Category Archives: Foreign Films

The Second Coming: Brought To You In Low Definition

Second Coming

So the cool thing about The Second Coming: Brought To You In Low Definition is that it was filmed on VHS, resulting in an interesting vintage look and feel to the film (like do you remember the quality of VHS?? So spotty!). Unfortunately, that’s really the only good thing I can say about this one. I have absolutely no idea what the point of this film was.

I mean, the tagline reads: “Two 20 some-things, Halibar & Peggy, meet and bond trying to find the owner of a lost cat.”, and this is true…I guess…They DO meet when Halibar finds a lost stuffed animal in the shape of the kitten that he spends some time talking with and whom Peggy helps him return to it’s owner. Whether this stuffed animal is supposed to be a “live actual cat”, I don’t know. They certainly treat it as such. After returning the stuffed animal to it’s owner though, nothing happens except a whole lot of boredom and really uncomfortably strange bits that go on too long. You know what, let’s go back to the beginning…

Second Coming

When a film opens with two people pissing on each other in a non-erotic way whilst taking a bath together, it’s probably a good sign that the film you’re about to watch is not going to be up there in the best of the best category. When the same film continues on so that one of your main characters gets constipated, decides his “poos are like his babies” and then talks to them while on the toilet, it’s definitely a sign that you’re in iffy territory. When said film has no plot and is absolutely non-linear, just random moments, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s on the “not so wonderful” end of the spectrum…except in this case where it does. Random moments are awesome. Random moments where a grown man hugs a child he doesn’t know for 5 minutes straight in silence; decides he’s Jesus and dances in his underwear to remixed gospel music for 5+ minutes (including pole dancing whilst wearing socks and sandals); decides he’s the next Hitler and pens a second Mein Kampf; and is obsessed with his bowels? Really, really not so awesome.

A big part of the problem here was that each of these bits went on for WAY too long – like that dying sketch on SNL that just won’t end. You think you’re “sexy Jesus”? Fabulous. I don’t need to watch you dance in your underwear for more than 5+ minutes though especially when there’s no point to it. Which is the main problem I have with this film – there’s no point. Nothing happens. No one evolves. Two people get together but it’s not an actual relationship, more of someone taking care of a child. Nothing moves forward (or sideways or anyways). It’s just two people (but mainly one guy) acting like a very annoying, whiny man-child with delusions of grandeur. It’s not experimental. It’s not avant-garde. It’s not artsy. It’s not ANYTHING. And therein lies the problem.

Second Coming 1

This scene happened approximately 8 times and lasted 5 minutes each time…


While very cool with the filming on the VHS, there were still issues with the cinematography – long shots that didn’t match with close-ups, too many uncreative camera angles – it was stagnant. I wish I could say more about this film, better things about this film, but I really can’t. I love that someone had the passion to create a film in the first place; it’s hard work, I know. I think the writer/director here would benefit greatly from a bit more mentoring and learning, and I think it would be interesting to see what he brings in the future.

But yeah…

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No Woman

No Woman

“No Woman” by Afghan directory, Yama Rauf, has got to be one of the most beautiful films under 3 minutes I’ve ever seen. Shot entirely in black and white, out in the desert, it shares a beautiful message about women leading women, women following in the footsteps of those who fought before them for equal rights, etc. Seriously. Under 3 minutes. It’s amazing.

A girl walks alone in the desert on a road that has a sign that indicates that no women are allowed. She reaches a person in the middle of the road with an evil looking mask, holding a gun. Clearly things aren’t going to end well…except she rips the mask off and keeps walking as the person weeps in the road behind her. Then comes the next day where a group of girls come to the same road, unsure of what to do. Then they see the mask floating in the wind.

There’s no dialogue so you’re free to get lost in the beauty of the music and scenery. I love it, without a doubt. Films like these that make you think and that are done in such an artistic way are a true treat.

