Sunday, April 30, 2006

Underground Game - Reaction


A perplexing film about a man who plays a game on the subway: he chooses a route, and if a woman travels his selected route, she must be "the one." He does meet people while playing this game, but never when playing according to the rules. I found the movie plodding and didn't really get into it. Everything was too mysterious, both the people, their backgrounds, and where they were going (physically and emotionally). Themes include fate and love and whether by changing the rules of the game (or life) one can get around fate / achieve love. Music well integrated. I had briefly thought it would a commentary on the urban lifestyle (as the sky isn't visible for the first third of the movie), but nothing changes qualitatively when people go into the countryside and no themes seemed to have come from this idea of mine.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Seeds of Doubt - Reaction


Mesmerizing personal drama in which an Algerian married to a German (both living in Germany) is suspected of terrorism. Explores the question, "can you ever truly know someone?" Amazingly, one can identify with and understand each character's reactions -- it feels like a first-person perspective from each person. Themes about whom to believe in a post-9/11 world and how do current politics (fear, suspicion, etc.) disrupt relationships.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cock Byte: Masters of Machinima - Reaction

Not really a movie. Two of the Red vs Blue (Blood Gulch Chronicles) creators were there and showed most of the first season DVD, a tad from the upcoming fourth season DVD, and some selections from a series of promotional shorts they're making using The Sims for the Independent Movie Channel. All are quite funny. Demonstrates how their art and cinematography has changed over time. Small crowd at this showing in Berkeley. Mostly, Q&A with the two guys. And the guys were great: funny and it's really easy to how they put aspects of their personalities into the characters.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Adam's Apples - Reaction


A weird and enjoyable combination of religious parable and black comedy that ponders what it means to be religious, have faith, and turn the other cheek and whether these are good or bad traits. Religious content is over the top, intentionally -- effective for bringing out the theme and for comic value. Recurring references to the Book of Job and being tested, but being tested by whom (God or the Devil)? Whoever is doing the testing works in mysterious ways.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Gronholm Method - Reaction


"And Then There Were None" (Agatha Christie's tale made into multiple movies) done with a set of applicants competing for a high-level corporate position. Well done drama. A bit of the feel of "Twelve Angry Men," with individuals arguing in a cramped space. Set against the background of WTO/IMF riots, shows just how far people will go for corporate greed. Opening scene involves tri-split screen and follows the same action from multiple (usually two) angles, merging and replacing shots smoothly. Very neat; conveys a great god's eye view and sense of constant motion.

A Perfect Couple - Reaction

[French with Japanese director]

Filled with uncomfortable silences and inane/arbitrary arguments, this slow moving movie explores the end of a marriage. While it feels true, it's not a movie that is pleasant to watch. Little conversation, extremely long takes (dozens of minutes), and practically no camera movement all contribute to the lack of forward momentum. Also, I thought they were doing something meaningful by having only the women be in the center of the frame, but that ceased after the first half an hour; I guess I was wrong. (Note: the director of photography was there and very eloquent in translation, e.g., in one hand-held up-close camera scene, she said she wanted "the camera to get onto/into the character like an animal.")

Di Yin, who saw the movie separately, says she agrees. "A perfect couple is more a movie about waiting - for your partner to come home, for the reply to come for your questions, for the minutes of a trip to pass by, as much as it is about the progression of a relationship. The characters hesitate, watch, and long for each other - this very stagnation both speaks true to the nature of their relationship, and frustrates the audience."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Al Franken: God Spoke - Reaction

Okay film covering a period of Franken's life from publishing "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" through the 2004 election to the announcement he was considering running for senate. Felt fairly straight-forward / one-note, but that could be because Al Franken is a simple and direct politically active comedian. (If there is much more to him, this movie doesn't show it.) Lacks much forward momentum. I tried to feel a climax at the 2004 election but the movie continued. And it just petered out after his senate posturing. Still, a funny movie (because he's funny). Same directors as "The War Room," a political documentary covering Clinton's campaign. The directors were there to answer questions after the movie.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Eden - Reaction


Touching film that shows how food can open up the heart. Chef-actor performs excellently; he can say a lot without words. "Nuanced film [about] aloneness and relationships." Doesn't end the way you think it will. My screening was odd due to mis-cut film, missing scenes, and bad color on the DVD. This problems prevented us from seeing 15 minutes of the film and delayed the middle by over an hour. Despite this obstacle, the movie is very good. (Also, the director and producer were there and intelligently answered interesting questions about casting, framing, and more.)