Offscreen 2011: Ikarie XB-1 / Voyage to the end of the universe (1963)

This Czech sci fi pearl is a real gem. The director is Jindrich Polák.

STORY

We follow a crew on board of a space ship, Ikarie (Icarus) in the 22nd century, who just started their 28 months journey from Earth  towards Alpha Centauri to seek out if there is life on one of the planets orbiting that sun.

They have left Earth and their loved ones behind in this uncertain voyage, knowing they’ll be much younger when they will return; the journey of 28 months will have made 15 years pass on Earth (if I explain that correctly). On this voyage, we see how they live their lives on board and adapt to life in space.

On their voyage, they face several troubles. They come about an old space station on which everyone died, unsure what happened. The Ikarie crew find out that it’s a 20th century station and realize too late it has nuclear weapons. The away-mission crew perish when one of the nuclear heads goes off. In response to this unfortunate accident and having lost 2 of his crew, the captain (of the 22nd century crew), criticizes the 20th century for its cruelty and barbaric behaviour (citing Hiroshima, the Holocaust, …). So we learn that the 22nd century has evolved to a more pacifist era, beyond the need for nuclear means. But the 20th century isn’t all bad, is said to the captain, when playing a piano excerpt from a contemporary composer (so sorry, I forgot to remember the name of the composer).

Soon after this loss, the ship succumb to a strange illness where people fall unconscious for no reason. It started when two of the crew who had worked on the hull of the ship succumb, but soon after, we notice the ship is affected by this phenomenon. It is believed due to a radioactive black star which had positioned itself between the ship and the sun. As the ship falls under a sudden sleep, the ship goes forth on its voyage…

OPINION

Not like any sci fi outer space movie I’d expected. Though the very sixties feel, it had its own little world that worked very well. You must admire the production this movie had.

I loved the camera shots. They must have had a great d.o.p., because how the actors were put to frame was nicely done.

The only thing I can say is, if you can get the opportunity to see it (which I can imagine, is not that easy… I think), you should grab it. I was told that they made a dubbed US version, and colored it (yes the movie is black&white, but that’s a good thing, people!!!) with an alternative ending! Why that is done, is beyond me! But anyway, a recommendable movie!

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Offscreen 2011: Red, White and Blue

It’s a movie that came out in 2010, directed by Simon Rumley, and on the bill of the Offscreen Film Festival in Brussels.

At Offscreen, Simon Rumley and Bob Portal (director and producer of ‘Red, White & Blue’) introduced the movie before the screening and there was a Q&A afterwards in the bar (I did not attend, but it took place – pictures on Facebook are found 😉 ).

They just left us before the screening with “we hope you will – well, not enjoy, because you cannot enjoy the movie – but will find it interesting”. I can say it was. And a bit squirmishly bloody.

STORY

The movie is set in Austin, Texas. We follow a girl called Erica (Amanda Fuller) who we see going out each night, from bar to bar, sleeping with any guy she meets. At first I thought she was a whore, but she didn’t seem to sleep with them for money, just goes to bed with them. Each night a different guy. Yet to me, it was not like she enjoyed it… maybe… any how.

It’s clear Erica is not ok. She’s distant, a-social and isn’t able to connect with others.  This is clear when Nate (Noah Taylor), who lives in the same building as her, tries to talk to her. She flips him off almost immediately, saying “I don’t do friends” and especially not him. Yet, he keeps trying and even helps her out when he informs her of a vacant job at a  hardware store where he works. After a while they start connecting better and we learn that Nate was a soldier with an “honorable discharge” from Iraq. But still, about Erica we know nothing more than the fact she also sleeps with her co-workers. Until later on, of course.

Nate doesn’t like her behavior, of guy hopping, though he doesn’t seem to want to sleep with her. You get the feeling he’s trying to protect and watch her, over her better judgement.

At the beginning of the movie, when we tag along on the nights on the town with Erica, we see her having a foursome with a guy named Franki (Marc Senter) and his 2 rock band friends. In the middle of the movie, we are suddenly taken away from the focus on Erica and Noah and we get a look at Franki’s life.

