Tuesday, 6 December 2022

NOWE HORYZONTY FESTIVAL

This year the festival took place in cinemas between 21-31 July and till 7 August online. Below is what the organizers said about the content and guests. The jury comprised of 5 people, including Radu Jude, Michel Franco, Agata Buzek, "Synonymes" ("Synonyms") director נדב לפיד (Nadav Lapid). While the first two are superb directors, the actress and the latter director bore viewers to death. As for film makers showing their movies, those who started off as Odkrycia (Discoveries) now grace the Mistrzowie, Mistrzynie (Masters) section. A retrospective of Agnieszka Holland took place for the first time in Poland. Since not all her films were shot in Poland, getting screening rights took time, e.g. the rights to "Zabić księdza" ("To Kill a Priest") took 2 months to obtain. Between 21-25 July the director was at 3 Q&As daily. More than 10 films of hers were shown. Over 400 guests came in total. Jonas Mekas's retrospective - the director died 3 years ago at the age of 97 - included a 5-hour long movie. Another one was Lucile Hadžihalilović's retrospective - the director is known for metaphors of body, spatial, architectural thinking, closed worlds, water present, e.g. "Earwig" - the girls' ice teeth melt during the day, Gothic brutality features too. Another retrospective was Joanna Hogg's - Tilda Swinton's friend, who discovered Tom Hiddleston. She used to work on UK TV series and documentaries and at 47 created her first cinema movie. She's sensitive to class issues and fills her films with subtleties and humour. Intriguing festival offerings were: "Peter von Kant" by François Ozon, artist Roee Rosen's "Kafka for Kids" - for naughty adults rather, "Answering the Sun" which was in fact hypnosis, all audience is hypnotised through the film. Female debuts appeared in 'Focus on Kosovo'. The Trzecie Oko (Third Eye) section was on female servants: contemporary court workers or maids, precariat, the Białe Noce (White Nights) section saw the far North, where half a year is dark, half a year intensive sunshine. For that reason it was accompanied by midnight or break of dawn concerts. 朱声仄 (Shengze Zhu)'s "河流,奔跑着,倒映着" ("A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces") constituted of letters to Covid victims read by close ones - in section Lost Lost Lost. A section for the hard of hearing was there too.

One of the films presented at the festival was:

CLOSE

Recommended. Convincingly acted by everyone, but it's the big-eyed lead boys Leo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav de Waele) who deserve a special mention as promising future stars. They perfectly express everything with their eyes, faces and bodies. The movie's psychologically true. When Remi starts to cry and you think Leo may embrace him, he attacks with his fists - a physical contact is maintained but one socially accepted. While the peer pressure at school teaches both boys, especially Leo, a level of aggression, it makes you wonder what our whole society would be like if boys could cuddle in public. The first act, about half an hour long, is the two boys' closeness, next comes social separation and the brief, about a quarter of an hour long, finale is the guilt confession. At least the culprit is embraced. 


QU'EST-CE QU'ON A TOUS FAIT AU BON DIEU? (SERIAL (BAD) WEDDINGS 3)

Recommended. Christian Clavier is still the driving force for the franchise but a German character plays a vital role and at some point an Indian family member arrives. They mock veganism too, as well as inept workers. Most importantly, I burst out laughing a few times and I was still giggling at the end remembering "Find some Chinese people in Paris, maybe Vietnamese. He won't tell the difference". Undeniably hilarious. And I loved paying the international family another visit at the cinema.

JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION 

Recommended. Top visual effects enhance this science fiction flick which is primarily about dinosaurs but with serious undertones regarding humans' attitude to animals. The opening scene, similar to the one ending "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom", only means equally awesome images are yet to come. The introduction recaps the events of earlier movies from the franchise. And the new movie is also perfectly clear, without compromising complexity. This part comes up with a complete science fiction idea which actually makes sense. "We're only 3 meals away from anarchy" and other smart one-liners get you thinking. World famine because of corporate greed is another bite of food for thought. Perfect cast makes both the serious undertones and the numerous adventure sequences, with western elements, convincing. All the prehistoric animals look fabulously real. The movie offers some iconic images, e.g. a small velociraptor strapped to Owen's back. John Williams's theme features within Michael Giacchino's score. The film is long (148 minutes) but that means you get your fill of the dinosaurs. The ending is beautiful: in its message and the pictures. No mid- or post-credit.

Monday, 28 November 2022

MEDJUGORJE, LA PELICULA (MEDJUGORJE)

Watchable. It's the first time I've come across such a detailed description of the revelation where Virgin Mary was hovering about a metre above the ground, on a cloud, similarly hovering on a cloud was her crown. She was beautiful because she radiated love and when the daily apparitions stopped, the children suffered withdrawal symptoms. As you keep watching, you learn more and more about subsequent revelations and the wider social and political context. E.g. I never heard of the fasting recommendation having been given in the revelation. The protagonists' incredible urge to travel to Medugorje amazes. The Serbian-Spanish love story is gripping. The subsequent testimony of an "angry agnostic", as another woman called herself, is truly moving and tear-jerking. The film is comprehensive. Yet what hinders following the history of the place and individual testimonials is the fact the documentary is based on talking heads. What's more, each person speaks at their heart's will, with probably nothing cut out. It's blabber for 2 hours. Exhausting. It tests your faith in the documentary genre. But... it leaves you curious if you may be able to experience such a deep shift if you venture out to Medjugorje. In spite of the somewhat forceful invitation at the end.

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER 2D

Watchable. Half-written and fully directed by Taika Waititi, it's a low-brow comedy. The opening builds on the climate change and growing secularity - startling, spot on and evocative. The rest of the plot, with tween-like dialogue, pauperises the strong point from the commencing sequence and follows the pattern: a silly verbal exchange and a fight interchangeably. The "Event Horizon" and "Interstellar" references are great but the convergence doesn't seem to work for the disease-stricken doctor. "The Guardians of the Galaxy" characters make a cameo and are their usual selves but non-intrusive. Taika Waititi appears as Korg. And while part of the movie is raunchy, children in their early teens or below seem to be the target audience, especially in the finale. Wonderful worlds dazzle you visually, Atmos sound is perfectly clear, dialogue and music also have the spatial quality. The soundtrack is heavy on Guns N' Roses. The movie's entertaining but beside the point on a few levels. I Ioved the fact it was a comedy. Unfortunately the cancer trope and the lack of more sophisticated cultural references or Easter eggs detract from the fun. The mid-credit introduces Hercules with a weird nose shape and the post-credit entices you with the splendor of Valhalla.Yet the middle part makes a cancer death more likely. 

LATTE IGEL UND DER MAGISCHE WASSERSTEIN (LATTE AND THE MAGIC WATERSTONE)

Recommended. All the animals are cute: the squirrel is the cutest but all others, even the evil ones, look cuddly. The story's rooted in environmental damages caused by redirecting water flow for one's own use. The plot is full of adventure.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

OUISTREHAM (BETWEEN TWO WORLDS)

Watchable. My current job search has put me in the mood quickly. The plot, however, disappoints. Nothing revelatory in the insider look at low end jobs. Been there done that. OK, I never had to clean toilets for a living. But I had a series of jobs which paid by the hour and were physically demanding. Funny that in France a book author is a higher class. The reading culture must be rife. Still, the film's engaging, the characters simple but amiable. Realistic and truly based on facts. Sadly the story doesn't explore the reasons behind these people's predicament.

WEREWOLVES WITHIN

Recommended. A whodunit comedy with a little horror twist. But most of all a crime puzzle and social satire on Americans. Smart and damn hard to work out the culprit since everyone's a suspect.

MOODY

Watchable. A short documentary with no lead story. Gamelan and modern western music make the film sound pleasant. Moody is a great dancer. Milky blue ocean looks alluring.

The two directors went to study Indonesian music and dance, Karolina Karwan had played in Warsaw Gamelan Group, they ended up in a school with no English spoken. The directors spent 1.5 years in Indonesia, a country of 17 000 islands. The film is not shot on Bali but on an island not far from Java. Ghosts are believed in daily life. Animism and islam are present. People told them not to sail to that island. So they went there. What you can't see in the film is the potable water problem: the well water is half-salty half-sweet, so e.g. tea is salty. Indonesian people hide negative emotions, while in Poland you witness eruptions of those.
Tomasz Ratter gave no explanation of his work. The female director wanted to transmit spirituality and isolation. 

KOT (THE CAT)

Watchable. A short film with no lead story. It's basically an adult hip-hop cartoon with decent animation. Kot (Cat) leaves jail after 20 years in a post-apocalyptic reality of climate disaster. Rap music matches images. They're all graphic. The form is attractive but the content lacks lucidity. 

GRANICA (THE LIMIT)

Watchable. A short documentary with no lead story. What strikes you is a woman who "won't go back to jail, ever". Still, I couldn't make out the subject matter.

