Being able to work on a film as remarkable and quietly revolutionary as Samsara, which opened in Honolulu last week, turned into a privilege lasting more than six years–five in production and over a year in editing (including seven re-edits). The call came nearly seven years ago, from Samsara director/cinematographer/co-editor.
Parts Of The Same Circle, which screens in HIFF on Sat., Oct., 20 at 11:30am, is a remarkable achievement in three ways: It is a Hawaii-made D.I.Y. feature that displays a consistent and compelling filmic sense, it pulls off the most difficult of dramatic structures (weaving multiple storylines into a single narrative) and it presents its subject matter–death–in a way that is neither maudlin nor fatalistic.
Beautifully put together, intelligently handled, wonderfully acted–and full of surprises–writer-director Rian Johnson’s Looper, a Mobius strip of a time-travel movie, is destined to be a classic, one movie buffs have been awaiting a long while. Twenty minutes in, and you know you’re in the hands of inspired moviemakers, chief among them the writer-director, who blends sci-fi and moving drama so adroitly that it becomes a real movie, not the usual toy sci-fi-er made for people who grew up on “dramatic” TV series.
There’s nothing like $4l2 million to come between friends, and so it is in Arbitrage, an overinflated item on the movie market these days. When a hedge fund magnate (an excellent Richard Gere) needs to cover a “hole” in his books–the aforesaid sum–he borrows it, abstractly, from a friend, and then defaults on repaying it.
The Spanish (-speaking) Film Club at the Doris Duke, held this week in conjunction with the Spanish cultural mission, is like a brief vacation. The cine-fiesta shows off familiar lives of quiet desperation, of selves disintegrating under the sway of family stresses–too much daytime television and mind-altering stimulants, among them love.
If the ‘Ohina Short Film Showcase is a barometer for the current state of Hawaiʻi’s independent film community, this year’s collection was notable for the number of women directors (four) and especially for showing that our local filmmakers can shoot, edit, stage fight scenes, spoof movie genres, and do pretty impressive animation. These are good skills to have, and all of the filmmakers represented in the festival are to be commended for their creativity and fluency.
That a French film, The Intouchables, is touted as the feel-good movie of the year may fill American cinemaphiles with equal parts disbelief, dread and resistance. For this reviewer, the terms “feel-good” and “French film” are mutually exclusive, based on such cringe-inducing attempts at forced fun as Delicatessen and Amélie.
The Bourne franchise has a new boss: Jeremy Renner fills the Matt Damon-shaped hole left behind when Damon bailed, and some can see why he might have chosen to do so. The fourth installment in the franchise (a franchise that seems to unravel a bit more with each edition) is also under the new direction of Tony Gilroy, previously a writer on the other three Bourne films, but promoted to direct The Bourne Legacy when both Paul Greengrass and Damon pulled out.
As if we don’t already have enough of Will Ferrell and political campaigning, the bright and original minds of Hollywood apparently looked down from their offices and said to the people of America: “Here is more.” The Campaign stars Will Ferrell as Cam Brady, a fourth-term South Carolina Congressman who comes across as an unsympathetic, sleazy overcooked version of Ferrell’s George W. impersonation–he’s basically plagiarizing himself.
Relentlessly paced and hard-working–and despite the protean efforts of Colin Farrell– the re-boot of Total Recall, brimming over with too many action sequences (making it 20 minutes too long) somehow is just okay. The production values are amazing if a tad derivative, making the flick (and it is a flick) look like as if Blade Runner and Minority Report met and mated on the set of Transformers.
Small really is beautiful in this slyly funny, deadpan earnest indie, written and produced by a pair of women, Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson, that revolves around the self-doubt of a pregnant Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman). As her last name hints, Sarah is comfortable with electricity–in fact, she’s a one-woman Nerd Team.
One of the fun things about watching movies from a variety of cultures is to trace the migration of bits and pieces of “business.” As soon as somebody busts a move, you can be sure it will show up in half a dozen movies the following season–think of the Hong Kong chopsocky staple, the old run-up-the-wall-backflip. Cool back when, but lately?