A day at DIFF when not one movie turned out to be bad is a successful day. Although Day# 4 featured just 3 movies, each of them was by a seasoned director which translated to quality on-screen. Here’s the rundown of the movies I saw:
Shuichi Okita | Japan | 2011
In a departure from the regular festival movies, The Woodsman and the Rain is a light-hearted story of a woodsman from a village in the mountains. Having lost his wife two years ago, he leads a disciplined humorless life with a teenage son who can't stick to a job. When a film crew arrives in his small village to shoot a zombie-film, the woodsman gets unintentionally involved leading to a change in his life, as well as in the director of the movie. The director does a splendid job of infusing this tale with subtle humor throughout, and he has a winning performance in the male lead, Koji Yakusho. As the old woodsman, he does well to play the villager fascinated by being a part of the zombie-film. The film does stretch a bit - it has one too many humorous episodes - the comedic mood and lush-green setting makes for a fresh and fascinating watch.
Niki Karimi | Iran| 2011
In Final Whistle, the director Niki Karimi also plays the lead role of Sahar, a documentary film-maker. Sahar comes across a woman whose mother has been given the death sentence for a murder. Believing the mother to be innocent, Sahar tries to secure her release by collecting the blood-money or convincing the murdered man's family to forgive and take the case back. The movie plays as a regular drama, with adequate performances and competent direction. It is also short, therefore doesn't take too long to get to the point and progress towards a realistic end. While there is nothing exceptional about the movie, it has nothing to be complained about either. A perfect filler movie for spare time.
Johnnie To | Hong Kong | 2011
It is hard to fault the efficiency of a movie by Hong Kong director Johnnie To. His record proves it, and this new movie adds to that record. Life Without Principle is set in Hong Kong during the financial crisis, showing its effect on a diverse group of people: a bank executive, a police officer's wife, a small time goon and the people around them. The story flows through these characters with a narrative only a good director can handle. His mastery shows in the taut editing, especially during the first act, and an absurdly funny scene of a stabbed man driving a car. Life Without Principle is an entertaining watch, in or out of the film festival.
On Day# 5 it gets as diverse as can be. I watch movies from Singapore, Germany, Iran and USA. Look forward to my report tomorrow!