Tag Archives: inspiration

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Bright Nights (Arslan, 2017) Norway

Posted by Larry Gleeson

German Director Thomas Arslan brings it home with his latest Golden Bear nominated film, Bright Nights (Helle Nachte). Arslan had been previously nominated for the Golden Bear, the festival’s top film prize in 2013 for his film GoldBright Nights, making its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition, tells the story of a single, working father, Michael,  who reunites with his son, Luis, after the loss of his own father.

Arslan proves he is a master of cinematic language from the opening scene set within an industrial batch plant on a waterway. The image of a plant operator seated at his indoor work station wearing a protective hard hat speaks volumes. The lighting recedes from a medium to high key to low key lighting. The man removes his hard hat and drops his head into his hands exasperated. The scene transitions to the solidly built man walking through the night in profile. Reinhild Blaschke managed the Production Design. Director of Photography Reinhold Vorschneider allows much of the story to unfold with long takes.

Later in the film, after discovering his father has died, the man has opted to bring his son to help remediate his father’s cabin. As Michael is packing up his father’s belonging, a silence ensues where Michael comes to the realization, he doesn’t really know his own son.

With a sense of his own mortality now, Michael seeks to reconnect and re-establish a relationship with Luis. Visually pleasing mise-en-scene depicts scenes of father and son hiking and fishing in breathtaking Austrian locations. However, not everything is perfect in this natural sportsman’s paradise. Luis feels confused and rebels.

The relationship teeters in the balance when an young woman befriends the son and the two share their experiences. The son decides to give his father a second chance. Going for one last hike the father drives for through a gray, fogged in road. The drive goes on for an uncomfortable amount of time signifying the large amount of gray space in the relationship.

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@Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

The film transitions revealing vibrant colors of green and yellow symbolizing a time of joy and healing with a touch of red foreshadowing a powerful element of emotionality is still present. The relationship dynamic between Michael, played by Georg Friedrich and Luis, played by Tristan Göbel drives the narrative. Both actors deliver very compelling performances.

In my opinion, the climatic image comes quickly thereafter, as the son goes off on his own. A wide angle long shot of the man running across a mountain ridge with a large mountain range looming in the background slightly out of focus reminiscent of Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia as he rides solo across the barren Arabian desert. Again, the cinematic language is so much greater than mere words. The lengths the father is willing to go to in order to re-establish the father/son relationship bond is beyond measure. Reinhold Vorschneider served as the film’s Director of Photography.

While there are many father/son relationship dynamic films, there is only one Bright Nights. Highly recommended. A cinematic language extraordinaire.

*Featured photo courtesy of Berlinale.de and @Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

 

 

 

 

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The Berlin New Compass Perspektive Award Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

BEST FILM IN THE PROGRAM GOES TO ADRIAN GOIGINGER

On Friday, February 17, the jury members – filmmakers Feo Aladag, Sigrid Hoerner, and Johannes Naber – presented the 2017 Compass Perspektive Award for Best Film. Awarded for the first time this year and endowed with EUR 5,000, the prize goes to the fiction film Die Beste aller Welten by Adrian Goiginger. The trophy is a small compass conceived to provide orientation and direction to a new generation of Perspektive filmmakers.

The jury members watched the 14 films in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino section. After debating passionately, they picked their favorite.

Jury statement – The Best of All Worlds
The film is the story of seven-year-old Adrian, who lives in 1990s Salzburg with a heroin-addicted, but loving mother and her friends. His life is like an adventure playground – until both child services and the brutal reality of drug addiction threaten to destroy his world.

Director Adrian Goiginger’s film is based on his own childhood and is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of the seemingly hopeless battle between maternal love and addiction. Goiginger leaves open to interpretation whether it is the drug itself, or society’s way of dealing with it, that presents a greater threat to the child protagonist.

With his sensitive direction of a brilliant ensemble cast, the film is touching without becoming kitschy; the unpretentious cinematography gets under your skin without being voyeuristic.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Ana, mon amour (Netzer, 2017): Romania

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Călin Peter Netzer returns to the Berlinale Competition, having captured the Golden Bear in 2013 with his low budget, digitally shot, Mutter & Sohn, a mother-son relationship piece. Netzer’s entry this year, another relationship piece, is Ana, mon amour, starring Diana Cavallioti, as Ana, and Mircea Postelnicu as Toma. Ana, mon amour is a story of two young people who meet at the university and begin a co-committed love affair full of hopes and dreams. Each feels mutually supported.

