Landscape #2 – Vinko Moderndorfer – Slovenia
This slick thriller tells the story of an apprentice thief who, while stealing a painting, accidentally gets a hold of some documents that people are willing to kill for. It’s a simple premise that allows for some great tension. The story is tight and the style is perfectly suited to set the tone. It’s a very good film that kept me suprised and entertained.
Lemon Tree – Eran Riklis – Israel
At the Israeli-Pakistani border, a poor Pakistani women tends to her grove of lemon trees that have been there for fifty years. The lemons are her only source of income. Unfortunately, the Minister of Defense moves in across the border and says that the grove is a security threat becuase it can allow cover for terrorists who want to get close to him. A legal battle ensues. The film does its job and jerks some tears from those easily manipulated. I found it rather forgettable.
GS Wonderland – Ryûichi Honda – Japan
GS stands for Group Sounds. It was a fad in Japan back in the late 60’s early 70’s. It’s when male musical groups dressed in stupid outfits sing canned songs to screaming teenage girls. Into this atmosphere walk three would-be musicians and one female singer who want to make it big. Together, with an eager manager, they create the “The Tightsmen” and hit it big when young girls fall for the female group member who has disguised herself as male. It’s cute and colorful, but nothing special. It has its moments, but overall it’s a standard pop studio peice.
I’d Rather be a Shellfish – Katsuo Fukusawa – Japan
A long film about the true story of Japanese soldiers being convicted of war-crimes by the USA after WWII. The story was interesting, and the film had some good cinematography. The problem was that the writing and direction was so overly dramatic. Loud inspirational/sad music. Slow motion on pained expressions. Heavy handed symbolism. It was eye-rolling at times, and that heavy-handedness really ruined the film.
Don’t Look Down – Eliseo Subiela – Argentina
This oddity was a fresh change of pace. It’s a unique film that doesn’t really have a real story. It follows a young man (a stilt walker), who literally sleep-walks into the life of a young eccentric girl after his father dies. She sets out to teach him the ways of tantric sex, and together they can make him travel the world through his climax. There are some very surreal touches, and the direction and tone are spot on. It was a small film that doesn’t give you many takeaways, but it was beautiful and unique.