Review: This Ain’t California

Year: 2011
Country: Germany
Language: German
Director: Marten Persiel
Screenplay: Marten Persiel, Ira Wedel
Cinematography: Felix Leiberg
Animation: Sasa Zivkovic
Music: Lars Damm, Troy von Balthasar
Runtime: 90 min
Trailer: Trailer 1 and Trailer 2
Film’s official website: This Ain’t California

This Ain’t California had its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival (London) on September 27, 2012. Details here. It also screened in German cinemas this summer and has been shown at a number of international film festivals. It will be the closing film at the annual Berlin & Beyond Festival in San Francisco on October 4, 2012.

A few years back the International Baccalaureate (IB) issued a quote for its students the world round to discuss in their Theory of Knowledge examination essays: “History is part myth, part hope and part reality”. Der Spiegel, a German-language weekly from the popular press, missed the lesson, writing the following in its review of This Ain’t California:

Zu rasant, um wahr zu sein: Der preisgekrönte Film “This Ain’t California” über die Skater-Szene in der DDR kommt als Dokumentation daher. Dabei ist vieles erfunden und nachgestellt. (Translation: “Too daring to be true: The award-winning film ‘This Ain’t California’ about the skateboarding scene in the German Democratic Republic pretends to be a documentary. Much however is invented and reproduced.”) (quote source) Continue reading “Review: This Ain’t California”

Review: 「ぐるりのこと。」(Gururi no Koto/All Around Us)

Year: 2008
Director: Hashiguchi Ryosuke (橋口亮輔)
Screenplay: Hashiguchi Ryosuke (橋口亮輔)
Cinematography: Ueno Shogo
Cast: Kimura Tae (木村多江), Franky Lily (リリー・フランキー)
Runtime: 140 min

Seen at the ICA as part of The Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme Whose Film Is It Anyway? Contemporary Japanese Auteurs”.
With a plot centring on a couple that loses their unborn child, I expected Gururi no Koto to be a heart-wrenching film. I went in thinking it would depict the emotional unravelling of its characters to the lowest point, that it would show us their grief, their anger and their sadness over the tragic death, but, alas, there was little of this. Instead, Gururi no Koto surprised me. Continue reading “Review: 「ぐるりのこと。」(Gururi no Koto/All Around Us)”

K-Directors: Park Kwang-su (박광수) Month at the KCCUK in March

We are entering the third month of KCCUK’s Year of 12 Directors. March showcases four films of Park Kwang-su (박광수), none of which I am familiar with. Indeed, I have not watched anything by Park, so I am hoping to make it to all the screenings. He certainly sounds like an interesting filmmaker.
Continue reading “K-Directors: Park Kwang-su (박광수) Month at the KCCUK in March”

Review: L'artiste (The Artist)

Country: France
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius
Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Uggie
Runtime: 100 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official website: Weinstein Co.
Currently screening in UK cinemas (and elsewhere).
L’artiste is that film: the one that has been winning big at all the award ceremonies this season, scooping Best Film at the Golden Globes in January as well as at the BAFTAs last Sunday (plus multiple other awards at both ceremonies). Continue reading “Review: L'artiste (The Artist)”

Review: جدایی نادر از سیمین (Jodái-e Náder az Simin/A Separation)

Year: 2011
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi
Cinematography: Mahmoud Kalari
Cast: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Kimia Hosseini
Runtime: 123 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Seen at a screening as part of the Iranian Film Festival (UKIFF) at Ciné Lumière.
A Separation was the first Iranian film to win the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival (plus Silver Berlin Bears for Best Actor – Peyman Moaadi and Shahab Hosseini – as well as Best Actress – for both Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat). It also won awards at the Sydney Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, the San Sebastián International Film Festival, the British Independent Film Awards, among others. (For a complete list see here.) It currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Continue reading “Review: جدایی نادر از سیمین (Jodái-e Náder az Simin/A Separation)”