My second full day of films at HKIFF 2012 started as strongly as yesterday, but then devolved sadly in the evening with a couple of films with which I really struggled to find any discernible merit. As I have stated previously, below are my capsule, or dim sum reviews for the films I saw during the day, with links to full reviews on ScreenAnarchy as and when they are available. Enjoy!
Day 2 (23 March):
Tomboy (dir. Celine Sciamma, France)
Beautifully played character study about Laure, a ten-year-old girl who would rather be a boy. With her hair cut short and sporting a t-shirt and pair of shorts it's easy enough for her to pass herself off as Michael to the kids in her new neighborhood. At first at least. As the summer wares on she becomes interested in one of the boys herself, while new friend Lisa is blissfully unaware that her new potential beau might not be thinking of her the same way. This extra layer of tension and deception is a brilliantly employed tool for director Celine Sciamma to examine the awkwardness and insecurities inherent in growing up.
Alps (dir. Giorgos Lanthimos, Greece)
How do you follow-up an earth shattering, genre-destroying debut like Dogtooth? If you're Giorgos Lanthimos you simply conjure up another assortment of screwball outsiders uncomfortable with their roles in society. Consider this his superhero movie if you will - a band of misfits who help restore the balance in suburbia by taking on the roles of surrogates for loved ones of the recently departed. Needless to say that the good intentions of these four lost and misguided soils give way to their own needs, desires and problems in the society they are trying to protect.
Keyhole (dir. Guy Maddin, Canada)
There's no denying the ambitions of the Canadian maverick, but this bizarre tale of gangsters holed up in a real haunted house is quickly undermined by opaque storytelling and amateurish performances from a cast that includes Jason Patric, Isabella Rosselini and Udo Kier. While Maddin's trademark visual inventiveness permeates every frame, all but the most hardened and stubborn of fans will maintain their resolve to the bitter end. An incredible disappointment.
From Seoul to Varanasi (dir. Jeon Kyu Hwan, South Korea)
What begins as a low budget artsy skin flick about an affluent publisher cheating on his beautiful yet emotionally cold wife with one of his novelist clients, steadily becomes entwined, entrapped and ultimately undone by a ridiculous and wholly implausible terrorist plot. The location footage shot on the streets of Varanasi is rather effective and true to the spirit of the city, but the story used to take these dull and emotionless characters out there is as stupid as it is implausible. Not so much a disappointment as a chore.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for my thoughts on the films of Day 3.
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