Saturday, 9 February 2013

Post - Rotterdam

few films from the recently ended International Film Festival in Rotteradam, that interest me the most

Let Fury Have the Hour
USA 2012
Director: Antonino D'Ambrosio

Various musicians discuss how their art was largely a reaction to the conservative politics of Reagan and Thatcher. Public Enemy, MC5, Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Clash, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Billy Bragg, Manu Chao, Gogol Bordello, DJ Spooky and many more.

This attempt at documenting a broad social history behind a wide range of popular music from the 1980s till now consists of an exuberant mixed-media collage incorporating art, music, animation and performance. The film brings together 50 writers, playwrights, painters, poets, skateboarders, dancers, musicians and rights advocates, each revealing that we can re-imagine the world we live in and take an active role in making that vision a reality.

They'll Come Back  
Eles voltam
Brazil 2012
Director: Marcelo Lordello

Cris (12) and her brother are thrown out of the car by their parents after their endless squabbling. That marks the start of a brief ramble through northwestern Brazil. In this modern fable, an upper-class teenager learns to see the world from a different perspective.

For all its simplicity, the opening scene is extremely effective. From a great distance, we see a car stop by the side of the road in the middle of a panoramic landscape of hills. Two figures get out of the car. We don’t know why and can’t make any judgement. They turn out to be Cris (12) and her slightly older brother who - rightly or wrongly - have been ordered out of the car by their parents. They don’t know where they are; initially they assume that their parents will come back for them.
In beautiful shots by cameraman Ivo Lopes Araújo, the film then shows the adventures of an upper-class teenager whose eyes slowly open on her quest for familiar territory: she realises who she is, where she comes from and in which country she lives. In his first fiction film after several documentaries, Marcelo Lordello shows a journey that is certainly universal for adolescents, but here subtly moves through a country that despite - or precisely because of - the rapid economic developments, is confronted with major contrasts between the classes. They'll Come Back, which has already won several prizes at the festival in Brasilia, makes it clear that the creativity of filmmakers from Recife and Pernambuco is still going strong: among those previously successful in Rotterdam are Cláudio Assis, Gabriel Mascaro, Marcelo Gomes and Kleber Mendonça.

Carne de perro  
Dog Flesh
Chile, France, Germany 2012
Director: Fernando Guzzoni

Solidly nerve-wracking debut about Chilean fiftysomething who can no longer escape from the burden of his dark past as a Pinochet thug. Shot by unsurpassed camerawoman Bárbara Álvarez (De jueves a domingo). Just to reassure you: the dog was not harmed in making the film.

In Chile, people look to the future. They work, dream of success, lose themselves in shopping and saccharine soaps. They prefer not to think of the dictatorship of Pinochet, who drowned the country in fear from 1973 to 1990. Except, that is, for types like Alejandro. This shabby fifty-something worked in one of Pinochet’s torture prisons. Now he lives on the fringes of society, unable to reinvent himself. When one of his former colleagues commits suicide, this emotionally handicapped macho completely loses it. His wife and daughter leave him. His trusty yet noisy dog has to take the full force of his temper tantrums. Fernando Guzzoni makes his debut filming Alejandro very close up. His paranoia is almost tangible, the mood bordering on claustrophobia. Despite being oppressive, Dog Flesh is not moralistic. With a star role for Alejandro Goic, who was himself tortured by Pinochet’s bullies.

Harmonica's Howl  
O uivo da gaita
Brazil 2013
Director: Bruno Safadi

A sun-drenched fluid love story between Antonia, Luana and Pedro. Possessed by passion, they are imprisoned in a puzzling game of attraction and rejection. Sensory experience forms part of the trilogy around the star Leandra Leal.

In the opening scene, which lasts for minutes, we see a gigantic container ship slowly sailing by at dawn. At the end of the film, Brazilian director Bruno Safadi shows an enormous cruise ship, but then in the middle of the night, filmed in the same way with a fixed camera from a distance.
In between, Safadi focuses on three beautiful, young, affluent people: Pedro, Antônia and Luana circle each other like floating islands. Restless. Adrift. Possessed by love. Possessed by themselves.
The form is experimental; the title only appears on screen after half an hour and the powerful, penetrating soundtrack often tells a completely different story from the suggestive images. This hypnotic, alienating film is part of Operation Sonia Silk, a project supported by the Hubert Bals Fund and made by a collective of filmmakers, actors and crew who shot three feature films in two weeks on a very modest budget.

Rio Belongs to Us  
O Rio nos pertence
Brazil 2013
Director: Ricardo Pretti

After receiving a strange picture postcard, Marina knows there’s nothing else to it but to return to Rio de Janeiro, the beautiful city that here seems threatening and almost enchanting. Part of a collective inventive film operation.

This could be two films. Either it’s a film-noir thriller, in which information emerges in fits and starts in a roller-coaster ride to inevitable danger. Or it’s a psychological drama with a poetic bent, in which the viewer is immersed in the memories of the troubled protagonist. The protagonist is Marina, who returns to Rio de Janeiro after an absence of 10 years. The motivation was a mysterious postcard, but Marina herself doesn’t really know why she is back in town. She looks for answers with an ex-boyfriend and her sister, but doesn’t get any further. Gradually, daydreams and reality start to mingle and paranoia grips her. Rio Belongs to Us was made on a modest budget of less than 200,000 dollars, but that can’t be seen in the design. The camera effectively captures the light and space of the metropolis, which can be stunningly beautiful one minute and threatening the next.