It turns out it tells about director Michał Kawecki's family. To him it's about a brother-sister relationship.

FOLLOWERS. ODPALAJ LAJWA (FOLLOWERS. LIVE SHOOTING)

Recommended. A short actors' film with a consistent storyline. The boys' meeting and relationship are astonishing. Hot Adam Borysowicz as Przemek and Ignacy Liss as Adam are fully convincing in the leading roles. A great end-credit song by Vabang means it's all fun till the very end. 

No reason is given for the shooting massacres in order not to trivialize the issue. 

IL MATERIALE EMOTIVO (A BOOKSHOP IN PARIS)

Watchable. Sergio Castellitto's performance drives the movie. Interestingly, his direction ruins it. It's overacted, exalted, theatrical at times. Occasional glimpses of his two female co-actors' naked breasts and one lovers' meeting on a bridge with the Eiffel Tower glittering in the background are clearly meant to lure the viewer but both are cheap tactics, the plot isn't plausible psychologically and I found no sense in it. 

Thursday, 24 November 2022

SAMIEC ALFA (ALPHA MALE)

Watchable again. The first time round only Konrad Eleryk kept me watching so I was skeptical about another viewing. But it's actually better after the re-cut and with skillfully added music. The message became clear: how men are concerned with material possessions more than with meaningful relationships and how personal coaches may well be nuts. Lines are comedy ones but acting serious, especially by Mirosław Haniszewski as the Leader, i.e. the main role. Basically. it's written as a comedy, acted like a tragedy. Only dance scenes are comical enough. The whole thing looks awfully cheap.

Konrad Eleryk got to the June premiere straight from a set of an episode shot for Netflix, after which he had had to clean off mud and blood. I asked him whether his muscles came from any particular sports discipline. He used to do Thai boxing before and now is training again just for himself.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

CANAL+

The new and upcoming series and movies cover:
"Maria Antonina" - high budget, shot in Paris, in the beginning of 2023 online. She drank no alcohol but gambled, played till the morning, was supposedly bisexual. Among the scriptwriters is Yorgos Lanthimos known for "The Favourite".
A serial based on "Django". The first version, of 1966, was the most brutal western of the time. 
"Quo Vadis, Aida" - the events of when Ratko Mladić's troops encroached the Safety Zone. As the movie director said, "when Srebrenica was happening, the world went on holiday". I've reviewed it before.
"Stillwater" - Matt Damon received a 5-minute standing ovation in Cannes last year. I've reviewed it before.
"Last Night in Soho" - I've reviewed it before.
"The Last Duel" about one of the last knight duels in France. I've reviewed it before.
The protagonist of "Amy", which I've reviewed before, died 10 years ago. "Reclaiming Amy" is a documentary in which her mother tells about her last conversation with Amy and allegations about her father contributing to her death. 
"Yellowjackets" - a series about man balancing on the verge of humanity, horror.
"This Is Going To Hurt" is already on. Based on a book by a doctor-turned-comedian.
BBC Player has been available to Canal+ subscribers since 1 June. 
"Lokatorka" ("The Tenant. You Can't Burn Us All") since the summer too. I've reviewed it before.
And:

MINUTA CISZY Q&A

The first Polish serial about the funeral industry. Two undertakers compete for bodies. Not even one character is unambiguous. Many scenes shock. The producer "crosses the boundaries of taboo, not bad taste." The serial was consulted with many undertakers. It's been created by Aurum Film, the producers of "Żeby nie było śladów" ("Leave No Traces"), and "Gotowi na wszystko. Exterminator" ("Exterminator"), the director of "Carte Blanche" - the producers' first film, theirs was also "Ostatnia rodzina" ("The Last Family"). Actors Robert Więckiewicz and Ola Konieczna typically yell at each other. Jacek Lusiński wrote it because we don't mourn any more. His mother died during creating the serial. All the events are pre-Covid.

MINUTA CISZY EP. 1

Recommened. A story unusual but set so firmly in the Polish small town reality it's perfectly plausible, including the mafia-like social structure. Brilliant, witty dialogues, full of puns, shocking situations, engaging action, a cliffhanger in the last scene. 


YAKARI, LE FILM (YAKARI, A SPECTACULAR JOURNEY)

Recommended. The dog's delightfully cute and adorable. Other animals are also cute and fun, e.g. beavers when they talk: "Humans have parents too?" and the little beaver named Linden is just brilliantly playful, as is raccoon called Ringtail. Yakari, the human boy is large-eyed and gentle. 

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ.

ENNIO

Recommended. The movie was released on the second anniversary of Ennio Morricone's death. I've never been particularly into his music and now I know why: it's the trumpet he was forced to play since 11 and later used in his compositions a lot. But the documentary is amazing. He was a prolific composer: 500 movies, sometimes 18-21 in 1 year. Apart from himself, Hans Zimmer, Bernardo Bertolucci, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Springsteen and even some Chinese chap tell anecdotes. You learn how Sergio Leone used his work for him as a ruse not to lend the genius to Kubrick - "A Clockwork Orange" might have had his music - or how directors would bend to his ideas. It's witty, e.g. his several attempts to bid farewell to cinema. His work is multi-instrumental - would sound flat otherwise. Coyotes, ancient texts, experimental scenes and ample imagination - his genius is undeniable.

ENTRE LES VAGUES (THE BRAVES)

Watchable. A teenager dying of breast cancer - hardly plausible and a vexing deja vu of the child-with-cancer topic. Theatre in a movie isn't my cup of tea either. But the two girls are so vivacious it's not particularly repelling.  

Monday, 21 November 2022

MADELEINE COLLINS - WRITER/DIRECTOR Q&A

Here comes what he said: Topics find him. This time the inspiration was a woman on a train. He analyses the picture, the mood and then invents scenes. When he's got about 20, he puts them in order and fills the gaps. His first 2 films had fantastical elements, this is the first realistic one. There were no films about women having double lives. His first scene here was cut out in editing: she goes to a village bar, meets a local playboy to who she first introduces herself as Madeleine Collins - like a seed which falls out when the plant is grown. She tries out various identities like a child. Antoine Barraud is not a type who'd be suspicious of women. Fellini-like, curiosity wakes him every day. Virginie Efira was his first choice because she's beautiful, has inner glow, no other actress would be likeable. Mourning wasn't central to him in the story but now is often discussed with viewers. A brief sexual relation in mourning is something not talked about. "Kramer vs. Kramer" is a masterpiece, not mentioned in lists of great movies of all time - Meryl Streep also has inner glow, we follow her no matter what she does, the film starts with an earthquake and is followed by rising tension. His attitude is that he loved her first only but loves her in all her imperfection. In the 3/4 of the film she is revealed not to be Ninon's mother, next we discover it was Abdel's idea. We also discover her son's attitude. It's his own female perspective - if you suspend your own identity, you can discover others. 

DAISY QUOKKA: WORLD'S SCARIEST ANIMAL

Watchable. A run-of-the-mill story, shallow and naive: you can be whoever you want to be, regardless of how others see you. Instrumental 80s music and sound effects coming from the side make it not too bad though.

D'ARTACAN Y LOS TRES MOSQUEPERROS (DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE MUSKEHOUNDS)

Recommended. The Polish dubbing - the only version available in Polish cinemas -  appears to be better than the English translation. Bartek Fukiet excels again, this time his translation includes rhymes and puns aplenty. The animation is detailed, whether the royal palace interiors or the muskehounds' pin-striped uniforms. It's all colourful, pleasant, the story engaging and the whole idea a great angle on Alexandre Dumas' adaptation. And unlike many other, this one is clear-cut. There's a mid-credit announcing a sequel. I do hope for one.
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TERMESZETES FENY (NATURAL LIGHT)

Walked out. The soldiers humiliate others and each other, play bottom-level pranks. It's all shot dark and heads nowhere.