Opening in tight framing, Netzer introduces us to Ana and Toma discussing Friedrich Nietzsche and Adolph Hitler. Panic ensues for Ana. Toma caresses her belly and the two become intimate partners. Director of Photography Andrei Butică delivers highly crafted frames representing the closeness and intimacy Ana and Toma share.

As the relationship evolves the episodes continue until medication is used and then reconsidered with psychoanalytic therapy. Along the way we meet both sets of parents and discover root causes for the affective emotionality Ana and Toma exhibit and experience.

Netzer shows Ana’s struggles and Toma’s attempts to cope with exquisite, tender and emotive close ups. In, addition Netzer incorporates the use of extended narrative flashbacks as Toma is participating in on-going, regular psychoanalytic therapy sessions.

In addition, Netzer addresses racial and social bias in Romanian society. Each visits the other’s parents home. Taking a cue from Milos Forman’s The Loves of a Blonde (1965) Netzer gives an up-close and introspective view exploring in seemingly real-time these racial and social biases. Afterwards, the two begin to isolate themselves from their families and friends. Moving into more graphic detail, Netzer effectively shows Ana unravelling and Toma’s increasing frustration at his own inability to stabilize her.

Eventually, Toma succumbs to the stress from Ana’s anxiety and walks away from his career becoming a stay-at-home husband/father as the two have chosen to embark on parenthood. Ana has now become the sole breadwinner. Unsure of herself at first, Ana begins therapy with a competent psychologist finding an inner strength from the insights and support she garners from her sessions. Toma feels left out and the relationship comes to a head.

In Ana, non amour, Netzer delves into some rather deep and heady territory including dream interpretation as it relates to psychoanalysis. The film’s narrative is strongly driven by Andrei Butică (Director of Photography) camera work and dynamic editing from Dana Bunescu (Editor) in revealing the multi-faceted aspects and multi-faceted complexities of relationship in a most intimate space. Bunescu would go on to win the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in the categories camera, editing, music score, costume or set design. That being said, the actors more than hold their own.

But above all, In Ana, non amour, Netzer delivers a profound dramatic presentation on mental illness, how it’s overcome and the toll it takes on an adult, romantic relationship. Netzer delves into some rather deep and heady territory including dream interpretation as it relates to psychoanalysis revealing the complex psychological affects due to repression related to Romanian societal taboos.

 

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Have a Nice Day (Liu Jian, 2017) China

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Liu Jian mortgages the house to make films! Chinese artist/filmmaker Liu Jian delighted the house at the Berlinale Palast Theater during the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

Utilizing a warm color palette and an exceptional musical score mixing classical American jazz with traditional Chinese sounds, Liu Jian takes the viewer on a colorful journey through a southern Chinese city drawing several people from diverse backgrounds with different motives into bloody conflict in the darkly comedic, animation feature film, Have a Nice Day.  But wait, there’s more!

Have a Nice Day is Liu Jian second foray into feature animation film. His first Piercing I, a cold, hard look at the 2008 global financial crisis. Liu Jian is now in production on his third film, a self-reflective animation feature, School Town, an autobiographical look at Liu Jian’s own life.

In Have a Nice Day, Liu Jian allows a bag containing a million yuan to take center stage. Greed and selfish motives take over. The gangster boss who lays claim to the bagful of yuan holds court and wistfully recalls days from future past while pontificating to a subordinate who has spunk and maintains he’s an artist. Some philosophical discourse takes place on what exactly constitute art and who can call themselves a true artist. The bag has been lost and/or stolen and a butcher/hitman is sent to recover the money-laden bag.

The bag representing progress continues to move from one point to another. Various, vicarious and unsuspecting, dialoguing individuals reveal social and moral issues issues while clutching the bag of money tightly in hopes of securing a better life. In the end, it’s all just an illusory pipe dream fantasy.

Nevertheless, Modern China is in flux and a real war for control is ripe with violence and dangerous activities. With the animation format, Liu Jian is adeptly able to circumvent and soften some of the more distasteful aspects of this movement toward progress while heightening and stylizing the mood in China today.

