Friday, October 15, 2010

My day at the PIFF

By a little luck I was able to see 7 films on this day and as with 7 films, I saw some great ones, some so so and one so bad that I heard an audience member say after the film. "I want to smoke cigarettes and get to drinking beer now, so I can erase this film from my mind."

The first film I saw was from Poland by the name of Little Rose

The films opens up with a Pro-Soviet Union Polish report blaming the Israeli Air Force for defeating the Soviets Arab allies in war. With this the ugly anti-Jewish hatred in Poland restarts with the Polish Security Service trying to eliminate this "New Threat" to the Soviet rule of Poland.

What you then see is a Young Polish student by the name of Kamila Sakowicz in love with her fiance, who is a member of the PSS. His mission is to try and get close to Polish Historian Adam Warczewski, who the government thinks is a secret Jewish Agent out to destroy the Polish Government.

Well that is the opening plot of this film and I really with that they would had kept it simple. The film wants you to try and make the Polish Mata Hari into a sympathetic character and there is where the film lost me. In trying to make this lady into a saint a tragic victim of circumstance, it just was never believable to me. Each plot twist just kept getting stupider and worse.

By the end of the film the audience and myself were ready for it to be over and when it was over I took a quick poll of the audience and it was about what I thought of this film. Its a good one, not a great one. The film could have used a lot tighter edit and eliminated about 20-30 minutes of plot story. In the end we're left will a mess that at time could have been a great film. It is worth seeing at least one time if you like Soviet style spy stories.

Grade: D-

Now the real irony of all this was that the next film was a Russian film set in the year 1945 in Siberia. By the name of (Kray or The Edge)

Now with films from Russian they have either been hits(9th Company, Night Watch)or Misses(Day Watch, 12) with me. The only reason I saw this film was because of of my students thought I'd like it. She was so right on this film for me.

What we see is a girl running away from men shooting at her and then she falls into a huge river. Then we are told about World War 2 and how the USSR treated Russian prisoners of war and Russian citizens who worked for the Germans. You are then told that these people were sent to exile to live the remainders of their lives working in a very remote part of Siberia.

You are then show a Russian war hero by the name of Ignat, who hates all of these so-called German collaborators. He soon meets and has a relationship with one of the Russian ladies there who has a baby by a German military officer. But Ignat loves trains and you are slowly shown his past. The the film introduces you to a ghost. At last that is what this person is called. This person has lived in an old abandoned train since 1941 and has no knowledge of the USSR German war. To make maters worse she is German and the entire jail city hater her because of this except for Ignat.

Now with this film one was never sure what was coming next and the film told a great story that never seemed too long. I will not spoil the film for you but I will say this when the film was over the majority of the audience applauded and they had smiles as they left the cinema. It was a week later when this film was chosen by Russia to be its' official film for the foreign-language honor at 83rd Academy Awards. The film deserves to be seen at least twice to make sure that you truly see what this film has to offer.

Grade: A+

Now the next film was from Columbia and at this screen I was sitting next to graduate Students who had to see a film a comment on it for their homework. part of their homework was to ask a non Korean questions about the film that they saw. So needless to say I answered a lot of questions about this film for these students. The films title was Portraits in A Sea of Lies

What we are shown is a girl by the name of Marina, who does not talk, and after all that has gone on in Columbia. I knew it was because of something that she had seen in her past immediately and when they slowly start to show her past, it really wasn't that much of a surprise to me. The audience and the nearby students seemed to be interested in this.

The plot of this film is that her family used to own some land that was taken away by the Colombian Government years ago. The girl and her photographer playboy Cousin Jairo attempt to go back there to find the deed so that they can reclaim the land.

I must admit the basic idea of this film intrigued me but the film kept going over already know ideas to me and really never said anything interesting. To me it was because they never seemed how to handle the part of Marina. To her being able to see dead people to the final part of the film. I just never really felt any sympathy for her. She was dead inside and it never made me care for her.

By the end of the film, I had seen nothing original and wondered why the film takes went down this path to this film. The nearby students really liked the film but they understood why I did not. In the end it was a film that just really left me flat. The audience left the theater with kind of a Memh..look. Please pass on this film.

Grade C-

Now the next film was from Georgia and France and was shown at Cannes so I had really no idea about the film called Chantrapas

The idea was simple enough, the audacity of a Georgian filmmaker making a co-production split between France and Georgia about a Georgian filmmaker and how compromising and disappointing it is to make a co-production shooting in both France and Georgia. ( Sad to say the film never really ventures past this idea. The majority of the attempt at humor just left the audience and me very flat. In the end both his Georgian film and his French films are both huge disasters with almost the entire audience walking out of his French Screening.

