Music people as seen by Terrence Malick, bank robbery as revenge by seniors and a Smurfy surprise
The film is dead accurate about how things can go wrong. It takes some knowledge to really understand what it shows and how off these guys are in what they’re trying to do. On the plus side, it celebrates improvisation. It’s a Czech film but since it has no dialogue, it needs no subtitles.
Louise By the Shore (at 7 pm) is a magical bit of animation from France. It’s recommended for 13+ and I hope there are teens who would care enough to watch a film about a lonely old woman. Louise missed the last train out of a summer resort and has to exist like Robinson Crusoe with only a dog for company. The original French title, Louise in Winter, is more accurate.
We appreciate her resilience and also see a sadness. Gradually we come to understand it through her dreams which show us incidents from her life. It’s short, only 75 minutes, but this film is rich with feelings and quite moving. It closes the festival.
Heidi (2 pm) is a new Swiss-German production of the classic story. The orphan girl is taken to live with her grouchy grandfather in the Alps and before long manages to soften him with her sunny innocence.
Then she’s taken to the city of Frankfurt to be a companion to a sickly rich girl in a wheelchair. A stern housekeeper and a volatile father irritate her but a friendly grandmother consoles her and enables a return to the Alps. The film follows the classic story almost exactly, omitting only the religious content. The grandmother’s key advice in the novel was to turn to God for consolation. The Alps, the town and the city are beautifully photographed but the child’s story comes off a bit corny.
Brothers of the Wind (11:45 am) also has a corny feel but also looks great. The cinematography is spectacular as a young boy in Austria trains a young eagle whose brother pushed it out of the nest before it learned to fly. A forester (played by Jean Reno) says it’s a Cain and Abel situation and shows the boy how to teach the bird survival skills, how to hunt and eventually return to the wild. The bird chases mice and in a thrilling scene attacks a mountain goat. Parallel to that progress, the boy learns to come out from under his own problems. Hollywood doesn’t make films like this for children anymore. This one is recommended 10+
CHOKESLAM: Here’s a novel spin on a romantic comedy. It’s Canadian and plays out against a wrestling backdrop. The love story grows and sputters but the action in the ring gets wildly excessive in this Calgary-written, Regina-filmed movie.
Amanda Crew doesn’t look like a wrestler but plays one anyway. (She’s from Langley and can regularly be seen in the HBO series Silicon Valley). In this film she arrives in town for a high school reunion, and to sit out a suspension, while her manager (Niall Matter, good hustler) works the phone to set up a big return match. Or is it retirement? A local deli-clerk (Chris Marquette, nicely nerdy), whose marriage proposal she rejected 10 years earlier, tries to re-connect with her and schemes to have the match staged locally. His best bud (Michael Eklund, funny) drops around now and then to offer some dim-witted help. The film, written and directed by Robert Cuffley, is sweet and nice when the two leads talk themselves closer to each other but many subplots and a bizarre final wrestling match send it bouncing off the ropes. (International Village. Cuffley will do a Q&A Friday after the early evening show) 2 out of 5
And if that’s not enough …
THE CASE FOR CHRIST: A faith-based movie based on a true story in a popular book. In it the legal editor at the Chicago Tribute turns his investigative journalist skills to debunking the story of Jesus. That’s after his wife became a devout Christian. I don’t know the outcome except that he eventually turned to Christ too. Mike Vogel and Erika Christensen play the couple and Faye Dunaway is Dr. Roberta Waters. (International Village)