Along the way, Liu Jian adds some subtle Western influences as he develops nuances of character. For example, the Hitman is a butcher when he’s not working for the mob boss. To add depth to the butcher, Liu Jian inserts a Rocky movie poster starring Sylvester Stallone on the Hitman’s locker at the meat processing plant.

In recent time, much is made of China’s growing economic power and goal of world dominance and, by the film’s end, one of the film’s protagonists, the Hitman, laments, “without high-technologies we just can’t win.” The film closes with an earthy mise-en-scene as a large city-scape with shades of browns and grays sits silently while a long, steady rain cascades across the screen in a vertical fashion.

Another beautiful film in the Berlinale Competition. While Chinese animation short films have been in previous Berlinales, Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, is the first feature-length, Chinese animation film to be screened at a Berlinale. It’s a touching expose. And, it’s a worthy contender for the Golden Bear. Warmly recommended.

*Featured photo: Courtesy of Liu Jian/Berlinale.de

 

 

 

BERLINALE TALENTS 2017: COURAGE IN ACTION!

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

The 15th edition of Berlinale Talents was rounded off yesterday by Berlinale International Jury member and artist Olafur Eliasson as well as director Raoul Peck, who is at the festival this year with the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro (Panorama) and Le jeune Karl Marx (Berlinale Special). During the last six days, over 100 experts, 250 Talents and well over 6,000 visitors turned HAU Hebbel am Ufer into an international hub of discussion and networking for film lovers.

 

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Prof. Monika Gruttes, the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media (Photo via monika-grutters.de)

“Once again, this year’s Berlinale Talents proves to be the festival’s innovation lab. Where else can young filmmakers and experienced experts from every culture, country and profession have such open, inspiring exchange and collaborate on bringing new films to life? I wish these Talents success as they turn their ideas into reality. And above all: Have courage!” said the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Prof. Monika Grütters, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Berlinale Talents.

 

 

Courageous Mutual Exchange

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-9-48-23-pmIn a time of political and social upheaval, this year’s theme has been a call to take a clear stance on cinematic narratives and aesthetics as well as a reminder against discouragement to rally our optimism and work together to bring about change. Throughout over 100 events and workshops, Talents discussed and worked with renowned experts and mentors, including Paul Verhoeven and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christo, Agnieszka Holland, Ana Lily Amirpour, Isabel Coixet, Andres Veiel, Gurinder Chadha, Laura Poitras, Timothy Spall and many more.

Sunday’s opening panel, with this year’s Berlinale International Jury President Paul Verhoeven and Berlinale International Jury member Maggie Gyllenhaal set the tone for this year’s edition. “Be courageous and step into the unknown,” was Paul Verhoeven’s encouragement for the Talents. Christo, in his 90-minute discussion with the audience, called for creative work to be based in real contexts: “The most important thing of all our work is that it is about real things: real wind, real wet, real dry, real fear.” The days to come were a journey towards discovering personal, creative and filmic moments of courage. Talents alumna Ana Lily Amirpour, who returned this year as an expert, summed up what makes Berlinale Talents so special: “I loved it here when I came in 2010, and I still feel the same. It’s invigorating to be around so many people from everywhere in the world who are just madly in love with their ideas.”

Prizes during Berlinale Talents

Once again, prizes were awarded to filmmakers during Berlinale Talents.

As part of the “Talent Project Market,” the VFF Talent Highlight Award, endowed with € 10,000, went to the project The Bus to Amerika by producer Nefes Polat and director Derya Durmaz (Turkey). Cash prizes of €1,000 each were awarded to the Cuban producer Maria Carla del Rio and the Singaporean producer Jeremy Chua for their nominated projects.

For the fifth time, the Robert Bosch Stiftung awarded during Berlinale Talents film prizes to promote international cooperation between German and Arab filmmakers, endowed with up to € 60,000 each.

Animation: Night by director Ahmad Saleh (Jordan) and producers Jessica Neubauer (Germany) and Saleh Saleh (Jordan)

Short Film: The Trap by director Nada Riyadh (Egypt) and producers Eva Schellenbeck (Germany) and Ayman El Amir (Egypt)

Documentary: Behind Closed Doors (Mor L’Bab) by director Yakout Elhababi (Morocco) and producers Karoline Henkel (Germany) and Hind Sah (Morocco / France)

Co-Partner Nespresso kicked off the vertical video contest “Nespresso Talents 2017” during Berlinale Talents. The competition is open for entries until April 17, 2017, at nespresso.com/talents. Winners will be officially announced during the Cannes Film Festival and receive a cash prize and participation in a mentoring programme.

