Wednesday, April 7, 2010

IFF 4: A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop, Skirt Day, Air Doll, Journey into Fear

A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop is Zhang Yimou's remake of Blood Simple, set in ancient China. As a comedy. The problem is, it's a slapstick comedy. Another problem is, although the daytime scenes are gorgeous (as one would expect from Yimou), most of the film is set at night.

Skirt Day, starring Isabelle Adjani as a high school teacher who takes her class hostage, created quite a skirmish among the viewers. Some members of the audience laughed and giggled in a scene that was not particularly funny, and a lady loudly proclaimed that this was very unappropriate as she was crying at the moment. About ten minutes later, after the film took a rather tragic turn, a male voice asked: "Why aren't you laughing now?" To which, others gave various replies, making the viewing process more fun than the film itself. Adjani won a Cesar for her performance here, rightly. But most of the film is set in one room, and it can get tedious and heavy-handed. And although it's shorter than 90 minutes, it feels longer - the ending especially drags on a little too much.

Air Doll is about a blow-up doll who develops a heart. She does not become a 'real' human as we know it, as she's 'empty inside'. When she says this to other people, they say that they are just like her, but she doesn't quite get metaphors. Metaphors are exactly what drag this film down, as it's full of them, but it's still a nice little film about fragile lonely people. Not my favorite Kore-eda though (that would definitely be Nobody Knows).

Pera Balık, right by Aya Triada, may be the best (and certainly the most reasonably priced) fish restaurant in all of Beyoğlu.

Journey into Fear, made in 1942 by (some of) the people who brought you Citizen Kane, is shown in the Istanbul section of the festival. This section contains "films which are set in İstanbul, of İstanbul and about İstanbul." Unfortunately, while most of this film is set in Istanbul, the cast and crew have not set their foot outside of their studio in Hollywood. Apparently, they also could not find a Turkish-speaking advisor to help them with pronunciations and accents. The story itself is rather simple: Joseph Cotten plays a U.S. Navy engineer who is pursued by the Nazis. Orson Welles is a Turkish cop. What I enjoyed the most was seeing all the familiar Citizen Kane faces in very different roles. And the fact that the film was only 68 minutes long.

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