AUFDRUCK/LABEL

(Ugh, finally this week is over!! And so I present a review…)

Jaschar L Marktanner’s AUFDRUCK/LABEL (hailing from Germany) is a nifty little 4 minute film about two young women in their twenties who sit in a café and sip coffee out of way too small cups while smoking an unhealthy amount of cigarettes and talking about everything under the sun and beyond, like aliens. Pretty simple, yeah? And seriously it IS an unhealthy amount of cigarettes (says the former smoker). 😉 It’s also so much more than that though.

Two chicks in a coffee shop

Two chicks in a coffee shop

These two are very “Ugh, life. Whatever.” women who have an absolutely fabulously random conversation about some “son of a bitch” (and the waiter, who is also a “son of a bitch”, and aliens, also “sons of a bitches”, and well, I think you get the picture) and who are just so immensely dismal and Debbie Downers (especially the one in the hat) that you don’t know whether to feel bad for them or just laugh. Which, honestly, isn’t even the point in the first place. As you’ve likely already figured out from the title, this is a film about labels given to us by other people and labels we give other people (“bastard” was also highly utilized here – interesting that the two main labels both dealt with aspects of one’s birth).

My fave Debbie Downer!

My fave Debbie Downer!

This girl was my fave. She’s the one that brought up aliens and showed much more contempt for everything in life than the other girl, which I enjoyed. This was Mary Krasnoperova’s first film role and I gotta give her props for making me laugh!

Who does she remind you of?

Who does she remind you of?

Ms. Anti-Blossom here was good too, just more decisive about her utter lack of interest in life, rather than full of contempt. More “yes, he IS a son of a bitch and the world does suck and blah, blah. Also, blast those aliens!” This was Kira Mathis’ first leading role so kudos to her too.

Overall, it’s a rather enjoyable (and odd – which only elevates it in my book) film about the asinine way the world works with it’s many familial, societal (and more) categories & labels dumped upon us. (Really when you actually think about it, all those little boxes we’re put into are similar to the structural architecture of Dante’s INFERNO, you know?…Yeah, I think too much sometimes…). Being chock full of cursing also gave it a plus in my book. 😉 And the gorgeous aesthetics wrapped everything up neatly.

AUFDRUCK/LABEL is making the festival rounds right now but should it come out online anytime soon, give it a quick watch! For now, check out the IMDB!

Capital I

Capital I

Capital I, by director Amartya Bhattacharyya, is an intriguing mix of philosophy, psychology, physics, sexuality, reality, imagination…this film is an abstract work of art. Amartya is a 27 year old Indian filmmaker and this was a debut film shot on a shoestring budget – I gotta say I’m wicked impressed. Capital I involved a lot of artistic shots and a lot of beauty; a lot of creation. Pulling that off on their budget, I find amazing.

Synopsis – Capital I’ is a surreal fiction film dealing with an artist’s works where the artist himself doesn’t exist in reality. It is also an existential psychodrama revolving around said mysterious and unknown artist and depicts the transformation of mind of a young girl whereby she finds herself trapped in between realistic relationships and attractions and a strange relationship with her hallucinatory lesbian partner.’ If you’re like me, you just read that and went “What the hell?” But if you go and watch Capital I and come back and read this, it will not only make sense; it will make so much sense that you’ll see metaphorical layers.

I only do imaginary dating now too.

I only do imaginary dating now too.

Because that’s what watching this film is – seeing the metaphorical layers of life peeled back one by one. It’s having everything in life being simultaneously set right while being crushingly wrong. I don’t know whether to reference Alanis Morisette’s ouevre here or The Matrix…Piyali is a young grad student of psychology who becomes obsessed with a local happening wherein a house was found locked from within but with the occupant having vanished. All that was left behind were some drawings and poetry style scribblings. She and an old friend, who is also a physics professor, team up to solve the mystery but as they go deeper, Piyali discovers more about existence and reality than planned. Oh, and she’s the one with the hallucinatory lesbian lover (as one has).

