am scheduled to see the controversial Egyptian film I Love Cinema when it is announced that the film came without English subtitles as promised. :angry2:
This left me with a sudden 150 minute gap in my schedule that needed to be filled. On the way into this cinema I noticed a poster for the short film In With the Old World, it appeared to be boy-related and it was screening in 15 minutes! I made my ticket exchange and headed into the cinema....

In With The Old World

A man has his comfortable descent into middle age interrupted by the sudden reappearance of a long-lost childhood friend, recently released from prison, who wishes to unearth the horrors of their distant past.
Joseph Liebman has been recently dismissed from his job pending an internal investigation. Inert and floundering, he spends his days and nights wandering the streets pondering the novel he never wrote. Late one evening the telephone rings. Hyman Rudnip, a long lost childhood friend recently released from prison, has been waiting for years to confront Liebman on a past traumatic event that was to forever change their lives.
Fragments of memory begin to assault Liebman as he is reluctantly reacquainted with his unresolved past, his daily existence thrown into disarray by persistent visions of darkened school hallways reverberating screams and echoes of distant strange melodies. All the while, the phone keeps on ringing and Liebman’s carefully sculpted world verges closer to collapse. Rudnip’s increasingly urgent vows of revenge become more difficult to ignore as it becomes clearer to Liebman he’s on the run from a madman.
In the hope that Rudnip, like all other awkward details, might simply disappear, Liebman goes to extreme lengths to hide the torments of his day-to-day existence from his wife and colleagues in an attempt to maintain the crumbling foundation of his home life. But he soon discovers that his efforts cannot distract him from a direct confrontation with a memory that just won’t leave him in peace—and that a showdown with Rudnip may hold the only key to his salvation.

I used the description of this film from its own website so that everyone could sense what an epic story this director was telling us. Although I disliked Edelweiss Pirates for being preachy and self-important, this short film was by far the most horrible piece of garbage I endured at the festival.

Liebman's traumatic event was having his music teacher shove his hand down Liebman's pants while he was learning to play the piano. Rudnip's traumatic event was killing the teacher while his hand was in Liebman's pants. Until I read this plot summary I had no idea that Rudnip and Liebman were supposed to be friends, much less the type of friends who would kill for one another.
This film combined the worst elements of Edelweiss Pirates (an inflated sense of its own importance) and Sugar Orange (trying to show the effects of past events on characters current lives without fully explaining those past events) and added to the mix the atrocious cliches that are the adult Liebman and music teacher characters, the ridiculous idea that Rudnip would be sent away for 20 years for killing the teacher and a pretentious score to make for a truly painful cinematic experience. Even having five young actors dominate the screen time didn't help this one.
The director said he made this film which was autobiographical in part, because he needed to respond to other films that had been made on this topic. Too bad he couldn't have made something more compelling.

Boy Actors: Robert Gulassarian (young Rudnip), Robert Prest (young Liebman), Ashton Doudelet, Mitchell Starkman, Michael Distefano (school bullies)

Content Alert: Child Sexual Abuse
Rating : 0/10 (and that's being generous)
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Zurek
It's wintertime. In a small country town near the border, a recently widowed mother drags her 15-year-old daughter through the snow every day on an obsessive quest. The mother is looking for the father of her slow-witted daughter's newborn baby boy. She tries everything to make her daughter reveal his name. She has made a solemn vow at her husband's grave to baptize the child before Christmas, but it is necessary to find the father's identity first. Determined not to reveal her secret, the daughter is evasive, manipulating the mother into searching through new and more perilous venues. As her obsessive attempts to discover the paternity of the child lead to dangerous incidents, the mother begins to come to terms with her own dark secrets and hidden fears -- and her daughter gains a sense of hope and redemption.

This feature from Poland was on the bill with Old World. The plot desciption is fairly faithful. Although we never find out for sure who the baby's father is, surprisingly all of the suspects are middle aged men. There wasn't one boy or teen in the whole film. Originally made for Polish television it is comparable in quality to the other Polish tv dramas that have made their way across the pond in the last few years.

Content Alert: brief girl nudity
Rating : 6/10
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Tre Solar
Sweden in medieval times. Hanna leaves her home and children and rides to the coast to meet her husband, Ulf, who is returning home after having been abroad for four years on a crusade in the Orient. Halfway to her destination, Hanna runs into people stricken by the black plague. The epidemic is spreading throughout the land and Hanna realizes the danger. She decides to continue in the company of her friend, Joel the fisherman, who has lost his entire family to the plague. It is a dangerous and bewildering trip. They encounter other refugees, among them the abandoned Emma and a shackled prisoner, Torben. These are perilous times. Hanna will have to fight for her love, her children and her life.

