Friday, 13 February 2009

BFF8: Families, eh?

Yet another busy day at the Berlinale, although things are beginning to wind down, as my jury (Fipresci - international film critics) met late Thursday to make its decisions. Our awards will be announced on Friday. Attendees includes Jose Padilha, last year's Golden Bear winner who's here with his new doc Garapa, which is my favourite film here so far. He's pictured (right) with Panorama programmer Wieland Speck. Films to talk about today...

My One and Only
dir Richard Loncraine 09/US ***
Renee Zellweger stars in this lively, snappy romp based on the young life of George Hamilton. She plays his mother, Ann Devereaux, who takes her sons (Logan Lerman and Mark Rendall) on a 1953 cross-country road trip after leaving her cheating bandleader husband (Kecin Bacon). It's thoroughly entertaining, and very well written and directed. But although she's very goodin the role, Zellweger seems oddly miscast, especially since every other character continually tells her how beautiful she is.

dir Rune Denstad Langlo 09/Nor ****
First-time filmmaker Lango shows considerable skill with this "off-road movie" about a troubled young man who ditches his job and heads off across the icy hills and snowy fields and frozen lakes to sort out his life. Along the way he meets a series of people who have fairly outrageous stories of their own - and the way they kind of help each other on their respective journeys makes the film thoroughly engaging and entertaining. Darkly comical and sometimes extremely twisted, it also looks fantastic, with the expanses of white snow and blazing blue skies.

The Fish Child
dir Lucia Puenzo 09/Arg ***
After XXY, Puenzo and her young lead actress Ines Efron had a lot to live up to, so this slightly more straightforward thriller is a bit of a let-down. But it's an evocative movie, lushly filmed and extremely well acted as Efron's character, daughter of a wealthy judge, goes on the run after a plan with her childhood friend, a poor maid, goes wrong. Told out of sequence, it takes awhile for the events to come into focus, and when they do it's somewhat disappointing, as the plot has several gaping holes in it. But the deeper themes still resonate.

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