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

KINO W TRAMPKACH (CINEMA IN SNEAKERS)

JAN KOMASA MASTERCLASS

What does he say about his profession, his body of work and himself?
Persuasion is vital: first to get funding, next 60 people on set. So believing in your mission is essential. Otherwise people sense your hesitation. He has a recurring nightmare in which he is woken by someone in a tent: "everyone's waiting." He leaves and sees hundreds of extras in knights' armour and he's got no idea. 8 assistants wait for him to obey. So he comes up to a horse: "No, it was going to be white" and looks for excuses. What if he inspires all to believe in it more than he does? 
"Cast Away" had one protagonist growing attached to a ball which was cheap to shoot. Hence the idea for "Sala samobójców" ("Suicide Room") - about someone who's been closed for a year and must be dragged out by force. Now he notices that 15 years ago he saw something, forgot and shot as his. No games appear in dramas - it's a cheap genre. Historical movies are 2-3 times more costly. He listened to K-pop and that's why a Japanese band sings in "Sala samobójców" ("Suicide Room"). In 2009 ripped-off the idea of Facebook for the film, which was a novelty, he foresaw it, Nasza Klasa was en vogue back then.
19-20 years ago he took criticism personally, he had to learn not to.
Sometimes directors play with the audience and suddenly change the genre. He enjoys creating characters. He likes watching a person from top to toe, e.g. on a bus and analysing where they are from. "All people are actors, everyone enacts something." Wajda used to say casting is half a success. Next he analyses the character: what would happen if, e.g. he has 6 toes and no one knows. You must create the overt and the concealed. You can create more than 10 characters from 1 person. Casting: someone nice and smiley is evil to surprise the viewer. Mind who comes with who to have a good party. He's into contrast in characters. He likes kitsch as an artistic expression, like Andy Warhol's pop art. In "Miasto 44" ("Warsaw 44"), he decided to break the decorum every 10 minutes. 
He became a parent early, at 20, so had to turn adult too soon. He turned 40 last year, used to think 40 was old. Can't imagine himself at 70. 
Experienced actors help him at times. He admires Agata Kulesza, who he has worked with 4 times, on various roles. 
An ancient Greek actor asked one to watch and monitor - he became a didaskalos.  
He did philosophy at university for a year. He'd dream of shooting "Socrates" in ancient Greek. Now he's working in a foreign language on a science fiction movie where one element is changed: people can teleport themselves. The action takes place in a few countries. A family is on holidays in Italy but soon their son goes missing and there's some secret space no one wants to let them in. 
Leaving your comfort zone is important, especially travels. 
Photography - the cinematographers usually see through you. 
Be original, be yourself. 
His foundation helps homeless people get a pass for all of the Gdynia festival. 
Discipline is important: finish, not just start. Latin 'decidere' means 'cut off (all other stuff)'. "Done is better than perfect". That leads to a type of stutter all the time. 
Toronto festival is specific: no awards or jury but a few hundred movies. 
Polish people and foreigners perceive things differently. E.g. "Boże ciało" ("Corpus Christi") - many say it's about faith, someone else that about the corruption of the Church, in the East people found spirituality - Arab journalists, because about the need of the world with religion that's missing out there. In France, it was seen as reckoning with the Church. Europe deemed the Catholic Church political. Korea noticed that a country destroyed by WW2 was looking for values. "Sala samobójców. Hejter" ("The Hater") was No. 1 in South America where disinformation was rife but didn't make waves in the UK, while "Boże Ciało" ("Corpus Christi") was well-received. "Sala samobójców" ("Suicide Room") is popular in the US since Goths are still going strong over there. France and Italy are interested in WW2 so "Miasto 44" ("Warsaw 44") has been popular. Also China is into war, has the mentality of being at war. That way the film had millions of entries from Russia though it has never been released there. 
Mateusz Pacewicz, who wrote "Boże Ciało" ("Corpus Christi") tried an optimistic closing: they go and he pretends in a different parochy. But the director preferred to sell, not talk in the ending, he wanted a bomb to explode. "The protagonist is ashamed all the time" so he wanted a demon to come out of him. And a brutal correctional facility opening and ending = coda was used but the protagonist was first passive, next active. He sees that as "finished".


FELIX ET LE TRESOR DE MORGAA (FELIX AND THE TREASURE OF MORGAA)

Recommended. I was 15 minutes late but the tale has such distinct characters, of vivid personalities, which illustrate greed, craving for youth or fighting for peace with a domineering disregard for others in each case, it's fun and you just wish you could stay with them longer. Sadly, the story's complete. 


KINO W TRAMPKACH (CINEMA IN SNEAKERS)

LAST FILM SHOW

Recommended. A deeply moving Indian feature about the love of cinema. Predominantly. But also about a country where "there are 2 casts now: those who speak English and those who don't" and where everything is recycled to the tiniest bit. Bollywood hotshots appear only in the footage of what the boy watches but the little known actors are top-notch. You can't help but sympathise with the boy, his both parents, the cinema worker but also the boss. A deeply humane story. 


13. PRZEGLAD NOWEGO KINA FRANCUSKIEGO 

LES 2 ALFRED (FRENCH TECH)

Watchable. While you don't doubt for a minute it's a comedy, it's hardly funny. It's a sharp satire on modern devices and business jargon, as well as time-share or skill-swap jobs. I guess the reality is just too painful at times and the movie too realistic to be amusing.


哭悲 (THE SADNESS)

Recommended. Brand new solutions in the zombie genre - in fact, are they still zombies? They're infected but smart. No more mindless bloodthirsty monsters. That offers a number of shocks in the plot. And it makes sense medically. Which means it's frighteningly realistic. You feel grateful our pandemic has been just Covid. It contains subtle references to cult horror movies like "부산행" ("Train to Busan") or "The Shining" and clear ones to human behaviours during the recent Sars-Cov 2 pandemic, inadvertently also to the horrors of Ukrainian war - yes, the most cruel that comes to their minds. It's also realistic psychologically, especially the sexual harassment scene.

LIGHTYEAR

Watchable. Hyperspeed looks great only on the big screen, the robo-cat offers humour and some aces up the sleeve but the whole plot is quite standard space opera in an animated version. Robotic and navigation system gags are better than the elderly lady on parole ones. Some characters are obligatorily non-white and non-straight. The science fiction part is certainly more engaging than the social one. Yet there's nothing truly new in the story, in the visuals or in the Atmos quality sound. Too little attention is given to the main time-passing issue and too much to silly bumping in cones adventures. Trivialised. There's a funny short mid- and post-credit and 1 image at the very end, after Pixar switches off the light. 

Saturday, 12 November 2022

AKADEMIA PANA KLEKSA (MR. BLOT'S ACADEMY)

There hasn't been a chance for any sneak preview yet and I hated the 80s versions, at the same time the producer of the remake has already got a deal for Lego merchandise. The movie's going to be ready in November 2023. There'll be dozens of CGIs in one sequence - hundreds of people will work on them in total. Brzechwa wrote the book before Rowling wrote hers so there are aspirations for worldwide distribution. The creators dream also of a film city in Katowice so that one can touch the movie. The new film is to be based on the book, published in 1946-47, which is still a set book at school, not on the first adaptation. The scriptwriter discussed the script with Heman - the CGI-makers and "tested on children", e.g. their language. This time there'll be no child nudity or the march of werewolves with metal music. The creative group has finished, they were at the end of pre-production in late May. The shooting takes place: in Norway briefly, Poland for a few months, next in Bulgaria. It won't be an old school musical where music would appear all of a sudden. Nowadays a pretext for music is needed. Music is going to play a role again but now it'll be custom-made illustrative music. Some rhythms of the 1983 version are alien to children nowadays but they're going to refer to Korzyński's too. The makers are planning to offer a range of interaction before and after the movie. The protagonist will be Ada, not Adaś Niezgódka, Tomasz Kot will embody Prof. Ambroży Kleks. Even Tomasz Kot had stage fright before this role.

THE NORTHMAN

Recommended. About 7 historians consulted the movie so the reality depicted may well be accurate. On top of the headings scripted in runes. While based on Nordic tales and making use of the splendid landscapes of Iceland, it's archetypal, taken the family ties and desires, Shakespearean, as a story of vengeance, power, with witches and prophecies, and reaching out as far as Greek mythology in the finale, where two muscled naked men, armed in swords and shields, fight on a black and orange backdrop reminiscent of ancient vases. A sword, carrying a name, is both Arthurian and Tolkienesque in the way its forging is presented. Atmos sound gives it clarity and spaciousness. The cinematography is a masterpiece in its own right. You feel powerful upon leaving the cinema.

Thursday, 10 November 2022

JUJUTSU KAISEN 0: THE MOVIE AT IMAX

Watchable. For the first half I seriously considered walking out. Not much effort was put into the theatrical animation (blurred backgrounds may work on a small screen). Suspended movement means images look more like manga pages displayed on the screen rather than a movie, fluidity is missing. The plot also consists of separate events loosely assembled together. The second half, where suspended motion pictures are displayed rapidly, colours are nicer to the eye and sudden drawing styles don't annoy that much, makes up for the first, though the serial looks better. There's also a twist of action so it's more of one consistent movie. Still, the whole thing is shoddily constructed, with accidental music. The characters are clearly modelled after "Guardians of the Galaxy", especially Groot and Rocket Raccoon, e.g. one protagonist communicates uttering food ingredients only and another one is a panda. The movie's too loud half the time, fine for the other half only to go deafening at the end credits. Imax is not essential, a regular size screen will be just fine. The post-credit, set in Kenya, is promising.

WODA W KOSMOSIE - PLANETARIUM CNK

Recommended. This amazing show takes you on a space trip across the universe - all on the inside of the planetarium dome. State-or-art visuals which feel like Imax but closer, wonderful music. Entertaining and scientific. The seats reclining to an almost lying position are a delight.