He works in a diner and plays in a band who is getting more gigs to play, possibly a tour in prospect. We see him taking care over his  sick mother (cancer) and struggling with his girlfriend who cheated on him. Regularly donating blood for his mother, he gets a call from the hospital saying something is wrong with his blood… and that’s where the story turns ugly.

OPINION

What seemed at first a  slightly straight forward movie and a little – well, not dull, but  – not very eventful, turned into world of pain on-screen. (To me). It’s pure revenge. On different levels, by all 3 main characters. Each with their own motives and pain.

The most intreaging person to watch in this film is Nate (Noah Taylor), who’s accent is weird, character is mysterious and turns out to be a down right maniac! We did learn in the movie that he was offered a job at the CIA (but preferred to work at the hardware store), though we did not know for what job… when you see the second half of the movie, you don’t want to know…

All the time I kept wondering where I knew Nate from. Which movies did I see him in! Thankfully, Google helped me out, as always! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Lara Croft! But check out IMDB, cause I know he did more notable work than what I have seen of him. There must be!

I’m still trying to place this movie. It’s a bit odd saying I liked it, once you’ve seen it you’d understand. But from the middle of the movie onwards, I must say it was a good film.

Official site: http://www.redwhitebluemovie.com/

Offscreen 2011

Offscreen Film Festival is back and started this Thursday.

It’s the fourth edition of the festival, and so far I’ve been to the last two. It’s held from 9th till the 27th of February 2011 mainly in Cinema Nova, but also at the Cinematek, Bozar  Cinema Rits in Brussels.

This year’s themes are Outer Space science fiction, Face/Off “face transplantation” films, films by Monte Hellman, Animation Extravaganza and an evening with Phil Mulloy among others. The movies shown are often quirky cult films or art house cinema, so don’t be alarmed if its a bit strange. That’s just it’s charm.

I haven’t been yet, but plan to. I leave you with a little trailer of one of the films showing:

Official site: http://www.offscreen.be/

BIFFF 2010: so far

It’s that time of the year again: BIFFF 2010! The Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival has started again and so far I have seen 3 films already:

Blood River (2009), which I’m not going to talk about in detail and which I’m only giving a 5/10. It’s about a couple, Summer and Clack, that cross the desert by car, to go the girl’s parents to tell them she’s pregnant. The car breaks down and in a deserted nearby town, they meet a strange man, Joseph. Joseph tries to get Clark to confess his secret to Summer to get salvation, but Clark refuses, which get’s them both punished by Joseph…

Les Avontures d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010), the latest by Luc Besson, which I give an 8/10. My father collects the graphic novels by the same name, made by Jacques Tardi. It’s clear that Besson made his version of Adèle, and that to my feeling, the comics are darker and more mysterious. But a good movie and a great choice of actress: Louise Bourgoin. Continue reading “BIFFF 2010: so far”

Mammoth (2009)

The last movie I saw at the Brussels Film Festival was Mammoth (2009) by Lukas Moodysson (Swedish director).

It is about a couple, Leo and Ellen, that lives in New York with their daughter Jacky. The main cast is Gael García Bernal , Michelle Williams and Marife Necesito as the nanny of their daughter.

PLOT

Leo and Ellen live in luxury in their loft. Leo is a successful man having gained his wealth with games, who travels often. Ellen is a top-notch surgeon who works in the emergency, but suffers from insomnia due to her workload. Because both of them are taken by their work, they have a Filipino nanny, Gloria, to take care of their 7-year old daughter.

Leo leaves for Thailand with his partner to get some contracts signed. While his partner negotiates, Leo is bored and decides to visit some parts of Thailand in the meanwhile. At some club, a beautiful girl offers him “fun”, which he refuses. He pays her but asks her to go home. But that is not the last time he sees the girl again.

Gloria left her 2 young sons back in the Philippines with her mother and brother. The boys miss her terribly. Because their mother is in the US to make money so their house can be finished building, the eldest son of 10, Salvador, tries to get a job. But this proves not to be easy. And unfortunately, it proves to be very bad for him…

trailer:

OPINION

I liked this movie a lot. You get to show how globalisation is in our lives, but in a subtle way. The contrast between the things the New York couple can offer their daughter, and what Gloria has to do for her sons.

