AFI festival diary October, 2000 (Unfinished; hopefully I'll do better in 2001.)
(all ratings on a 4 star basis)

HOUSE! (dir:  Julian Kemp) - British film about an old bingo palace, about to be replaced by a more modern version, and the people who run it.  The actress Kelly McDonald is the only reason to watch this stylishly directed (probably too much so)  but vapid little English film.  * 1/2

STREET LOVE (doc. dir:  Asa Faringer) - Documentary about prostitutes in a particulary hard boiled section of Mexico City.  What makes this film interesting is the obvious jeopardy that the film crew went through to shoot the thing.  But all in all, the slow pace and repetitiveness of the message made the film hard to sit through.  **

INNOCENCE (dir: Paul Cox) - Australian film about a 70-something couple who meet after living their entire lives married to others and regretting that they lost track of one another after a brief affair when they were 20.  The film is cannily structured with silent flashbacks to their youthful affair intercut with the present day drama.  Extremely well acted by all involved, the film is beautiful to watch and eloquently written. *** 1/2

YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (dir Ken Lonergan) - American indie production which has the look and feel of a sleeper hit film.  Laura Linney is excellent as a small town divorcee raising her son while working in a bank run by a neurotic recently transferred manager (Matthew Broderick).  Linney's brother (played by Mark Ruffalo in a turn which just might turn him into a character-actor star), sort of a ne'er do well, returns home from a short jail term to borrow money and becomes the catalist for change and progression of all involved.  Perceptive writing and fine acting make this a must-see.
*** 1/2.

THE OPPONENT (dir Eugene Jorecki) - American indie, in work for 4 years, is amazingly close in theme and structure to the prior released film GIRLFIGHT.  Too bad, because it is just as good as that film.  Erika Eleniak is a very blond girl whose boy friend is physically abusive.   To fight back, she gets involved with a run-down mid-city boxing club and the ex-fighter who runs it; and it turns out that she has enough talent to eventually attempt to turn pro.  In some ways as clichéed as ROCKY...still the film doesn't fall into the expected traps, and is always interesting.  The boxing scenes are very realistic.  From Q&A it became apparent that the actress was not an experienced boxer...but you'd never know it.  ***

SPRING OF LIFE (dir: Milan Cieslar) - This Czech film is basically a Holocaust drama with a different twist.  It's the story of the Liebensborn, the Aryan women who were forced to mate with SS personel to produce the master race.  The drama centers on one woman, who manages to thwart the system by falling for a Jewish boy and procreating a half-Jewish child despite all obstacles.  I know it sounds hokey; but the film is beautifully made, all the technical credits are outstanding, and immensely moving.  It was my favorite film of the festival; and I suspect that if Czechoslovokia is smart enough to send it to the Academy that it will make the final 5.  *** 1/2

PEPPERMENT - (d. Castas Kapakas) - ** 1/2

SONGCATCHER (d. Maggie Greenwald) ***

BEFORE THE STORM  (d. Reza Parsa) *** 1/2

TOTAL LOSS (d. Dana Nechushtan) **

KRAMPACK (Nico and Dani) (D. Cesc Gay) ***

MAZE (d. Rob Morrow) ***

THE WIDOW OF ST. PIERRE (d. Patrice Leconte) ***

GANGSTER NO. 1 (d. Paul McGuigan) ***

THE BIG ANIMAL (d. Jerzy Stuhr) * 1/2

ODD LITTLE MAN (d. Stein Leikanger) ***

SUN ALLEY (Sonnenallee) (d. Leander Haussman) ***

SOMETHING SWEET (d. Olivia Pi-Sunyer) ** 1/2

FLICK (d. Fintan Connolly) ***

TABOO (GOHATTO) (d. Nagisa Oshima) **

ALCATRAZ AVE. (d. Tom Edgar) ***

THE MISSION (d. Johnnie To & Cheng Ka-Sang) ***


BLACKBOARDS (d. Samira Makhmalbaf) **

LOVE'S A BITCH (AMORES PARROS) (d. Alejandro González Iñárritu) *** 1/2

Return to Ken Rudolph's home page.