Thursday, July 2, 2009

Up the Yangtze

Don't compare Canada to the United States. Don't talk politics. Don't come across as humble. Those are some of the rules for the staff of a cruise ship that ferries western passengers up the Yangtze in this film. This documentary by Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang follows the experiences of two Chinese teenagers named "Cindy" and "Jerry" who take employment as agents of foreign hospitality in the shadow of the Three Gorges Dam project. As the water level quickly rises, farmlands are obliterated and subsistence farmers are rendered homeless. As China's economy transitions from communism to capitalism, the commoners might be all but forgotten. But there are some entrepreneurs in this new China that try to bridge the two ideologies while sticking to some of their traditional values. Finding a place in the future isn't always easy (or even possible).

Up the Yangtze (at IMDB)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Terribly Happy

I am not terribly happy about any of the films I've seen yet at this year's Seattle International Film Festival. Sometimes it takes a few days of reflection, or even a few weeks, to fully appreciate a movie's good points. And perhaps when it's all over and done with I'll feel more ecstatic about some of the following films. But for the moment, these are the highlights that shouldn't be missed (in no particular order).

Terribly Happy (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 3.2/5

A Danish cop is reassigned to a small, remote village where he learns it's "okay" to kill the odd townsfolk. And everyone in this little town is very odd. The film's director and writer, Henrik Ruben Genz, has done a number of television shows. This is Northern Exposure as David Lynch might have envisioned it.

Moon (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 3.5/5

Much of this film reminds me of the stand-up video arcade game called Moon Patrol.

Hansel and Gretel (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 3.5/5

Don't take your children to this movie.

The Hurt Locker (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 4.5/5

I don't know what a realistic depiction of war is like, but this strikes me as believable.

Miao Miao (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 3.2/5

Teenage crushes suck.

The Merry Gentleman (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 4.1/5

Being a professional killer sucks.

Departures (at SIFF, IMDB) -- Raiting: 4.3/5

Working as an undertaker...doesn't always suck, and it can be a gratifying career move.