Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Global Perspective on the Copyfight (rated 5 stars)

by Andreas Johnsen, Henrik Moltke, Ralf Christensen

In the Danish documentary Good Copy Bad Copy the filmmakers provide a broader context explaining remix culture and copyright. By personalizing the story it becomes much more fascinating as they travel around the world and I learned a lot about the way that music and the law work together and the new business models that people are exploring in different places. The filmmakers have put their money (or lack of money) where their mouth is and have made the entire film downloadable and viewable online. They provide a donation box where you can contribute to them if you like it. It’s a glimpse at a new way of distributing work and I love the faith and trust that they have in the audience who is viewing their film.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Well-Crafted Character-Driven Thriller (rated 5 stars)

by Tony Gilroy

In Tony Gilroy’s feature directing debut, Michael Clayton he brings the genre reinvigoration that he used in writing the Bourne films to the legal thriller. Story-wise it’s familiar territory, but it’s directed and structured in a thoughtful and fascinating way with George Clooney’s great performance at the centre of everything. At one point I noticed that I was watching Clooney listening to another character speaking as it was fascinating to figure out what he was thinking. The film (and the characters) seem to be aware of the well-worn cliches and the surprises in the film are in how the film avoids or reworks them. The film isn’t flashy or excessive, but just a well-crafted look at a world of moral choices in a world that is more reality than fantasy.

A Documentary About a Font? (rated 4 stars)

by Gary Hustwit

Helvetica is a documentary about the font and it pretty evenly splits people before they see it between those who say, “a documentary about what?” and “cool!” I fall into the latter category and was fascinated with a look at the most popular (and legible) font in the world. It looks at the history and use (and misuse) of the typeface, but it’s really about design and designers and it’s fascinating to see the different approaches and philosophies of those who work with type. While it’s not for everyone, it’s essential if you are interested in or work with type.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Quirky French Reworking of "It's a Wonderful Life" (rated 4 stars)

by Luc Besson

Luc Besson retells “It’s a Wonderful Life” in a entertaining and sexier way with “Angel-A”. I hadn’t even heard of the film before I saw it playing at the Atlantic Film Festival, but I was glad that I found it. With the story set in Paris and beautifully photographed in black and white, it features an odd couple of a small-time criminal and a beautiful angel who falls to earth to save him. It mixes drama with comedy and action and somehow manages to have a sentimental sweetness to it as well. I guess it would be a romantic comedy. A lot of fun with some great performances from Jamel Debbouze as the criminal and the impossibly beautiful Rie Rasmussen as the angel.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Subtle Poem About the French Foreign Legion (rated 4 stars)

by Claire Denis

Claire Denis’ subtle and beautiful film Beau Travail is not plot oriented and it casts a wonderful spell as we watch French soldiers training in Djibouti and piece the story together. Much as the main character is an outsider, we don’t have all of the pieces of the puzzle and watch significant moments as his jealousy grows. It’s hard to describe, but it’s one of the most beautiful and surprising films that I’ve seen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Sad, Beautifully Photographed Story (rated 5 stars)

by Anton Corbijn

In Anton Corbijn’s biography of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, Control, he tells the story in a subtle and visually gorgeous fashion. Shot in black and white, the film works much in the way that a photograph evokes more than is within the frame. Instead of providing a comprehensive examination of a life, we see significant moments along the way and are left to piece the story together ourselves. With great performances by Sam Riley as Ian Curtis and Samantha Morton as Deborah Curtis, it’s compelling to watch with the music filling some of the gaps and connecting themes together. A remarkable feature-film debut from Corbijn.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Startling Look Inside the French Resistance (rated 5 stars)

While I had read a lot of praise for Jean-Pierre Melville’s French Resistance drama, Army of Shadows, but I was startled and transfixed by the film. It’s a precise and distinctly unsentimental vision of war and the people who are caught up within it. Shot in a sparse style in muted colours, the film is filled with long takes and amazing direction that enhances the experience. The film is just about perfect with a solid cast and an intricate structure that kept me watching in amazement throughout the whole film. I only wish that I was able to see it in a theatre during the recent North American release. An overlooked classic that seems timeless now.

Enigmatic Story About a Detective and a Tree (rated 4 stars)

by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

The first film that I saw by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no, he’s not related…) was Pulse and I was impressed with the evocative nature of that film and I wanted to see more films by the same director.
Charisma is about a burned out detective who wanders away from a disturbing case in the city and enters a forest that has a tree that is the centre of a struggle. The film is oblique and may not completely add up, but I find it fascinating in how the various ideas and characters link together with unsettling images and many things unspoken. It’s hard to place it in a genre and it kept me thinking about it for days afterwards as I thought about the metaphorical layers and ideas within the film.