International Film Festival brings thought-provoking movies in second week
Popular Music from Vittula
This is the “Dog” of the Festival: the film most like “My Life as a Dog,” that is. It’s a sentimental comedy about abused kids and how the Swedes have historically discriminated and fought with the Finns. There are some new twists, but it leaves you with the same familiar warm and fuzzy feeling.
starts out with a man climbing a mountain in a blinding blizzard. He reaches
the summit, takes an urn out of his backpack, unscrews it and releases the ashes
into the blizzard, then kneels down and kisses the earth. Then his tongue freezes
to the ground. The pivotal sequence in the film is when the young Finnish boy’s
grandmother dies. She gives him her Bible.
When his cousins come for the funeral from America they give him a phonograph
record. He doesn’t know what to give them, so he gives them the Bible.
When he and his friend (the narrator of the film), the Swedish kid from next
door, play the record, Chuck Berry screams out from another planet, “Just
give me that rock and roll music . . .” The kids are blasted up against
the wall and the room starts revolving at 33 rpm. It’s a life-changing
experience for them, as it was for all of us.
“Popular Music from Vittula” plays Thursday, April 14 at 9:15
p.m. at the Lagoon Cinema and Friday, April 15 at 9:45 p.m. at the Oak Street
– Ed Felien
The Fall of Fujimori
“The Fall of Fujimori” provides a riveting, close-up take on exiled
former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori. Playing out in a manner similar
to the Robert McNamara bio-doc “The Fog of War,” Fujimori sits down
for an extensive in-person interview.
He currently lives in Tokyo under the protection of the Japanese government,
but is wanted by Interpol for charges of kidnapping and murder during his decade
long presidential administration which used top secret—and wholly illegal—death
squads to hunt down terrorists.
The film also uses news and home video footage to take the viewer back to the
highs and lows of his time in office.
The film is a powerful and objective character study that shows off both Fujimori’s
intense charisma—which enabled him to become the people’s candidate
of choice in 1990, despite being the child of Japanese immigrants and therefore
ethnically apart from nearly all of his Peruvian constituency—and the
eventual megalomania that would bring him to ruin.
“The Fall of Fujimori” plays Saturday, April 16 at 5:15 p.m.
at Bell Auditorium.
-- Rob van Alstyne
In this very disturbing documentary from Brazil, Estamira has been certified
insane by the medical authorities, and though she doesn’t dispute this,
she says she is lucid and knows what is going on.
Watch in horror at the life she leads working (and sometimes living) at a huge
garbage dump outside of Rio de Janeiro. Be transfixed by the scenes of the flocks
of humans, flocks of birds and flocks of dogs as they compete for the first
pickings of every new garbage truck. Get sick as she feeds her family a spaghetti
dinner made from her finds. Cringe as she berates her grandson for believing
Estamira believes that the gods/pranksters/punsters/astral bodies fight with
her and cause thunderstorms, cause her pain by twisting perverse remote controls
that are linked to her nerves and desire her. She is angry—angry that
the medical profession wants to treat her anger over her multiple rapes with
anti-depressants, but mostly she directs her anger towards her gods. She is
a woman who has not given up, fights for survival and understanding even as
she accepts her own insanity.
Watch this movie. Be disturbed, and uncomfortable, share a little of Estamira’s
life. It will be an experience that will stay with you.
“Estamira” plays Saturday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at Crown Theaters
Block E and at Tuesday, April 12 at 9:45 p.m. at the Oak Street Cinema.
– David Tilsen
The Great Communist Bank Robbery
1959 there was a bank robbery under the brutal police state of Chechescu’s
Romanian communist state. More than 40 years later, the child of one of the
men convicted and executed for the crime researches and, in making this Romanian
documentary, tries to figure out what happened.
The police arrested hundreds of people and tortured many to death in their attempts
to obtain confessions. When they did get some people to confess, the police
forced them to reenact the crime for film cameras, then filmed their courtroom
trials and confessions, before executing them by firing squad.
We don’t learn the guilt or innocence of the convicted men (they did not
execute the one female member of the group), nor do we confirm or deny the many
We do learn more than we wanted to know about the Romanian police state of the
1950s. We listen to judges, policemen, torture victims and children of men who
died “during questioning” about this case and what happened to them.
I enjoyed the film, but I would not watch it again.
“The Great Communist Bank Robbery” plays Monday, April 11 at
5:30 p.m. at the Lagoon Cinema.
– David Tilsen
Them Who You Are
He may not be a household name, but Haskell Wexler is one of the great mavericks
of movie history. In his 50-year career, he has been a cinematographer on classics
like “In the Heat of the Night,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia
Woolf?” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
He is also one of the truly populist voices in film, often turning down blockbusters
to work on documentaries about peace movements, unions and Third-World struggles.
Now Wexler’s son Mark turns the camera on the cameraman with his new documentary,
“Tell Them Who You Are.”
Not surprisingly, the elder Haskell has worked with almost every player in Hollywood,
and his son mines the memories of several stars. But more interesting are the
intimate moments between father and son, when the old man criticizes his camera-work
and we see glimpses of the respect and tension in the relationship.
“Tell Them Who You Are” plays Sunday, April 10 at 2:15 p.m. at
Crown Theaters Block E and Wednesday, April 13 at 5:15 p.m. at the Lagoon Cinema.
-- Brian Kaller