In early June, on the north-eastern coast of the Adriatic …
The temptation of making it big internationally must have been too strong for Matteo Garrone to resist and two films later, the filmmaker who charmed Cannes with the Neapolitan lilt of Gomorra is back in competition with an incongruous fairy-tale offering teeming with midgets, unidentified beasts and an ogre.
It was 2004 and I was fifteen years old when I read Charles R. Cross’ Heavier than Heaven. I remember finishing the last chapters, sprawled on the floor of my family’s cottage as I cried so hard I started to dry heave. At the time I was unaware of the controversy that surrounded the adaptation, both in how Cross took liberties in certain facts (some information was later disproved, or at least not substantiated) and the decision he made to create what was ultimately a fictional take on Kurt’s final days up until the point he killed himself. Like many teenager before and since, Kurt Cobain represented a romantic and ultimately tragic figure to look up to – for better or for worse.
Presented in the Bright Future Premieres programme section of IFFR 2015 as one of the nominees for the FIPRESCI prize of the festival, The Man in the Wall is a tense, excellently paced psychological drama with fleshed out characters that seem pulled on-screen directly from life itself. Although purportedly not (auto)biographical, the story nonetheless feels very personal.
Canadian cinema seems endlessly intertwined with the fringe appeal of horror genre. The first boom of horror happened in the 1970s when Canada’s tax policy allowed producers to take a fee of production costs before the film earned back its production costs (which is not allowed in the States), driving many low quality projects into theatres. Horror was always a safe bet because it was particularly cheap to make, and if they happened to land on a success the return on the investment would generally be a lot higher than for more “prestige” pictures. As that tax-shelter eventually closed up, there still remained a rather strong legacy of horror in Canadian cinema and to this day Canadian horror leans towards the adventurous and the innovative.
The dark unforgiving waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the St. Lawrence river provide the backdrop to Les Loups, a beautifully crafted melodrama. Set in a small island Quebec town during the spring thaw, a stranger arrives during the height of the controversial seal hunts. Vibrant and mysterious, many suspect that Elie, the young woman from Montreal, is not who she says and is likely a reporter or an activist bent on portraying the townsfolk in a bad light.
Backstreet Boys: Show em’ What You’re Made of
Directed by Stephen Kijak
At the height of their face The Backstreet Boys represented with their harmonious voices and cherub good looks a newfound idealism in the American landscape. Not without talent, their selling point as much their image as their sound: they were chosen to be branded. Offering context to the tumultuous early years and how their experienced shaped their identity and worth over the years, the new documentary Backstreet Boys: Show em’ What You’re Made of documents the production of a new album from the former boy group.
Our Sunhi, the newest film from Hong Sang-Soo, is enamoured with interconnected romances and the mysteries of affection. A charming and patient comedy, the film excels at presenting the trials and tribulations of desire, offering a rewarding and funny take on the mysteries of love. Though there is nothing exceptional about the title character, Sunhi, she captures the elusive affections of three friends.
Tsai Ming-Liang has built a reputation for himself as one of the foremost artists of contemporary cinema. His work is often lauded for its challenging ideas, careful pacing, and incredible compositional sense. His newest film Stray Dogs (rumoured to be his last) is about an alcoholic father and his two children struggling to survive in Taipei. Blending stark realism with elements of fantasy and absurdity, there is little doubt that this is one of the most unique films of the year, offering a singular vision of the world.
Borne out of the current economic crisis, Bluebird is set in an obscure and isolated logging town in Maine. Coated in snow that seems to be barely ever cleared, there is a lingering fear that the mill will close and the town will fade even deeper into the past. Lost in the rituals of daily life, it is only through accidental tragedy that a true sense of malaise and hopelessness comes rising from below the surface.
The Killing of America is an impassioned and emotional showcase of violence in America from the period of the early 1960s into the early 1980s. Resting on the thesis that the society quickly devolved into increasingly acts of senseless violence, the film utilizes rare and disturbing footage of both familiar and unfamiliar events. Rift with a somewhat confused ideology, the film nonetheless packs a punch and suggests where many others haven’t that access to guns are part of the problem, an issue that continues to be debated within American society to this day. Is this little more than a parade of greatest hits for snuff fans or does it reaches deeper, revealing darker truths and realities that we are unwilling or unable to face.