Brazil 2012
Director: Marcelo Machado

An homage to Brazilian innovators from the 1960s, such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. A vibrant collage of news footage, video clips, photos and psychedelic graphics, the film also evokes the Tropicália bric-a-brac aesthetic.

Tropicália was a short-lived artistic movement that exploded out of Brazil in the late 1960s, with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil as its chief instigators, and Glauber Rocha as their counterpart in cinema. It was a reaction to the country’s turbulent socio-political history of the 1960s and 1970s. Like the Brazilian Modernists before them, the Tropicalistas believed in ingesting aspects of the European and American vanguard as well as traditional Afro-Brazilian and indigenous cultures, with the aim of creating a contemporary music that was uniquely hybrid. The influence of the music, with its heretic use of elements ranging from 'imported' electric guitars of The Beatles to traditional pífanos (flutes) played by folk musicians, had in return a long lasting effect with contemporary musicians. Beck and David Byrne, Nelly Furtado and Sonic Youth are some of its most well-known acolytes.

La Playa D.C.  
The Beach
Director: Juan Andrés Arango

Male hairstyles also count - above all in La Playa, a district of Bogotá where many immigrants from the West Coast live. Young Tomas is looking for a better future. He turns out to have hairdressing talent, but is hindered by loyalty and a sense of family duty. There’s a world of difference between the west coast of Colombia and the district of La Playa in Bogata, the capital. Ever since teenager Tomas had to flee his birthplace by the Pacific Ocean because of the civil war, he has yearned for the tropical countryside where he grew up. Everywhere he can, he draws scenes of his birthplace. Life in the city is hard too. His stepfather throws him out, his little brother Jairo is an addict and in big trouble. Together with his elder brother Chaco he is saving for a journey to the North, either the USA or Europe. Just as the sun is about to shine and he’s about to start earning money as a talented hairdresser, both his brothers ask for help and Tomas faces an impossible choice. To the accompaniment of latino hiphop beats, the camera follows the stoical Tomas through the streets of Bogota. A glimpse of the city's Afro-Colombian subculture - in which hairstyles play a major role.

Post tenebras lux
Director: Carlos Reygadas

Dreamlike, extremely personal and visually surprising film by the Mexican master. Also puzzling. What do those rugby playing kids have to do with that illuminated devil? And how is the relationship crisis related to the distortedly filmed horses?

Mexican master Carlos Reygadas juxtaposes computer-generated images of a fiery red devil moving like the Pink Panther with B-film horror (a man pulls off his own head); group sex in a sauna with fairytale-like, slightly distorted images of a young girl pacing through a majestic landscape; and an affluent man and his stunningly beautiful wife having existential discussions about their relationship(s) with shots of a junior rugby team. Reygadas, whose feature debut Japón had its world premiere at the IFFR in 2002, compares the rough, associative and instinctive Post tenebras lux (‘light after darkness’) with an Expressionist painting in which he makes room for his deepest feelings, his memories, dreams, desires and fears. At the Cannes festival the film was booed, but Reygadas took home the prize for best direction. Partly financed by the Dutch Film Fund and co-produced by the Dutch company Topkapi Films.

Ginger and Rosa
Director: Sally Potter

London in the Swinging Sixties. The start of the sexual revolution, alongside protests against the Cold War. Ideological differences and painful treachery test the friendship of two teenagers. Elle Fanning plays a beautiful role in this new film by Sally Potter. The teenage girls Ginger and Rosa are best friends who grow up in London in the 1960s, under the real threat of a nuclear war as a result of the Cuba crisis in 1962. The friendship between the two is put to the test: Ginger becomes obsessed by her desire to take action and joins protest movements. In the meantime, Rosa falls for the charms of Ginger’s father, who has just left her mother. The mood of the restless 1960s, which is not only shaped by political changes but also by sexual liberation, is effectively captured in atmospheric images supported by a jazzy soundtrack (Dave Brubeck’s Take Five). Sally Potter (Orlando) took on a cast including Annette Bening, Alessandro Nivola and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks alongside the widely-praised leading lady, Elle Fanning, who was 13 when the film was shot.

Snow White
Spain, France 2012
Director: Pablo Berger

Blancanieves is Spanish for Snow White: the Grimm classic is situated in pre-war Spain, where the daughter of an invalid toreador has to cope with the terrible stepmother. Exciting, silent black-and-white film of course evokes comparisons with The Artist - to Spain's advantage.

Her mother dies in childbirth. Her father, a famous toreador, is skewered by a bull and ends up in a wheelchair. He marries his nurse, who turns out to be an evil stepmother. Instead of a mirror on the wall, she has a fashion magazine that tells her who is the most beautiful in the land. In this Spanish version of the Grimm classic, Snow White is called Blancanieves and hangs around with bullfighting dwarfs. But this is much more than a Spanish remake of a world-famous story; it’s a homage to the heyday of silent film. Pablo Berger, who worked on the film for eight years, situates the story in 1920s Seville. The stylish set is shot in sharp black-and-white. Dialogues are on inter-titles and are accompanied by a hot-blooded soundtrack with a large dose of flamenco. Blancanieves is a gloomy fairytale with an exotic undercurrent.