Calgary International Film Festival day 9:
- Retouches **
Ok, so you seem to be... playing with what paint can do? And... demonstrating how different forms of movement are similar to each other? I am sure that there are people out there who care. I regret to inform you that I am not one of them.
- Maverick ***
This started out interesting enough. I actually liked the use of Super-8, and was faintly fascinated by the juxtaposition of film stock from different eras. I'm not much of a music video fan, but as a music video, I rather liked it. Then the voiceover started. Oh dear. See, I understood where the film was going before the awkward voiceover started morse-code drumming it into my forehead. As a standalone poem (and narrated, as my friend nickate mentioned, by someone different), I think the text might stand a chance. As it is, it is horrendously distracting, and this is a clear case where the whole is rather less than the sum of its parts.
- 12 toner ned (12 Notes Down) *********
I have written a truly marvellous review of this, which this blog post is too narrow to contain. In a phrase, the movie could be summed up as, "What now?" What happens when you start outgrowing your life? What would I do if I were to one day discover that I could suddenly no longer program? Or solve the simplest equation? For some, this comes at the end of their life, when they have had years to anticipate, prepare for it. What if this happens when you're but thirteen? What now?
- Out in that Deep Blue Sea *
To such a great extent did I not get this movie, that I don't even have the words to describe what it was that I did not get. A pointless juxtaposition of random scenes from...? My best guess is that the writer was going for a "Death of a Salesman" kinda thing, but... it didn't work.
- Lesh Sabreen? (Why, Sabrina?) *******
Not that it's necessarily my place to judge, but the word "subtlety" is not often found in the vocabulary of films from the Arab world. Especially when it comes to Israel. I think it's partly cultural, I don't know. Maybe I've just bveen watching the wrong films. Perhaps years of watching Lebanese TV soap operas have irrevocably biased me. Either way, the discovery of the principle by the makers this film was a refreshing breeze. That I walked away with remaining questions to ponder, and hadn't just survived a barrage of "Israel is Evil!" was extremely gratifying.
- Short Term 12 *****
I don't know what to say, beyond that I kind-of liked this one. Not a lot, but kinda. I have a hard time even saying why I liked it, or what it was that I liked. I found it pleasant, in perhaps one of the strangest uses of that word ever. I found it pleasant despite itself. It is an affirmation that life goes on? I'm sure that anyone else who has seen it will disagree with me on that point. I can't explain why I feel that way; I just do.
- Omelet ******
The movie's scene-setting prologue says it all: in 1996 Sofia ("Somewhere in Europe") inflation is growing "by the hour." Few of us have lived in such a time, and Insha'Allah, few of us will. This is a short and affecting glimpse into what life is like in that place. It's enough of a glimpse for me.
- Sheva dakot be gan eden (Seven Minutes in Heaven) **********
It is gray. Blank. You are on a plain. You see something. Or do you? No. Maybe not.
It is gray. Not just gray, but foggy, misty. Through the mist, there is something there. You think. A darker shape that starts to emerge. But it shrinks back into the mist, and is gone.
It is gray. You are on a featureless plain with fog shrouding the horizon. As you wander, you think you see a feature through the mist, the only one you've seen so far. You head towards that feature: something is better than the nothing. The feature starts to take on definition, the shadow adopts a shape. But it remains elusive, and the nearer you approach, the further away it gets. Pretty soon it is again gone.
You wander, still, through the formless void. Your eyes are perhaps playing tricks on you, but you could swear you see your shadow again. Determined not to lose it anew, you change course, and make out for the shadow. This time it becomes more than a shadow. You can make out an outline, and even colour. Your thing has become a landmark, of sorts. The only beacon in this otherworldly place. You begin to ascribe to it character, and even allow it emotions. Or are they just a reflection of your own emotions? Oh wait... as you were pondering, you lost track of it and are again alone.
In your continued travels, you again sight a shape through the mist. At first hurrying towards it, you become apprehensive, perhaps even fearful. Maybe this is not where you want to go? Why the assumption that because it is there, you must go to it? You turn, this time attempting to avoid it. But to no avail: it inexorably nears, a great dark chasm looming close. There is nothing you can do. But as quickly as it approached, it again begins to recede, and is quickly re-enveloped by the fog.
"What are you?" you finally shout in anger and frustration. "What do you want from me?" No response. "Why are you here?" Still no response—can it hear you? Is it alive? Why has it chosen you to torture and taunt in this way? Why does it choose this waltz of approach-and-recede? It is playing with you, but to what end? Spiteful thing!
It is back for another rotation, but you no longer care. You are weary, and resigned to your fate. You regard your companion less threateningly now, maybe even as a friend. Tired, you stop wandering. You sit and wait for it to approach. Let it come to you, then. If every orbit brings it swinging closer, then this time let it. It comes, and you can discern its myriad, now familiar, features. It comes, ever closer.
Suddenly, the mirror makes contact and shatters! A kaleidoscope of colourful shards fills the air and each one expands into a new dimension, growing to form a crazy-quilt patchwork of a scene. Which one to choose? Too late, the shard has you!
You hear birds chirping, the slightly muted sound of waves lapping at the sand down on the beach. A rustle of leaves as you feel the wind brushing past your cheek. You smile and open your eyes. "Hi," you say.
This is easily my favourite film from the festival so far.