Several times, when lending DVD’s at the library, I had taken Moodysson’s previous movie Lilia 4-ever, but never got the time to watch it. I’ve been told it will be very different from Mammoth, but I’m curious now. When I’ll lend it, I’ll try not to take other DVD’s… or I’ll be repeating a pattern of “unwatching Lilia 4-ever”!

It won the Public Award (Prix du Publique, Publieksprijs) and I do hope my vote of 5/5 stars had something to do with it.

MUSIC

The credit song (also featuring in the movie) is by Ladytron: Distroy Everything you Touch. Here is a clip. My boyfriend found it to have a Pet Shop Boys feel to it… I’ll let you judge if you take that as a positive or a negative argument….

I did like the music used in this movie. That’s a plus as well.

Latests movies seen

THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950)

Film noir by John Huston. The perfect movie in its genre: crime, deceit, loss…

It features Marilyn Monroe who at that time was little known. She isn’t even mentioned on the opening titles, only on the credit. It was a minor role to tell you the truth. It were Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore who were the leads in this movie.

In a city of crooks and low lives, a big hit is planned. Doc Reidenschneider got released from prison after a 7 year sentence, with only one thought: to commit the perfect crime. For this he will need a gang of crooks to do this and someone to come up with the starter’s money as well. But it seems the crooks are more trustworthy than the man who everyone believes to be so on the level…

FLAVIA, THE HERETIC (1974)

The kind of movie I would generally not go to see, not even on tv. But hey, you only live once.

A horror movie, seen as nunsploitation and just generally not very kind to nuns.

Flavia, is forced to enter the convent, she continually challenges men, cause she believes women are equal to men (which I do agree with). But Flavia goes very far in her rebellion and crosses a point when she even turns her back to the convent she resided in and ends in a horror fest.

I’m not one for this kind of movies, but must admit, there were some scenes that were good.

LIKE YOU KNOW IT ALL ( 2009)

A movie by Hong Sang-soo, of which I had seen the movie Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000).

This movie is about an independent movie maker, who is invited to sit on a jury of a small movie festival. He comes across a former friend/associate, who invites him to dinner. After a night of drinking, he gets a note at his hotel from that friend stating he hates him and never wants to see him again. This puzzles him a lot and trying to solve this only makes things worse.

Deciding to leave the festival for what it is, he heads to Jeju Island to give some lectures to students. This scene I found very funny, because after viewing his film, one of the students asks him: seeing your films are incomprehensible, why do you keep on making them. This sets him off into a frenzy, of course! While being on the island, he is invited to share a meal with a famous artist, only to find out….

UNMADE BEDS (2009)

At the Brussels Film Festival it was the opening movie. I went to the second viewing. This movie is by Alexis Dos Santos.

The story mainly is about two persons, Vera and Axl, whose stories are intertwined and meet several times indirectly. Axl, from Spain, is looking for his English father in London and Vera, thinking she used up all her luck in a labyrinth-park one day with her ex-boyfriend, believes that since that day she only makes wrong decisions.

Nice movie, but wouldn’t call it spectacular. It features Débora François as Vera, who is also in the Belgian movie L’enfant (2005) by the brothers Dardenne.

Brussels Film Festival 2009

It’s that time of the year again: festivals are lining up. And not just music ones but movie ones as well.

The Brussels Film Festival is around the corner, and even though I do not know much on the programme, I will have 9 days of festival to take a chance to get to know them.
International movies galore, competitions, awards … the thing is almost in place for almost 60 avant-premières to watch. I would much like to attend the open air screening, that will be held outdoors (and that the weather will be on it’s best as well). Cause I’m so very curious how it will be like.
 
Wat is fun is that every night, a country is of the honour. So 9 days, 9 countries to dig into?
 
