Nine Lives Locarno Film Festival 5

Nine Lives - winner of the Festival's Golden Leopard Award Directed and written by Rodrigo Garcia/ USA A mother cleans the floors of the Los Angeles County jail hoping for an early release and the warden is sympathetic. At all costs she wants to visit with her daughter, but the prison guards are mean and uncaring. A troubled young woman bearing a gun visits her younger sister with the intention of confronting their father for something he has done to her in the past. A divorced wife goes to the … [Read more...]

Locarno Films Part 4

A Perfect Day Directed by Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige/ France, Lebannon, Germany It is present day Beirut. One morning, a young man and his mother go to a lawyer's office to have his father declared legally dead so that they can move on with their lives. He has been missing for about fifteen years, since the civil war. The wife/mother wants her son to stay home with her and mourn the death of their loved one, but he wants to see his girlfriend who is avoiding him and he does not … [Read more...]

Locarno Films Part 3

La Neuvaine (The Novena) Directed by Bernard Emond, Canada, 2005   A middle-aged woman doctor lost a son when he was a child. She was unable to save him. When a young woman comes into the emergency room with her child, it is obvious the woman has been beaten up. The doctor encourages her to leave her husband, and gives the woman a card with her phone number on it. The young mother calls later and the doctor takes her and the baby to a shelter. The husband follows the doctor to the shelter a … [Read more...]

Locarno Films Part 2

MirrorMask, directed by Dave McKean, UK and USA, 2004(produced with Jim Henson Studios)   In Brighton, England, the daughter of parents who own a traveling circus, rebels about being part of it. When her mother gets sick and is hospitalized, her father must confront his growing financial difficulties and that the circus crew is about to leave him. The girl, about 16 years old, has a long dream initiated by guilt for not apologizing to her mother for her rudeness and rebellion. It,s about … [Read more...]

Locarno Films part 1

Here are reviews of the films that were included in the international competition. All independent juries, in addition to the international jury, must see all the films in competition. I saw 22 films, 17 of them in competition. Two of the films are from the Human Rights track of the festival, something Locarno started two years ago. It is the only major festival to feature such a track. I apologize for the punctuation but this is an Italian/Swiss keyboard   We are All Fine – Iran, direcrted … [Read more...]

Locarno International Film Festival

From the Locarno Film Festival   Hello to all from the 58th annual film Festival at Locarno, Switzerland. I arrived last Monday for the almost 2-week festival, the second oldest in the world (or so I am told; Venice is the oldest). I am a member of the ecumenical jury and I was told yesterday the first American to ever be part of the ecumenical jury at Locarno; there are three Catholics named from SIGNIS ( : Peter Malone, president of SIGNIS, Rueben an award-winning … [Read more...]

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tim Burton’s version of Raold Dahl’s famous story was certainly worth the wait. I saw the Gene Wilder version for the first time on video in the early 1980’s, and it impressed me as just being a kids story. Burton goes further and delves into Dahl’s dark chocolate tale of a lonely man’s inner child struggling with unresolved issues.   Willie Wonka (Johnny Depp), the son of a dentist who has no parenting instincts except that his son have perfect teeth, runs a successful world-famous cho … [Read more...]

March of the Penguins, The (Marche de l’empereur, La)

Luc Jacquet’ amazing and beautiful documentary about a year in the lives of Emperor penguins in Antarctica evokes wonder at the miracle of creation and nature, and left me in a contemplative mood.   Some friends who also saw the film said it spoke to them regarding the way nature teaches us about life, community, fidelity, care for our young, and sacrifice.   The narration, written by Jordan Roberts and read by actor Morgan Freeman, is informative without being academic, and r … [Read more...]

Wedding Crashers

Two almost-40 Washington lawyers, friends for years, crash weddings as a hobby in order to score.   Vince Vaughn as Jeremy and Owen Wilson as John are likeable characters but when their need to engage in such immature behavior year after year finally evokes an existential crisis from John, wedding crashing doesn’t look so appealing any more. Jeremy and John meet two sisters and while John falls for Claire (Rachel McAdams), his love is unrequited. John wants to marry Claire but she is e … [Read more...]

War of the Worlds

There are so many commentaries and reviews of this film already, that I am not sure what I can add. I did read the original H.G. Wells novel (1897) and the Orson Wells radio script (written by Harold Koch) from the 1938 broadcast that scared the dickens out of a listening nation. H.G. Wells story takes place in England and the radio play moves the action to New Jersey. After that, with a few exceptions, the novel and play are pretty different. Where they converge, of course, is how they tapped … [Read more...]