BHOOL BHULAIYAA 2

Watchable. This horror comedy is no sequel to the 2007 Bollywood hit. It's a standalone movie with a similar setting of a manor with a phantom locked on the third floor but an independent, brand new story and protagonists, although one lesser character has been kept together with the actor. The film opens with a horror sequence and next transports you 18 years later. The leads are Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani as a young, rich and beautiful would-be couple. The horror part is truly spooky, but most of the movie is a comedy of errors. The movie's subtitled both in Polish and English, I followed the English version. Some of the humour is based on Hindi language and its local variations but the top-notch English translation catches the numerous puns. The dialogues abound in funny lines, written by Aakash Kaushik, e.g. "We, the Thakurs, never run form trouble". "We, the Randhawas, run at the first sign of trouble." The film is well-paced, though, if you don't speak Hindi, that means it's hard to read the subtitles quickly enough. The plot, altering between horror and comedy, nails you to the screen. And a great twist of action comes in the finale. While I'm not sure if horror and comedy are a good combination in the first place, both genres are professionally enacted in the production. There's also decent music, fantastic dancing and the catchy title song is played as the end credits start and stays in your head long after leaving the cinema. The whole thing is fun. As horror comedies go, anyway.

DETEKTYW BRUNO (DETECTIVE BRUNO)

Watchable. Hard to believe it won Script Wars. The main protagonist is an orphaned boy - do all Polish movies have to be sad, especially the ones for kids? Instead of an adventure flick, you get a regular depressing drama. The story mixes the mundane and annoying with the far-fetched. The adult supporting roles are redundant. On the other hand, I stayed till the end so it's not the script that's the worst. It's poorly directed by Magdalena Nieć, e.g. close-ups in action scenes only obscure the action - or were those scenes so bad they needed to be concealed? They're poorly lit, shot from unfavourable angles and whatever parts of the script must have been fun, they're ridiculous in the outcome. The whole thing looks awfully amateurish. Costumes, by Dzvinka Kukul, are totally unnatural for who the characters are and what they do. Inadequate music and the look as if there was no colour correction are the straw that breaks the camel's back.

علي صوتك (CASABLANCA BEATS)

Watchable. The music is fine, even if you aren't into rap, my favourite is "Drahem" - a song about money with brilliant lyrics and tune. Arabic influences in the melodies and dance make this layer pleasant. The characters aren't very rebellious either. I guess the actors play themselves - the characters' first names are the same. But the tale about youth in a deprived district of Casablanca is so run of the mill, it's just worth watching for the superficial pleasure of the sounds and some pictures.

A CHIARA

Watchable. It's acted mostly by a few families. The film opens and closes with a big clan celebration. The long first act, with Chiara's relatives, features a lot of great music. The middle act, when the 15 year old discovers what her father does, is not as exciting as it sounds, the movie regains the tempo only once she takes her life into her hands and glues you to the screen when social services decide the girl's fate. She's strong physically and mentally. The finale tells you when Chiara decided about her future. The realisation is quite powerful.

MADELEINE COLLINS

Recommended. An intriguing opening, next Virginie Efira (still maintaining her hottie image) in the leading role, the title Madeleine appears only in the finale. Who is she? Why is she living this way? Gripping. The mystery unfolds gradually.


MARE 1. FESTIWAL KINA KRAJOW PROTUGALSKOJEZYCZNYCH 

CHUVA E CANTORIA NA ALDEIA DOS MORTOS (THE DEAD AND THE OTHERS)

Watchable. Idyllic life in a Brazilian jungle. The protagonists play themselves, at their own names. A serene picture, where the problems are only in the head. The lead actor is handsome. So it watches with pleasure. I'm not sure of the meaning of some scenes though. The indigenous culture isn't perfectly comprehensible.


KINO W TRAMPKACH (CINEMA IN SNEAKERS)

APSTJARNAN (THE APE STAR)

Recommended. A tale so warm and with the Ape Star's such astonishing ideas I wished it would last longer. The adult undertones about good parenting, greedy authorities and justice mean adults are going to love it too.


19TH DOCS AGAINST GRAVITY FILM FESTIVAL

REMAKE REMIX RIPOFF

Recommended. Apart from it being the history of Turkish cinema, it's a fascinating look at script-writing, claiming there are 30+ storylines to mix and match. And staggering numbers, sometimes even more than 1000, of movies one person made. 


KINO W TRAMPKACH (CINEMA IN SNEAKERS)

JUUNT PASTAZA ENTSARI (WATERS OF PASTAZA)

Watchable. On the Pastaza river, children's lives are just like any other in the countryside: they fish, learn how to kill the fish, walk through the forest, help their parents, play. The difference is nature: the fish is different, so are insects, snakes are a regular sight and they sometimes play footie in torrential rain. The opening quote, referring to preserving child qualities in adult life, doesn't seem to bear much relevance to the wordless film which follows children's activities. The image of their thatched-roof hamlet in violent torrents of a rain is breath-taking. The rest of the picture is interesting enough. The exotics and the differences of the nature are the main attraction.

NAJNUDNIEJSZA BABCIA NA CALYM SWIECIE I INNE HISTORIE

The set comprised of 7 short films:

DIA ALLERLANGWEILIGSTE OMA AUF DER GANZEN WELT (THE MOST BORING GRANNY IN THE WHOLE WORLD)

Watchable. a bizarre game where the grandma is dead and stuffed animals are at her funeral.

CINEMA REX

Watchable. An overly simple but warm tale.

MEU NOME E MAALUM (MY NAME IS MAALUM)

Recommended. Teaches children how to react to being sniggered at. And the vision of Africa is so uplifting and heart-warming.

LUCE ET LE ROCHER (LUCE AND THE ROCK)

Watchable. The rock is intriguing, the exhausted faces dropping down constitute a visually creative idea. The rest is rudimentary drawing.

LE PRINCE AU BOIS DORMANT

Recommended. A humorous and creative tale, quite feminist.

SI VIENE DE LA TIERRA (WHEN IT COMES FROM EARTH)

Watchable. Wonderfully colourful. A simple film with no story as such.

桃源

Watchable. A childhood memory. Slow-paced. A lovely Chinese song completes the film.

And here comes a full-length movie from the same festival:

ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS

Recommended. Shot on location in Baja California and Alta California, it features the wildlife of the region. The action has a few cliffhangers, literally, and they're nothing like I've seen before, especially the one with a starfish. Most of the action takes place in the sea and lets you see plenty of nature up close. And quite simply it's a gripping story


FIRESTARTER

Watchable. An entertaining revenge flick. Based on Stephen King's novel, it's an obvious remake of the 1984 movie, even the poster is mimicked, yet just the basic outline of the story is kept. Accents are placed differently within the plot. Little background to the characters is given. The film, about half an hour shorter than the original, is a superficial actioner. Engaging, often unpredictable even if you know the content of the first picture, it's kind of re-cut, the events are on a shorter timeline than before. Fantastic 80s-style electronic music, though with a better tempo than the Tangerine Dream tunes of 1984. Fun, in spite of the plot being quite simple.


KINO W TRAMPKACH (CINEMA IN SNEAKERS)

RAINBOW

Recommended. On what people have become 19 years after college: professionally, attitudes to life and their own lifestyle, including having children or not. Refreshing to see most people don't want to have kids. Original, touching.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

THE DUKE

Watchable. Opens with a court scene which is enough to persuade you to watch this lukewarm comedy drama loaded down with mundane details. A trivial problem is presented, though removing the BBC coil and having to pay the TV licence does seem unfair. The painting must have made the news in 1961, little effect now. Shot on Bradford, Leeds, London locations - no Newcastle, only the accent. Lots of my favourite British sarcasm but the plot mixes important stuff with superfluous content.

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ.

MEN

Watchable. Slower-paced than the superb trailer implied but gripping. Puzzling at face value and mysterious on the more symbolic level. It maintains an ordinary horror structure but does so in a sophisticated way. The echo, impressive in the Atmos sound system, suspends you. Some images mirror previous ones. The jolly landlord, superbly acted by Rory Kinnear, is a memorable character on his own. Mentions of Agamemnon and Leda imply a possible betrayal on the woman's part. On the other hand, William Butler Yeats' poem is quoted, with a depiction of the rape on Leda and all men look hostile to the woman protagonist - she's surrounded by the menace of rape. Birthgiving presented almost on a loop makes you ponder. Women give birth to those men. Men bring them to life too. Though, when a man, however weird, suddenly gives birth and it repeats a few times, it ruins the movie. Elaborate images and sounds of the film stay with you long after.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA

Recommended. Immaculate again. Accents, costumes, charleston, going on holidays south in winter, not summer, voice cinema coming in. Lots of British sarcasm, top-notch dialogues, e.g.: "They are very French, the French, aren't they?" "They are meant to be." "Yes, they are. Poor things." As it's truly British, accents determine who belongs to which circle. The sound's recorded in Atmos and the picture's shot on locations in England, Scotland and France.
The finale is touching as each sub-story concludes.