I booked this film because it was made by the director of 2002's Everyone Loves Alice and I knew that Stasse Soulis had a part in it. As it turns out Stasse plays a boy who is dying from the plague and is asking our heroine to kill him, a wish that gets granted roughly a minute after he appears on screen. As for the film itself, it was a weird meshing of styles. It played like a western with a woman hero set in medieval Sweden during the plague. Our heroine resists the temptation of infidelity and delivers her husband back to his family before riding off into the sunset to die alone (lest she contaminate the village). This movie is reviled on IMDB, some of the comments are downright savage. I knew this going in and found I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would. I also didn't take it very seriously and I think that helped. Mikael Enerdal has a small role as the heroine's son. His appearance is limited to the very beginning and end of the film.

Boy Actor: Mikael Enerdal
Rating : 6/10
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Cold Shadows
Fall 1987. Nobody (not even his wife) suspects that Munich office worker Thomas Schmitz spies for the East German secret service. But one evening he is informed, "Your cover's blown," and he must make the most difficult decision ever.

Short film was just as described. Nothing more or less. My notes say I thought the film was incomplete.

Rating: 5/10

Waiting for the Clouds
The story of a woman forced to live for half a century with the haunting secrets of a hidden identity, WAITING FOR THE CLOUDS begins while the census clerks arrive early one morning in the small Turkish port town of Tirebolu. The streets remain empty and silent. Not everyone can afford to be counted. Questions about one's past can open up too many wounds. For some 50 years, Ayse has kept silent about her true identity to protect her status as Selma's sister. Actually the daughter of one of the evacuated Greek families from the Black Sea region in 1916, Ayse a.k.a. Eleni, bravely pushed on to save herself and Niko, her six-year-old brother, after cold and starvation killed her mother and sister. Near dead upon their arrival at the outskirts of a faraway village, Eleni and Niko were taken in by a Turkish family. The trauma of young Eleni's brutal experience subsided through the loving bond she established with the teenaged Selma. When her beloved Selma passes away, Ayse suffers for the forgiveness of her long-lost brother Niko. Ayse's return to Greece will show proof of how irrational political cruelty can psychologically and mentally displace human lives. Ayse was led to believe that her status in Turkey was that of a foreigner. Although born in Turkey, she has regarded Greece as her native country, but she realizes that this was never the case at all, as soon as she sets foot in Greece for the first time.

Although you wouldn't know it by reading the plot description, the two largest roles in the film outside of the elderly woman are played by boys. Ridvan Yagci, about 11 fills the emotional need that Ayse has to love a boy. Ismail Bayan who is closer to 14
also chews up a fair amount of screen time as Ridvan's pal. Ridvan is particularly endearing causing Ayse conisderable anguish when she has to leave him to go to Greece to  reunite with her long lost brother (the plot summary neglects to mention that Eleni and Niko were separated soon after arriving in Turkey). She expressed it this way..."I've suffered all my life because a boy left me, now I'm going to suffer for leaving a boy behind."
Pretty moving film, ending was a little too abrupt for me.

Boy Actors: Ridvan Yagci, Ismail Bayan
Rating : 8/10

  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #36 - 07. Sep 2004 at 22:11
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Wednesday

Since I was underwhelmed by the Wednesday morning offerings, I decide to walk over to the adjoining Latin Quartier neighborhood to the Cinemarobotheque of the National Film Board of Canada. This facility allows visitors to screen many of the NFB films. Since I didn't notice the hours of operation, I get to see more of the neighborhood than I planned as I can't get in until Noon.  Embarrassed

Having done some advance planning, I watch the following short films.

The Boy Next Door (1962)

When French-speaking Jacques moves next door to English-speaking Jimmy, each is amazed to find that the other doesn't speak his language. But when it comes to exploring and playing together, language just doesn't seem to matter. Each soon finds himself venturing into the other's language.

No actors are credited and perhaps with good reason. Performances are stiff.