And tonight, Berlinale Talents and Perspektive Deutsches Kino will jointly award the inaugural Kompagnon-Fellowship during the closing evening of Perspektive Deutsches Kino.

For press information and interview requests please contact:

Malte Mau

Phone +49.30.259 20.518
Fax +49.30.259 20.534

Berlinale Talents is an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival, with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the Federal Foreign Office and the German Federal Film Board.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Logan (Mangold, 2017): USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Writer/Director James Mangold’s Logan is hot out of the box! Making its World Premiere last night, February 17th, at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, Logan brings back Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine and has blockbuster written all over it!

Set in 2029, the film opens in low-key lighting as a band of Latino roughians are in the process of stripping tires from Logan’s (Wolverine) small limousine. Unfortunately for the desperadoes, the vehicle has chrome plated lug nuts and even more so, the Wolverine is coming to after having tied one on.

This scene sets the tone for the film as the Wolverine winds up taking a beating but still manages to fend off the aggressors. Logan looks haggard and worn. This scenario is carried out repeatedly in several action sequences Logan without it getting old.

Patrick Stewart returns as an ailing Professor X with his now mind control registered as a weapon of mass destruction. The albino, Caliban, played again by Stephen Merchant, reprises his mutant tracker role. Newbie Dafne Keen plays young mutant, Laura Kinney/X-23, to great affect. Laura appears as a fugitive pursued by dark forces led by Boyd Holbrook. She’s a showstopper with plenty of moxie!

Logan is the tenth installment in the X-men series of film and the third and final installment of the Wolverine franchise following the successes of The Wolverine (2013) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). Both films grossed in excess of $130,000,000 at the box office. Logan is sure to match and/or surpass this figure. All three films are big-budget film. While budget numbers for Logan are not made readily available, the film boasted it created 15,000 jobs in its production.

In addition to the hand-to-hand combat fighting scenes with the Wolverine’s wielding his bristling, shimmering trademark claws, the narrative in Logan has a slightly familiar feel as the mutants are portrayed as very open and loving towards one another. And, again, they are portrayed primarily social outcasts pursued by predators for diabolical purposes. There’s also a new twist added to the story.

Nevertheless, Mangold manages to keep it fresh. Just when situations seem to be hopeless or on the verge of becoming mundane, Mangold injects a new catalyst propelling the film forward in dramatic fashion. Costumer Daniel Orlandi does excellent work keeping characters believable while imbuing them with just enough complementary edginess to enhance the narrative. Director of Photography of John Mathieson teams up with Editors Michael McCusker and Dirk Westervelt to unveil some wickedly fun action sequences.

Unfortunately, Jackman has said this is his final go with the Wolverine character. Quite frankly, it’s a shame. But, to have had one of the world’s great, great actors – onstage or on the big screen – portray a comic book action/adventure character for the films spanning just over a decade has been an unexpected delight.

While Jackman tends to carry most scenes, young Dafne Keen gave the audience quite a thrill with her own acting chops and sharp-witted quips. Hats off to screenwriters Mangold, Michael Green and Scott Frank for keeping any semblance of staleness at bay. Newly added character, Donald Pierce, played by Narcos star Boyd Holbrook, brings an energetic, counterbalancing dynamic to offset the mind-boggling powers of the mutants consistent with the previous Wolverine films.

Granted, Logan has the look and feel of the previous two Wolverine films. For fans of the previous Wolverine prequels, Logan is a must-see. For anyone not seeing the prequels, Logan stands on it’s own merits and is sure to make a believer out of the uninitiated . Highly recommended!

The film is scheduled to open in US theaters this Friday, March 3rd, 2017.

Logan was produced by Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and employed over 15,000 personnel in its production.

HELPING FILMS GET MADE AT THE BERLINALE CO-PRODUCTION MARKET

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

THREE PRIZES AND 1,200 MEETINGS

Three monetary prizes were awarded to selected narrative film projects at the Berlinale Co-Production Market (February 12 to 15).

On Sunday evening, the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award, with an endowment of 20,000 euros, was awarded to The Wife of the Pilot (director: Anne Zohra Berrached), which Razor Film Produktion from Germany presented here. The prize money is intended as a development grant from the European film fund Eurimages.

