Gothenburg Film Festival

I was at the Göteborg Film Festival last week, or rather a bit less than half of it, but managed to see some movies.

Lost and Found
This was a Vietnamese drama about a school teacher with some difficult relations. I can’t really be more specific than that because I didn’t understand the movie. Every scene was quite good, there was certainly material for a good movie there, but I got very little of the context. I don’t know if it was because I missed the first five minutes or something, but it was completely unintelligible. Interesting to see some of Vietnam though.

Conspiracy of Silence
I think this movie would be an excellent drama, with wiser heads in charge. Now it was a decidedly lack-luster thriller that failed to grab me in any meaningful way. Sad for an interesting story on celibacy and homosexuality in the Irish Catholic Church.

Milwaukee, Minnesota
Like The Station Agent, this is the kind of “comedy” I’d like to see more of. Though it’s not as good as the aforementioned Agent, it is an enjoyable movie, though it takes a while to shake the feeling that someone decided to conduct a holy quest to create a good Adam Sandler movie. Which is a bit of an iffy prospect, but it turns out it was quite possible. Probably because of the more interesting characters and at least some subtlety.

This was a documentary about a part of Tehran that holds a lot of refugees from the Iraq-Iran war. And it sucks. I mean, I want to care about the situation there and is quite interested in how life is in Iran, but to hear people complain for thirty minutes straight (thankfully it was “only” thirty minutes long), saying the same things over and over again after about the fifth minute, is not my idea of a good documentary.

Prisoners of the Caucasus
This was a very interesting documentary of the Chechen War, with an anti-war agenda, from a perspective close to the Russian Army. Not quite the shocking imagery I had expected (though they came very close), and the most interesting part may well have been that about a lieutenant (or something, can’t quite remember) taking a dead body home to the family. What it lacked, though, was, I think, some context on the situation in Chechnya today, to follow the very vocal opinions of the people ten years ago.

Deep Breath
Back to Iran, for a far more interesting look on another part of Irani society, though not as a documentary. It’s a winding tale about a couple of college-aged boys in Tehran, wasting away their time with petty thievery and other delinquent behaviour, despite being quite popular with at least one college professor. The movie shifts focus in a fascinating way and connects well with beginning of the movie, where a wrecked car is pulled out of the water in the mountains.
It was the first really good movie I saw, I think.

The First Night
A young man and a woman with children escape to Bogota as the story of why is told in flashbacks. In Bogota they are faced with the harsh reality of being homeless and without identity, while also coping with their own relationship. I liked the tragic qualities of it, and it was very well done. Had a sort of warmth that I think most Hollywood and Swedish movies lack.

The high point of the movies I saw. This is a movie about the now-destroyed Carandiru prison in São Paulo, based on the story of a doctor who came there to stop the spread of AIDS. It features an impressive range of characters and stories, from sweet romance to tragic drug-inspired violence. It’s not blind to the deeds of the prisoners, but also shows a nicer side of them, unlike something like Oz. Best prison story I’ve seen in a while.