Rating : 5/10
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The Chairmaker and the Boys (1959)

A story about Ernest Hart, of the Margaree Valley of Cape Breton Island, who for over fifty years served his farming neighbors as carpenter, blacksmith and general handyman. While he makes chairs, his young grandson makes mischief, and Grandpa Hart is forced into yet another role. This film reflects the social and cultural values and beliefs prevalent at the time of production. 

Story is done in almost documentary style with mostly voice over narration (presumably so it could be shown to the French part of Canada as well). The oblique reference to prevalent values refers to Grandpa delievring a spanking to his grandson after which the wise guy narrator intones..."Tomorrow Duncan may ride his horse, but tonight it's better to walk home through the quiet, peaceful valley."

This was pretty good, but dated.

Content Alert: Spanking, Underwear
Rating : 8/10

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The Umpire (1985)

This short dramatic film for children, told from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy, explores the subject of parental separation. The story is set on the morning that Phillip Hudson learns his parents are splitting up. When his father's absence puts the Saturday morning baseball game in jeopardy, Phillip's determination saves the day. In a warm and entertaining fashion, The Umpire shows a boy dealing with a painful situation in a resourceful and constructive way.

A star was born.  Smiley
Rene Carlisle as Phillip is worth recommending in this film. The story is simplistic, most of the acting is too, but Rene is very strong.

Boy Actors: Rene Carlisle, Keith Dutson, Ian Heath, others
Content Alert : PJ's
Rating : 6/10
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Topsy Turvy (1989)

In a young boy's dream world anything can happen--even magic. What magic is there in the child's world of fantasy? What magic is there in everyday things such as electricity and magnetism?

Recommended only to pyjamaboy, Scott Ingram is cute but I wasn't impressed with the film.

Boy Actor: Scott Ingram
Content Alert: PJ's
Rating: 5/10
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Where's Pete (1986)

Where's Pete? addresses the response of a seven-year-old to the death of his teenage brother. Chad, who hopes his brother, Pete, will coach the grade two hockey team, arrives home from school to discover that Pete has died in a car accident. The film details the experiences and feelings of Chad and his parents during the first few weeks of bereavement. Throughout, Chad has flashbacks of the good times he had with his brother. 

I'm a sucker for any manipulative storyline. This one hooked me in. Featuring Yannick Bisson (Toby McTeague) and Benjamin Barrett (Taking Care of Terrific) the acting was well above the normal standard for these films and Benjamin's character's second grade sensibilities kept the story from getting too maudlin.

Boy Actors: Benjamin Barrett, Yannick Bisson, Serge LeBlanc
Content Alert: Kissed Boy
Rating: 8/10
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The Rebellion of Young David (1986)

A half-hour drama based on a short story by Ernest Buckler about a young farmer called Art and his seven-year-old son, David. David's mother has recently died and Art is having a difficult time bringing the boy up by himself. An episode that leads to Art's punishing David is painful for both of them, but it leads to a greater understanding between them. 

This ended up being the crown jewel of the day's NFB offerings. The young David is played by Rene Carlisle who is just as good as he was in The Umpire. His material is way better in this two character drama, which argues that fathers need to discipline and shape their sons rather than being their best buddies. David is rebelling because he isn't corrected when he is naughty. Once he is reintroduced to the concept of respect for authority, he settles down and beomes a loving son to his father, rather than a pal. Film was directed by John N. Smith who later went on to make the Boys of St. Vincent.

Boy Actor: Rene Carlisle
Content Alert: Spanking, PJ's
Rating: 9/10
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #37 - 07. Sep 2004 at 23:46
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[i]The Hospital (1985)[/i]

Eight-year-old Leo accompanies his father and older sister to visit his mother, who is in the hospital. Her illness is never explained to Leo--both his father and sister remain vague about her condition, assuming that Leo is too young to understand. After a brief and impromptu exploration of sections of the hospital, Leo is determined to have some answers and finally demands to "know what's going on!"

This film also features a strong lead performance from Nicholas Van Burek as Leo. He does a great job of trying to put up a brave front as he struggles to figure out what is going on with his mom. I was really impressed with him.

Boy Actors: Nicholas Van Burek, Jason Ross, Colin Oakes, Brian Oakes
Rating: 8/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/hospital.jpg[/img]

[i]Eli's Lesson (1992)[/i]

Things were a little too quiet around the farm for Eli. Life was filled with too many chores and too many chickens. What Eli longed for was adventure. But when he sneaks off to the big city one Halloween, Eli finds himself with more than he bargained for. Falling prey to a gang of goons, he is forced to fend for himself and a new-found friend. In the end, by trying to make his dreams come true, Eli becomes the real hero of his very own adventure.  

