Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tribeca -- day two

Okay, I saw two films:

Buried Secrets -- Raja Amari

Attendance: maybe 30%! Apparently the note board said the film was sold out! Wish I knew what was going on here.

This is a Tunisian film, in Arabic and French with English subtitles. Apparently its original title is not "Buried Secrets" but it is called that for the English version because the translation of its title is the same as an already existing English-language film. A lady and her two daughters (one in her late 20s, the other maybe 15) live in the servants quarters in a basement of an abandoned mansion in the countryside. Problems occur when the owners of the mansion return and the ladies keep their existence a secret because they figure they will be thrown out. To complicate things the youngest daughter isn't quite all-there mentally and having grown up in a traditional family is fascinated by their modern clothes and ways. She starts sneaking through the house and messing with the owner's girlfriend's stuff, watching them when they are in bed etc.

From there it descends into a dark tale. Things get more twisted as the film goes on. It definitely didn't turn out the way I expected.

There was also a brief nude scene, which was nice to see as it showed that Qatar was not censoring any of the films at the festival. Had the film been shown in the cinema in Qatar normally that scene would have been cut. The film was rated "PG-18" though, perhaps to warn locals. I think some Muslim ladies did leave part way through the film. In North America the nudity probably would have earned the film PG-13, I'm not sure it would have been a big enough deal to even get "R". Some European television shows more.

The Director turned up to answer questions but we weren't told this until the credits had finished, by which point almost everyone had left. It was only because I had been chatting with a friend about the film that I was even around. So the Director had a Q&A with maybe a dozen people, I kind of felt bad for her. I hope she didn't know how low the turnout was for the screening.

Rating: 3.5 (though that didn't exist on the rating card so I rounded up to a 4). I was entertained, the film got unexpectedly dark and weird, sort of like how Fargo started out as a conventional crime movie but sure didn't end up that way. There were some pretty big plot holes though, which detracted from it being a great film. I won't go into the details, if dark movies are your thing then this movie is probably worth a look.

Harry Brown -- Daniel Barber

Attendance: around 90%. That's better!

Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, a pensioner living in some decrepit Council Housing project in London. The local gang of drug-dealing teenagers terrorises the place. One day they go too far and Harry takes matters into his own hands. Essentially it's a vigilante action-movie. Nuff said.

Caine does a good job and the movie should be decent box-office as it delivers what one would expect from a vigilante movie. A couple of scenes in the movie were a bit over the top and unrealistic, which was unfortunate. One example, Harry wants a gun so he shows up at the doorway of a guy who illegally sells guns. The guy has no idea who Harry is but has no problem letting an old, well-dressed man who knocks on the door into his building, past his huge marijuana grow-op, and into a room where people are injecting heroin and doing lines of cocaine, in order to pull out a bag of guns to see what Harry would like to buy. I immediately thought, "For a local drug-heavy he seems to be a complete idiot." The film just seemed to need to establish that this man was B-A-D, it's not enough that he sells guns, he also needs to be into every kind of drug (oh yeah, and also point out that he likes to have sex with drugged-up underage girls too). This guy's badness was pretty much all laid out in two minutes of filmtime, to a complete stranger. Uh-huh. Whatever. Happens all the time I'm sure.

Rating: 3.5 (again rounded up to 4) but now that I think about it I wish I had given it a 3 instead. Both it and Buried Secrets have some plot holes or moments of unbelievability but Buried Secrets was more unconventional so I think I'd place it slightly ahead of Harry Brown. I like movies that try to be different. People who like vigilante movies will not be disappointed with Harry Brown though.

One more movie to go, showing tonight.


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