Thursday, April 10, 2008

Festival Day 2

Day 1

Monday 4/7

Blast of Silence
USA 1961, 77 min

Another subdivision of the film festival is screenings in conjunction with Noircon 2008. Three classical period films will be shown in addition to a recent animated update on the themes. The first of these I took in Monday was Blast of Silence. Note to the Fetsival: Please provide details in the program when a film will be shown on DVD instead of a print. The quality of projecting a DVD to the silver screen, even one from the Criterion Collection, is not near that of a film print.

The film itself, while coming after the classical period (released in ’61), shows many of the hallmarks of the genre without the self-awareness of neo-noir. Our lead, one of God’s lonely men, is a Cleveland hitman come to NYC for the holidays on a job. The big city in this film though is unlike that of previous efforts with the influence of the Beats. Cassavetes’ Shadow’s (released 2 years prior) has as much influence here as Chandler. The sneering, oppressive narration by a raspy, sight unseen, voice grounds the film in grit and beat poetry while the club and party scenes feature greasy men in black with bongos chanting and yearning over harsh times in the city. We watch as the hitman, “Baby Boy” Frankie Bono, played by writer/director Allen Baron stalks his kill and the repetition of certain key phrases by the narrator betray the workings of his nerves while the character remains cool on the outside. When he runs into an old flame and things go amiss with a particularly repugnant weapons supplier though Frankie’s work breaks down and he wants out of course this being noir his shot at redemption isn’t likely to end in a house with a white picket fence.


Mister Foe
aka: Hallam Foe
Great Britain 2007, 95 min

The story of a young man’s struggles with the loss of a parent has won quite a few awards since its debut at the Berlin Film Festival in 2007. All deservedly so. Jamie “the only thing that saved Jumper” Bell is the leading British actor of his generation and here crafts a sublime performance as Hallam Foe, a young man who it trying to find someone to blame for his Mother’s death and a way to reconnect with her. His well-to-do family lives on an estate in Scotland yet he hides in a tree house that his architect father designed for him as a child. When his sister moves out, his step-mother (played by the always awful Claire Forlani) makes her move to get him off the property as well, further damaging his fragile psyche. He moves to Glasgow and resumes his favorite pastime… peeping. As he peeks and follows the denizens he runs into a woman with a striking resemblance to the deceased. He charms her into giving him a job at the hotel she works for and after work he bounds across the roof tops of the city to her skylight and peers at her from afar inside the hotel’s iconic clock tower. After a few drinks with coworkers on his 18th she takes him back to her place and they begin a disturbing love affair that grows to understanding of his condition and Foe looks like he’s overcoming his past. But when his parents seek him out again a few well placed daggers from the step-mother send him over the edge leading to a climax at the loch on the estate with badger skins and a lot of make-up.
Hallam Foe - Full Length Official Trailer

Complimenting Bell’s performance is Sophia Myles (Tristan + Isolde) who shines as the unsure of her self late 20 something who has her own issues with love and life. Ewen Bremner is unfortunately wasted in the story which is a shame as even his cameos are usually top notch. Director David Mackenzie (Young Adam) turns in a strong psycho-drama with charm and more than a little humor that should win continue to win over audiences throughout the world.


Young People F*cking
Canada 2007, 90 min

With a title like that how could I not add this to my fest schedule? And that is really all you get in this steamy, awkward, painful, funny Canadian comedy. The film features 5 sets of young people (Roommates, Couple, Exes, First Date, Friends) and takes them through 6 “stages” (prelude, foreplay, intercourse, interlude, climax, afterglow). These aren’t intertwining stories but intercut vignettes, each with a bit of set-up before the title card. The film also screams CBC in terms of comedic set up as well as aesthetics.


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