This film played very much like a Family Channel special. Robbie Bowen's performance in the lead role was enough to keep me interested, but the story isn't particularly well written. Eli is a hutterite, a group which seems to be Canada's answer to the Amish and his fish out of water story is a well worn theme. If it weren't for Robbie my rating would probably be two points lower.

Boy Actors: Robbie Bowen, Christian Tessier
Rating : 6/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/elis.jpg[/img]

[i]Wednesday's Children:David (1987)[/i]

David has been a welfare child since he was five, when his alcoholic mother handed him over to the system because she couldn't cope. He has a history of bolting from foster homes to search for his mother. We meet him as a street-smart kid of ten as he encounters a sympathetic businesswoman.

I thought this film was also quite good. Unknown Auriel Manolson plays David with just the right mixture of street smarts and innocence. Film takes a depressing POV that kids like David are doomed as they are unable to assimilate themselves into anything resembling a normal life. It's sad to think that this sort of thing can happen in a civilized country.

Boy Actor: Auriel Manolson
Rating : 8/10
[img]http://www.boyactors.net/ikonboard/pictures/zabladowski/wcd.jpg[/img]

I had already given up one screening at the film festival that I had ticketed to stay longer at the NFB, but after this film I took the long walk back to the neighborhood where the screenings for the film festival were being held. As I was nearing my destination, a young boy walked by me on the sidewalk. My he looked familiar, I thought. It took me another half a block before I realized who the boy resembled, Jules Sitruk! I hadn't read that he was in town and by now we were two blocks apart, so I wasn't going to turn around and track him down - besides I was going to be late for my next screening if I didn't hustle. With a burst of speed, I make it just in time for....


[i]Between Us[/i]

By coincidence, two children meet. Through layers of glass they establish an unforgettable moment between them.

The coincidence is that the two kids are stuck in traffic jam. One looks up and a moment is established. Although they are quite different, a connection is made and they want their relationship to continue... but then the traffic moves again.
This short film from the UK becomes my favorite of the festival so far. It has just the right atmosphere and I am transfixed by this budding relationship.. wanting it to go on, knowing it will soon end.

Boy Actor: Luke Bromley
Rating: 10/10
Link: http://www.between-us.com/

[b]Quiet as a Mouse[/b]

God is dead, the world is a terrible place and, because of the desperate need for improvement, people like Mux are crucial. Mux is a thinker, a natural philosopher fond of airing his thoughts and observations in company. His brilliant criticism of media personalities such as Roland Koch or Dieter Bohlen are right on the mark and Houellebecq quotes just roll off his tongue. But Mux is also a fighter, someone with the courage to stand up against all sorts of injustice and indifference. What really seems to get Mux's goat are the misdemeanors, small transgressions such as jaywalking or littering. The worst of it is the way that, whenever such things happen, other pedestrians just stand by and do nothing, without a hint of protest. Which is why Mux has decided to take things into his own hands. Accompanied by his trusty sidekick, the chronically-unemployed Gerd, who is ready to document their struggle for a better world with his camera, and armed with his gun, "Little Mouse", Mux goes about getting things cleaned up. There are so many matters to take care of, however, that Mux soon needs to take on more staff. What's more, the "Society for the Maintenance of Public Spirit" is soon renamed "Operation More Justice". Things begin to look up for Mux on a personal level too, when he falls in love with Kira, a girl he sees as his icon of purity, the sun at the centre of his solar system. But, in spite of Mux's good intentions, he finds himself obliged to break the law again and again. And, sooner or later, such actions are bound to have serious consequences...

Sarcastic to a fault, I gather that this film would've scored better with me were I familiar with the German commentators it was lampooning. Film was very very gross and graphic. IMDB reviewers claim this is a love it or leave it proposition - I'm in the second camp.
Ruwen Schneider has a small role.

Boy Actor: Ruwen Schneider
Rating: 4/10
Link: http://www.mux-braucht-dich.de/

[b]Take My Eyes[/b]

Pilar, a distraug
« Last Edit: 28. Oct 2012 at 04:22 by Zabladowski »  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #38 - 08. Sep 2004 at 03:15
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What excellent commentary, Zab!  And thanks for going to the trouble to find the pics to go with each of those short films, too.  :bigok:

I just love your's and josephk's reviews of the festival films.  You uncover so many great movies and shorts that I'd like to see, and I can't thank each of you enough for sharing them all with us.

