Saturday, February 7, 2009

PIFF Day 1

Just finished day #1 of the Portland International Film Festival. I'll try to post a couple of sentences about each film for any of you who are interested. Here are the fist two:

Mermaid (Russia) is a quirkyvfilm about a girl named Alice who spends about a decade of her childhood mute in response to accumulated trauma. After she, her mother, and her grandmother move to Moscow, she slowly comes into her own as she forms a connection with a handsome young man whom she rescues from a suicide attempt. Includes lots of interesting fanciful elements and original direction, anchored by a wonderful lead performances. Unfortunately, the film blows up all the good will it has built up with a cheap and unsatisfying ending. It won a directing prize at Sundance in 2008. (In Russian with subtitles)(6.5)

The Black Balloon (Australia) won a bunch of awards at home, but I sense it was the sympathy bump that comes with making a film about a person with disabilities. It's supposed to be a delightful and yet brutally honest film about a family that includes two adolescent sons, one severely autistic. I found it one-dimensional and cacophonous. For a better (though challenging) film about people with disabilities, check out "Oasis," a Korean film from a few years back that profoundly affected how I see people with disabilities. This film did not have a similar redemptive effect.(3)

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