East Bay View (a blog about several things)

now 98% free of substantive content

Friday, May 05, 2006

SFIFF '06~!: Exhaustion sets in [festival note]

At an Auckland International Film Festival a few years back, I saw a record-setting five movies on a Monday, then backed up with five more on the Tuesday. But old age is setting in, and sixteen in two weeks now takes its toll, so take the notes below with the caveat that the quality of my attention may not be what it was two weeks ago.

Roads of Kiarostami (Abbas Kiarostami): AK sent his son to say that since this was 34 minutes, then unlike during Five, the audience wouldn't have time to sleep. Shows what he knows! It's gorgeous at first, as we get to see examples of AK's B&W photography. AK zooms and pans along the roads, which run through the pics like proverbial silver ribbons. If I hadn't seen a dozen movies over the previous week and a half, I might not have drifted off once his pompous narration kicked in. I was back up by the end, when orange floods the screen, as AK sets one of his pictures on fire.

Iron Island (Mohammad Rasoulof): A community of impoverished Iranian Arabs have made their home on a rusting, slowly sinking tanker, under the firm rule of Captain Nemo, I mean Nemat (Ali Nasirian). It's part slum, part commune and all allegory. The citizens keep livestock and break off bits of the ship for industrial use; later they even drill for oil below deck. There's a cute kid, a cute old man and a pair of star-crossed lovers, but the Captain is the dominant character, keeping track of everyone's "accounts" but never seeming to enforce their payment. Nasarian plays him as a quasi-religious figure, firm in the belief that only through his absolute leadership can his people prosper. He, and the movie, seem mostly harmless until one extremely striking sequence of punishment. After that, we know there'll be no happy ending.

The Sun (Aleksandr Sokurov): My main problem with the aesthetics -- the movie is continental drift-slow -- are dwarfed by my problems with the central characterisation. When Hirohito tells MacArthur he didn't know about Pearl Harbor, it's a lie; but Ogata Issei plays the Emperor as wobbly-jawed and guileless, incapable of politicking. (To his credit, though, Ogata is the only performer who bothers to act.) The movie's lack of exploration of the extent of Hirohito's involvement in Japanese militarism is a choice; its ignorance of the nous he displayed in clinging to the throne while his ministers were convicted of war crimes is a failure. I dread the day George W. Bush is portrayed as just a simple guy who didn't understand what was being done in his name. Oh wait.

Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967): Quite good.

To come: The Betrayal, which I don't have much to say about, and Iraq in Fragments, which I have a lot to say about but need a little longer to digest.


Post a Comment

<< Home