Last night as I attempted to drift off to sleep, my sensorily overloaded mind decided it had heard enough French that it was time to try to learn the language. I don't believe it had much success.
Hooked [Romania, Adrian Sitaru, ****] After hitting her with their car, bickering lovers see no choice but to invite a suspiciously chipper roadside prostitute to accompany them on their picnic. Dogme-style psychodrama dekes around the obvious as it delivers an ever-twisting series of power shifts between its characters.
A big national news story over the past week has been a listerosis outbreak linked to the Maple Leaf meat processing plant. The last time I saw a figure, ten people had died from this food-borne infection. Its extreme flu-like symptoms can be deadly in patients with pre-existing conditions and pose a danger to pregnant women. Last night Valerie happened to spot a news crawl naming our local cheese shop, Cheese Magic, as the subject of another listeria recall. A couple of weeks ago the results of a health inspection crackdown were all over Kensington Market, where I shop. One produce shop had been shuttered completley. Cheese Market had been told to move the product usually heaped on the counter to refridgerators in the back of the store.
Up until this morning, Valerie and I have been starting each festival day with a breakfast including, as its protein component, a bit of tasty cantenaar from Cheese Magic. (For the record, there's no reason to think that Valerie's early bug was listerosis.) Anyhow we seem to have dodged a bacterial bullet.
I hope the shop, and its sister bakery a few doors down, survive this incident. They're both staples of my regular grocery expedition.
Winds of September [Taiwan, Tom Shu-Yu Lin, ***] Septet of high school screw-ups test the limits of group loyalty. Nostalgic coming-of-age effort from debuting young director is strong enough to raise hopes for more ambitious work in the years to come.
Clever script tricks seen this week:
* introducing an obvious, necessary and hard-to-sell story point by immediately preceding it with a delightfully out-of-left-field reversal
* laying pipe for the obvious outcome of the script's premise, then going in another direction entirely
The Dungeon Masters [US, Keven McAlester, Documentary, *] The Dungeons and Dragons phenomenon is studied as a contrast to the quiet desperation characterizing the lives of three avid gamers. Although the filmmakers clearly believe that they're presenting an affirmative take on the roleplaying hobby, they're not onlyv advancing a trite easy thesis, but blindly abusing the trust placed in them by their subjects.
In other words, this confirmed my worst fears, in spades. The best we can hope as an industy/hobby is that it disappears with little trace. As a piece of PR it is a disaster.
There's much more I could say about this, but not sure how much I should say, at least for now.
Tokyo Sonata [Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, ****] Fragmented family, headed by a father who's an arbitrary tyrant at home and a hapless mouse in the outside world, leads separate, secret lives. Naturalistic drama accented by flashes of absurdist humor.
Still Walking [Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda, ****] Family reunites on the anniversary of the death of its favorite son, setting up the younger son for his annual dose of parental judgment. Knowing, naturalistic comedy of manners gets at the weight of cruelty and resentment found even in outwardly functional families.