Last year I only went to see 1 movie, from Russia, called Nirvana. I posted on this and last years festival here. I really liked that movie (though some people left the theatre, still to my amazement). I do hope to be delighted and introduced to something new like that this time.
 
For people interested in Belgian movies, theres are the once who had their debut this year (also available on the website):
 
So let’s keep an eye on the website (if you are in Brussels, near Brussels and are able to go). The jury hasn’t been announced yet, but I doubt if I know anyone… not that familiar with international film scene (as I’d like to).

Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival: The Chaser (2008)

 Yesterday I went to BIFFF: Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival at Tour&Taxis. It’s the 27th edition and is from the 9th of April till the 21st of April.

I had already posted last year on BIFFF, which you can find following this link.

I saw this Korean thriller: The Chaser (2008).

If you want a synopsis of the movie (which is a spoiler), you can follow the link to the movie.

Briefly said, it is about a former special service cop, who makes his living out of prostitution. One by one, his girls are disappearing. He thinks they ran away (leaving him with money debts), but he soon realizes it might be that someone is selling his girls. The truth is much worse than he thought.

I found it entertaining to watch. Though, what I had expected to BIFFF standards, not as violent as I thought. It did have very violent scenes and what happened to the girls is horrible. But it was not that I had to avert my eyes and try thinking of other stuff (what I tend to do when the images are too much to handle – not a horror fan.)

The movie did have some script problems. Some motivations where not very clear. How the little girl got hurt so badly is unknown.

The police force in this movie was laughable. That was on purpose. It was a critique to Korean law enforcement, but it was almost a complete joke at times.

All in all, not that bad. But I do believe it will not satisfy everyone’s expectations within the genre.

Here’s a little teaser. Sorry for not having subtitles. The vid’s who had were not good, so I chose to go for the Korean vid…

Off Screen Film Festival Brussels

I thought to make some publicity for the Off Screen film festival in Brussels, but then I was thinking… why do that? The venue is already so small, the less people know the better!

So this is no publicity. Just a picture of the festival where I am not making publicity for.

I went to the opening last night to see Tokyo. Actually it’s 3 short movies by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax & Bong Joon-ho called “Interior Design”, “Merde” and “Shaking Tokyo”.

I enjoyed them very much. Though “Shaking Tokyo” a bit less than the others.

The festival is an ode to non-conformist cinema. Not very mainstream, but why should it be. You can’t please everyone, but it’s fun if you are pleased by what you see.

So again: no publicity.

Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival: Mother of Tears (2007)

The 26th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) is an annual event that is as old as I am and usually goes on for more than 2 weeks. I have never attended it and even now I don’t believe I have experienced it as it should be or in its full glory.

Nevertheless, I have been initiated now. Seen my taste of gory dressed (as entertainment for the crowd) freaks (who are volunteers at the festival).

The movie I got to see was a horror movie by Dario Argento called

Mother of Tears: the third mother. It’s a genre I’m not familiar with, cause it’s not really my thing – and this one is … well, acting and words are not very important in this kind of genre, now is it? Gory scenes, excessive nudity and much running and screaming in alleys and abandoned houses is what it all comes down to.

It’s the third in the Mother trilogy, that started about 20 years ago. After the Mother of Shadows and the Mother of Sighs, you get this one. It so seems they always come in three’s, these prophecy thingies.

Now what is interesting to know about this festival, is that the people in the audience are not afraid to voice their opinion (loudly) and scream at the characters on the screen. As in the opening of the urn (cause there is always an urn that is ceiled, and which of course some curious and impatient somebody has to open instantly – to hell with the accompanying letter that we will leave unopened and warnings that might be in it be damned!!!), the crowd yelled at the screen “don’t open the dreaded thing you damn woman!” and when of course 3 demons come out of the statues of which she so dumbly read the names out loud in an overly exaggerated fashion, they come to beat her senseless in ways I do not even dare to depict here… well, a lot of “I told you so”‘s followed that scene.

