Cinequest 2005

Wednesday, Feb 02

MANUAL FOR LOVE STORIES (2004, Jose Roberto Torero) 37
Paint by numbers for the romantic comedy set, with an omniscient narrator writing the action as it goes along (like the
Naked Gun version of last year’s Reconstruction).  Main problem is that the self-reflexive style is not as clever as it thinks it is and the film never offers a variation on the romantic clichés it is trying to send up or comment upon.  A few laughs scattered in the second half but mostly strained and uninspired.

Thursday, Feb 03
RAIN IS FALLING (2004, Hoger Ernst)
Yes it is.

GUARDED SECRETS (2004, Zsuzsa Boszormenyi)
Two reels of a film followed by an upside-down and reversed third reel, so I have no idea what became of this poor little orphan or her baby or her quest to find her parents.  Truthfully I wasn’t all that invested in these characters much before the projection mishap and I doubt the love relationship between Irma and that sound guy would have developed into anything resembling a real relationship (as it stood, he was just a dude that seemed to show up around her all the time – maybe the third reel would have shown him to be a stalker or a time shifter … sadly I will never know).

THE HEART OF JESUS (2003, Marcos Loayza)
There is a germ of a good idea to be found here with Jesus faking an illness to stick it to the corrupt insurance company, but as it stands the film is protecting Jesus at every turn and never allowing him to be corrupt even though his actions are pretty selfish and hurtful (especially to the actually cancer-ridden Jesus).  So the love story and zany ward antics never struck the right tone for the actions that he is actually taking.  Either everything needs to be corrupt, including Jesus or you have a film about health care failure staring Patch Adams.  Also, the music is nice but the device of a recurring musical chorus does not work here – especially with Head-On still fresh in my memory and all that the chorus meant in that film.

ON THE OUTS (2004, Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolnik)
When developing this project a lot of time was spent interviewing real juvenile inmates about their lives and this is the amalgamation of all their stories as encountered by three characters.  That is precisely the problem here; with one character is would have been a character piece, with a group of characters is would have been a collection of stories but with only three characters the film is nothing more than an exercise in grim miserablism.  We don’t get to know the characters well enough to get insight into their characters and so the film is just a collection of bad stuff happening to these three poor girls, who are defenseless against the directors who keep sadistically throwing trauma their way.  When the poor retard died I knew it was time to grab a sandwich, I couldn’t witness any more misery on an empty stomach.

ABLE EDWARDS (2004, Graham Robertson)
This film uses green screen effects in every scene and they are never even close to convincing; you can see the jagged outlines around the characters, everything looks dull and/or soft-focused and generally very much like the DigiBeta that it is.  I could never really get beyond how bad the film looked to consider it as a film, which is too bad because there seemed to be some interesting things going on within its Citizen Kane-inspired framework.  Maybe if Graham Robertson had been able to work with the budget of Sky Captain he could have come up with something unique.

Friday, Feb 04
VERFLIXT VERLIEBT (2004, Peter Luisi) 63
Clever comedy is especially good when its jokes lay within the filmmaking process; when we get the raw footage of a chase with the audio of the soundman stuck in a cab following the action or when they stalk actors who have left the project in order to get b-roll footage.  This film is wild and willing to do almost anything for a laugh but it also doesn’t know when to stop, running about twenty minutes too long.

GUARDED SECRETS (2004, Zsuzsa Boszormenyi) 49
Mystery plot is a total failure and so is the romantic sub-plot (the dude doesn’t become any less creepy in his remaining minutes onscreen) but once the protagonist finds her way to Toronto with her mother the film suddenly becomes a surprisingly successful melodrama.  If the film had only been about them and not about the mysterious post-cards and blackmail subplots it would have been much more effective, as it stands it just has too many loose ends and failed bits of business.

VILLA PARANOIA (2004, Erik Clausen) 65
A lot of familiar elements somehow come together for quite a touching character study because it relies much more on little details than it does on overarching thematic structures or narrative force.  Also, the characters are allowed to be unsheltered and complicated; especially the farmer who is a sympathetic character but also rapist.  Much of the film is about peeling away the surface and looking below to find trauma, which explains why the film is full of actors or people acting in a certain manner to hide themselves.  The cast is uniformly good but Sonja Richter stands out especially.

DAYS OF SANTIAGO (2004, Josue Mendez)
War veteran returns to life in his home town and finds himself completely disconnected with everything and everybody.  Sound familiar?  Um, well how about if black and white grainy film stock is interspersed throughout the film for seemingly little purpose?  Or maybe a little I Stand Alone style voice-over narration delivered as angst-ridden Santiago walks the streets brooding into the camera.  He can even drive a taxi like Travis Bickle.

Saturday, Feb 05
CHARLIE THE OX (2004, Scott Smith) 46
Cory McAbee has a nice detached quality in his performance as the title character but the eventual twists of the plot don’t make much sense (Why would he use his friend at all in the swindle if he suspected he would double-cross?) and most of the supporting characters are so undeveloped they don’t even register after seeing them onscreen a few times.

UNO (2004, Askel Hennie)

OUR OWN (2004, Dmitri Meskhiyev)

Sunday, Feb 06


TRENCH ROAD (2004, Veikko Aaltonnen) W/O

Monday, Feb 07
DREAM CATCHER (2005, Dessislava Stoycheva) R


19 REVOLUTIONS (2004, Sridhar Reddy) 61

Tuesday, Feb 08
CAMPFIRE (2004, Joseph Cedar) 59

VARES - PRIVATE EYE (2004, Aleksi Mäkelä) W/O

Saturday, Feb 12

DUCK (2004, Nicole Bettauer)

SET POINT (2004, Ilmar Taska)