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #39 - 08. Sep 2004 at 16:23
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An amazing job.  I too appreciate the energy and care you guys give in putting these reports together. I'm making a note of these festival posts for future reference - a gold mine of information.
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #40 - 09. Sep 2004 at 00:09
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Thanks guys,
I enjoy telling about my trip and I'm glad you're getting something out of it too.
Now on to

Thursday

Machuca

We can dispense with the plot on this one, there has already been a lot of buzz generated regarding this film, particularly since it's joseph's favorite. I recognize the quality of the film, this is probably the best Chilean made film ever. It seems a cinch as their nominee for best foreign language film at the next Oscars.
However I did have one gripe about the film. I never totally bought into the friendship between Gonzalo and Pedro, I wanted to, but I never sensed the sort of emotional bond that should exist between friends. While I concede that the pairing as depicted is probably more accurate to the way it really would've happened in that time and place, I would've liked to have felt that connection. It also would've made the betrayal at the end of the film have more impact for me. (I'm thinking here of the end of Butterfly's Tongue when Manuel Lozano turns on Don Gregorio).
Personal quibbles aside, this was a very strong film well worth watching. Ariel Mateluna is very appealing as the title character. Movie also has a moderately large role for newcomer Sebastian Trautmann who plays Gonzalo's best friend....until Machuca comes to school. I think Sebastian would be perfect for Draco Malfoy if the Chileans ever want to do a local remake of Harry Potter   Cheesy

Boy Actors: Ariel Mateluna, Matias Quer, Sebastian Trautmann
Content Alert: Gym Shorts, Underwear, Erotic Kissing, Boy Nudity
Rating : 9/10

Pere

While his country faces the uncertainty of the 1990s, Mahmoud, a young Algerian, decides to leave for France to find his father, whom he does not know. His family discourages this quest, but he has dreamt about it for a long time and he is determined. With the help of his uncle, Azzedine, he succeeds in obtaining a fake passport and a visa for France. Arriving in Marseille, he looks for Rabah, a friend of the family who will take him to his father. But Mahmoud is diverted from his quest by a mysterious woman who takes him to her apartment. When she overdoses on drugs, Mahmoud runs away. He finds Rabah, who tells him that his father is at the hospital. They arrive too late. His father is already dead. During the night, at the point of breakdown, Mahmoud starts a conversation with his father's ghost...

I was supposed to be watching Ouaga Saga in this time slot, but I was done in by the dreaded the print arrived without English subtitles problem. Once again I had to scramble to fill a vacancy on short notice. Pere was an easy choice here as it was on my original list of things to see and it got cut. My initial instincts were probably correct. The young Algerian is in his early 20's and this film is all style no substance. There are flashbacks, tricky editing ala Memento but there is no compelling story driving the whole thing. This director might be worth watching if he had better material.

Rating: 5/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

The Right Gift

For that delicate moment when you finalize your divorce, what is the right gift for your soon-to-be-ex-spouse?

The answer isn't what you might think. Apparently the divorce is due to the wife's terminal illness, a problem the husband takes care of just before the credits roll....Euthanasia isn't my thing.

Rating : 4/10

Around The Bend

Jason Lair is a simple man with a simple wish: a normal life. This isn't an easy goal for the mild-mannered bank employee. Jason is newly separated from his wife, who has left him to care for their 6-year-old son Zach while she paints in Nepal, and his ailing grandfather Henry, a former archaeologist close to death, is investigating alternative rituals for his impending funeral. So when Jason's estranged father and Henry's son Turner, whose checkered past includes exploits from the musical to the criminal, pays the family an unexpected visit, nothing is "simple" or "normal" in Jason's life anymore. In the coming days, the somewhat reluctant Lair men will embark on a trip not only through the mythic beauty of the desert southwest, but across the family's own rocky emotional landscape. Forced together by a deep loss, these very different people find a great deal along the way - devastating secrets, amazing discoveries and, just as Henry wanted, each other.

This film was spectacular! I'm pleased to say that it will get an American theatrical release starting on October 8th, so this is one of those film festival films you will all get to see someday. The fact that Michael Caine is in it helps it's distribution chances as well. 7 year old Jonah Bobo, who was also in The Best Thief in the World, plays the youngest member of the Lair clan. He is very cute and is given the sort of dialogue which plays this up; to understand what I mean by this, watch the trailer on the official site. Story itself is heartwarming, comical and tense. It has enough of Jonah to recommend it as a boy movie, but this film is good enough to be recommended regardless. Glynne Headley, the female who gets the most screen time, is the only character who is out of place and brings down my rating slightly.

