ENH film festival: Sunday, 2nd August 2009

This is my last ENH film festival post, but I’m still reaaally behind with my film diary. My excuse is that I’m writing my BA project (again ;) ).


The Corporation (Canada, 2003)

Runtime: 145′
Director: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott
Production House: Big Picture Media Corporation
Plot: (from imdb)

Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.


Impressions In Short
Engaging and informative :)

More About the Film
Corporations are easy targets to criticize and I’ve seen it done many times before. The interesting thing about this film though is that it doesn’t actually target capitalism or the people running the corporations (in fact company CEOs are portrayed as very friendly people!). Ultimately, what it criticizes is the construct itself - as in how the legal and economic systems make corporations work. It targets things like patents, responsibility towards shareholders, limited liability etc.
Personally, I found I was at least somewhat aware of most of what they said. It was still nice to have it summed up so coherently though. One thing the film has convinced me of though is that if I ever go to the States, the only kind of dairy products I might have will be organic :] The substances used on cows in the US have been banned in Europe and Canada because they are deemed unsafe to human health. In the US, however, corporations won the battle.
The film is engaging and quite humorous. They figured that since a corporation is a legal person, they’ll diagnose its mental health in the same way they would diagnose a person and naturally they declared that the corporation is a psychopath ;) Tendentious maybe, but the way it’s done is quite amusing all the same.

I think so, yes :) It’s a well made documentary and there’s loads to learn from it.

$9.99 (Israel/Australia, 2008)

Runtime: 78′
Director: Tatia Rosenthal
Cast: Geoffrey Rush
Production House: Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC)
Plot: (from imdb)

A stop-motion animated story about people living in a Syndey apartment complex looking for meaning in their lives.

See it here.

Impressions In Short
Ah, animation yet again. What can I say? ;) I did think it was rather good.

More About the Film
I think the strength of the film is the source material - Etgar Keret’s short stories (which I’ve never read btw, but judging by this film they must be pretty good ;) ). There’s a lot of quirky humour in this and some very strong and colourful characters. The film really captures the atmosphere of mundane, daily life (even though everything that keeps happening is weird, peculiar and quirky ;) ). It’s quite fun.
The director was at the festival. She was rather adorable. While introducing the film she told us how much she enjoyed the audience here and asked if she could take our photo, so she could put it on her facebook ;)

If you’re animation literate I think you’ll probably enjoy this very much. If you’re animation illiterate like me then you’ve got a good chance of enjoying it anyway ;)

The Bourne Ultimatum (USA/Germany, 2007)

Runtime: 115′
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Albert Finney, Joan Allen
Production House: Universal Pictures, Motion Picture BETA Produktionsgesellschaft
Plot: (from imdb)

Bourne dodges new, superior assassins as he searches for his unknown past while a government agent tries to track him down.


Impressions In Short
This was a really fun way of wrapping up an extremely art house film festival ;) I really got into it and I’m not normally much of an action film fan.

More About the Film
In case you’re wondering why the hell a hugely commercial Hollywood action film was programmed into what is a very art house film festival, I’ll explain ;) They had a series of films and discussions about editing at this year’s ENH film festival. I really regret not being at more screenings in the series cause the discussion after this one was awesome. The Bourne Ultimatum is very unusually edited (a lot of the art house stuff I watched at the festival was very conventional by comparison ;-P) and having it dissected after the screening like that was great.
When they introduced the film to us, they quoted Alfred Hitchcock (a master editor himself). The quote went something along the lines of “A film should start with a hurricane and then slow down and build up into the final”. And then they said “but this film starts with a hurricane and stays that way all the way through” and they were so right!
I’ve always been a big believer in the Hitchcock way of thinking. While looking for the hurricane quote (I failed), I found another, which actually says almost the same thing but better - There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it. Like Hitchcock, I really believe in building up into culmination points. Whenever I’ve seen films that have had more culmination than build up I’ve hated them. It’s the first time I’ve enjoyed a film which insists on playing out everything so hysterically.
The Bourne Ultimatum is shot almost entirely on steadicam on very long lenses. A very unusual combination, especially for a big budget Hollywood movie. I mean, I do think that there’s a bit of a trend to use steadicam more extensively on big, special effect kind of productions now (I’ve already raved on this blog about the steadicam use in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Twilight *grin*). But I think steadicam + long lenses is a combination I haven’t seen before - at least not on something like this. The effect was brilliant. It’s a very nervous sort of camera - always moving, never smooth, often shaking (long lenses make the steadicam shakier than it would be normally). It also looks much more real than most big budget productions. Thanks to the long lenses, it sort of gives you the impression that you’re spying on the characters, an impression that is further intensified by the choice of angles - there were quite a few shots from above, which aren’t all that common. Sometimes I felt almost as if I was a CCTV camera ;)
And then comes the editing… The tempo is as nervous as the camera. As they showed us on a shot diagram in the discussion afterwards - the longest shot in the film lasts a mere 19 seconds (it was in a dialogue scene of course). Most shots in the film last around 1 second. Usually choppy editing like that would put me off, but here it just worked. It was just so well done! They would also often intentionally break editing rules just to build on the nervousness and disorientation. Like there’s a scene they actually showed us again in the discussion afterwards, where a journalist is walking through a large crowd of people and talking on a mobile. They keep cutting from one side of him to the other side of him, thereby breaking one of the most basic editing rules. Normally, you’d want to establish in what direction the journalist is walking and towards what (that is why that editing rule exists). What they were trying to put through here was not the direction, but confusion and nervousness, as well as the feeling that maybe the journalist is being watched.
The film is an absolutely amazing piece of editing (it won a lot of awards for it), I was truly wowed by it. In fact I don’t remember when I last enjoyed myself so much at a screening for purely technical reasons *grin*

As far as action movies go - absolutely :) If you like good editing, again this film is a must. If you’re not into action movies and are not the kind of person who dissects technical aspects of films then you should probably be careful with this, but who knows? Editing often makes or breaks a film even if you’re not that consciously aware of it. You might enjoy this more than you think.

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre (Canada, 2008)

Runtime: 102′
Director: Benoît Pilon
Cast: Natar Ungalaaq
Production House: Association Coopérative des Productions Audio-Visuelles (ACPAV), Société Radio-Canada, Super Écran
Plot: (from imdb)

In 1952, an Inuit hunter named Tivii with tuberculosis leaves his northern home and family to go recuperate at a sanatorium in Quebec City.


Impressions In Short
The story is better than the film.

More About the Film
I like watching Inuit kind of stories, I think they’re quite refreshing to see. But this film fell short of my expectations. No aspect of it really stood out. I thought the story had a lot of potential (it could have shined in the acting or cinematography departments - it’s a good story for both), but it just didn’t IMO…
While it was interesting to watch Tivii being forced to get used to a completely different way of live and completely different culture, I never got involved enough to really care. It was more an intellectual kind of curiosity than any real emotional involvement on my part.

It’s one of those films that is engaging enough, but it’s very far from being a must see. If you’d like to see an Inuit story on film, my advice is to try Atanarjuat (2001), which shares the lead actor with this and is a much better film.

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