jeudi 19 août 2010

Taipei Film Festival : Review (in English)

Juan Carlos Valdivia's Southern District

The initial social criticism in Southern District, a film about the slow and vicious implosion of a wealthy family in the southern suburbs of La Paz, fades behind the virtuosity with which the cinematographer operates that "flying scenic traveling", turning every (long) sequence into a brilliant cinematic moment of weightlessness. How many movies does Bolivia produce each year? Not a lot, for sure. As far as I know, this South-American republic doesn't even have a proper film industry. It is probably because he previously received some recognition at the Sundance Film Festival and financed the project through his own production company that Juan Carlos Valdivia was able to achieve this remarkable oeuvre.

"When we returned to the little neighborhood where we grew up, we realized there was nobody in the streets, no more children playing around." In these terms, Yoav and Doron Paz explain the genesis of their ambitious first feature film. Phobidilia is about a young man who realizes that the Internet and delivery services can fit any of his substantial requirements and decides not to leave his apartment anymore. Perhaps no contemporary subject is more germane than this one: the agoraphobic Internet generation is a sad reality. But the Israeli brothers waste their good intentions with far fetched sub-plots and inappropriate humor. There's still a worthwhile movie waiting to be made about this hot subject.

Among the large number of Taiwanese films screened during the festival, I unfortunately missed Tsai Ming-Liang's Face. Rather than attend a film unanimously respected by everyone who ever spoke about it, I found time to waste by going to see Au Revoir, Taipei. I was fooled by the French title of this very bad movie. It was fairly representative of a certain kind of "popular film" that is loved by the local youth and that is exclusively focused on entertainment. (One should try to watch the abominable Cape N.7, one of the biggest domestic successes, to understand what I mean.) Although it is intriguing to see Wim Wenders' name credited as executive producer, knowing that the city of Taipei has financially supported the project is, on the other hand, hardly surprising given the fact that the whole thing is clearly made to flatter the local pride and drive the viewers around familiar locations via a succession of uninteresting sub-intrigues acted out by a bunch of stereotypes. No doubt that Pinoy Sunday is much more worth watching. The filmmaker shows great ease in constructing nice frames and a certain talent for directing actors who are mostly Filipino nonprofessionals. The screenplay is based on an amusing idea: two immigrant workers find an abandoned sofa and decide to carry it up to their dormitory. But their dormitory is across town and they must carry their lucky find and bulky burden all the way through Taipei.

Thanks to Elaine He for her help

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