Boy Actor: Jonah Bobo
Rating: 9/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

Viper In The Fist

Since joseph beat me to the background on this one, I'll just get right to the commentary. My third feature with joseph was the best we saw together.
As you all know by now, my vision from the previous day must really have been Jules Sitruk as he was in attendance to present his film, since this was its world premiere. After saying a few words to the audience, Jules sat down two rows behind us and watched the film with the crowd of approximately 400 spectators, nearly a packed house!
The film itself was an excellent war of wills between Jules' character and that of his insufferably tough mother. I enjoyed the games the two of them played to try to establish supremacy in their relationship. I'd only seen Jules previously in Monsieur Batignole, the role and performance in this film is far superior to that. Pierre Stevenin and William Touil get generous screen time as Jules' younger and older brothers.

Boy Actors:Jules Sitruk, Pierre Stevenin
Rating: 9/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

Since Viper was the first of a doubleheader with josephk, I had to wait for him to try to unload some free tickets he had won to a screening that was in conflict with our next film. While I was killing time waiting for him, I noticed Jules outside the theatre. I decided to go up and congratulate him on a wonderful performance. I found him to be very warm and very polite and very short  Grin
By now joseph had found some takers on his free passes and we were ready to head off to our next screening - but not before joseph, with a little encouragement from me, also went to meet Jules.

Sunday in August

A Sunday in August. A couple on a boat. Their love has moved into the burnout phase. But how to let go when their souls are still entangled?

No boys and I didn't think the attempt at dark humor was all that funny....

Rating : 4/10

The Crying Wind

Seikichi, 70, makes his living fishing from a small boat off the coast of Okinawa. He and his 12-year-old grandson Akira live in a small, tree-lined village in the northern part of the island which is surrounded by a white-sand beach and plots of pine and flowering bushes. On the cliff that skirts the shore sits an open-air burial ground containing the skull of a kamikaze pilot who was shot down during the last days of World War II. When the wind blows through the bullet hole in the skull, it produces a whistling sound which causes the locals to cringe and shudder. They call it the "Crying Head". It was Seikichi's father who brought the pilot's corpse during the fighting, an event that Seikichi still remembers well. One day in spring, Kazue, 30, returns to the village with her son Masashi, 10. She has fled her abusive husband and has returned to live with her aging mother. Akira befriends Masashi, introduces him to the other boys of the village and shows him how to fish with a bamboo pole. Soon afterwards Shiho, 70, comes to the village from the mainland of Japan. Long ago, the man she loved died as a kamikaze pilot during the battle of Okinawa and she has returned periodically to find what happened to his body. This time she is in luck: she meets Seikichi and when she shows him the picture of her lover he realizes to whom the "Crying Head" belonged. But if Shiho's quest is finally resolved, Kazue's nightmare is far from over...

The film sounds way more coherent in that plot summary, than it actually played out for me. I just wasn't able to get into the various plot threads and understand why the director chose to show what he did. Even josephk, who is waaay more intellectual than I, didn't have any good answers for me. As a result, I could never rate this movie very highly. I did however like the lead boy character Masashi who was cute as a button and his slightly older friend, Akira. The warmth and chemistry I found lacking in Machuca was here in spades between these two. Unfortunately that is the only thing I can recommend about the film.

Boy Actors: Masashi, Akira, others
Content Alert: Shirtlessness, PJs, Sock Scenes
Rating: 5/10

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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #41 - 09. Sep 2004 at 02:52
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Zab, JosephK, others... thanks for all the information. Looks like there are a lot of new movies coming up again. A festival like this sounds so great to attend, especially when you have the opportunity to meet actors and directors. And each other! Will keep all movies in mind and look for DVD releases etc.

'soles' :cwm39:
  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #42 - 11. Sep 2004 at 10:16
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The best is yet to come 'Soles  Smiley (for me anyway)

Friday

Offsides

Juan, a young working-class teenager in Quito, is deeply discouraged. Ecuador is politically unstable and, like so many other countries in South America, in the midst of an economic depression. Things are no better at home, were poverty and parental neglect are the order of the day. Add an unrequited crush on girl, police repression and friends who are into drugs and it's no wonder that Juan drops out of school. Crime and emigration to Spain seem like the only way out...