PETITE MAMAN

Switched off. You must be really into watching child development to want to sit through this. To me it was just tedious. It may be liked by children actually, should be targeted at that audience.

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ.

Monday, 7 November 2022

19TH DOCS AGAINST GRAVITY FILM FESTIVAL

БАБИЙ ЯР. КОНТЕКСТ (BABI YAR.CONTEXT) - Q&A WITH DIRECTOR/EDITOR SERGEI LOZNITSA 

Sergei Loznitsa was making three films at the same time so used some help with editing. He would send him episodes - he had the beginning, the ending and the structure to fill in. The director was wearing a suit at the Q&A, was very collected and well-organized.

WARSZTAT KULINARNY Z PIOTREM BRUSIEM-KLEPACKIM (CULINARY WORKSHOP WITH PIOTR BRUS-KLEPACKI)

He told us about and prepared two Asian-style vegan dishes. Delicious, abundant, generous and informative. Great fun.

KONKURS FILMOW KROTKOMETRAZOWCH. BLOK 2 (SHORTS COMPETITION. BLOCK 2)

The set consisted of 5 short films:

NUISANCE BEAR

Recommended. Churchill in Manitoba, Canada. An annual polar bear migration from the point of view of the animal. The town's in the way, not the other way round. The bear is beautiful and grabs your heart with its frustration at navigating the maze of road blocks.

ANIMAL SALVATGE (WILD ANIMAL)

Watchable. It drags but still it manifests people's attitude to farm animals - heart-wrenching at times.

HANGING ON

Watchable. Suspended, up in the air, waiting to be evicted, as soulless law puts tenants at disadvantage. A sad look at the house market. 

LE FRERE (THE BROTHER)

Recommended. Touching how loving the family is and how they feel about one another. Their daily routine, backstory and anime mix, putting you in the shoes of a carer of a disabled family member. 

TEMPO HOME

Watchable. Stephen King's quote "Home is where they want you to stay longer" opens the documentary. It's a thorough depiction of refugees' lives in the Tempelhof temporary settlement and of the rules and instructions facilitating their adaptation, which is impossible in a temporary dwelling anyway.

TEMPO HOME - Q&A WITH THE DIRECTOR AND THE EDITOR

Women refused to be protagonists, offering that their husbands talk to the film crew. The filmmakers informed the audience that after Tempelhof the refugees are moved to a new temp housing, then a viewer asked: "Czy to też lotnisko?" ("Is that also an airport?") - "Dworzec" ("A station"). The airport has been out of operation for 20 years so the sound of its creation was used in the film to show it was also temporary and is temporary for travellers too. The editor explained the throwing out rubbish rule was Mittags Ruhe, of which he learnt having stayed in Berlin for over a year. The director has spent all his life there. Director Kamil Bembnista considers it a mistake that people are kept suspended like this. 


LE SENS DE LA FAMILLE (FAMILY SWAP)

Watchable. Too many gags are about private parts. Only two jokes are hilarious: when the teenager in an adult body is driving and is rebuked: "It's not England" or when a girl has a lama and thinks it's a pony. The characters, changing bodies, are convincingly acted. 

X

Watchable. You expect a bloodbath from the opening. There's gore everywhere. What comes next is about the first film about movie-making I enjoyed. That is till it turned thrashy. Omens like a dead animal, eerie music, a face in an attic window are pretty standard - though the music theme here is exceptional and returns in a longer piece at the end of final credits. It's Atmos-recorded and quality even in an ordinary screening room. The set-up is exciting: a bunch of wannabe stars in hippie times are shooting a blue film in midst of the Bible Belt. And you know the slasher genre rule about having sex, don't you? Yet it's not that simple. There is gore galore but you never quite know who's going to die how and who's to survive. Still, what ruins the fun are the antagonists. By the look they might be dead already just as well. From the back story the old woman tells the girl you can calculate they're both about 70 years old. So when their sex desires come to play it ain't pretty. I don't even mind a few simplistic jump scares since those had impact. But sex-crazed septuagenarians, probably necrophiliac, are over the top and just revolting. The film plays with the genre, e.g. "Psycho" is mentioned and re-enacted in a way or a guy drinks milk with "missing persons" on the packaging when some of the protagonists are searched for already. All props return to be used. Aerial images are impressive. It plays a lot with double screens and parallel action. A surprise comes at the finale. And the religious community is portrayed irreverently like hell. Thoroughly engaging but, however original the elderlys' sex is in film, this is what deprives you of all the pleasure recurringly.

SPREE

Recommended. This slasher is pure fun. A serial killer takes you on a ride. Fast-paced, with great music. A satire on influencers, stand-uppers, Uber type services but that doesn't matter. The formula is pretty simple but Joe Keery in the role of a wannabe influencer streaming his killer spree ride, plenty of comments displayed on the screen, however tacky they sound, glue you to the screen. Top-notch cinematography makes the kills all attractive.

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ.

Sunday, 6 November 2022

19TH DOCS AGAINST GRAVITY FILM FESTIVAL

This year the festival adopted the magenta colour, like in the logo of its long-time sponsor Millennium Bank. There were pitchings of East European and Ukrainian films with their own prize. Polish documentaries vied to win 3 prizes: for the best film, for the best production and one funded by the Polish Association of Studio Cinemas for the best distribution potential. Guests from abroad included the long announced Sergei Loznitsa and Bill Morrison but Darren Aronofsky couldn't make it. Below comes a list of what directors of Polish films said about their offerings:
"Anioły z Sindżaru" ("Angels of Sinjar") - the director needed an interpreter since the protagonists spoke a language used only on the southern slope of Mt. Sinjar. 
"Najgłośniej słychać milczenie" ("Silence Heard Loud") - about asylum seekers from Ghana, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia in London. About the indifference of Europe in their own words. One of the protagonists obtained his residence permit after 21 years.
"Silent Love" - about lesbians living in the Polish countryside.
"Bestie ze Złego" ("Beasts") - the film's about a special football club: for men and women. 464 tickets sold for the premiere, which took place on 4 screens, because they all wanted to come. 
"Pisklaki" ("The Fledglings") - black and white about 6-7-year-old blind children. 
"Simona" - on a woman who took care of wild animals, was a book author and on her shocking family story.
"Lot" ("Flight") - about artist Roman Stańczak. The film is by Łukasz Ronduda who had made 3 actors' movies on artists and performers before, including "Wszystkie nasze strachy" ("All Our Fears") - I had written about that film before, now he presented his first documentary. This one is about an alcoholic sculptor. Funding was easy to obtain owing to the artwork being an important exhibition in Zachęta. Robert Stańczak creates through destruction. The sculpture won the Venice Biennale. The destroyed plane joined liberals - familiar with the language of art and the Smoleńsk crowd.
"Lombard" ("The Pawnshop") - at the fair, coffins served as benches. Before the camera was switched on, it had taken a few months chatting with the protagonists. The community is supportive of one another. The hardest bits were cut out and left to be ambiguous. Wiesław wants to start up a disco in the new place. 

LOMBARD (THE PAWNSHOP)

Recommended. A poverty-stricken district of Bytom in Silesia, Poland. Through both financial and personal problems of the shop staff and customers alike a portrait of the poor is painted: how hard they work for their daily bread and how simple little pleasures bring them joy. Touching and eye-opening. 


PANI BASIA

Watchable. An actors' short film - 30-minute long - made to educate the society which in turn  is meant to pressure politicians to fight smog. Engaging, with interesting pictures. But nothing you wouldn't have known about smog already. Cancer is in every other Polish drama too. And the idea behind it is like promoting taking a scenic route when running from fire. The final monologue sounds like some self-life-coaching gibberish.

Saturday, 5 November 2022

THE BATMAN

Watchable. Gotham suits the noir genre and a making it into a political thriller is a sensible solution. Yet the first half is slow, only as it develops does it start to puzzle. Chicago stands in for Gotham. Liverpool, Glasgow, London locations are used too. Music is wonderful: Nirvana, Jeff Kryka and a few others set the mood superbly. The music theme stays with you. Robert Pattinson keeps the same face all the time, little acting on his part. Zoë Kravitz is Cat Woman, Penguin appears too. Zoë Kravitz's stunt double Tara Macken performs an enviable double 돌려차기 (dollyo chagi). There's a post-credit.

COMPETENCIA OFICIAL (OFFICIAL COMPETITION)

Watchable. While the film deals with vital issues of how competences are recognised, of actors' rivalry, of varying motivations, the whole cast is spot on, as are the props, it's a film about making one - whoever fancies the genre?! - and overtalked at times, it feels wooden and protracted. The two guys' transformation, visible when one acquires a beard and the other loses it, is simplistic. One thing that left me pondering is when Lola says she hasn't envisaged the film with the original duo - has she set it up or is she acting this time for the media and the public?