The lead character was played by Dario Argento’s daughter, Asia. She did have something. And she caught your eye, she wasn’t bland but natural… though it saddens me to say so, but she could deliver some lines very badly as well. When she saw the ghost of her dead mother (played by her real mother and ex-wife of Dario) – who was killed trying to destroy the Mother of Tears, she said her lines so unconvincingly. It was sad, when you know she is saying it to her mother. (Get’s confusing when I write mother in each line, doesn’t it?) I mean, you’d imagine her feeling the words, making them her own cause she could imagine it saying to her real mother… and still, it sounded empty, unreal and childlike. A pity cause such things break the beat of a movie and as a viewer, your interest and investment in the story declines.

I wouldn’t entirely break down this movie… between the unconvincing acting at times, the not that strong script (“I have magic abilities and I never knew it – I will have to save the world now”) and the predictable elements, it did have something. Me, who scares and jumps up easily, had difficulty with some scenes. Too bloody for my taste. But it is not a film you can take seriously. Before the movie was viewed, the audience was spoken to by one of the hosts of BIFFF and said that this movie would only be shown here cause it would not be viewed in any theatre in Belgium. As the loud and funny audience (to me at least – but they were cruel during the entire viewing I have to say) remarked at the end of the movie: we know why it’s going straight to DVD.

My Blueberry Nights (2007)

Last night I saw this movie, written/produced/directed by Wong Kar Wai (director of which I reviewed another movie already).

The cast consists of Norah Jones, Jude Law, Natalie Portman (who rules by the way), Rachel Weisz (drunken femme fatal here) and David Strathairn (which I know from the movie Sneakers (1992) with Robert Redford, Dan Ayckroyd, Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix – sorry for the excess in info but it has bugged me all night and day just to remember where I had seen that face!!!!)

This movie opened the 60th Cannes festival.

PLOT:

Law had a café/restaurant in New York city and one evening, Jones enters the bar to find out if her boyfriend had been there the night before and with whom. Upset to find out he was there with another woman, she asks Law to hand the ex-boyfriend his keys back when he sees him again. Clearly not over the guy, Jones returns several nights to check if he came for the keys. Waiting, in a mess, she talks with Law and eats a Blueberry pie to comfort the pain… But one evening she doesn’t come in, she had decided to take to the road instead … for the rest, I invite you to go see the movie.

OPINION:

Until now, I have seen 4 movies by Wong Kar Wai:

  1. Chungking Express (1994) – my favorite of the lot
  2. Fallen Angels (1995)
  3. In the mood for love (2000)
  4. 2046 (2004) – with Zhang Zi Yi (you know her: Crouching Tiger…, Hero, Memoirs of a Geisha????)

 

Now all these movies are Asian ones. My Blueberry Nights is his first English-speaking movie. Having seen the 4 here before, I was exited to see this one, but also a bit scared in the sense of how much he had to compromise in his style. And actually, he didn’t much, better said: not at all.

We did notice that the characters were more emotional and open than in his Asian movies. But that didn’t really bother me. In the beginning, the story mainly took place in the Jude Law’s diner and I feared it would all continue to unfold there. Odd, seeing I heard it was a road movie. It did finally take off – and from then on Norah Jones became somewhat an observer in other people’s lives. Like with the drunken cop Straithairn and his separated wife Weisz in Memphis. Or when she hooks up with Southern poker crazed Portman, who get’s her somehow to Vegas, where Portman’s father recently died.

But what can be summed up as a love story, this movie shows different types of love. Love that is hard to let go of (Jones and ex-boyfriend / Straithairn and Weisz), love that is suffocating (mainly for Weisz), love that needs a push (Law who doesn’t take the step), love and manipulation (Portman’s relationship with her father)… That’s just my view. You guys might not see this my way.

OH AND THE REVIEWS:

Never mind the bad reviews. Everyone their opinion I guess. I just think it was good and beautiful. Not a typical movie – it’s a style to adapt to or get into. Having (thanks to a special person to me) been introduced in the works of Kar Wai, I could very easily get into this movie.

Do not just put it in a box named ‘romantic movie’, too many people get hurt for that in the story and the death that occurs in it is a sad one. Don’t label, just enjoy.

I think it is worth to be seen.