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JDIFF 2014 Reviews #10 – Visitors, The Wonders, Cannibal, Reunion, Bad Hair

Our tenth and final set of reviews from the 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival are from JDIFF volunteer and film nut Conor Bent, follow him @conorbent.

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Director: Godfrey Reggio
Country of Origin: US
Duration: 87 minutes
Year: 2013

The third “film poem” from Godfrey Reggio in thirty years.

Returning to the style of Koyaanisqatsi (a stoner favourite) Reggio again collaborates with Philip Glass in creating a collection of hypnotic shots set to a thriving score. The lack of any plot leaves us only with the title to guess at it’s meaning. Despite one of the earlier shots of the surface of the moon the most compelling shots are earthbound – human faces and hands manipulating touch screens from the screen’s point of view.

02wondersThe Wonders

(read Mick McGovern’s thoughts on the film for here)

Director: Avi Nesher
Cast: Adir Miller, Ori Hizkiah, Yehuda Levi
Country of Origin: Israel
Duration: 112 minutes
Year: 2013

It’s not often you have to pass a picket line to see a film, but that was the case for the new Israeli film from director Avi Nesher. However this an enjoyable farce and the protest was against its distribution company which, as the director explained in the Q and A, was more controversial with Israelis.

The film is based on the true story of a self proclaimed prophet Rabbi Knafo (Yehuda Levi) and how a stoner college drop out Ariel Navon (Ori Hizkiah) becomes involved in a conspiracy surrounding him. References to The Third Man, China Town and even Who Framed Roger Rabbit in its use of animation allows us to relax in an environment usually fraught with tensions. The plot at can become overly convoluted and the ending is a little pat but it’s an enjoyable ride.

03CannibalCannibal (CANÍBAL)

Director: Manuel Martín Cuenca
Cast: Antonio de la Torre, Olimpia Melinte
Country of Origin: Spain/Romania/Russia/France
Duration: 90 minutes
Year: 2013

Carlos is the most prestigious tailor in Granada but he also is a cannibal who carries out his murders with the same finesse that he practices in his craft. When the sister of one of his apparent latest victims (Delphine Tempels) arrives, the film turns into a dark romance.

Unlike the Anthony Hopkins antihero in Silence of the Lambs, Carlos is a more tragic figure portrayed in an understated performance by Antonio de la Torre. His murders feel inevitable but the tensions arise more from his burgeoning feelings and his catholic guilt as he struggles to deny his nature.

04_reunionThe Reunion

Director: Anna Odell
Cast: Anna Odell, Anders Berg, Kamila Benhamza
Country of Origin: Sweden
Duration: 88 minutes
Year: 2013

The first half of the film by performance artist Anna Odell is a fictionalized version attempting to explain why she was not invited to her high school reunion party.

In this “film within a film”, she confronts her classmates who only want to reminisce over their camaraderie with the bullying and ostracising she faced for nine years. In the second half of the film she tries to contact her classmates to find out why she was not invited and unsurprisingly they are all not cooperative.

As she became famous for staging a suicide attempt on a Stockholm bridge, Odell clearly wants to make us uncomfortable and question hierarchies and how the image of ourselves as children still effects us today.

05hairBad Hair (pelo Malo)

Director: Mariana Rondón
Cast: Samantha Castillo, Samuel Lange
Country of Origin: Venezuela
Duration: 93 minutes
Year: 2013

In a strange coincidence I had to pass through a gathering of Venezuelans to enter this screening. This time it was a demonstration to raise awareness of the troubles in that country and nothing to do with this striking Venezuelan coming of age film.

The film features some news footage about a man who kills his mother to heal the president – showing the cult surrounding the president that may explain the current issues there. These reports also echo the young boy’s (Samuel Lange Zambrano in a naturalistic performance) relationship with his own mother who disapproves of his obsession with straightening his hair.

The obsession with race and beauty evident in society brings out moments of humour and heartache as a struggling single mother can’t accept her son’s inability to take after his dead gang member father.

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