Tulpan – Sergey Dvortsevoy – Kazakhstan
A too realistic story of a young sheep-herder searching for a wife on the Kazakhstan steppe. Overlong and slow, the film revels in its realism to ill effect. Lots of shots of sheep and grazing and herding. Not much else. The emotion is ground away by the direction, and we are left with a predictable mess of a film that is hard to watch and even harder to like.
Julia – Érick Zonca – France
This english language film has Tilda Swinton hamming it up as a raging alcoholic on the brink of ruining her life when she decides to participate in a kidnapping. It’s a good performance, but her decisions are made with unclear motivations and the film goes in strange directions for too long. You get the point about half-way through, so the last hour is really just a glorified action film. It’s still an intense film with some solid direction.
Sita Sings the Blues – Nina Paley – USA
A beautifully stylized retelling of the Indian legend of Sita and Rama. It’s a cute little story told with humor and pinash. Unfortunately, the story really only has about 30 minutes of content. The film is stretched far too thin, with lots of unneeded additions padding it out to almost 90 minutes. Its unique and well-made, but it really should have been a short.
Jury Duty – Edouard Niermans – France
Written by Didier Le Pêcheur (News From the Good Lord), this made-for-TV film was a great premise. A man murders a young girl, and gets away with it. Due to circumstances of the times in 60’s France, a young Algerian is convicted of the crime. The real murderer has to be on the jury during the trial. It’s almost Lifetime movie stuff, but the script is smart and the plot points and conclusion are genuinely convincing. It’s a solid film that has much more to it then just the summary.
A Beautiful Person – Christophe Honoré – France
A very French romance. Love and affairs between partners at a college. Students and students, teachers and teachers, teachers and students. It’s an uninteresting romp filled with vain uninteresting characters. When the drama gets heavy, I was too disenchanted with the characters to care. The Nick Drake soundtrack was interesting, but thats about it.