Expectations can be a tricky best, especially when it comes to films. The trailer for Mathieu Kassovitz’s newest film, Rebellion, really makes it seem like a wartime story. In a sense, Rebellion is a wartime story, insomuch that it is set against the tense occupation of the French colony of New Caledonia. But from pretty much the opening sequence on, Rebellion is less a story of battle than it is a story of trying to stop one.
Fellipe Legorjus (Kassovitz) is the captain of the GIGN, a special forces unit trained to tactically deal with terrorist operations generally involving hostages. Legorjus arrives on the island of New Caledonia because Kanak separatists led by Alphonse Dianou (Iabe Lapacas) have taken 30 French policemen hostage. Legorjus meets with Dianou in an effort to peacefully return the hostages against the odds and pressures of the French government and elections back home.
The film is based on real life events and challenges the notion that the victor gets to tell the story. The politics of France throughout the film challenge Legorjus’ efforts throughout the entire film. But outside of one fantastically shot warlike sequence, Rebellion moves the story along and a quick pace. The film counts down the ten days leading up to the chaos forshadowed at the beginning and Kassovitz has a knack for making sure things never slow down too much.
Italy, for all of its romantic and historic wonder, is a country that often seems to be masquerading as a third world country. This is a country, after all, whose recent Prime Minister resigned after a sex scandal (his umpteenth one) that would make a soap opera love triangle seem standard. Italy is a country thoroughly embracing the European debt crisis, and the unemployment rate in young adults is sky high. But despite all of this, Italy, is still a country that virtually every foreigner loves unto death.
Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi are looking at a crucial moment in their life. Most of their friends have departed from the country, and Gustav wants to move to Berlin. Luca still has his hearts set on his homeland, though — so the two get the classic Italian car, a Fiat 500, and set on a cross-country trip in the documentary Italy: Love It or Leave It.
Hofer and Ragazzi forgo the renaissance splendors of Florence and Rome, and head off to the real bastions of Italy — the northern part of the country in Milan and the southern portion of the country in Cambria — to find whether or not Italy is a country worth sticking around in. They interview people from all ages and all spectrums who are tirelessly working to correct many of Italy’s very public ills, from sexism in the media to support for the immigrant laborers that live in squalid conditions. Italy: Love It or Leave It is a tongue-in-cheek look at a country with very serious issues, and while the duo find themselves in the depths of government spending gone crazy in Sicily, they still aren’t willing to take the country to task over it. There isn’t much brought up in the film that really jabs at the heart of Italian culture — because to do that would be tearing at the hearts of Hofer and Ragazzi as well, and also brings up the ultimate issue with a scathing criticism of Italy: most Italians are just nice, hard-working (sometimes), honest individuals who believe in family, wine, and the goodness of the Earth.
The fact that the duo stay off the beaten path for the most part is the beauty of the docu-drama. Italy is a two headed beast, with a government in shambles, but whatever; they have the Ponte Vecchio and there are many memories made throughout life there. The romanticism of Italy stays surprisingly in check and alive through the film, and for anyone that has been to the country and loves it, Italy: Love It or Leave It won’t make you love it any less. If anything, it will make you chuckle more at how such a seemingly civilized society can live in such a crumbling, backwards fashion.
Directed by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi
SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012 SCREENINGS
June 3rd @ Noon, SIFF Cinema Uptown
June 5th @ 6:00pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
There was a time when it seemed that the only way an American studio knew how to make money was to churn out some poorly written, slapstick, gross-out comedy with sexual hijinks that invoked cringes, laughs, and three or four poorly written sequels. But just to be clear: films relying entirely on hyper-sexualized situations don’t necessarily have to be from a US studio, as the Danish film Klown demonstrates.
KLOWN FILM REVIEW AND THEATRICAL TRAILER CONTINUED BELOW
Klown follows the clueless and witless Frank (Frank Hvam), who just found out his wife Mia (Mia Lyhne) is pregnant and doesn’t think that Frank has what it takes to be a good father. To prove her wrong, in a series of severe and increasingly poor decisions, Frank kidnaps his 12-year-old nephew Bo (Marcus Jazz Petersen) and takes him on a trip for high-priced prostitutes — a plot conceived by Frank’s friend Casper (Casper Christensen). Frank is intent on showing Mia he can be a good father while Casper is intent on having as much sex as possible. The sexual romp, under the poor disguise of a canoe trip, leads the trio into worse and worse scenarios while all the while giving them a common bond to live with.
