Lake Tahoe – Fernando Eimbcke – Mexico
A slow and meandering film about a young man trying to find a part for a car he just crashed. Along the way he meets a few eccentric people, and eventually we are given some backstory to flesh out his character. Unfortunately, the character is a blank slate for too long, and the long static shots are uninteresting and lack any mood. It’s a bland film that goes somewhere eventually, but its just not enough to save it.
The Country Teacher – Bohdan Sláma – Czech Republic
A closeted schoolteacher takes a job in an out of the way country village to try to avoid the conflicts of living in the real world. Unforunately, things don’t go quite as planned and his new simple life becomes much more complicated. It’s a well-made film with strong performances. It just has a hard time rising into something exceptional.
Back Soon – Sólveig Anspach – Iceland
Anna, a pot-dealing poet, goes on an errand and ends up on a small adventure while her eccentric clients await her return at her apartment. It’s funny, quirky and slightly surreal. Anna is exceptionally entertaining, and the poetry she writes in the film is amazing. It’s a small film, but one filled with some wonderful moments. Especially the poetry.
Hunger – Steve McQueen – Great Britain
This is an intense prison drama about the Irish hunger strikes. It arrived much-lauded from previous festivals. The film is well made. Slick and powerful. But is it more than just torture-porn? I think so, but not by much. The motivations on a personal level are explained, and the state of the prisons are properly villified, but the film keeps its distance. We are askedto just watch what happened and less to understand it.
Not Quite Hollywood – Marc Hartley – Australia
Ninety minutes of Australian exploitation film history! What could be better? This documentary was made for me. It’s a high-energy romp told through the creators and stars of such classics as Razorback, Turkeyshoot, Patrick, Mad Max, and The BMX Bandits! The talking-heads are entertainging, and the film is full of clips and trailers of forgotten trash. I wish I had a pen and paper with me to write down the titles of films that I want to look up.