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Bermuda Film Blog

Best of the Fest: Andrew’s Picks

Film series coordinator Andrew Stoneham shares with us his thoughts on the top five films at this year’s BIFF.

1) Submarine *****

Oh Submarine how I love thee. Riddled with witty dialogue, quirky out-of-the-box characters, and a stylistic narrative approach I took an instant liking to this refreshingly unique take on the conventional coming-of-age story that we have all seen time and time again. Oliver Tate is the star of the film and will probably go down as one of the most interesting and hilarious hero’s…no wait scratch that..anti-hero’s in recent cinematic history. I really can find no fault with this quick-paced comedy, director Richard Ayoade makes his mark in contemporary British cinema with an extraordinary impressive directorial debut. I look forward to seeing what wonderful labors of fruit his future projects will bear.

2) Incendies ****1/2

If you are an avid film festival attendee like myself than you are well aware of the fact that at every festival there is always that one surprisingly amazing film. This film I speak of typically goes slightly unnoticed for the most part, but before the close of the festival it has taken the crowds by surprise with its originality and emotional authenticity. Incendies, is the film I speak of for this year’s festival. The trailer intrigued me, the synopsis interested me but I was for the most part on the fence in regards as to whether I should see the film or not. In the end it was the small fact that it was nominated for an Oscar that tip the scale in the film’s favor and thus decided it was at the very least worth checking out. After viewing the film I find myself once again questioning the Academy’s decision making abilities. Dare I say I’m completely mind boggled as to why the Academy didn’t select this film as the Oscar winner. Incendies is an enthralling drama/mystery which captivates you from the first frame and doesn’t release you until the film fades to black. Truthfully even after the last credit rolls off the screen the film stays with you lingering in the back of your mind, haunting you with its emotional resonance. The plot is gripping, the cinematography memorizing, the characters and the emotional journey they embark on is heartbreaking. This ladies and gentleman is one of the best films of 2011, do yourself a favor and go see it.

3) Another Year ****

Another Year is perhaps Mike Leigh’s best work in recent memory. While I’ve always admired Leigh’s stylistic approach as a director I was never what one would call a fan of his work. However with the release of his latest film that has changed. Lesley Manville gives an amazing performance why she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar is beyond me. Not only is she more deserving of being nominated than any of the other nominees, I’m fairly confident if she would have been nominated than she would have won indeed. Her performance will go down in the history books as one of the worst Oscar snubs in Academy history. Leigh proves he has the ability to craft authentic dialogue mixed with a naturalistic approach towards character interaction. Both these elements help to create and maintain an organic atmosphere/tone to the film as it follows an aging couple Tom and Jerry in their twilight years. We spend an entire season with this couple along with their friends and family who constantly populate their lives. Leigh effectively creates a mirror for the audience; these aren’t characters that we are familiar with. These are characters who we know from our own lives.

4) In A Better World ****

As previously mentioned above, I’m slightly perplexed as to how this film beat out Incendies for the Best Foreign Language Film in the Oscars. None the less In A Better World is still an exceptionally well crafted film, there is simply no denying that. However the film doesn’t offer anything new in terms of plot, characters, or direction. Instead it opts to take a more classic approach to a contemporary drama. Susanne Bier creates morally complex characters who find themselves in morally challenging situations. One can’t help but feel that at certain points in the film, the story falls into its own trappings and comes off slightly preachy. Thankfully these moments are few and far between. The film strengths lie within in the superb acting, and strong storyline.

5) Kaboom & Life During Wartime ***1/2

This last gap has proven to be particularly challenging to fill, I feel as though the French film Of Gods and Men might have met my rather high expectations and thus accordingly been designated the remaining spot on my list. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to attend either screenings. I can however inform you that over the duration of the festival many attendees did come up to me and expressed their enjoyment over the film hailing it as one of their top picks of the festival. Moving forward and bearing that in mind we will never know if the film was good enough to make the best of the fest. As a result of this missed opportunity I now find myself torn between two films. Rather than shaft one film over the other I decided to allow them both to share the spotlight. So without further ado I unveiled my fifth and final pick (which in case you didn’t realize by now is a tie) between the sexually charged Kaboom and the dark satire comedy Life During Wartime. WARNING neither of these films is for the politically correct or more conservative members of society.

If you’re looking for a college comedy with actual sex in it than look no further. Kaboom offers a marriage of genres and blends the lines between sci-fi, comedy, horror, and thriller. While on the surface it appears to be a some-what superficial film with its drop-dead-gorgeous young cast, youthful modern dialogue, and sexually explicit sex scenes (who’d a thought). There is however more than meets the eye bubbling away under the film’s surface. Cult director Greg Araki offers us a social commentary on college life in today’s modern world, he provides the audience with a rather frank unapologetic look into the sexual awakening of three college students. All the while infusing the film with a sense of over the top campiness which creates many moments of laugh-out-loud hysterical fun. Kaboom strength lies in the simple fact that it never takes its self to seriously and neither should you.

The question I propose to you here and now is can you make pedophilia funny? The answer although difficult to swallow is yes you certainly can or at least you can if you’re a critically acclaimed director by the name of Todd Solondz. Life During Wartime takes some exceptionally dark material such as pedophilia, drug addiction, and suicide and puts a perverse but ultimately humorous outlook on such themes. The characters presented in the film are damaged goods to put it kindly it’s the personalities presented and how they deal with the situations they find themselves in that creates the all too real humor.

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4 responses to “Best of the Fest: Andrew’s Picks

  1. Aideen Ratteray Pryse April 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

    A tie for the fifth spot? Isn’t that like a Top 6 list? Otherwise, good picks. I missed Incendies but certainly everyone I spoke with that saw it, loved it. A film well spotted!

  2. Margot April 2, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I just want to know which film won the Audience Choice award. We used to be able to know before the end of the Wrap party!

  3. David O'Beirne April 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Andrew…Great choices all…and agree with you that Incendies is a very good film.
    I still preferred In a Better World…..despite the obvious storyline.
    Amadillo and Of Gods and Men also very good.
    And My Perestroika is the film of the week in Time Out New York this week.

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