Thursday, 3 November 2022

MORBIUS

Watchable. Jared Leto and Matt Smith gave masterful performances. Top-notch CGIs, including body-morphing and falling from skyscrapers - shot in Los Angeles, make-up, comics blended with film, adrenaline-pumping sequences, great music in Atmos clarity make it elaborate but nearly a horror. I mean well executed though unpleasant. Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is a clear inspiration as is the "Twilight" scene in which she cut herself. There are 2 mid-credits, no post-credit.

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS AT IMAX 3D

Watchable. Sam Raimi directed it so splendid Marvel universes mix with horror. Scarlet Witch crosses a universe through a screen in a "Ring"-like manner and Strange's corpse looks older and creepier than it needs to. Souls of the Damned and other monsters wreak havoc. A giant octopus is at least on the cute side. A Minotaur-like creature appears in a Chinese temple modelled on Shaolin. Scarlet Witch startles the protagonists in a tunnel like a group of teenagers in a horror flick, people are grabbed from the back - scary movies gimmicks. An actress called America Chavez lands a significant role, her character has lesbian mothers and they're black, Wong gets a bigger part, Strange dwells in a decrepit house on a high rock and the edifice resembles the Eye of Sauron. The trip through numerous worlds and the alternative NYC are wonderful - visually and creatively. But spectacular bits - all worth Imax 3D - are intertwined with ordinary superhero fights, full of hovering in the air. All that conceals a simplistic plot and wooden lines. Hence the movie's uneven: from superb scenes to horrible ones and superb again, for 2 hours. And the 2 hours felt like 3. Atmos-recorded monumental score consists of Danny Elfman's music with pieces by Beethoven, Wagner, Silvestri. The mid-credit announces further mayhem, the post-credit is a humorous closure. 

THE LOST CITY

Watchable. Starts with a promotional event for a book called 
"Romancing the Page" which is a satire on marketing and a contemporary version of "Romancing the Stone" follows, with modern femininity and masculinity patterns and undertones of career. Channing Tatum shows off his acting chops as "Fabio". Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock are cast too. Sadly, dialogue perpetuates the fake notion of people using only "10% of the brain" and low-brow humour mars the fun. Atmos quality sound is a saving grace. There's a mid-credit.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

WILDHOOD

Watchable. Shot in Nova Scotia, with a half-Ukrainian-half-Mohawk in the leading role - a hot combination. This road movie doesn't bring anything new to cinema. Some translations are wrong. But I loved the dance with soft moves and the accompanying music.

The whole festival was planned out conveniently without film endings and beginnings overlapping - you could make it to all screenings. Shorts were screened early during the day so if you got to the cinema late, which was likely with roadworks in central Warsaw, you would still see some of the films. Variety of genres, topics and geographical origins meant not everything was to my liking but anyone would find something that tickled their fancy. 


OSS 117: ALERTE ROUGE EN AFRIQUE NOIRE (FROM AFRICA WITH LOVE)

Recommended. Sharp satire on old Bond films with their sexism, on IT problems, the technological generation gap, colonial and post-colonial politics, internal conflicts in Africa, depleting natural resources, it mocks also all the films where a lone wolf has to team up with a rookie and 80s adventure movies. The protagonist's series of racist blunders is a delight. The film's really smart, observational. Kenyan vistas add to the pleasure. There's an early mid-credit.

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, a quality one, still the cinematic reception might differ.

Monday, 31 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

ASK, BUYU, VS. (LOVE, SPELLS AND ALL THAT)

Watchable. Overtalked, especially at first - there's only one backstory scene, the rest is told in conversations. The actresses look like they could be straight just as well. There's surprising nudity towards the end. Rural scenery is a plus. Sadly no Turkish music, apart from the end credits. 

PETITE NATURE (SOFTIE)

Watchable. A 10-year-old angelic blonde gets infatuated with his teacher. That opens him to dreaming of more than his poor and unsophisticated family can offer. I stayed till the end to see how it develops but the movie's awfully protracted and most conversations meaningless other than demonstrating the social class affinity.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

GOLD

Recommended. Anthony Hayes directed, co-wrote and co-starred with Zac Efron in this intense survival thriller. The whole film, from the opening, sees incredible squalor in which it's easy to induce in one the overwhelming desire for gold. An Aboriginal woman with a baby on the train and the protagonist on the same wagon, sees him in the middle of nowhere and at the society's bottom. At the station you overhear a TV program mention "natural selection" - every uttered line matters, just like in the rest of this gripping movie. The barren landscape itself indicates matters of life and death will be at stake. Ominous pictures in the first half: of the land and the sky - the cinematography and the colours of the pictures stand out and stay in your memory long after. Zac Efron gives an Oscar-worthy performance. 


13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

CURED

Recommended. From the initial hard-hitting stories and images of how sadistic psychiatric treatments were and how the American Psychiatric Association consisted of elderly men exclusively, through the courage of initially just a few, to the glorious victory not only in the medical re-classification deleting homosexuality from the disease list but also to the change in the media, especially pop culture, which aided in bringing gays to the mainstream. Lots of interesting facts, e.g. a psychiatrist's son being gay. A truly engaging documentary.

Saturday, 29 October 2022

FUCKING BORNHOLM

Recommended. Stunning cinematography, be it nearly 3D shots or the use of light and colour combined with perfect clarity, is the first and main attraction. Precisely matching music enhances the sensual pleasure. Genre-wise it's a psychological thriller, consulted by a child psychologist - fear not, where the unpredictability of human reactions nails you to the screen. 


13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

SPANISH SHORTS

I only managed to see the last film of the set:

BETTER DAYS

Watchable. Shocking statistics of over 1000 trans people killed over 2 years, 78% of whom in Latin America, where the machismo culture's to blame. But the testimonies are sketchy and more like expressions of gratitude to the organisation. Barely a film. 

TRES TIGRES TRISTES (THREE TIDY TGERS TIED A TIE TIGHTER)

Watchable partly. I purposefully dozed through some of this ludicrous 86-minute film. Just a few scenes were interesting enough, especially the memory loss ones. The rest, including mask behaviours, made no sense. 

NO STRAIGHT LINES: THE RISE OF QUEER COMICS
 
Watchable. A few decades of comic book history transpire through the memories of gay authors. Informative but the plots and the drawings didn't tickle my fancy.

Friday, 28 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

TAHARA

Watchable. Overtalked, even if very naturally acted by the duo, or trio - including Tristan. And inconclusive. Too much gibberish in the final act. Jewish funeral traditions aren't inspiring either.

WSZYSTKO O MOIM DZIECKU (ALL ABOUT MY CHILD)

Recommended. A harrowing documentary about how trans people are treated by Polish nationalists, authorities, law and the Church. Heart-wrenching but a must-see in order to understand how strong the desire to change one's sex is and how much suffering it entails. 1/3 in I was already happy the whole film was just 47-minute long - it was so brutal.

Q&A WITH THE DIRECTOR

He works for TVN24. The director is a father of a trans child and also sounds traumatised. Trans kids and their parents use this reportage to come out. "Our block is bigger than the world's", says the author about coming out. Some interviewees are anonymised to protect them. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

ТАТО - МАМИН БРАТ (MY FATHER IS MY MOTHER'S BROTHER)

Walked out. A messy flat inhabited by an average, boring kid and her talentless singer stepdad. Nothing much happens apart from the above mentioned singer's ear-hurting sounds. No storyline. 

DATING AMBER

Recommended. A truly amusing but also damn smart comedy drama - mostly funny, only touching when it has to be. Very observant, taking the mickey both out of teens and out of Irish society. Perfectly cast, all actors, regardless of age, give wonderfully comical performances. Nice music too. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2022

LES OLYMPIADES (PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT)

Watchable. It's about sex, search for love and relationships so anyone can relate to the subject matter and some will enjoy plentiful female nudity. It's shot in black and white with decent music but isn't artsy. It's rather a tedious drama where even constant sex wears you out. Yet another flick about the lack of love or the fear of feelings among contemporary 30-year-olds.


13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

LESBIAN SHORTS II

The set of 5 short films comprised:

HEGN (FENCE)

Watchable. The reoccuring trope of wild hogs is for nothing and too crazy for my taste. Only one remark about getting bacteria from a partner was interesting - for someone with a knack for science at least.

ENSOM COWGIRL (LONELY COWGIRL)

Watchable. Another crazy short, with blurry pictures meant to reflect the protagonist's agitation. Though the agony of being chucked by the loved one was what I could relate to. 

SZCZELINY (THE CRACKS)

Watchable. A protracted short film needlessly extended to 30 minutes. It depicts a family life where nothing happens other than a crying baby. Hazy shots of a frosty landscape are evocative enough.  

