Here are my short reviews of what we have watched this time:
Spoilers alert: These might contain some spoilers!!
- Come as you are: A Belgian tragic-comedy about three guys with different limiting diseases that decide to go to Spain to a brothel that specialises in clients with handicaps. This was one of the best films that I watched in the Festival. The film manages to switch between funny to really dramatic scenes with an amazing flow. One of the things that I liked the most was the way they showed these three guys, without falling into a 'feel pity because they have a tough life' type of portrait. Obviously they have a tough life, with many challenges that we can only start to imagine, but they are people like everyone who is healthy. I strongly advise everyone to watch it.
- Meet the Fokkens: This was the first documentary that we watched in this edition of the Festival. It tells the story of two twin sisters who have worked for over fifty years in Amsterdam's Red Light District. It was the documentary that I liked the least. I thought it was too shallow, focusing solely in the two sisters and their life as prostitutes, without diving into their perception of social changes in the fifty years that they've worked there, not even changes of mentality and/or law in regards to prostitution. It was somewhat entertaining, as it's quite an unusual story, but overall it was disappointing.
- Camp 14: Total Control Zone: The second documentary that we watched tells the story of a North Korean who was born in a labour camp in North Korea, and who escaped from the camp and fled to South Korea. It is a very powerful documentary, depicting (through very nice animations) a terrifying reality. The rules of the camp (do anything against the rules and your punishment is to be shot), the daily life (prisoners eat the same stuff every day at every meal), the way prisoners are controlled and are formatted to think (the guy in the centre of the story tells one of the guards that his mother and his brother are planning to escape, which results in they being sentenced to death. Something that he does not regret at all), all of that makes you shiver. Some ex-guards of other labour camps are also interviewed for the documentary and that makes it even stronger. Even the conclusion made by the central "character" in the end is terrifying, but understandable in the context. He dreams of going back to North Korea, as he feels that life is too complicated and too full of problems in South Korea. It's really worth to see it, though the pace of the documentary is a bit slow at times.
- The Intouchables:This French film was really nice to watch. It tells the story of a wealthy quadriplegic who is looking for live-in carer, and finds one in an unlikely person, a young and poor man from the ghettos. The film shows how their work relationship evolves into a really nice friendship. Totally worth watching... and to make it even nicer, it's based in a true story.
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This was definitely the best documentary that we watched in the Film Festival this year. Telling the story of Jiro a sushi chef and his restaurant. The only restaurant in the world that is located in an underground station, to be awarded three michelin stars, and with Jiro being the oldest chef (he was 85 at the time of shooting) still working in a three stars restaurant. The documentary guides us into Jiro's restaurant, Jiro's life, the art of preparing sushi and much more. It has so much depth and information, that it is really a must see. But be careful, 'cause when I left the cinema I was craving for sushi really badly! Oh and if you ever go to Tokyo don't forget to stop by Jiro's restaurant... just remember that you have to book it two months before.
- Sleep Tight: Recommended by a friend of mine (PedroVB), this Spanish thriller proved to be one of the best films that we watched. Every time I watch a Spanish film I'm always struck with the quality of Spanish cinema. This film is not an exception. The story is really powerful and even scarier. A concierge who claims to not be able to feel any happiness, seems to live with only one goal in life, to make everyone feel as miserable as he is. The things he does to accomplish this are very disturbing, so much that at some point I thought that I would have trouble sleeping in the following days. Funny enough after the film ended I felt more like laughing at the evilness of the guy... I hope that there aren't people as sick as this guy, or at least that I never meet them. I do recommend it! Thanks Pedro!
- Liberal Arts: When I watched the trailer of this film I thought that it was just going to be another romantic comedy. I was also curious to see how would Josh Radnor (who plays Ted Mosby in the tv series "How I met your mother") do in this film (that he not only acts in, but also directed and produced), would I be able to see more than Ted Mosby? Truth is that I was very surprised with the ending of the film and though sometimes Ted Mosby did come to my mind, there are some noticeable differences between him and Jesse Fisher, the character Josh plays in this film. In the end I think that I did enjoy the film, though as I was expecting a traditional romantic comedy, I was kind of disappointed... but I guess that's not the film's fault. I think it is worth watching.
- A Trip to the Moon (and Le voyage extraordinaire): Everyone who has watched Martin Scorcese's 'Hugo', has heard of Georges Méliès and his film "Trip to the moon". This time at the Cambridge Film Festival they showed an original hand painted version which was believed to be completely lost, but that has been found in Spain 8 to 10 years ago, and which has now been restored. It was quite amazing to watch something that was filmed 110 years ago, when the cinema had just been born and was still giving its first steps. After the film they also showed the documentary 'Le voyage extraordinaire', which tells the story of Georges Méliès and the process of restoring his "Trip to the Moon". It was really nice to see the passion shown by the people that restored it. If you love cinema, you should definitely watch both of them!
I look forward to next year's edition!
PS: On a completely unrelated note I've noticed that I tend to write less and less (oh the surprise:-o), and was wondering if it's just because I'm lazy or if it is because I'm lazy and I have to write in English... so I wanted to ask if there is any non Portuguese speaker reading my blog regularly... if not, I might just revert to writing in Portuguese. :) Please let me know! ;)