All filmed out

Due to some massive self-delusion of the “Yeah, I’ve got lots of free time to spare” kind I volunteered to help out at Kosmorama – Trondheim International Film Festival. It’s a pretty new thing, only in its second year, but, you know, films, right? It’s mostly all good – I’m in the theatre hosting team, which means I stand at the door taking tickets and counting press/industry people. I also have to be present in the theatre during the showing of the film to make sure the machinist gets alerted if there is a problem with the sound or picture. So, yes, I need to see the film. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it… We also get to go to as many shows as we want when we’re not actually “working” ourselves (well, technically there is a limit of 28 shows during the one-week festival, but what with being on duty for three sessions and working full time in my usual job there is no way I could possibly see anywhere near as much). In fact, the only drawbacks I can see are A. uhm, sleep and all that and B. film overload.

I’ve had two stints so far, Sunday “early” (9-4:30) and Monday “late” (4:30-whenever it ends) – Im also on Thursday “late”, and think I’ll go see a film or two tomorrow (Martin’s working tomorrow night, so it’s either a film or two or rattling around in the flat by myself), but I’m having today off. I love movies, but I do have a threshold, and I think I need a break today…

Now to the part I’m sure you’re all waiting for: Which films did I see and what did I think of them?

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
In the original and no sub titles. I love film festivals! I also loved the film. I think it’s probably even better than Ice Age.

Everything is Illuminated
I never got around to reading the book, and I suppose I’m unlikely to now, but the film was great. Better when it was mostly funny than when it was mostly serious, but definitely great.

A State of Mind
A British film crew was given access to follow two North Korean schoolgirls training towards a Mass Games performance. The glimpse into North Korean society is fascinating, as is the whole concept of Mass Games – especially the way it’s tied up to the whole ideology of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il. I was left with very mixed feelings (this is good) as on the one hand I got so wrapped up in the girls and their expectations and exhileration, and their awe at being allowed to perform in honour of their leaders and on the other a part of me is thinking “they’re all brain-washed” for every second sentence uttered. I think it will take a while to digest this one.

This one was a bit of a shock, as I’d not read the synopsis properly and although I was expecting the initial idyll to be shattered I wasn’t quite prepared for the thoroughness of the shattering, to put it that way. Bring Kleenex. Also, being supposed to clear the theatre and get it ready for the next show and taking the tickets of the people arriving for the next show with a smile isn’t the best way of following this film. Consider seeing it in your own time… Very good, though.

Pat Garret and Billy the Kid
Brilliant, obviously, though I suppose I ought to have seen a lot more westerns to fully appreciate it, but still, brilliant. This was a newly refurbished version, and getting to see it on the big screen with no subtitles was too good an opportunity to miss (though not everybody thought so, apparently, four of the 30-odd people in the audience left, separately, within the first ten minutes – I thought that very strange, I suppose with a few of the other films at the festival you may realise it’s not the sort of thing you expected at all and decide to leave, but you’d have to be pretty dim to do so with this one, and four dimwitted people is quite a lot for such a small audience).

Uhm. No. I’m sorry, but this completely failed to push any buttons with me whatsoever. My main problem was that there was no real lead-up to the “thriller” part – you are thrown into a conversation between a man and a woman (actually, it’s more of a monologue by the woman) about how she intends to have an abortion and he’s obviously not very happy about it (which is understandable, but not terribly engaging without a bit more backstory) and then you see the guy walking around being a security guard (which is supposed to be ironic, I bet), eating some fast food and pointing his flashlight at things. Then flashback to a few days (or is it weeks?) earlier he’s in the airport (more conversations with his (ex)girlfriend over the phone here), apparently on his way to the Phillipines. He arrives in the Phillipines and five minutes into the film Wham! the action begins – his sister and mother have been kidnapped and he is led a not-so-merry dance through Manila and Cavite, all cumulating in… well, now, that would be telling, but I must say, though who can tell what we’d do if pressed, that I don’t think I’d have, but, anyhow, back to the point: I was given no time (or reason) to feel empathy for the guy before being expected to feel tense on his behalf, and so I didn’t. What little backstory we got suggested to me that he was likely to be fundamentally miserable no matter what the kidnappers did, so I really didn’t care. I felt somewhat sorry for his mother and sister in a detached sort of way, but less so for their fictional plight than for the very real plight of the thousands of random “extras” we get a glimpse of in the slums and streets. To top it off there were things I didn’t much care for in the way Cavite was filmed, too (too much fancy camerawork that just annoyed me), but I don’t think that would have bothered me if I had appreciated the plot, so I’m not going to quibble much with that. My advice, though, is pretty clear: Go see something else.