Tilva Ros (2010)

Tilva Ros (2010)
Directed by: Nikola Lezaic
Country: Serbia

Review: “Tilva Ros” is a dissimulated documentary turned into independent drama. The movie was shot in Bor, Serbia, a small town that in the past was considered the biggest copper mine in Europe. Nikola Lezaic, also a native from Bor, decided to make a movie about two friends, Toda and Stefan, who are skaters in a group named “Kolos”. Despite their friendship, they are constantly competing about a girl named Dunja who arrived from France for holidays. Most of the time they're doing small-videos about radical jumps, auto-mutilation, beatings and random destruction, to get her attention. The movie shows a particular way of living, pointing how the living conditions and choices will take them to different paths. “Tilva Ros” may seem aimless at the first sight, but a closer look will make you conclude that this is a curious study about youth and their ambitions, in an isolated town.

Boy (2010)

Boy (2010)
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Country: New Zealand

Summary: Set on the east coast of New Zealand in the year 1984, Boy, an 11-year-old kid and devout Michael Jackson fan gets a chance to know his father.
Review: “Boy” is a sensitive and often funny movie about a kid from a New Zealand’s village, whose family was broken from the moment that his mother died. His absent father finally returns one day, not to find their children, but to collect a buried amount of money. Being immature and sly, he will be a complete disappointment to his kids, who had imagined a model dad. Using an engaging style and the typical colors from the Pacific lands, “Boy” covers father/son relationship and the power of forgiveness without being too sentimental or boring. For an agreeable matinee. 
Relevant awards: Best feature film (Berlin); audience (Sidney).

José and Pilar (2010)

Directed by: Miguel Gonçalves Mendes
Country: Portugal

Summary: A deeply moving story about love, loss and literature.
Review: A documentary about José Saramago, maybe the most controversial Portuguese writer ever, winner of 1998’s Nobel Prize in literature. An honest portrait of the author, demystifying the idea of a cold man and offender of Catholic Church. After watching the film, it became clear that Saramago was straightforward, idealistic and passionate, who was hurt for never have been well accepted in his own country. The relationship with his wife Pilar Del Rio, a Spanish journalist, was crucial in all the process towards recognition and is well documented here. Important to better know Saramago as writer and as human being.
Relevant awards: Audience award (São Paulo).

Fortress Of War (2010)

Directed by: Aleksandr Kott
Country: Russia

Plot: A war drama set during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, in which Russian troops held on to a border stronghold for nine days.
Review: Beautifully shot, “Fortress of War” is based on the real events happened in Brest Fortress, Belarus, before and after the invasion of the German troops in 1941. The peaceful scenario of the beginning soon changes to an authentic human slaughter. The violence is frequently too explicit - gunshots, explosions and dismembered people are everywhere throughout the film. For over two hours we can have an intense but also tiresome experience, testifying a real example of Russian patriotism and resistance. Recommended, for ones who have stomach for heavy content.
Relevant awards: -

Chico & Rita (2010)

Directed by: Fernando Trueba
Country: Spain

Plot: Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice.
Review: What a joy was to realize that Spanish director Fernando Trueba returned to the big movies. "Belle Epoque" marked my adolescence and I will always remember it with yearning. The cuban-jazz of "Chico & Rita, sought some inspiration in some life details of Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés. The story was very well cooked and the option for animation was accomplished with success, conveying all the richness and colors of jazz blended with the passion of romance. As a jazz fan, I was delighted with the appearances of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Ben Webster and Chano Pozo, even in animated shapes. A fulgurant story!
Relevant awards: Best animated film (Gaudí, Goya and European Film Awards).

A Quiet Life (2010)

Directed by: Claudio Cupellini
Country: Italy

Plot: A man escapes to Germany and starts a new life, thinking he will finally enjoy a quiet life. All changes when his son arrives in town on a mission.
Review: In “A quiet life”, we can see Italian Mafia operating in Germany. This foreign “job” is seen by Diego as an opportunity to visit his father, Rosario, who fled from the Mafia fifteen years before, in order to start a new life. Everything goes badly when Rosario’s true identity is discovered, which forces him to take risky and radical decisions. The movie is stated in tepid tones and was never able to scoop any magical formula to surprise us. Although, far from the latest Italian movies about the same subject, such as "Gomorrah" or "Il Divo", it will still be able to provide minimum entertainment.
Relevant awards: -

Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

Directed by: Richard Press
Country: USA

Plot: A cinematic profile of the noted veteran New York City fashion photographer.
Review: It was satisfying to know more about the life of Bill Cunningham, famous and elusive fashion photographer of New York Times who has dedicated all his life to his career. Light and honest, this short documentary kept me curious throughout its 84 minutes. The movie shows not only the energy and obsessive dedication of this man, but also his sadness and loneliness. After watching this, we keep wondering which of these factors has had more weight in his life. A likeable biography.
Relevant awards: -

Nothing's All Bad (2010)

Directed by: Mikkel Munch-Fals
Country: Denmark

Plot: Four people struggle with their sexual needs and their desire to be loved.
Review: First feature film from Mikkel Munch-Fals, wasn't so satisfying as expected. Adopting the typical despair and grief from Scandinavian dramas, focuses on different characters who are trying to cope with loneliness, sexual misfit and extreme psychological pain. The fear of not being accepted as they really are, associated with the idea that there’s always someone for you (no matter what problem you might have), is played here as a major key, but the movie happens to be too dense and cold to be fully enjoyed. Not a cheerful choice.
Relevant awards: New voices/visions grand jury prize (Palm Springs).

Sacrifice (2010)

Directed by: Chen Kaige
Country: China

Plot: To save the only child of the Zhao Family, whose entire clan was massacred, a doctor sacrifices his own son.
Review: Ones who are familiar with previous works by Chen Kaige, must be aware of his capabilities. “Farewell, My Concubine”, “The Emperor and The Assassin” or “Life on a String” will be remembered as top quality movies in its genre. “Sacrifice” is a typical Kaiges’s film. As usual, the importance of costume designs, characterization and appropriate scenarios, are well weighted. The weakness here is the plot, which is not so rich or appealing as in some earlier works. Lovers of the genre will be pleased with the action's effects, while the others can just take a look to pass some time. I may say that its purposes were achieved with competence.
Relevant awards: -

I Wish I Knew (2010)

Directed by: Jia Zhang Ke
Country: China

Plot: Focuses on the people, their stories and architecture spanning from the mid-1800s, when Shanghai was opened as a trading port, to the present day.
Review: Jia Zhang Ke continues his brilliant career with another elucidating documentary, which happens to be a tribute to Shanghai. We have an historical and political lesson about this city by listen to the testimonials of known personalities, most of them related to cinema. Sometimes it can become a bit confusing, especially if we are not familiarized with the Shanghai’s history, but Zhang Ke had the wit to fascinate us with superbly composed frames of desolated and abandoned landscapes, just as he already did in “Still Life”(2006) or “24 City”(2008).
Relevant awards: Best documentary (Dubai).

For Lovers Only (2010)

Directed by: Michael Polish
Country: USA

Plot: An American photographer runs into an old flame while on assignment in Paris.
Review: A romantic essay from the Polish brothers (as usual: Mark writes and performs, while Michael directs) with a total different approach so far. Filmed on black-and-white, “For Lovers Only” shows an extra-marital affair occurring in France between a man and a woman in love. The story takes time to evolve but was able to catch our attention, aided by a musical score that served well its purposes. The main drawback was the excessive fashionable images that overlaps all the rest, creating some kind of artificial aesthetic. Polish brothers best films still are the early ones: “Twin Falls Idaho” (1999) and “Northfork” (2003), the latter being a true masterpiece.
Relevant awards: -

As If I Am Not There (2010)

Directed by: Juanita Wilson
Country: UK

Plot: A harsh dose of cinematic realism taken from true stories of Bosnian War.
Review: An appalling story depicting Balkan War with an enormous psychological burden. Much of the film shows destruction in many ways: villages burned, men killed, imprisoned women with wrecked self-esteem, mistreatments and sexual abuse. It is very hard to watch all this destruction without being affected and for most of the time this is what the movie has to show. Fortunately, the ending bestows signs of hope for the future in some very touching image sequences. We can then sigh with relief and smile.
Relevant awards: Best film and director (Irish Awards); FACE Award (Instanbul).

Bi, Don't Be Afraid (2010)

Directed by: Dang Di Phan
Country: Vietnam

Plot: In an old house in Hanoi, Bi, a 6-year-old child lives with his parents, his aunt and their cook.
Review: Delicious images emerged in this first feature film from Vietnamese Dang Di Phan.  Bi, a 6 year-old child observes with curiosity all members of his family: a busy mother, an aunt with a strange behavior, a drunk and absent father and a sick grandfather who returned home after many years abroad. Bi spends his time wandering between his home, the surrounding fields and an old ice factory, becoming more and more lonely. Magnificently directed with a lyrical style and with many answers to be sought.
Relevant awards: Best feature film (Cannes).

