Saturday, December 18, 2010

DIFF 7 – Day 6 Roundup

17th December 2010 (Day #6)

A comedy movie about suicide, an ultra-serious drama about a degenerate society and a highly-stylized combination of the western & samurai genres. The penultimate day of the 7th Dubai International Film Festival was a very good day - it held no bad movies for me!

Suicide Club
Olaf Saumer | Germany | 2010
96 min

Director Olaf Saumer's graduation film, Suicide Club is a mostly humorous story about five individuals who meet one early morning on the roof of a high-rise to jump to their deaths. Once all arrive, one of the five locks their exit door and throws the key away – so that nobody backs out. As is expected of such a plot, not all goes as per plan. Suicide Club’s strength lies not in those five characters or developing their back stories or dilemmas, but in the goof-ups and situations they encounter during the course of the day. These situations that form the film are mostly comical, sometimes tender and rarely tedious. The film is not always logical and many times taking a turn more for convenience. However, Suicide Club is a feel-good film that manages to evoke laughter while it plays and a smile once it finishes.

My Joy (Schastye moe)
Sergei Loznitsa | Ukraine | 2010
127 min

Although titled My Joy in its English translation, the literal translation of the title of the movie is "My Happiness". In the context of the movie, it means its exact opposite. My Joy is a pessimistic look at the territories of the ex-Soviet union, where the value of life is little, and survival is paramount. People, identities and moralities become lost, while selfishness, violence and exploitation thrive. The story takes off with a good-at-heart truck driver on a delivery trip, but soon expands to include the people he encounters, their past and the deteriorating values of the general populace. The film is cold, bleak and humorless; director Sergei Loznitsa does little to pacify his audience. My Joy is an excellent movie but also very distinct. People un-seasoned in experimental or arthouse cinema will find little to appreciate here.

Guy Moshe | U.S.A. | 2010
118 min

Bunraku takes its name and inspiration from a 400-year-old form of Japanese puppet theater. Set in an undefined fictional era that is both, past and present, the movie is an odd mixture of a western and a samurai film - made quite obvious from its two protagonists: a man with no name (Josh Hartnett) and a Japanese swordsman Yoshi (Gackt Camui) without a sword. These two men are searching for the same person, who happens to be the most powerful man east of the Atlantic, played by the actor of genre movies: Ron Perlman. The movie is hyper-stylized and references pop-culture seemingly off the cuff, from movie to video game cliches, never taking itself seriously. A humorous narrator adds to the zaniness. While director Guy Moshe initially does a splendid work of mixing all his ingredients, the movie loses some of its team mid-way through, when the fun-factor is reduced and action is put into high gear. If only it had stuck to its wonderful first-half tone, Bunraku would have been an ideal movie to accompany your popcorn and soda.

With just one day to go, we are near the end of this year's Dubai International Film Festival, and close to my burnout point. Of the films lined up for tomorrow, I hope the Iranian movie that I am scheduled to watch becomes the highlight of the day. But as with today's My Joy, there is no saying what might surprise me. Look forward to my last daily DIFF '10 update tomorrow!

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