With this fifth installment, I reach the half-way point of my 40 film stretch. 20 films down, 20 to go. This turning point though was much more of a mixed bag entry as we have some true greats mixed up with some real junk. Towing the line with SIFF procedure, these brief reviews are kept to about 75 words. It’s all about the broad strokes. In my pursuit to oust my opinion without breaking regulation, look out for mini-review after mini-review as I get closer to hitting that magic number of 40 films of SIFF’s 40th anniversary. So, short and sweet reading for you, much more time for movie watching for me. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
dir. Bob Goldthwait star. Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson (USA)
There’s a really strong long-form scene in the midst of Willow Creek, much filler surrounding it and a wholly unsatisfying and unintelligible ending. What ought to be provocatively minimalism isn’t as this lo-fi horror borrows heavily from the book of Blair Witch, but without the novelty of being there first, Bob Goldthwait has little to add to the genre. More padding than substance, Willow Creek is overstuffed with the kind of fruitless scenes that make found footage so grating and lethargic and is only worthwhile for diehard horror/Sasquatch fans. (D+)
dir. Ivan Sen star. Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Tama Walton (Australia)
Ivan Sen‘s painterly cinematography, marked by brilliant orange sunrises and sweeping casts into endless flatlands, sets the tone for this Australian thinker’s thriller. With a Coen Bros meets Sergio Leone feel to it, Mystery Road is pretty much No Outback for Young Aborigine Ladies, a dark drama that manages to sneak muted undercurrents of racial aggression amongst its larger themes of derelict duty and parental responsibility. Restrained performances from Aaron Pederson and the like set against a manic Hugo Weaving makes for a nice dichotomy of character in a film well worth your time. (B-)
Firestorm (Fung Bou)
dir. Alen Yuen star. Chen Yao, Ka Tung Lam, Andy Lau, Michael Wong (Hong Kong)
Senselessly expensive – especially by Hong Kong standards – overly-stylized and utterly meaningless, Firestorm is a high-gloss crime actioner that throws the kitchen sink in each of its tactless proceedings. With as many explosions as budgetarily possible and a hero who’s more Robocop than anything resembling a living breathing human, this flunky action movie is derivative, laughable and ceaselessly dumb – a combo that actually works in its favor a small fraction of the time. Nevertheless, it should be actively avoided. (D)
dir. Carlos Marques-Marcet star. Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer (Spain)
Anyone who’s lived through a long distance relationship will find alarming truth in 10,000KM, a bittersweet romance stunningly directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet and brilliantly acted by Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones) and David Verdaguer. In truly all accords, it’s a phenomenal film; real, honest, emotional and poised to hit the nerve of lovers living through the e-generation. How people helplessly grow apart with distance is approached from nearly every angle to create an unfathomable experience so intimate, personal and gutting that you’ll be as wrecked as the star-crossed lovers when all is said and done. (A)
Click through for more recap segments and stay tuned for the next collection of four in this whopping ten part series.
Part 1: JIMI: All is By My Side, Zip Zap and the Marble Gang, Hellion, Fight Church
Part 2: Cannibal, The Double, Time Lapse, Another
Part 3: Half of a Yellow Sun, Mirage Men, The Trip to Italy, Starred Up
Part 4: Difret, The Fault in Our Stars, The Skeleton Twins, In Order of Disappearance