Between Two Fires (2010)

Directed by: Agnieszka Lukasiak
Country: Poland/Sweden

Plot: A young mother with her daughter escapes Belarus just to end up in a refugee camp in northern Sweden.
Quick comment: A distressful story about a mother and her daughter, trying to escape from Belarusian Mafia to avoid sexual and physical abuse. Once in Sweden, hoping to be given permission to stay, they will not rest as expected. The film centers on the refugee’s problems in a legit way. But in the other hand, it’s frustratingly invariable in its suspenseful moments and lingers too much over sex scenes. You will not be disappointed, but you will not be asking for more either.
Relevant awards: -

The Arbor (2010)

Directed by: Clio Barnard
Country: UK

Plot: Portrayal of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar and family.
Quick comment: Heavy documentary based on a mournful story, which sometimes becomes difficult to watch. Motherhood is the topic. The life of British playwright Andrea Dunbar and her daughter Lorraine were analyzed. Some theatrical road scenes were added to recreate Andrea's writings. Even taking this in consideration, the power of words was enough to keep our interest focused on this true and shocking story.
Relevant awards: best documentary (Tribeca); best british newcomer director (London).

Cirkus Columbia (2010)

Directed by: Danis Tanovic
Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Plot: A story set in the former Yugoslavia and centered on a guy who returns to Herzegovina from Germany with plenty of cash and hopes for a good new life.
Quick comment: Danis Tanovic (“No Man’s Land”) returns to the Balkan War stories with this hilarious comedy where family issues were combined with political struggles in old Yugoslavia. A crazy story with a few funny situations, shows solid characters and also works as a strong criticism of a divided country. Actually, there was nothing that we hadn’t seen yet and the story needed a push in some instances, but it flows all right, and I was amused for almost 2 hours.
Relevant awards: Best foreign film (Antalya).

Kooky (2010)

Directed: Jan Sverak
Country: Czech Republic

Plot: Young Ondra has asthma and so his mom throws away his favorite toy: a musty old stuffed bear named Kooky...
Quick comment: “Kooky” fits in those kind of movies which will please parents as much as their kids. Mixing up animation (handcrafted puppets) with real landscapes and people, it manages to be technically efficient and visually stunning. The story despite being stereotyped and showing repeated wild action, turns out to engage, following the same path of Sverak’s previous works where fantasy, comedy and family entertainment are common. As advice I urge you to look for Sverak's master work named "Kolya"(1996)
Relevant Awards: jury prize (Karlovy Vary).

The Colors of the Mountain (2010)

Directed by: Carlos César Arbeláez
Country: Colombia

Plot: Manuel, age: 9, has an old ball and dreams of becoming a great goalkeeper. His wishes seem set to come true when his father gives him a new ball. But an unexpected accident sends the ball flying into a minefield.
Quick comment: A colombian childhood drama where the horrors of war are shared with the pleasures of playing soccer. In a standard way and without great prominence it was a good effort to depict friendship, discard of life dreams and swift growing up in a war environment where the behaviour and mind of a child can radically change.
Relevant Awards: Best colombian film at Bogotá Film Fest. (Colombia).

The Silence (2010)

Directed by: Baran Bo Odar
Country: Germany

Plot: 13-year-old Sinikka vanishes on a hot summer night. Her bicycle is found in the exact place where a girl was killed 23 years ago. The dramatic present forces those involved in the original case to face their past.
Quick comment: An investigation of two similar murders with a gap of 20 years that will keep you with the eyes wide opened. I have no remarks concerning the story’s integrity. This plot could be true and it is from here that comes its main strength. As for the rest I shall warn you that this is a bitter film where everything and everyone involved are gloomy. Even the police men.
Relevant Awards: -

Oranges And Sunshine (2010)

Directed by: Jim Loach
Country: Australia/UK

Plot: Set in 1980s Nottingham, social worker Margaret Humphreys holds the British government accountable for child migration schemes and reunite the children involved (now adults living mostly in Australia with their parents in Britain).
Quick comment: The movie tends to be scattered in the first 40 minutes. When it tries to get right back on track it is too late. The story is consistent and it’s visible the concern of being truthful to the facts. The problem is in the way it was done. Using the same old conventional approach it wasn’t able to be catchy.
Relevant Awards: -