THE COST OF LIVING

Recommended. A modern British fantasy about a woman attracted to big-breasted Death to the point of provoking her arrivals - these are witty. The sterile-looking office reception looks like from sci-fi movies. The dance scene is beautiful: club music, hot blonde male dancers.  

VEILS

Recommended. Excellent cinematography, kind of framing each scene highlights the down-to-earth tale of shame, prejudice and of a dream of a wedding. Endearing. Everyone's so polite - picture-perfect Japan. Or is it picture-perfect?

Monday, 24 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

LET'S ANIMATE THIS LOVE - SHORTS

The set of 7 short films comprised:

BETWEEN US TWO

Watchable. Basic animation-wise. The gay wedding is touching. The rest is comprehensible probably only to the author.

CHOICE

Watchable. Rudimentary animation drawing with bare lines. Large buttocks dominate the film.
The one breast in the middle looks like a misplaced penis. It just keeps you guessing what it's about.

EATING IN THE DARK

Watchable. Porn with dildos and oral sex associations because someone craves an edgy look.

DANS LA NATURE (IN NATURE)

Recommended. Scientific facts about LGBT among animals in a fun way, especially the birds dancing to Swiss folk music

PURPLEBOY

Watchable. Apart from a few verbally explicit bits, the story's barely comprehensible. 

HVEM ER KATHARINA (THIS IS KATHARINE)

Recommended. A realistic tale of growing up and finding your sexual identity with a lesbian view of movie stars. 

A TODOS LOS PIBES QUE AME (TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED)

Watchable. Without reading the synopsis it's hard to make out the message, other than the fact we encounter many men in life and gays probably even more. 

Saturday, 22 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

REBEL DYKES

Watchable. While it basically sees a bunch of old hags reflecting back over their youth exploits, the documentary captures the turbulence of the era: punks, British music, conservative politics and society. The film represents the good British documentary school. On the other hand, whether you enjoy the film or not is subjective up to a point. I, for one, am not not into SM. Also, quite objectively, the documentary poses some questions rather than answers. How come both gays and SM are mainstream now? What was section 28 about? And how was poll tax connected to it? When it gets to the House of Lords abseiling stunt it's  quite riveting and thrilling. The film's also eye-opening, e.g. you learn that someone enjoys having sex in the public or that people who have often been battered enjoy SM because then they regain control.

MAJKA - SWIADECTWO UZALEZNIENIA (MONKEY - ADDICTION TESTIMONY)

Watchable. What you get in this documentary is an uninterrupted flow of speech. I mean overlong talking by one person, only three people in total. The changing backgrounds don't enliven it much. It also lacks information on what which drug is, it's made as if you knew the environment and how the drugs work. What you do hear is it's costly, in merely financial terms. You also learn about withdrawal symptoms

Q&A WITH THE PROTAGONIST

The set of info obtained: Not only the poor. Also doctors, lawyers, police people take opioids. Doctors willingly prescribe them. 10% users have prescriptions. Reasons: emotional deficits or wanting to feel something, substance at home - technically facilitates but no rule: some kids cut them off, others, like the protagonist, no pathology at home. In Germany Naloxone for detox is available on free prescription and cheap. The film says you can suffocate in 4 minutes - in Poland they die. Benzodiazepines - widely used and opioids are the most addictive. Laws work - they reduce the number of addicts. The protagonist doesn't have a good opinion about the police penalising users. Heroine smell: sweet + tyres + wood.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

V'INCI

Walked out. The sound was dreadful. Subtitles were needed since utterances, quite random, were muffled by that awful metallic noise. The film is sometimes porn, all the way through trashy, provocative, but crossing the barrier of bad taste. Abysmal. All in all "V'inci" is unlikely to win Malga Kubiak any new fans. But one gets the feeling that this is more about pickpocketing the old ones.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

13. LGBT+ FILM FESTIVAL

DESERTO PARTICULAR (PRIVATE DESERT)

Recommended. The 2021 Brazilian Oscar entry combines the tenderness of "Moonlight" with catchy tunes, both local and European, of 1980s, with perfectly surrounding music, in this delightful love story. Wonderfully acted by Pedro Fasanaro as Robson/Sara and Antonio Saboia as Daniel, the role of Sara's best friend is admirably cast too. It starts off like an ordinary drama but all the issues: father's disability, Daniel's own looming criminal case for an ambiguous incident of violence, are shoved aside by love, desire, mystery and determination. The title reflects how you become an outcast hiding your true self from people. The arid  landscape mirrors both protagonists' internal desolation. Deeply moving and attractive. I wish all my clothes looked on me as fabulous as on Sara. "Bonnie Tyler's "A Total Eclipse of the Heart" is the lead music theme, the song recurs a few times - always at the most heartfelt moments. Scenes are wonderfully choreographed: they don't dance but each subtle move of the duo and of the camera is precisely arranged. One needed to bring the landscape into the film so the drama of the human beings is set up against the forces of life and death, which is the harshness of survival in that region. The film, recorded in ordinary 5.1, screened in an Atmos room, sounded wonderful. Only the translation versions varied, I learnt that the Polish one was translated from English, not Portuguese.

Ramona Rey's concert of Maanam's songs was short enough not to tire the audience, her singing different than Kora's but enjoyable - I stayed till the end. The banquet was on the cheap side taken the huge number of viewers and with limited space the crowd felt even worse. But the small number of pastries from Lukullus I managed to taste were delicious. As for drinks, alcoholic or soft, there were just enough, owing to their quantity and variety. For me, they also offered a chance to taste new flavours.

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

DIE HASCHENSCHULE - DER GROSSE EIERKLAU (RABBIT ACADEMY: MISSION EGGPOSSIBLE)

Watchable. The Austrian-German-Swiss sequel to the lovely tale is gross, especially the gangs. In the previous film dialogues were fun and animation delightful. No more. The sequel lacks lightness. The plot is a praise of technical skills, with a hen trained by Chick Norris. The grass looks lame, though the eggs are colourful and the music surrounds you. In Poland, the film is dubbed in Polish, only the final song is in English..

THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN

Watchable. The incredible true story of English artist Louis Wan is brought to the big screen in an interesting, if flawed, biopic. While the biopic of the cat painter puts you in the shoes of an artist lacking the financial acumen and additionally struggling both with social prejudice and a mental illness, protracted reminiscences - though they eventually make sense - feel tedious and ambiguous for a large part. Victorian times are meticulously recreated, down to poplar trees. Some scenes, where real life images blend into pictures, are delightful. Louis Wan's drawings and paintings, while artistically impressive, reflect his deteriorating state of his mind. Benedict Cumberbatch is astonishingly convincing in portraying such a complex man over the span of a few decades. Olivia Colman narrates the story gently. The Brits, as usual, love their eccentrics. The title highlights the painter's attitude to life and art but, other than some mumblings, isn't conveyed successfully. It took me the 1 hour 45 minutes of the movie to finally realize he wasn't an inventor working with electricity.

Monday, 17 October 2022

19TH DOCS AGAINST GRAVITY FILM FESTIVAL

This year the festival took place in 8 cities, with the addition of Łódź. Łódź Film School even suspended classes for 4 weeks for the staff and students to participate. There was a new competition - of short films and extended industry field. The European Film Academy invited the festival to its major ones. This year's ratio of female to male directors was 90 to 90. The descriptions below are what the organizers said about the content: Loznitsa's "Babi Yar. Context" premiered. The documentary uses KGB, Red Army, German archives to confront the same places shown by both propaganda machineries. "Young Plato" covered Belfast after the Troubles. "The Territory" premiered and opened the festival. It was a western-like documentary on Indians' fight for territories in the Amazon. "Lombard" ("The Pawnshop") was a Polish film about a couple's on/off relationship. "Pisklaki" ("Fledglings") presented hard-of-seeing kids, "Silent Love" two women with a baby. "Simona" depicted Simona Kossak. The woman had left her comfy life to conduct research on Białowieża Forest. An exhibition of photos, some funny, of Simona Kossak accompanied the festival. "Lot" ("Flight") was about Roman Stańczak's return to art. British "Cow" depicted a cow's life. "River" was an epopee with orchestral music. "Meat the Future" tackled the struggle to let meat grow without killing animals. "Into the Ice" took you inside glaciers. "Going Circular" was on recycling plastic, on how we need to rethink everything, by the producers of "My Octopus Teacher", with 100-year-old Professor Lovelock. "Skál" saw a girl from Faroe Islands in love with a bad boy hip-hopper. There was Susan Sontag Retrospective, including "Waiting for Godot... in Sarajevo" and Bill Morrison Retrospective, after whose film "The Village Detective: A Song Cycle" a discussion was held between him and Loznitsa. The industry section included a meeting on why it's worth shooting documentaries for children. Many guests arrived. Darren Aronofsky wasn't able to but his co-producers of "The Territory" came. Chumbawamba frontman DJ'd from vinyls others' soul and funky. He conferred his fee to Ukraine. The protagonists of Hanna Polak's "Anioły z Sindżaru" ("Angels of Sinjar"): Hanifa and 7 others visited the festival, the interpreter couldn't come because of a lockdown. The director of "Et hus af splinter" ("A House Made of Splinters") - a film about a social workers' house for kids from pathological families in East Ukraine - came too. There was also a meeting with the director and book author of "Three Minutes - A Lengthening" - a film made of 1937 footage found in Nasielsk. Other meetings included: vegan cooking, a comedy club, meditation workshops. A few concerts took place.