Capital I is one of those films where every sentence spoken has meaning but since there’s so much dialogue and so much to catch, only a couple of things will be lines that you, yourself, hold onto. One of mine was when it was mentioned that “the air here is pure.”…”it’s because it’s not weighted down by dreams and memories.” (Insert heart emoticon because I swooned). It’s not just the words you’ll fall in love with though (side note: the dialogue switches between English and Odia, sometimes in the same sentence. I’m not sure if there was a deeper meaning to that as well?), but the cinematography and the scenery. There are close-ups of some amazing small creatures…blurred ambiances when it comes to sensitive material…symbolism galore…amazing use of color…Ugh, have I gushed enough yet??

Capital I

Seriously, this is a Must Watch, particularly if surrealism is your thing. I think this may be my first Indian film (Bollywood has never quite appealed)(also look at that – first Turkish film AND first Indian film posted about this week!) but if this is what’s coming out of India right now, I am SO there. Check out the Capital I website and go follow them on Facebook (then share their Facebook page with your friends and make yourself look uber cool and all sexy intelli!) You won’t be sorry!

 

Lapsus

How freaking cool is this poster??

How freaking cool is this poster??

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?? What the heck did I just watch? This was like watching Inception all over again (except I never did quite entirely figure that one out so if anyone cares to explain it, I’m all ears! Well, the end of it I mean. With that spinny thing. Wth?). Instead of dreams, however, we have fantasies (QUITE different – yes they are, E! :-p); fiction and the truth. It makes for a heady combination.

In case you’re wondering, the title comes from an unknown phenomenon that literature considers a Lapsus memoriae or a slip of memory. And the unfortunate memory slip here happens in a laundromat. When I was a poor college student, I was actually rather fond of laundromats – one could get up to all sorts of shenanigans there – but after Lapsus, I believe I have a new phobia. The laundromat plays the central character here, bringing the handful of other characters together and keeping them together. Imagine being enclosed in a very tiny space with 4 strangers – 3 of whom are definitely dangerous and 1 of whom is most likely psychotic. Fun, eh?

All right, all right, all right...

All right, all right, all right…

So we’ve got Jackson. He’s just hanging out, waiting on his laundry and “reading” Playboy. Suddenly Rose walks in, strips down to her skivvies so she can wash the clothes she was wearing, chill as can be. And then come the three amigos – Terry, Martin and Lewis. These guys are the bad news. What follows is a fairly normal “hostage in the laundromat” situation…but then…well, let’s just say nothing is ever quite like it seems.

Love, love, love Sophie Meister as Rose. She’s cunning, manipulative, terrified and stone cold. Her performance is absolutely stunning to behold – with her, it’s all in the eyes. And Arben Bajraktaraj as Terry? Never do I want to be locked in a room with that man. Nope. His character seems to take a certain glee in his sadism and it’s so hard to look away.

Playboy?? *gasps* How dare you, Jackson??

Playboy?? *gasps* How dare you, Jackson??

 Another thing I loved was the cinematography. It was quick and bold and made you feel as if you were standing RIGHT there with bated breath. Major props to writer, Julien Diris and writer/director, Karim Ouaret on their screenplay. It’s intelligent, thoughtful and leaves one with a knot in their stomach, wondering what will happen next. It’s brilliant.

Fantasy or reality? You decide.

Fantasy or reality? You decide.

Guys, you MUST watch this. Now. Check them at their site for a making of and other goodies and find them on Facebook to say hello!

 

The Girl in the Woods

The Girl In The Woods

Now THIS was a short film I liked. Intriguing, compelling, mysterious with just an edge of chilling, “The Girl in the Woods” hit all my sweet spots. I’m fairly certain this was my first Turkish film experience and it definitely made a good impression. I’m interested to see more of what Turkey and writer/director, Tofiq Rzayev, have to offer.