A story all here have seen many, many times. A naive, inherently good boy plunges into bad things due to circumstances. The wrinkle for us is that this film was made in Ecuador and some of the circumstances are unique to that country but for the most part this story covers old ground and doesn't do so in a particularly imaginative way. Manolo Santillian is visually appealing and about 17.

Content Alert: Shirtless, Drag Scene
Rating: 6/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)
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Playing Dead

Summer. Bored. A chance meeting in the woods.

In this short film, a boy stumbles across the dead body of a woman. As the title would imply he plays dead with her. An atmospheric film set in the recesses of the young amoral mind.
Link includes a small picture of Titus from the film.

Boy Actor: Titus Jamieson-Cook
Rating: 6/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

Aftermath

Britt and Claes are going through a marital crisis and neither of them can see a way out. Their friends try to help, but neither good intentions nor social gatherings have the slightest effect. Their once contented and happy relationship has shattered into a thousand pieces, and each deals with things in their own way. Claes neglects his work as an architect, while Britt, a social worker, finds solace in becoming too emotionally involved in the case of an irresponsible young mother. But they are still trapped in their vicious circle of sadness and pain and barely speak to each other. Their recent bereavement appears to have destroyed everything which held them together. Moreover, Claes is possessed by a desire for revenge and clandestinely pursues the woman who caused their misfortune. Will their marriage survive the aftermath?

The loss which threatens this marriage was the couple's only daughter, age 12, getting mowed down by a drunken driver. Although there were no boys in the film at all, I thought the story was well constructed. I was so caught up in what was going on, that it was only as the credits were rolling that I realized how moving the film was.

Rating: 8/10

It was now time to meet up with josephk again for another joint screening.  Grin

Oscillation

A man tries to create a new, purified space. When he finishes the process, the space bleeds and the blood invades his new world. The man faces his rebirth and the cyclical nature of existence.

Another dog. This one had no words and held no interest for me. Although Mexico was the country of origin, the film maker was Asian. I'm starting to think that I just forget about appreciating Asian storytelling. Thankfully this was a short.

Rating: 0/10 :snooze:

Paper Dove

As a profiled film which joseph has already reviewed, I'll dispense with the plot.
My personal view on this film isn't nearly as harsh as joseph's. While I will concede wooden acting, mostly stock characterizations and shaky storytelling, the filmmaker stated that this film was meant to bring out the story of the thousands of children who perished in Peru in the 1980's. If you are able to connect at all with Juan or Modesto on an emotional level, this film will have some value to you. Thankfully that happened for me.

Boy Actors: Antonio Callirgos, Jesus Rodrigo Carbajal Navarro, Angel Josue Rojas Huaranga

Content Alert: Boy Nudity, Extreme Violence (some against boys)
Rating: 6/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

After this film, joseph headed off to restore his faith in cinema by attending Machuca, since I'd already seen that one I took off for an Aussie triple feature.

Mona Lisa

George wants to go out for the night but his mother, lonely and terrified of a life spent alone, wants him to stay. A psychological tug of war ensues, illustrating the way in which love, family and identity can come into direct conflict.
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Could you say no to that face? George is probably 30 years old so no boy interest here, but the tension between him and his mother made this film very watchable.

Rating: 8/10

The Big Day
It's been sixty years since Enid and Clarry were married and today they plan to renew their wedding vows. There's only one small hitch: they have trouble remembering them. A romantic comedy.

Essentially a documentary of an old couple trying to remember their vows so they can repeat them at a remewal ceremony. Didn't hold much interest for me.
I wish they had invited their great-great -grandson over to help  Cheesy

Rating: 4/10

The Widower
Structured around a collection of quintessential Les Murray poems that offer an engaging story about two Australian men - a father and son - who have lost the most treasured woman in their lives. THE WIDOWER is a poetically conceived music-drama that explores themes of ageing, isolation, loss and love in an Australian rural setting.

A true test of my patience. I regret not being able to find a still of Blake Pittman so you all would know why I had to see this (perhaps cal can help out?).
Seeing Blake is the only thing worth recommending in this film. This was some sort of experimental film, a meshing of poetry which was read in lieu of dialogue, dance, and music which was much much too artsy for me (and no Sir J, I don't go for wine...but I do like cheese  Cheesy ). But enough about the horrible film, let me rhapsodize just a bit more on Blake. My notes on the film visually compare him to Julien Ciamaca - pretty high praise indeed. IMDB says he has a few other appearances, I can only hope that he is given more of an opportunity to show if he can act.

