Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film that allows itself to be a powerful character study while simultaneously being full of abstract ideas and big concepts of community and family, never being overt, but simply letting it all wash over you and simmer. Coming out of a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury win, this is a film that has gone on from festival to festival, building its prestige and winning awards. With such built-in momentum, you never know what you are going to get and how you will respond to it. Will it meet your expectations? Will you think the hype goes too far and be disappointed? With all this in mind, there could be some trepidation, but it’s almost as if the film knows this ahead of time and does its best to keep everything subdued, so that when it does hit you, it’s on your own terms.
When it comes to religious tensions, there are two ways to approach the topic on film—either by showing the ways tensions tear society apart, or by using humor to show the ridiculousness of the situation. Both tactics have merits, and have worked in films from Monty Python’s Life of Brian to Gandhi. In Where Do We Go Now?, director and lead actress Nadine Labaki goes a more difficult route and tries to do both, with good if not great results.
The new film Polisse is not a masterpiece, but the dedication to this story from the director and screenwriter, Maïwenn, makes for an interesting look at the work of the CPU (Child Protective Unit). Maïwenn places us right in the middle of these cops’ lives, and is very quick to keep everything moving. She does this by making jump cuts around a scene and moving quickly into new scenes. This makes for a confusing start, and there were moments that I had to backtrack in my mind to figure out where we were and who we were with. As the film moves on, though, things start to fall into place, and we slowly pick up enough to figure out where these police officers are in their careers and personal lives.
A Cat in Paris is a delightfully animated tale that keeps you entertained the whole way through. When the Academy Award nominations were announced last year for Best Animated Feature, I was thrilled that A Cat in Paris and Chico and Rita were nominated. I had not even seen either one yet, but the fact that two independent foreign films got in was, to me, a great sign. Just having beautiful graphics (à la Cars 2) was not enough to be deemed a worthy animated film. A Cat in Paris isn’t breaking new ground with its subject matter, but directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol keep us involved with its story with beautiful animation, a sense of fun, and strong characters.
Kris and Lindy Boustedt’s This Is Ours (2012) tells the story of married couple Karen (Karie Gonia) and Will (Ernie Joseph), and their trip to their vacation home, which is now in foreclosure. Things are not right with Karen and Will; that special element that they once clung to when they were newlyweds is no longer there, and we sense that this trip involves more than just packing and leaving the vacation home for good. Whatever happened between these two must have been pretty serious, given that they can’t even play a game of Monopoly without launching into an argument.
Goodbye First Love is a character study of young love, with no developed characters, or examination, or realistic love. At the start of the central relationship, they are two typical, over-involved kids. Camille (Lola Créton) is fifteen and certain she is in love with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), and will be forever. Sullivan is in love, but he dreams of exploring and seeing more of the world. When he decides to travel to South America for ten months, Camille thinks the world is ending. At the start, both sides are played well. Her passion is clear, yet she is smothering and makes him feel bad for wanting to live his own life, even if just for awhile. He, however, is very dismissive of her feelings and seems to only want to be with her on his own terms, only responding to her texts when he wants to and disappearing for extended times. The film shows a balance of blame on both ends.
Everyone has their preferences in moviewatching as to certain genres they don’t like. For me, musicals and campy comedies just don’t click with my personality—the pausing of the action distracts me from the story. I had heard good things about Roller Town going into it, but I didn’t know it was a campy comedy, and when I found out I feared this might be a bit of an adventure.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if there was a place where you knew the day before you were going to die, and you were able to say goodbye to everyone first? Thanks to SIFF you can imagine what that would be like, as this is the world that is presented in Tey.
I will admit I was a bit slow to warm up to Mike Birbiglia. Not that he isn’t entertaining, but usually the roles I had seen him in were where he was playing kind of dopey characters. I had heard his work on This American Life, which I’ve enjoyed, but that alone wasn’t enough to hook me. That has all changed, though, with his directorial debut, Sleepwalk With Me—which he not only directed, but wrote and starred in, as well.