I really took a break from SIFF this week. Saw so many films over Memorial Day weekend (10!) that it made me less eager to see anything during the week. I worked a quiet will call shift at Pacific Place on Wednesday, had pre-existing plans on Tuesday, and decided to stay at home on Thursday instead of watching The Artist and the Model as previously planned. I’ve been leaning towards trying the passholder thing, but weeks like this one make me wonder if I could sustain the film watching enough to make the pass worthwhile. Film count: 16. Volunteer vouchers: 18.
Genre: Black Comedy, Drama
Watched: SIFF 2013, Pacific Place
Rating: **** (out of 5)
This one was a lot of fun. There were four short stories from a rejected manuscript that found their way into the lives of the people who rejected it. At the Q&A, someone asked the director if there was any other connection between the stories. He said no and that the manuscript thing was a “lame” way to do it. Russian humor! I liked the first and last one the best because they were the funniest. However, I suspect I’d get more out of the 2nd and 3rd if I had the chance to watch them again. All of them commented on the state of modern Russia in clever ways. In the first story, a couple meets with a wedding planner who takes it a step further and helps them plan out their lives. In the last one, a man meets an attractive younger woman, only to be slowly repulsed by her lack of knowledge of Russian history or anything else. The director claimed that he wasn’t intending for anything in the film to be funny (really??) but that people laughed so they called it a comedy. Someone in the audience insisted that his work had to have been influenced by some Russian writer whose name escapes me, and the director answered that he definitely would have been influenced… if he had read any. The Russian films have been meshing well with me at SIFF. Must be sure to see more next year.
A World Not Ours
(also: Alam laysa lana)
Watched: SIFF 2013, Harvard Exit
Rating: **** (out of 5)
So many Middle East social issues films… I chose this one and decided not to see several others (Zaytoun, Inch’Allah, When I Saw You) because it seemed like this would give the most authentic experience. It’s a good companion film to last year’s 5 Broken Cameras. While watching this compilation of years of home videos, I didn’t find myself as engaged as I would have liked. Obviously, real life – especially in a refugee camp – isn’t as dramatic as a narrative film. But this place lingered in my thoughts long after the film was over. I remember the older Palestinians, patiently waiting in the camps until they are allowed to return home, and the angry younger generation, young people with no education, no work prospects, and no ability to leave. “I bet most of the guys who blew themselves up felt the same way I do. They just used Palestine as an excuse to end their lives,” one of the men says. That’s an angle I hadn’t seen before, and it’s heartbreaking.