Athens Film Festival Reviews

Greek DH fan ‘Leon Tari’ has dropped in his thoughts on the first four days of the 10th Athens International Film Festival:

Athens International Film Festival Reviews – by ‘Leon’

Welcome all to the 10th Athens Internationl Film Festival. It lasts from 17-26 September and it will take place over four theatres. I guess the interesting thing is to review the new ones, and that’s what I’m going to do:

So, on Friday 17th was Brad Anderson’s “The Machinist”, with a haunting performance from an underrated actor in my opinion but quickly upcoming (Batman Begins) actor, Christian Bale who looks like he came out and Aphex Twin video-clip. It’s the story of Trevor Reznik (Christial Bale) who is a machinist, a job that involves heavy machinery and clarity of mind, which he lacks due that he hasn’t slept of a whole year. His body looks like a skeleton and keeps on having gaps in his memory. Dark movie which although is set in the contemporary time it seems it’s in the not-so-far future due to the ‘metallic’ feel of it. It keeps you guessing up till the last minute and although the solution it’s not so satisfying as you would expect you still can’t help but admire Bale on how he came by to loose 30 pounds just for this part.

The last movie for the day was Kim Jee-Woon’s “A Tale of Two Sisters”. This Korean horror movie revolves around the story of two sister who come home after a long illness. The stepmother welcomes them but the older sister is avoiding her while the younger is very much afraid. A strange series of events starts to happen in the house and things go insane! Finally an Asian movie that really got to me. It makes me shake a few times in my chair. Some scene look like “The Ring”, but I guess it’s hard to be entirely original these days, especially with horror movies. You will get confused to the end and believe you’ll think many of time the movie does end but it keeps on surprisingly coming back! Still is very scary and definitely worth your attention. Watch it with a girl! She’ll jump to your lap!

So, the second day, September 18th starts with a collection of short stories which weren’t really good except one or two, so I better move on to the main movie of the day, Nikole Kassell’s “The Woodsman” with again an excellent performance from a favorite actor of mine, Kevin Bacon. He portrays a pedophile who came out of prison after a 12 year sentence and tries to continue his life, keeping away from his haunted past. But prejudice doesn’t help him move on. Will he ultimately fall back again? I know that a pedophile is a terrible thing but prejudice is as bad. This is portrayed really good in the movie and you have to be blind not to see it. Open your mind

The last movie of the day is Jang Jun-Hwan’s “Save the Green Planet!”. Forget about Men In Black or Evolution. This IS the ultimate cult sci-fi, black comedy, action packed movie! Byung-Gu sees in the face of a director of an international company, the leader of an alien race from Andromeda who is here to destroy planet Earth! Byung-Gu surely lacks a few screws but what if he is right ? There’s always this possibility! Or there isn’t? You’ll have to watch the movie for the answer. Although a mainly a comedy the movie is more serious than you think. You should stop and think the tragic events that made our hero be like that. There are some really good effects in this movie and some fast paced direction. But, I hope no American company will want to remake it. Asia is the next Hollywood people!

For the 3rd day, September 19th I started with Samuel Fuller’s classic anti-war movie, “The Big Red One”. I rather liked it, although I’m really not into war films, but as I said on my first post I will not review older movies, just the new one.

So next off, we were treated with an international premiere of Graham Robertson’s “Able Edwards”. In the near-future, planet Earth is in ruins. Able Edwars, the clone of a famous cartoonist and theme parks makers. He was revived so he can bring the lost success of the company that his predecessor owned. The story of course is inspired by Walt Disney, as it is very obviously in the movie and has elements of Ciziten Cane. Shot entirely on green screen, with mini-DV and at a spare room of the director’s house, Graham edited the whole film on his personal computer. The whole thing costed 30,000$. It is a very interesting movie, and something to get you in the mood for the upcoming blockbuster “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” but the low budget really shows up now and then. Especially during some walking scenes, when the actors just stay in the same place, moving their feet. But, then again, I guess this adds to the vintage feeling of the film. The main concept of the film is that virtual reality is no substitute for real life. The director was present in the theatre and asked several questions. On my question, on how Steven Soderbergh was an executive producer on the film, he answered that a female actor knew him and they were about to show him a rough copy of the film, but the hard disk broke down, but they managed to get all up and working just a few hours he came and everything worked out just fine. Before the film, there was this French short film, more like a parody video clip on called “L’axe du Mal” on which two actors were singing to a George Bush’s speech about war. Funny!

So, next comes Bryan Poyser’s “Dear Pillow”. The story of a young boy, Wes, with no friends that spies on his neighbors telephone calls with the use of a police scanner. He overhears a female neighbor having phone sex with strangers and he meets Dusty, a porn stories writer for the magazine “Dear Pillow”. Through the movie, Wes finds out about friendship and about sexuality. When you absolutely know nothing about the movie you are going to see is better, as this one turned out to be a pleasant suprise. It is a very funny movie, presented with tenderness and no hideous visuals. Just three people and their need to communicate.

The final movie, Frederic Sojcher’s “Cineastes A Tout Prix” (March on, directors of the world!). It’s a documantery on a french teacher called Jaques and Jean Jaques Rousseau, a constructions worker. They are the present-day “Ed Wood”, filming all sorts of films with almost zero budget and using their friends as actors! There are several segments of their films shown and you will be laughing all over you seat. Although funny, it shows everyone can a make a movie if he truely loves movies. To quote Jean’s “If I had Spielberg’s budget, I would have surely made better films. But if Spielberg had my budget, he could not make any films, for sure”.

Monday, September 20th, the fourth of the festival, started with a second collection of short films. These were a lot better than the first bunch. I must say a few words about Adam Elliot’s “Harvie Krumpet”. A very touching and funny clay-mation film. The story of an unlucky guy with a true lust for life. The animated puppets are a wonder and the narration from Geoffrey Rush really adds to the whole feeling. Just see-it!

The Thai film “Beautiful Boxer” by Ekachai Uekrongtham was up next. The true story of the Thailand kick boxer champion, Nong Toom who wanted to undergo a sex-change operation. “My body is that of a figher, but in my heart I am always a woman”. Can’t be more honest than that I guess. Don’t be mistaken that this is just another gay film. It has some very powerful moments and some amazing fight scenes. Beautiful shots of Thailands landscapes and a convincing perfomance by Asanee Suwan. Highly recommended.

The last film for the fourth day is Nimrod Antal’s “Kontroll”. A Hungarian film about a group of ticket inspectors working in the Hungarian subway system. The whole movie is shot there with only some mentioning to the “world above”. There’s alose a serial killer throwing people on the rails. I guess this is not an one genre movie. It is a comedy, but also a drama. And some times an surreal ride. Very funny nevertheless but a little repetetive some times, especially in the scenes when we watch the inspectors trying to “arrest” people who don’t have a ticket. The photography is excellent and you would never have guessed before how beautiful is the subway of you town. Furthermore the music is really kickin’ ass if I might say so. A very interesting idea and a rather good execution. I will not be suprised if we see an American remake. But in a more “actionish” style, which is not always a good thing.