I almost never have time during the festival to review the movies I've watched (I always have at least one or two movies a day), and when the festival is over, I'm too lazy to go back and do it. Not this year! As an additional incentive for myself, I'll be reviewing not just the movies, but my favorite hotties from said movies, and we all know I like talking about hot guys.
From left to right, Gaspard Ulliel and Elias McConnell from Gus Van Sant's Paris je t'aime short Le Marais.
I don't know the name of the guy on the left (if you do, please let me know), but the one in the center is Thomas Dumerchez and on the right is Cyril Descours, from Gurinder Chadha's short Quais de Seine.
Gaspard was most recently in the title role of the shitty American movie, Hannibal Rising, but before that, I saw him in a good French film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement with Audrey Tautou (who was recently in a shitty American movie herself called The Da Vinci Code). Elias was last in Van Sant's Elephant, where he played a gay teen photographer who is shot in the face during a school shooting. I am less familiar with the French actors from the other short. I only recognize Thomas from a movie I thought about seeing two years ago at SIFF 2005 called, Three Dancing Slaves, but I didn't. I don't know Cyril from anything else. Hopefully, if I watch more French cinema, I will encounter them again.
Okay, now on to the reviews and honorable mention hotties. Everyone who goes to see a movie is given an opportunity to vote via ballot for that movie on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great). All the ratings are tallied at the end of the festival, and the Golden Space Needle awards are given out to the winners (which are usually undeserving middle-of-the-road crap, but I still feel the need to participate). Anyhow, that's what the ratings that follow the title of the film are.
Paprika (Papurika). Rating: 5. Really, director Kon Satoshi can do no wrong. I have loved every movie he's done since I watched Perfect Blue my freshman year of college (and immediately downloaded the CHAM! single Ai no Tenshi). The story isn't particularly revolutionary (A device that lets you enter the dream world is stolen and abused. Who's doing it? Why!? It can only lead to a catastrophic merging of dreams and reality if our heroes don't save the day!), but it examines the topic of reality, dreams, and fiction in a really interesting way. The visuals are mind-blowing, and the music by Hirasawa Susumu is amazing. I had an impulse to watch the movie again right after walking out of the theater. Unfortunately, there were no hot guys in this movie, animated or otherwise.
After This Our Exile (Fu zi). Rating: 3. This is the story of a deadbeat dad and the son who stays frustratingly loyal to him despite all the horrible things his dad puts him through (the literal translation of the Chinese title is Father and Son). At almost three hours, this movie was too long. I'm not opposed to long movies, but the point had been made after an hour and a half, so the rest of the movie just felt like a little like sadism. This sometimes happens when someone writes, directs and edits their own movie. The director doesn't throw out any of the unnecessary stuff the writer put in, and the editor doesn't cut out any of the unnecessary scenes the director's shot, because it's all the same guy. I love Patrick Tam and everything, but dear god, man, have some self-control. Malaysia never looked better than it does in this film, and really that might be the only thing that kept my attention for the entire length of the movie. It was also too bad that hottie Aaron Kwok was such an asshole in this movie (but I guess that means he did some good acting).
Vanaja. Rating: 4. This movie was enjoyable, even if the pacing was a little off. It's about an Indian girl (named Vanaja, surprise!) who wants to learn to dance, but encounters hardships flung at her by the society and culture in which lives. The main character was excruciatingly likable and being able to watch her dance in this movie is worth the price of admission alone. It was extraordinary. There was a hottie in this movie, model Karan Singh (find him on the movie's cast page) who had a really great body, but he played a rapist, and that's not very hot.
Paris je t'aime. Rating: 5. I loved this. I know a lot of people don't like shorts or whatever, but I loved the little sketches we got from so many different directors. It made me feel so much in such a small period of time, and it was lovely to see all the different directorial styles up against one another. I think I liked Alexander Payne's (14e arrondissement, with Margo Martindale's perfectly accented American French) or Isabel Coixet's (Bastille, with my favorite use of Le Tourbillon since Jules et Jim) the best. Gurinder Chadha's (Quais de Seine) and Gus Van Sant's (Le Marais) were really cute. The Coen Brothers' (Tuileries, with Steve Buscemi) was funny. And... well, okay I liked most of the rest too. A lot of them were screaming to be made into a full-length. The one that was just too weird for me was Christopher Doyle's (Porte de Choisy). I'm sorry, guy, I love your cinematographic work, but your directorial stuff? Not so much.
A Battle of Wits (Mo gong). Rating: 2. What a bad movie! I only didn't give it a 1 because it wasn't a complete technical failure. A peace-loving Mohist in China's Warring States period attempts to save the state of Liang from being overtaken by the state of Zhao. This is ultimately a losing battle, because Qin eventually conquered all the states in 221 BCE and united China. But that's beside the point. The writing was really, really bad. The dialogue was made up mostly of those predictable brave-men-in-war clichés ("We must fight for honor and glory!" "I will do anything to save your live!") shouted at each other, and it was so god-awful that for the last 30 or 40 minutes, I couldn't help zoning out. Really, I stopped listening, but I know I didn't miss out on anything. The subtitles also read like they were written by a complete idiot. For one, they kept misspelling the name of the states. And then they referred to "Mohists" as "Mozis," which is wrong. Mozi is the philosopher; his followers are called "Mohists." It would be like referring to Marxists as "Marxes." There are not a bunch of Karl Marxes running around. There is one Karl Marx, and a group of Marxists. Similarly, one Mozi, many Mohists. The movie stretched believability pretty far, but to top off the what-the-fuck factor, there was a black guy in the movie. And he played a slave. I'm not sure there were any Africans in China during the Warring States period, let alone any mixed African-Caucasian guys (the dude's skin was pretty light). And then why was he a slave? I guess I just don't get it. But then again, this movie was so bad, I don't think I care. Okay, so the action sequences were not bad, but that's about all the good I can say about it. I almost forgot to mention hotties Andy Lau and Choi Si-won. And Nicky Wu if you're into that sort of thing.