From pretty close to its beginning, where a group of old Danish men are teaching Frank the way of a “pearl necklace” in order to revitalize the passion between him and Mia, it is clear that Klown is operating on a sexualized mindset unseen on American soil since the first American Pie. But Klown is less American Pie than it is Sideways, as it is a romp between two middle-aged men having their own separate but real middle-aged issues. Frank is desperate to show that he can be a father and sustain a family; Casper is desperate to forget he even has one.
Christensen also wrote the film, and him and director Mikkel Norgaard don’t hold back on the juvenile sexual escapades that will leave you gasping for air. Frank is a jaw-droppingly dumb character, who slowly but lets you in on the reasoning behind his poor decisions — many of which are severely logically-flawed, but still understandable. Despite the fact that virtually all of the major laughs of the film rely on bizarre sexual scenarios, Norgaard doesn’t let the film just turn into another stupid gross-out comedy. Hvam is brilliant in his oafish cluelessness and leaves you pulling for him to succeed, despite his demonstrating with every decision that his parenting ability is a large question mark. Petersen is fantastic as the socially inept and “small-willied” Bo, who, for a time, is the only one who sees the good in what Frank is trying to accomplish.
Shock factor is truly present in Klown — including one of the most outrageous sexual scenarios put to film in recent years and an ending showcasing a photo of male anatomy that might be borderline illegal in the United States. The heart that goes into Frank and Casper’s exploit keeps the film going and makes it one of the funnier, more disgusting, and phenomenally raunchy comedies to come by the States in a while.
Klown is presented by the Seattle International Film Festival and is showing at the Egyptian Theatre at 11:59 PM on June 2nd, 2012. Click HERE to buy tickets.
The 2012 Seattle International Film Festival begins on May 17th, 2012! In the next few days, we will be providing film previews for our top SIFF picks of the year. Times and dates are subject to change, so please visit siff.net before heading to theatres, or see HERE for all film preview coverage, including film selections from other regions of the world.
4 DAYS IN MAY
Directed by Achim von Borries
Set in 1945 and based off a true story, 4 Days Of May follows the days before the official end of World War II. The Germans have already lost, but as soldiers and civilians both learn how to deal with the change, drama and unconventional decision-making ensue.
May 31st @ 4:00pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
June 7th @ 9:00pm, Harvard Exit
June 9th @ 4:30pm, Egyptian Theatre
Based on the real life story of survivor-activist Chong Kim, Eden pulls no punches while following through with its dramatic premise of a young woman abducted and forced into prostitution. Jamie Chung plays Hyun-Jae, a first-generation Korean-American high school student looking to get into some innocent trouble. But she finds more than her share when she is abducted and sent to a sex slavery facility run by corrupt warden Bob Gault (Beau Bridges) along with his second-in-command, the vermin-esque Vaughan (Matt O’ Leary).
The film pivots not on Hyun-Jae’s trials and suffering, but rather on the relationship between the three leads. It’s an almost Shakespearean triangle: Bob is commanding, domineering, an absolutist with no conscience. Vaughan is power hungry, tired of being used, unstable. And Hyun-Jae is the survivor, biding her time with absolute ruthlessness until Bob and Vaughan let their guard down.
In Family Portrait In Black And White, middle-aged single mother Olga Nenya decides to brave social stigmas to foster 17 orphans, many of whom are Ukranian-African. As the film opens, one sees third-party interviews with Ukranian skinheads that immediately couch the film in a setting of acial discrimination. Given the film’s title, its synopsis, and these opening sequences, one expects the entire film to be about the struggles of foster parenting in a mixed race family — but this expectation would be wrong.
Nenya and her seventeen foster children live and work on a farm, slightly removed from the mainstay of Ukranian society. Through the use of minor anecdotes, the film asserts time and time again that racism and discrimination are wildly prevalent in Ukraine — but this narrative is not the primary focus. The film is, in fact, less sociological than it is an intimate look at the psychology of foster family life and the complexities of motherhood both outwardly inflected upon Nenya, and self-inflicted and self-perpetuated.