The story is simple (and yet complex – multi-layered if you will). Ceren’s fiance is missing after a huge fight. They’ve been having some issues for awhile with him not wanting to settle on a wedding date but him just vanishing takes the cake. Except…did he vanish of his own free will? The only clue Ceren and their good friend, Mert, have to go on is a text that Mert received reading “Find me”. Hmmm…my, but that’s rather cryptic, eh? So what gives? Mert heads out to see if he can find Mr. Fiance but after several days all he’s managed to find is a mystery girl in the woods. He grows rather fond of talking and hanging out with her (cause ya know, you can always trust those mystery forest girls!…), which is cool because Girl in the Woods (no name cause that’s how she rolls) is kind of lonely and she’s had some major heartbreak and wants to be alone. But not alone (see?? What did I say about trusting those girls in the woods?? That is NOT normal behaviour!). However, what happens next causes a downward spiral that changes all of their lives in different ways.

First off, I liked the characters. They were well fleshed out for such a short film and believable. Ceren was ready to equally kill AND hug to death her fiance when he came back and the way she said that was so real. I found myself just as engaged with the actors (Deniz Aslim – Mert; Gizem Aybike Shahin – Ceren; Mehmet Samer – Cem; and Cevahir Cashgir as The Girl in the Woods). The story started as a “slice of life” mini-mystery but quickly became a beautiful and insightful look at mankind’s push and pull towards one another, so absolutely no complaints there. And Azerbaijan, the location where this was filmed, is absolutely lovely.

Really, the only complaint I had was that in some places the picture was a little fuzzy, if you know what I mean. Not so that you couldn’t see what was going on but just not very sharp in the way that home videos look fuzzy compared to movies in the cinema. Not a huge thing, just noticeable.

This is on my “Highly Recommended” list. There’s nothing better than a great short and nothing beats a fabulous foreign film (well, to me anyway!) so combining the two equals pure magic. Want to see why I think YOU should see it? You can get more reviews and info on IMDB. Hurry, go! There’s probably some mysterious girl waiting for you…

Jilel: The Calling of the Shell

Jilel

Jilel: The Calling of the Shell is another original Marshallese by Microwave Films (you might remember Zori or The Sound of Crickets at Night from them, as they’ve been reviewed on Rogue Cinema in the past). Jilel has much in common with these former films – from similar camera shots to just a bit of over-preachiness – yet much like the previous two, it is also charming and heartwarming. Jilel is a sweet story that showcases the beauty and talents of the Marshall Islands and it’s people.

Jilel: The Calling of the Shell is the story of Molina, a young Marshallese girl who is confronted for the first time with the idea that her island—her beloved homeland—is vanishing because of the rising seas caused by world-wide global warming and how she turns the tide of doom. When Molina’s grandmother dies, Molina is left to take care of a jilel – a shell that is a family heirloom and said to hold great power. Not realizing it’s importance, her older brother takes the shell to sell it at a local store for cigarette money. However, once out of Molina’s hands, the jilel starts wreaking havoc not only on her brother’s life but also on anyone who comes in contact with. Will the jilel find it’s way home? Jilel: The Calling of the Shell is a global warming fairy tale about the importance of knowledge, respect and preservation.

The landscape of the film is stunning – from the ocean waves to the painted sky to the colorful shacks along the island. Jilel stars local people, who are (for the most part) surprisingly good. Samson in particular stood out as the comic relief. Yes, parts of the film temporarily take on the quality of a homemade video, but Jilel always picks itself back up from there. The story is it’s strongest aspect, however. Deceptively simple, it makes for a powerful allegory about respecting Mother Earth and the damage that’s been done to Her. Equally powerful is the spoken word at the end of the film by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner called “Tell Them” – as much as I enjoyed Jilel, “Tell Them” was my favorite part.

Jilel is highly recommended viewing – not just a fairy tale or cautionary tale, it showcases the beauty of a partially forgotten people and land. Ancient customs are woven throughout the film, creating their own kind of magic. And that’s what this film is – magic.