Friday, February 13, 2009

PIFF Day 6

Maybe I am just not sophisticated or deep enough, but Terence Davies' highly acclaimed film "Of Time and the City" (Great Britain) was lost on me. Ostensibly a documentary about his hometown of Liverpool, he uses stock footage, a varied soundtrack, and ponderous narration to do--well, I'm not sure what. Others thought he created a sort of tone poem or "evoke[d] the spirit of the age whose passing he laments" (The Oregonian); to me it was self-indulgent drivel. (3)

"Treeless Mountain" (U.S./South Korea), on the other hand, captured my heart and is one of my favorite of the festival so far. Reportedly inspired by childhood events of the director, it tells the story of a six-year-old Korean girl, Jin, and her younger sister, Bin, whose mother finds herself temporarily unable to care for them and drops them off with a heartless, alcoholic "Big Aunt." Somehow the director coaxed incredibly natural performances out of the two child actors, and the gorgeous cinematography includes a lot of close-in shots of the two girls, simply but powerfully evoking their innocence and vulnerability. Although the story is heartbreaking, the talented director doesn't lay it on too thick, but rather lets the children's viewpoint plainly convey their experience. You can still see this one on Saturday night at 8:30--I recommend it. (9)

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