less charming and more strange than your average blog

June 24, 2004

SIFF '04 leftover reviews 

I have decided to stop kidding myself and admit that I will never get around to writing the rest of my SIFF reviews. Toward the end of the festival, my movie reviewing duties took a back seat to things like term papers and goodbyes and dental work and graduations and spending time with Luke and catching up on sleep and I'm starting to forget all the things I liked or didn't like about these movies. But just in case these movies pop up in a theater near you, I thought you should at least have something to go on!

Danny Deckchair / ***
Why do I feel bad for liking this movie so much? Because it's a romantic comedy called "Danny Deckchair"? Whatever. The slightly loopy Danny, fed up with his trivial existence and bitchy wife, ties helium balloons to a deckchair and floats across Australia, landing in a small town and building a new and fulfilling life for himself there, oblivious to the fact that he is not only missing, but a media sensation. Clever and funny, with memorable performances across the board, especially the two leads (Rhys Ifans and the gorgeous Miranda Otto). Hilarious supporting characters include a cocky anchorman and Danny's famewhore wife (who appears to very nearly have an orgasm whenever cameras are pointed in her direction).

Primer / ****
Perhaps the only movie about time travel (besides Donnie Darko) that I have not hated. Two friends who find they have invented a device capable of moving them back in time grapple with the implications and possibilities of their invention. Thrilling, astoundingly well thought-out, and with a budget that almost goes beyond "shoestring" into "nonexistent," Primer is somehow a hundred times better-looking than many big-budget studio films. Expect big things from Shane Carruth, who not only stars in the movie, but acted as writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, and composer. He is also so hot it's not even funny. I'm just saying.

The Python / ***
Absurd Latvian comedy taking place in a post-Soviet school. A monkey, a beaver, and a python are on the loose in the building while a Hitleresque headmistress is demanding that all the students poop in matchboxes. Utilizes Bazinian long takes and deep focus brilliantly to achieve meticulous bursts of insanity that approach actual comic genius. One of the more bizarre movies I saw at SIFF this year, and I could very easily see this film driving someone insane rather than cracking them up, but it had me rolling in the aisles, dude.

Bright Young Things / ***1/2

Twin Sisters / **1/2
Based on a premise that comes across as inspired and contrived at various times in the film: a pair of young twin sisters in 1930's Germany are separated, one growing up in Holland and the other remaining in Germany. Eventually, one marries a Jew and the other a Nazi. Powerful moments here, but suffers from a clumsy framing device (the women run into each other at a present-day spa) and broad, simplistic characterizations. Raises plenty of interesting questions, but tries to answer them with awkward, heavy-handed dialogue between the present-day sisters. More interesting to think about later than to watch, but intriguing in the way it shows the war from the perspective of ordinary people on both sides.

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