Donald Simmons (theengineer) wrote,
Donald Simmons

Film Festival Reviews - Part II

Here are a few more movies I saw in the festival.

Fetching Cody: The first feature from Canadian director David Ray, about two street kids in Vancouver. When Cody falls into a coma (due to assorted drug use and general ill-health) there doesn't seem to be anything her boyfriend Art can do, until he finds that the local homeless guy (the always wonderful Jim Byrnes) has a time-space machine, consisting of a recliner wrapped in Christmas tree lights, sending Art on an Odyssey to "fix" Cody's life.

I saw a couple of bad reviews for this film in-between my getting the ticket and going to see it, so I wasn't expecting that much, but it was much better than I expected. Granted, the production values can't be that high when you shoot a feature in 15 days, but they were hardly bottom of the barrel either. I thought the actor playing Art was lightweight for what he had to try and carry off, but the presence of Jim Bynes made up for a lot, and the film has the guts to have an essentially non-happy ending. Plus the sequence where Art repeatedly tries (and fails) to stop Cody's brother from shooting himself was a black-comedy scream.

And yes, work on the film pre-dates The Butterfly Effect, which covers some of the same ground.

The Last Hangman: Story of Albert Pierrepoint (Timothy Spall), England's last official Chief Hangman.

If you have to have capital punishment, Pierrepoint is the sort of person you would want to do the job, dedicated to doing it "properly", which means quickly and efficiently (easier on everyone concerned, including the prisoner). But his orderly world starts running into trouble when he's recruited by Mongomery to hang a lot of condemned Germans, and his identity becomes public knowledge. Beautifully shot, an absolutely brilliant character piece, acting genius on Spall's part. Almost makes you believe in the death penalty.

Fallen: A German production, shot in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Our main character walks past a woman on a bridge, who then jumps. He becomes obsessed (in a quiet way) with finding out who is she and why she killed herself.

Shot in extreme black and white (they used a special process so the black is totally black and the white blinding) it's a slow paced film, we'll have five minutes of our hero walking from point A to point B. But the story logically and inextricably unfolds. As a policeman says "We ignore hundreds of living people every day, but a single dead one gets our attention".

In the Q&A the director explained how he got the idea for the movie after listening to an opera during a trip to Riga, and he had to get the film made (he wrote, directed, shot, and edited it mostly himself) as quickly as possible, before he had to return to Germany and his backers could tell him he couldn't do it. Best question came from a women (who was obviously from Riga) who asked him if he shot most of the film "on the other side of the river". He response was he didn't know which side the other side was.
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