A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


The Portland International Film Festival is winding down this weekend (closing party tonight, details here). Since the Portland Mercury aren't archiving the capsule reviews they ran in the paper, I decided to post mine here. I covered six films in total for them, and we had only 50 words to give our impression. It was a challenge at first, but fun once I got the hang of it:

HIS & HERS: A neat idea: a documentary collage of real Irish women, arranged in chronological order from birth to death, talking about their fathers, husbands, and sons. The effect is of a shared sisterhood, but a little variety would have added some sorely lacking depth.

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER An Israeli paper-pusher must ferry the body of a former employee back to her home in Romania. Pulling more heartstrings than legs, director Eran Riklis’ middle-of-the-road trip has angry teenagers, backwoods sheriffs, and a corpse strapped to the top of a van. Still, not quite National Lampoon’s Eastern European Vacation.

INCENDIES This Canadian Oscar nominee spans several decades, two countries, and a lot of complicated politics to expose a dead mother’s secrets, but one plot twist too many turns serious drama into overly earnest pap. Icendies begins as a Leonard Cohen song, but ends up sounding more like Ray Stevens.

POETRY A South Korean grandmother discovers she has Alzheimer’s right around the same time she finds out her grandson is a creep best forgotten. In trying times, a newfound love for verse helps her search for meaning. Though slow going, Lee Chang-dong’s drama is worth it for its lyrical, emotional finish.

SILENT SOULS One wouldn’t expect to describe a movie about an amateur poet driving to the seaside with his boss to burn the body of the man’s dead wife as airy, but Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Silent Souls takes a freeform approach to its eulogizing. It’s film as memory: incongruous, enriching, and oddly playful. Then, poof! It's gone.

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s story of a dying man in Thailand takes place in a rarefied state where folk tales and ghost stories mingle with everyday life. Meditative and mysterious, full of long takes and dreamy ideas, this Cannes favorite is as unpredictable as it is enthralling.

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