The film ended in a way that no one saw coming and no one could actually believe that we had just seen it. When the credits started to roll the audience turned on this film immediately. Boo's and loud WTF's were heard during the credits. It is during this time that I heard someone state that "I want to smoke cigarettes and get drinking beer now so I can erase this film from my mind." I also heard another audience member tell the subtitle volunteer that, "The person who picked this film for the PIFF should be fired on the spot!

This is the 3rd film this year (Korean.. A Little Pond.. USA.. Resident Evil #4) that I thought that an F- was too high of a grade. Please pass on this film at all cost!!

My next 3 films were at the Midnight Slasher night. The main event was the Korean premier of the Unrated version of I Saw the Devil

Now before we can go into the review we have to go back into actually why this film was banned in the first place.

Back in 2002 Korean set up a film ranking of Restricted rating (제한상영가). Films with this rating were restricted to adults over 19, could only be shown in specially licensed theaters, and could not be advertised or released on home video. The rating was ruled unconstitutional in 2009 after a challenge from the local distributor of Shortbus(Wikipedia)Korea has 1 of these theaters and its in Kwangju.

So when I had heard that the Korea Media Rating Board had given ISTD this rating, I could not believe it. This particular rating has been ruled unconstitutional so I have no idea why they gave it to this film. (All attempt to try and find out why have only led to more confusing comments)

When the Director of this film Kim Ji-woon came out to present the film to us at the midnight screening he stated, through his translator, that this version of the film had received a 14 rating in Canada and I yelled WTF. If you ever see any video of that, the loud fan is me.

The audience was in a great mood, everyone wanted to see the unrated version. Then the film started and the audience saw what happened the first few minutes, you knew hell was coming in the form of Lee Byung-hun and you believed it. The madman took away his pregnant fiancés. He was going to take away him.

This film was different because in most vengeance films, once you catch the person you slowly kill him or her and then the film is over. This one was different because once Choi Min-sik character was captured. Lee took him to the brink of death, then stopped and let him live. This goes on for awhile and after the 3rd time. LBH characters fiancés family ask him to stop the vengeance because its used in movies and this is enough.

What was also nice about this film was the secondary people in this film, both the good guys and the bad ones. They all really helped t take this film to the next level.

What I liked was that the devil CMS had taken 3 of his best hits and he was still alive and when he figured out how the spy was working and who the spy actually was it was time for the hunted to become the hunter once again and then you see what vengeance true cost was.

When the film was over, I knew that this was the version that I wanted in Blu-ray. The audience applauded loudly and no one still could explain to me about the crazy rating. See the unrated version anyway you can.

Grade A+

So we had a 15 minute break and the next film was from Hong Kong and it goes by the name of Dream Home

The film is story of Cheng Lai-sheung who saves up money to buy her dream home. After finding house prices rising, she goes into a murderous frenzy. The opening part of the film states that this film was based n a true story. I have no idea if this is true or not.

What we are shown is a girl who has finally snapped and you are also shown the background story of why she snapped. I really started to feel sorry for this girl. No matter how hard and how she kept trying to do things the right way the deck just seemed not to favor her.

I saw that her 2 stressers were her father dying and that the couple that she wanted to buy an apartment off of at the last second jacked up the price it was just too much and she went on a killing rampage. It was really just killing for the sake of killing. It was turning into a bad Cinemax late night film devoid of anything why she was killing. When the film is near the end you are shown why she killed all of these people. I was left just like I wasted about 2 hours on this film. I did not like it and the audience near me went to sleep instead of watching this film.

Please pass on this one

Grade: D

The last film of the evening was an American film called Husk I later found out that it was originally a 27 minute short film that was shown at Sundance a few years ago to some good reviews. I sat down and started to watch the film and I kept waiting for a good decent horror film to appear on the screen and by the end of the movie I was still waiting for a good horror film to come on the screen.

The plot was a joke. It never was believable. The idea of this film might have best worked as a short film but when it made into a cheep horror film, it lost a lot in its growth. I wasn't scared, I never believed in it and when it was over, I wanted to find the director and demand my $ back for wasting my time with this film. A huge misfire for After Dark Films

Grade: D

If you get the chance please go to the Pusan International Film Festival next year and hope that have better films that some of these that were shown this year.

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