I was so busy watching movies over the weekend, that I didn’t get to write up a couple of lines as previously. So now the Berlinale is over. I do not (yet) show withdrawal symptoms. They will come though, latest tonight. Nice that the Arsenal repeats some of the Forum films. Make sure you catch En Terrains Connus on Thursday!
But before going into a more general analysis of my personal bear selection (here are the official prize winners) in my next post, I wanted to share with you what I have been seeing during the weekend, in chronological order:
Nan Goldin’s Scopophilia was quite an interesting offside, inside Berlinale event. This special screening of her latest short slide-show/movie was quite a piece to watch (scopophilia means deriving pleasure from looking), no “sexual perversion” though as she, somewhat ironically said herself before the screening. Scopophilia shows details of paintings and sculpures taken in the Louvre arranged with some of her own pictures from the last decades. The focus lies on bodies, and its parts, beautiful to watch, and wonderful in their imperfection. I could very much believe that she found some secret lovers in the paintings and sculputres when spending her nights at the museum. It’s actually quite impressive to see not only the paintings, but also the fotographs on a movie screen! There should be more of this.
Afterwards, I was lucky to see the Philipino movie Halaw (Ways of the Sea), telling the story of the migration from the South of the Philippines, Mindanao, to Malaysia. Sheron Dayoc did a great job to keep his film as documentary-like as possible, using only two actors for his main cast and the rest are lay actors. To shoot the film, a photo camera was used, giving the images a very intimate feeling, very close to the people and their impressions, and thus catching the hopes, fears and challenges migrants confront when starting the journey. Also, the young girl gives a stellar and heartbreaking perfomance. A small, but powerful film about the daily struggles of people in search for a better life, as happening in many countries in the world.
Saturday started well with Belgian thriller Rundskop (Bullhead). This debut film by Michaël Roskam is impressive: powerful, visual, dark, haunting. The story in the hormon mafia milieu turns around Jacky, a deeply disturbed personality, who is like an animal, a bull himself, full of hormons and testosteron, but without future, without anyone taking him seriously. No need for more films on Saturday.
Then Sunday, a bitter cold final Berlinale day and another film marathon:
Starting with Karen starring in Karen llora en el bus (Karen cries in the bus). The best Latin American film I have seen this Berlinale. Ángela Carrizosa Aparicio gives an impressive performance as Karen, a woman who breaks out of her marriage to manage on her own, to not depend on her husband or her mother anymore, and if it means begging for money and stealing an apple to have something to eat. Also great her companion and counterpart Patricia. A great film about a universal issue.
Khodorkovsky is an impressive personality. Cyril Tuschi’s documentary manages to capture the multiple facets of him and situates this ongoing situation well into the developments in Russia. It is quite illuminating to see how his former colleagues are scattered from London to Israel, waiting for a change in Russia, wanted by Interpol. Step by step, the picture of Khodorkovsky becomes more complete, and yet, the person behind the facade remains hidden. But the system, the rules and laws that were shaped, bended and built after the fall of the soviet era become clearer. After all the excitement of stolen hard drives, the film gives a surprisingly balanced account, leaving the viewer maybe not with the truth, but with the idea of how complex the picture really is. On the more technical side a minor detail in a well assembled documentary, I didn’t like the animations…
And then, finally, the two competition movies, both in the Berlinale Palast where I haven’t been in years as I hardly watch the competition but focus on the Forum. By now I already knew I had chosen the slowest competition entries for the two final films of the Berlinale. But I found myself surprised as the Korean entry Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda (Come Rain, Come Shine, or as I read somewhere the more direct translation: I love you, I don’t love you), while slow, did manage to grab my attention and let me observe how this relationship must have been, full of respect for each other, but also missing the excitment, the new, the argueing. He, always perfect in whatever he does – cooking, in his work, in always knowing everything. She, confused about her own decision of leaving him, waiting for something to happen that could make her change her mind. The camera, distant, often shooting from high up, observing. While not as refreshing as previous movies, I like This Charming Girl, director Lee Yoon-ki managed to give a hermetic study of a relationship.
The same issue, a different director, Rodrigo Moreno, a failed exercise. Un mundo misterioso (A Mysterious World) tells a similar story of a break-up. However, the loser male character does not convince at all, he doesn’t talk, doesn’t react, doesn’t act. It’s annoying to see him walking around, smoking, following other girls by chance. He talks about loving books, but he doesn’t read them. Contrary to the Korean movie, I have no idea how the relationship with his girlfriend must have been. Or maybe, I dare not to believe that theyjust sit on their bed for days and days without saying anything?
There may very well be people like that, but I don’t want to see movies about them. Cinema is about telling a story. Even though his friend tries to convince me otherwise by saying at some point during the movie that it’s good if nothing happens. Cheap trick. Sorry. Actually, the world is no that mysterious. It sometimes is simply boring. But you don’t have to do a real-time movie about it. Argentina, oh you failed me this year!
Final film of the Berlinale. Fine of this post. The curtain falls.
A detailed summary, and my personal award ceremony to come tomorrow.