Bath Film Festival 2009
Cold Souls did indeed remind me of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Paul Giamatti makes anything watchable. He reminds me of Woody Allen. Brainy, introverted and whiny. Cold Souls is a gentle, enjoyable comedy.
Un Prophete is a gripping story of a man who enters prison as the lowest in the pecking order, and climbs his way to the top. Rather than thinking, 'I must remember this if I ever end up in prison', it made me even more determined to avoid prison. I quite liked the subtitles, as it made it easier to work out what was going on. Convincing prison atmosphere is often at odds with clear diction. The final scene stayed with me. You know, the bit where the cars come round the corner one after the other. Cleverly done.
A Serious Man was the most mainstream of the films I saw at the festival. It does a fine job of evoking a particular world. I'm not a sophisticated film-goer, so the thing that interested me most was the serious man's brother. Particularly his 'mentaculus', a book to do with probabilities. It helped him win at cards, but it turned out that what he was doing was illegal. I wanted the mentaculus and the brother to save the day and everything would end happily. Okay, that would have destroyed the artistic integrity of the piece, but...
For me the best film by far that I saw at the festival was The Sky Crawlers. The first thing is that the music was outstanding. It seemed to capture the mood of the film perfectly. The emotional tone of the story, animation and music were all in concert. Crawlers showed the best of what a film can be. I was transported to a different world. The animation was in its rightful place as part of the film, rather than the film being a vehicle for the animation. Really, the film was driven by the story, which is the right way round. I find that few films deserve a second viewing. This one would. The best film I've seen this year.