ANIOLY Z SINDZARU (ANGELS OF SINJAR)

Recommended. Surrounding sound and clear pictures present a story of the atrocities of ISIS and their hideous mental tortures. The captured were being pissed on, forced to cannibalism. The free could sit on a mined couch. 


FABIAN ODER DER GANG VOR DIE HUNDE (FABIAN: GOING TO THE DOGS)

Watchable. Unusual moaning-like chorus in the opening. The metro, which started operating in Berlin in 1902, though in the picture looks overly modern. You're confused as to the time. 
Saskia Rosendahl as Cornelia, Michael Wittenborn as father surpass Tom Schilling as Fabian himself or others who don't shine either. The meandering storyline taking 3 hours is too long. At least the sound is surrounding even in an online screener, especially the club music is thumping around which immerses you in the film.

Reviewed from the distributor's screener, cinematic reception might differ.

INFINITE STORM

Watchable. The movie opened in the US ranking 10th, taking in 800,000 dollars. Is it truly worth watching then? While it's based on a true story (with 'a' missing in the caption), the devil is in the details. Pam purports to be a mountain rescuer and a nurse but she rubs the man's frostbitten feet - that would only damage blood vessels! She also questions him if he's high on some substance, while in hypothermia you may well be confused and irrational. She also doesn't wash her hands after using the toilet. At least her claim that drinking snow dehydrates you is true. The first half an hour is basically a hit and miss account of Pam's battling an icy storm. Later she finds a man and, among other pointless behaviours, she takes off her goggles. The thriller part is engaging, especially since the man's identity remains unknown. The drama, however, is protracted and tedious. Sadly we never find out how she located the man - or he her? Also, in what way did he transform her life? Nothing changed. The poor script and/or editing ruin the promising set-up.


SCRIPT FIESTA ONLINE

KLINIKA SCENARIUSZOWA (SCRIPT CLINIC)

Why is Ślesicki peddling movies about people with Down's syndrome and accepting one with cancer? II feel like puking just hearing about ever new films about diseases. Besides hundreds of thousands have lost health or close ones to Covid in Poland alone, that is never covered. German-sounding names appear in Polish scripts for no reason at all - I agree on that one..

SZCZERZE O SCENARZYSTACH (ABOUT SCRIPTWRITERS IN EARNEST)

Streaming platforms don't pay royalties. The original idea was that the creator should benefit from them, just like they do in the US. Extra drafts should be payable too, just like actors are for extra shooting days. A lawyer is needed. There should be proper regulations in the law as well.

DROGA ZAWODOWA (PROFESSIONAL PATH)

Networking is essential: with producers, other writers, directors. And when you send your draft to producers, send your final version.

VOICE FROM THE WRITERS' ROOM BY LUKASZ M. MACIEJEWSKI

1 person over 1 year writes 1 2-hour film. Writing a series includes: the storyline, next episode treatments, episodes, shortcuts, dialogues. Animation is expensive. 

JIM UHLS

A luncheon was set up at which he was to pitch the script, based on Palahniuk's book, to the director and producers. He didn't pitch. He had arrived early, sat at the table and talked to Fincher, who arrived next, so others visualised them as working together and next he talked to everyone what and how could be done. 

CASE STUDY OF "MAGNEZJA" ("MAGNESIUM")

Multi-threaded stories are the hardest to write due to interconnectedness. They divided the film into a series of episodes 8-minute-long and each ending in a twist.
Borys Szyc acted as a woman because they couldn't find an actress as strong as to toss guys around. 3-4 hours of music recorded by an orchestra were matched to the pictures by the writers' duo. They had to rewrite to locations. Westerns were derived from Asian movies, just as Tarantino's films are. Actors, not used to westerns - non-existent in Poland - didn't know how to act. So he had to play Ennio Morricone's music to them so that they enter in the rhythm and with "cat lightness" and not march or pause - the balance between seriousness without falling into comedy. Writer/director Maciej Bochniak doesn't like extras, he hires his mates. They did stunts without protection out of enthusiasm. Smarzowski tries out many solutions in rehearsals and then the text is fixed.

CASE STUDY OF "ZEBY NIE BYLO SLADOW" ("LEAVE NO TRACES")

Kaja Krawczyk-Wnuk would have needed a year of research but that would be too long with no pay. She wrote the treatment based on her own knowledge. Only when the producers ordered the script in July to be ready in March, did she start reading about the case. That took her 3.5 months reading all day and it was impossible to read everything. November was her own deadline to start writing. She has a habit of typing the script only when she's got it ready in her head - so typing it took her 5.5 weeks. She also finds it useful to have time off to mull over the vision of the events. There was an idea not to show the killing at all and to mention a battering of a student after which the movie structure would spread like a fan.

W RYTMIE SCENARIUSZA FILMU "INNI LUDZIE" (IN THE RHYTHM OF THE MOVIE SCRIPT OF "OTHER PEOPLE")

Aleksandra Terpińska scripted the movie. The adapted book is all written in rap, without stage directions. So she needed to write a new genre: musical drama. Now Aleksandra Terpińska and the book author Dorota Masłowska are writing a premium series.

SCRIPT FORMAT

Programs do it technically: plugins to install in Microsoft Word, programs like Final Draft, Celtx, Fade In, Screen River, Slug Line, Highland, online services like Writer Duet. The website of the Polish Film Institute lists all the formatting requirements. The webinar was about mistakes, chaos and the lack of care in formatting which, for a person tired of reading 4-6 scripts a day is a pretext to reject one. The front page needs to contain the title and the author's name, e.g. BROOKLYN by Nick Hornby. If adapted, "adapted from the novel by XY", we need to have the copyright. We never give the draft number, unless we work for a producer or TV station, it just doesn't work in our favour. But we should give the date of the draft: under the author, above the "adapted" line. Next, in the bottom left corner we should give info who the copyright belongs to: name, postal address, email, phone. If it's us, we should give at least our email address. Mostly in the US, once the movie goes into production, scenes are numbered. Then no more drafts are made, only revisions. Once we go into the revision mode, the program marks all additions as e.g. scene 5a, page 5a. Stage directions are always tiring to the reader while dialogues are fast to read. We should use "enters" = each paragraph is a new take. So every time the camera position changes, we should press enter. Another golden rule is 1 page of a screenplay is 1 minute of a movie. Too long stage directions can disrupt that. We shouldn't number pages or they'll think it's already in production or a shooting schedule's been made. Only shooting drafts have numbered pages. Having pages numbered is not a problem in Poland though. Int./Ext. is used for car scenes. The line order is: int. or ext., location, time of the day, e.g. INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT. Best to put just: day, night, dusk, dawn, purists don't like: morning, evening. Each character should be introduced in Caps Lock - only then. We can introduce with a first and last name and next use only first. When intro, we often give the characters's age too. Caps Lock is for all important things, e.g. camera directions: We're FLYING above..., DESCENDING SLOWLY toward... but not necessary, distracts the reader, too technical, the reader should see the picture rather. Better not to adjust any info to the right since we read all looking on the left. An ALARM CLOCK is ringing, Jane's wearing PAJAMAS - important info in Caps Lock. We shouldn't use or overuse italics, emboldening, underscore. With long shots Berman's scripts are worth mimicking: he gives new headings but each sentence ends and commences in three dots. As for dialogues, brackets are guidelines for dialogues only, e.g. sb starts crying, now he speaks to sb, next to sb, pause, ironically. SB (O.S.) = off screen i.e. we hear but can't see the person at the moment. (V.O.) = voiceover = the person's not in the scene at all, a narrator rather. So behind the door is O.S., on the phone is V.O., sound from TV is V.O. - the sound is added separately. No capital letters or dots in brackets, commas sometimes. We can address the reader directly, e.g. if Adam appears in scene 2 and next in the finale, better to add it's the same Adam as in scene two. If dates matter, we should put them in stage directions: "text on the screen: 5th March". Quick montage can be described like in "House of Cards": QUICK MONTAGE and each paragraph starts with -- to show each take e.g. sb looks in horror from the back seat, sb else looks in horror at the screen. 

Most recordings of the festival were barely audible but fully professionally conducted. All were translated into English - most with subtitles, one with voiceover. Two weeks online only, plenty of materials - all useful though I managed to see only half.