Boy Actor: Blake Pittman
Rating: 4/10

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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #43 - 11. Sep 2004 at 10:56
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Ring

A film about prejudice and its implications. A father believes that his teenage son is monitoring the sex life of his parents via a webcam concealed in their bedroom.

A film interesting to me only as the first Estonian film I've ever seen. Also interesting that the newspaper the father was reading at the table was in English, a language the actor clearly doesn't understand or he'd know he was reading it upside down.  Grin  A lot of short films are feast or famine...this one left me hungry.  Son was probably 17/18 or so.

Rating: 5/10

Hip Hip Hora

Sofie is 13 and preparing to start junior high. Together with her two best friends, Emma and Amanda, she is making plans for her fabulous life as a grown-up -- parties, new friends and getting to know the cute guy in school, Mouse. One day they are invited to a party which will also be attended by the coolest boys in school, Mouse, Jens and Sebbe. Sofie drinks too much and passes out. Mouse and his friends take advantage of the situation by snapping humiliating photos of her which are quickly spread throughout the school. Soon she is labelled the school slut. Fighting to restore her tarnished reputation, Sofie realizes that she can't even rely on her two best friends -- who are equally torn by the situation: choosing between their new gang or standing by their old friend. The fact that Sofie's father Krister is a music teacher at the school only complicates matters...

If you have ever had the unpleasant experience of being the subject of a "whisper" campaign you will know that this film nailed that topic dead on. The destructive nature of gosssip is well depicted in this Swedish film. Film is very Scandanavian in content, in short it doesn't avoid graphically depicting some of the dicier elements in the plot. There are also a couple of funny scenes, the best of which can't be shared in polite company  Embarrassed
My only real gripe with the film is the casting decisions. 17 year old Amanda Renberg plays Sofie who is supposed to be starting 7th grade! Indeed all of the performers used to play the students are all 17 or 18. With age appropriate performers this could've been a classic! As it was it wasn't half bad.

Boy Actor: Filip Berg
Content Alert:Sexual Situations, Nudity (probably a prosthetic Cheesy)
Rating: 8/10

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Saturday

My final day of film festing  Cry

The Perpetual Twilight of Gregor Black
An everyday tale of married life... a husband, a wife, and a pair of shoes.

It was way too early for me to watch this stylish short film. Weird imagery and an incoherent storyline doesn't make for good early morning fare. Sammy Reid has a very small role.

Boy Actor: Sammy Reid
Rating: 3/10

Holy Cross
This film tells the story of two fictional families caught up in the events of September 3, 2001, on the Ardoyne Road in Belfast. A dispute arose there concerning the rights of schoolgirls from the Catholic Ardoyne area of North Belfast to walk a few hundred yards past the predominantly loyalist area of Glenbryn to the Holy Cross primary school. It is a story about fear, identity, community, territory, trust and enmity in a polarized society where politics and community relations have failed. The conflict is seen through the eyes of the two families, and provides an insight into the actions and emotions of those involved on both sides, an insight which goes beyond the blunt images of hatred and anger shown in the news reports of the time.

Although you might think the schoolgirls who were the center of this film might attend with some schoolboys, you'd be mistaken. That complaint aside, this film is a very balanced study of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the tremendous stupidity exhibited by both sides of the conflict. Originally made for television I think, I'm very glad to have gotten the chance to see this as all the BBC thinks we Americans want to watch of theirs are reruns of Keeping Up Appearances and home redecorating shows!

Rating: 9/10
Link: (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

With Saturday off to a good start I am next scheduled for my final screening with josephk, Beat The Drum.

  
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Re: Montreal 2004
Reply #44 - 11. Sep 2004 at 12:53
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Wow...  I feel that I've read an entire movie encyclopedia... it only took me 3 days and 15 cups of coffee.   Grin

Is there more?


I think it might be worthwhile pinning this thread in the Movie Reviews Forum so we can keep it within reach for a while.

BTW... I check my HD to see if I had a pic of the aussie kid Zab mentioned ..  the one that looks like the kid that SJ swoons over from MFG & MMH...  but alas no luck...  I'll keep an eye out for him.
  
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