a whirlwind month of movies

another festival has come and gone, and it’s always a bit of a let down when it’s over. there were quite a few movies i didn’t make it to but really wanted to see (the interrupters is one of them). but what’s a girl to do, when she’s only got so much time?

for the most part, i really lucked out this time. i saw a record (for me) seven films, and they were all good. i didn’t feel like i’d wasted my time in any of them. well, except for one. i’ll get to that in a minute.

in addition to tyrannosaur and perfect sense, i saw hayfever (from italy), burke & hare (britain), king of devil’s island (norway), littlerock (usa) and killing bono (britain/ireland). hayfever was bittersweet, as was littlerock; king of devil’s island was horribly depressing in the best possible way, and burke & hare and killing bono were both super awesomely funny. and because i like to rank things, here’s my recommendations, from “eh, i’d probably see if if there wasn’t anything better” to “hell yes i’d see it again!”

perfect sense – i have to rank this one last (you can read my review here). it’s not that it’s not good. it’s just a little too much to take.

littlerock – atsuko (atsuko okatsuka) and rintaro (rintaro sawamoto) are travelling up the california coast when their car breaks down just outside of littlerock, a tiny desert town. after partying down with a bunch of kids in the next hotel room, atsuko opts to stay in littlerock while rintaro travels on to san francisco, planning to return for her in a few days. the kids she hangs out with are druggy losers, no one has much drive or enthusiasm for anything other than drinking themselves silly, and the scenery is a washed out dull brown and green panorama. but the exchanges between atsuko and the mexican cook at the burrito stand where she gets a job are pretty funny; neither can speak any english, so they converse in their respective languages, yet you get the sense that they can understand each other perfectly. it’s a small movie – that’s the best description i can think of. when you think of the words “indie film”, this is what comes to mind. no big names, no flashy plot or special effects. just a meandering story that could happen in anytown, USA.

scene from hayfever

hayfever – camilla (diane fleri) stops by twinkled, a vintage store in rome, to thank matteo (andrea bosca) for rescuing her shoe after she’s in a minor moped accident. she doesn’t find him, but she does manage to land a job at the store. it’s a story of miscommunication and unsaid words, often funny, and sometimes sad, especially when camilla is continually confronted with matteo’s seemingly enduring love for the wrong woman. mauro ursella and marco todisco provide comic relief as camilla’s brother and matteo’s pint-sized advice guru, respectively, and you find yourself hoping that everything turns out for the best at the end. despite having watched a large number of them, i’m not a big fan of romantic comedies. the twist at the end of this one, though, makes it well worth watching.

killing bonobrothers neil (ben barnes) and ivan mccormick (robert sheehan) form a band with some of their high school classmates in 1970’s dublin. unfortunately for them, their classmates paul, dave, larry, and adam also form a band. guess which one becomes famous? based loosely on a true story, bono is far funnier than i’d expected it to be. pete postlethwaite pops up as the brothers flamboyant london landlord, and i cringed every time neil made an executive decision, which always resulted in him screwing his brother over and digging his fledgling band deeper into a hole.

(a tie!) king of devil’s island and burke & hare – one is terribly depressing. the other is a fabulous dark comedy. king is based on true events of a riot at a norwegian boys reform school, bastoy island. erling (benjamin helstad) comes to the school and bucks all the rules, refuses discipline, tries to escape, and generally makes it so he’ll never leave before he

scene from burke & hare

reaches the age of majority. the landscape is as bleak as the story, but it’s a compelling one. burke & hare has simon pegg and andy serkis running around 19th century edinburgh selling cadavers to the medical schools for their anatomy lessons. the lengths they go to to obtain these bodies aren’t always…legal, and often hilarious. one of the early scenes has them transporting one of the bodies in a large wooden barrel, and they end up chasing it through the darkened streets as it rolls away from them. it’s even funnier when they get the body out of the barrel and onto the table.

tyrannosaur – the best film i saw at the festival this year. peter mullan’s performance stayed with me for days afterward (read the review here).

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