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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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SIFF 2014: Second Week

Posted by gck Thursday, May 29, 2014 0 comments

Yep, that’s right… I completely missed the first week of SIFF. There are definitely films that I’m hearing about that I wished I’d had the chance to see, but Maui was pretty awesome, too. :) Immediately jumped back into SIFF, seeing two films on the same day I arrived home via redeye flight. It was a real challenge because nothing happened in either film! But things got better during the week – I saw a delightful French musical and worked a good will call shift at the Uptown. Film Count: 4. Volunteer Vouchers: 7.

Stray Dogs
(also: Jiao You)
Taiwan, 2013
Genre: Drama
Watched: SIFF 2014, Uptown
Rating: *** (out of 5)

I feel like I have a good amount of patience with slow movies, but this one was just too much for me. A lot of people who liked it seem to be familiar with the director’s work, though I’m really not sure that understanding references would have made it more bearable. It’s 138 minutes of long shots where nothing happens. It’s really uncomfortable, especially when the shots zoom in close on faces and you spend 10 minutes trying to figure out if he’s going to let the snot drip down his nose or not (spoiler alert: he does). There’s a semblance of a story, but since very little happens and very little is said, there’s a lot of missing information that frustrated me. On the redeeming side, a lot of the shots were very beautiful, and misery was strongly portrayed.

A Dream of Iron
(also: Cheol-ae-kum)
South Korea, 2014
Genre: Documentary
Watched: SIFF 2014, Uptown
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

The narrator is sad that his girlfriend left him to search for god, so he decides to find a “better” god. Monks chant. Lots of shots of an enormous ship factory and the impressive metalwork that takes place there. Whales. And a few dolphins. Back to the metal. Whales again. Documentary?! For this one, I could get over the fact that nothing happens and it’s actually pretty ridiculous because there was a meditative quality to the whole thing that reminded me of Samsara (but I liked Samsara a lot more).

Attila Marcel
France, 2013
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Drama
Watched: SIFF 2014, Uptown
Rating: **** (out of 5)

I was originally planning to see this one before my vacation, but I decided to volunteer instead. This one lived up to my expectations: it was beautiful, charming, and funny. Definitely lots of laugh-out-loud moments (I still have the phrase “merde de lumiere” stuck in my brain). There’s no way you’re going to connect with any of the characters or get anything meaningful out of this film, but it’s entertaining, the characters are interesting (if not realistic), and it brought me into their brightly-colored hallucinogenic world for an hour and a half.

SIFF 2014: Opening Weekend

Posted by gck Sunday, May 18, 2014 0 comments

Here we go again! Hopefully I can complete my SIFF blogging this year (unlike last year). It’s going to be a much shorter fest for me, since I’m out of town for 9 days of the festival for my brothers’ graduation and a family trip. Before leaving, I worked two volunteer shifts, one as a “human arrow” at the opening night gala and one long venue shift at Lincoln Square. We were able to watch a film during our shift, so I did get to see one before leaving town. Film Count: 1. Volunteer Vouchers: 5.

Words and Pictures
USA, 2013
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Watched: SIFF 2014, Lincoln Square 
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

This isn’t a movie I’d typically see at SIFF because it’s a mainstream American flick that’s going to have a wider release soon. But I was happy to catch it during my volunteer shift! It’s a solid rom-com, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments, especially between the two main characters as they engage in their battle of literature (“words”) vs. art (“pictures”). I really like Juliette Binoche as an actress, and she does a good job with her character here. It was also nice to Valerie Tian’s role as a student that didn’t reek of Asian stereotypes. The romance side of the picture is inevitable but not as convincing or interesting as the rest of it. The passion the teachers show for their subjects is really engaging and made me want to go out and write and paint.