ENH film festival: Friday, 31st July 2009


Szegénylegények (Hungary, 1966)

Runtime: 90′
Director: Miklós Jancsó
Production House: MAFILM IV. Játékfilmstúdió
Plot: (from imdb)

In Hungary, the national movement led by Kossuth has been crushed and the Austrian hegemony re-established, but partisans carry on with violent actions. In order to root out the guerilla, the army rounds up suspects and jails them in an isolated fort. The authorities do not have the identity of the guerilla leaders, who are supposed to be present among the prisoners. However, they know enough about some of the suspects to apply perfidious forms of coercion effectively.

Scene From The Film

Impressions In Short
This is a very good film, but it just isn’t for me :] Great cinematography, a slow rhythm and a rather heavy theme.

More About the Film
I wanted to see this cause I rather like prison films. Unlike most films with prison themes, however, it doesn’t invest much time in character development (I think this is largely because it has an extremely broad host of characters).
So in the end, what one gets left with is politics. And as I usually love films which are character driven and dislike films that focus on politics I think you can see how this film did not hold much appeal for me even though it was very good ;)

If you like films in this sort of style then definitely yes. It’s an excellent film. But if you’re anything like me then the answer is no :]

Helen (UK/Ireland, 2008)

Runtime: 79′
Director: Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy
Cast: Annie Townsend, Sandie Malia, Dennis Jobling, Danny Groenland
Production House: Desperate Optimists
Plot: (from imdb)

Helen is a teenage girl who, when asked by the police to play the stand-in for a reconstruction, realizes it gives her a chance to confront her own troubled past.


Impressions In Short
The film would be rather blah if not for Annie Townsend, the lead actress. She’s absolutely amazing :)

More About the Film
This is a very low budget film with an amateur cast and many inexperienced crew members and IMO this did show. Though on the other hand considering the difficult conditions the film was made in they really made the most of it.
When I think back on it, it feels like the worst part of the film was the dialogue - some of it felt quite corny. Though it only really showed with some of the cast members. Others seemed to be able to pull off even the iffy sounding dialogue (I thought the acting was rather uneven).
Without a doubt the best part of the film is Annie Townsend. I hope she continues acting cause I’d love to see her in more things. From what the directors said after the screening it doesn’t sound like she will though. I’ll be hoping anyway…
The other cast member that caught my eye is Danny Groenland. I thought the scenes between the two of them were really quite something. Helen and Danny (the characters in the film) develop a very peculiar kind of relationship, so they really had lots to do there.

I think it’s worth it for the acting, not particularly for anything else though.

European Shorts

Plot: A screening of 7 short films from Europe: Bruit blanc (France, 2008), Guyane (France, 2009), Evigt elskes kun det tabte (Denmark, 2008), Lubrique (France, 2008), Cheeese… (Austria, 2008), Suspended Animation (UK, 2009), Of Best Intentions (Ireland, 2008)

Impressions In Short
I had very varied feelings about the films… I liked two of them a lot (Lubrique and Of Best Intentions), another two were intriguing (Cheeese? and Suspended Animation), two of them I hated (Guyane and Evigt elskes kun det tabte) and one I had totally neutral feelings about (Bruit blanc).

More About the Films
Lubrique is the film that has stayed with me the longest even though, ironically, I thought that technically it was amongst the worst. What it did have though was warmth, engaging characters and great humour. The characters were rather exaggerated and if I’d seen the script on paper I think I’d have hated it, but for some odd reason on screen it worked *grin* Basically, it’s about the frustrations of a teenage girl who is annoyed with the amount of sex that her peers surround her with (shouldn’t relationships be about more than that?), but she also has the bad fortune of having a crush on a boy who can most adequately be described as a male nymphomaniac ;) The trailer is up on youtube, you can see it here. That dance number was so random, but I really liked it lol
Unlike Lubrique, Of Best Intentions is a very professional looking film (see the trailer here). We’re clearly looking at somebody who is (I hope!) well on their way to making a feature film. Considering how short the film was I thought it was very impressive how much detail there was in the characterizations and settings (and the film had a lot of characters and places when you take its length into account).
Cheese… is a black and white film about a Kurdish family in Iraq, who have been trapped inside their house during an American bombing. It has some pretty absurd humour.
Suspended Animation is pure technique. Some very intriguing editing in there (it’s a montage of strange images rather than a coherent plot). Disney characters make very odd appearances throughout.
Guyane and Evigt elskes kun det tabte were just bad IMO :] I don’t really feel like writing about them. I thought both were very corny.
And Bruit blanc was I thought a little boring, but technically very sound.

I guess you can figure out from the review which of the films I’d recommend and which I wouldn’t *grin*

Los abrazos rotos (Spain, 2009)

Runtime: 129′
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar, Blanca Portillo, José Luis Gómez, Tamar Novas, Rubén Ochandiano
Production House: El Deseo S.A., Universal International Pictures (UI)
Plot: (from imdb)

Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches this moment in time when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years back. He was then still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie.


Impressions In Short
Good film (I enjoyed myself), but Almodovar can do better than this. Something that never ceases to amaze me is how sexy he can make all his cast feel, regardless of age, gender or even looks.

More About the Film
Lluís Homar may be over 50 and have rather average looks, but in this film he is hot - there is just no other way to describe it ;) I’ve seen him in other Almodovar films before and this is the first time I’ve reacted quite this strongly to him. I’m not sure why that is, but there you go - Almodovar magic or something :]
Of course he’s not the only one. The whole cast was great and very sexy :] But I thought it was a bit odd that it was Lluís Homar who won on sex appeal for me… I mean I’d have thought it would be Penélope Cruz - especially considering she’s a bit of a femme fatale in this, but there you go *grin*
In terms of the film I think describing plot points or scenes or whatever wouldn’t give much of an idea about what the film is like, so I’ll just say it’s an Almodovar movie through and through and lets leave it at that :)

If you like Almodovar then I think so :) Just don’t get your hopes too far up - this isn’t Almodovar at his best.
If you’re not into Almodovar then stay away.
And if you don’t know if you’re into Almodovar or not then try some different films first ;)

Must Read After My Death (USA, 2007)

Runtime: 73′
Director: Morgan Dews
Production House: Allis and Charley
Plot: (from imdb)

A grandmother dies and leaves behind hours of secret film and audio recordings as well as an envelope with the words “Must read after my death”, which reveal a dark history for her family to discover.


Impressions In Short
This was one of the best films I watched at the festival I think. A documentary made entirely from archive footage. Some damn difficult editing needed to be done, but the result was great.

More About the Film
This is basically the story of the complete disintegration of a family in the 1960s. A family that used to be very happy ends up so unhappy that they need to seek psychiatric help (one of the kids even ends up in a psychiatric hospital more permanently).
The story is riveting and perhaps what resonates about it so strongly is that all their problems are still issues for people today. Allis was not good material for a housewife. She is constantly being pushed into that role by everyone (even the doctors) and the film basically tells that story. Not that Charley, her husband, was a bad man. Clearly the marriage used to work very well for many years and they were both very liberal thinkers (it was an open marriage in fact).
The film is very obviously told from Allis’s point of view. After the screening the director explained that the materials she left in the envelope were very carefully selected by her and from what he could make out a lot of materials (which possibly showed her in worse light) were destroyed.
But then the film never makes claims of showing some sort of objective reality. On the contrary, it is one of the most personal and intimate documentaries I’ve seen in a long while.

Absolutely :) As far as documentaries go, this one is top notch.

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