Trips to the cinema, eh? None for ages, and then three come along at once, in the same weekend.
Friday: Magnifica Presenza
This was the opening film of the 12th Mediterranean Film Festival in Brussels. I’d seen a couple of the Turkish/Italian director’s films before (most recently the highly enjoyable Mine Vaganti) so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s an Italian comedy with a supernatural twist, which makes an interesting comparison with the 1961 film Fantasmi a Roma which I saw earlier in the summer. The Italian comedies I’ve seen tend to be a little broader than their French equivalents, but there were some good gags (I liked the snarky Pope joke), sympathetic characters, and some interesting darker undercurrents relating to the loneliness of big city life, gay-bashing, and wartime atrocities. Oh dear, I’m making it sound a bit depressing, aren’t I? Really, it’s lots of fun.
Less fun was the fact that we had to wait almost an hour for the film to start. As part of the “festivities” planned for the opening of the festival, an ear-splittingly loud Macedonian brass band (famously featured in an Emir Kusturica film) took to the stage and proceeded to blast us with their repetitive, tuneless parping for about half an hour, making it virtually impossible to converse with my friend, unless I fancied bellowing directly into his ear, nightclub-style. Then we had to sit through another twenty minutes of waffle from a TV presenter, several local politicians and a couple of random actors and directors who were in the audience and who felt the need to announce to us all how honoured they were to be present and to watch out for their new films due out next year.
Saturday: Le Jour des Corneilles
I took the girls to an afternoon screening on Saturday, while their brother was at a birthday party. I gave them the choice between two recently released French films. They’d already seen one of the Kirikou films, and so were open to the idea of seeing the third in the series, Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes, but in the end plumped for something new: Le Jour des Corneilles. It’s a fairly simple story of a boy and his father living wild in the forest, and of how the boy has to venture into the local village when his father is injured. I loved the look of the film, with what seemed to be visible pencil lines and brush strokes giving it a nice handmade texture. I guess this effect was probably replicated digitally, but still. There also seemed to be a bit of a Miyazaki influence, with the forest and some of its supernatural animal-headed denizens reminding me of Princess Mononoke. The girls loved it, and had no problem with some of the darker moments when the Ogre father’s past is revealed.
This morning I found this version of the trailer with subtitles, so it looks like it might get some kind of English language release.
Ah, Mr. Bond. I was never the biggest fan, but I’m always open to the idea of action-packed international thrillers, and I liked the slightly more modern turn the series had taken with Daniel Craig. I still think the series as a whole is far too beholden to its own history and iconic status, and I wish they’d take more risks with it. I really don’t need endless references to earlier episodes in the series (Look, he’s driving an Aston Martin! Just like he did in one of the other films!) cluttering up the story. On the other hand there was a lot to like this time around, from the largely British setting to the more personal stakes involved, both for Bond and M, the efficient but not bloated action scenes, to the hugely enjoyable scenery-chewing performance from Javier Bardem as the villain.
Warning – LARGE SPOILERS HERE:
I was impressed that they’d managed to keep M’s death (and Ralph Fiennes replacing her as M) a secret, but I was slightly disturbed that, of the two main female characters, at the end of the film one of them was dead and the other, an apparently capable, intelligent and interesting field agent played by Naomie Harris, had volunteered to take what appears to be a glorified secretarial job and was revealed to be the new Miss Moneypenny. And people say that Bond is sexist…
Films I’m hoping to make time for between now and Christmas include Amour, Dredd, Looper, Argo, Premium Rush, The Bay, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.