The three members of this year’s jury were renowned industry professionals Pablo Pérez de Lema (Spain), Leontine Petit (The Netherlands) and Manfred Schmidt (Germany).

Two additional prestige prizes were also awarded. The VFF – Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film und Fernsehproduzenten from Munich awarded its VFF Talent Highlight Award, with an endowment of 10,000 euros, to the project The Bus to Amerika, presented at the market by producer Nefes Polat from Turkey and director Derya Durmaz. Since 2004, the VFF has each year honoured a promising project by up-and-coming filmmakers from the “Talent Project Market”, organised by the Berlinale Co-Production Market in cooperation with Berlinale Talents. Nominated for the VFF Talent Highlight Award this year in addition to Nefes Polat were Cuban producer Maria Carla del Rio, with her project Shock Labor, and producer Jeremy Chua from Singapore, with Tomorrow is a Long Time. Each project received a recognition of 1,000 euros as well as the opportunity to pitch their projects to participants of the Berlinale Co-Production Market.

This year, the renowned ARTE International Prize, which has been presented since 2011, was awarded to the project Lost Country by Serbian director Vladimir Perišić, which is represented by KinoElektron (France), MPM Film (France) and Trilema Films (Serbia). ARTE bestows the 6,000 euro prize on an artistically outstanding project drawn from the entire Berlinale Co-Production Market.

The 14th Berlinale Co-Production Market, which runs until February 15, is a place where the producers of the 36 selected narrative film projects can also meet with potential co-producers and funding partners. Over the four days, some 600 participants take a total of more than 1,200 individual meetings. In the coming days, this Berlinale partner hub will also focus on “Books at the Berlinale”, the presentation of books that could be adapted into films, and “CoPro Series” for TV series. The platform received more than 2,000 requests for meetings this year. More than 240 films that came to the market looking for partners have since become completed films, and seven of those are screening this year alone in the film festival programme.

The main partners of the Berlinale Co-Production Market are MDM – Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and the European Union Creative Europe MEDIA programme.
Another partner, and also the market venue, is Berlin’s House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus).

The Berlinale Co-Production Market is part of the European Film Market.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office Release)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismaki, 2017): Finland

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Writer/Director Aki Kaurismaki served up a full platter of entertainment with Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope) during the 67th Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast Theater. Tackling the migration and asylum bureaucratic processing issues of the day, Kaurismaki serves up quite a treat with The Other Side of Hope.

The film opens in the dark of night in a shipping harbor complete with fog horn blasts and heavy equipment operating including a dock loader transferring coal from ship to shore. The black, glistening bituminous coal shimmering in the light as it is being piled is magical this night. Emerging from the center of the pile a rounded shape with two spherical orbs projecting light are visible. Soon a human form emerges.

A cut is made to a businessman, Wikstrom, played by Sakari Kuosmanen primping himself for what appears to be another day. Yet, on this day, Wikstrom has decided to leave his wife, who comes into frame with a full head of curlers, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, attired in a cheaply-made, tropical floral robe. Wikstrom places his wedding ban on the table and exits. The woman reached for a gin bottle pouring herself a double taking a mouthful to wrap up the scene.

Using these two main protagonists, Kaurismaki embarks on a story showcasing two very different lives. Wikstrom, a haberdasher of sorts peddling ties and men’s shirts, drives a black luxury sedan listening to Western music while the coal refugee, Khaled, a Syrian asylum seeker, portrayed by Sherwan Haji, takes a coin-fed shower releasing the black soot from his skin’s pores. These men are on different trajectories. Khaled tries to do the right thing by finding the nearest police station in Helsinki to seek political sanctuary status from Aleppo. Despite his best efforts Khaled is denied sanctuary and decides to stay in the country illegally as many in his predicament seem to be doing. Wikstrom is hustling at a private, high-stakes poker game winning enough money to purchase outright an old, seemingly well-established restaurant in one of the remotest areas of Helsinki.

The restaurant undergoes several incarnations – each one bringing more laughs from the audience than the previous one. Wikstrom has developed very solid rapport with the chef and head waiter and takes to heart almost every one of their suggestions. Khaled, on the other hand, has been living on the streets and has made friends with a hip and funky group of rock-n-rollers. As luck would have it, or, maybe it was a form of divine Providence, the Wikstrom finds Khaled sleeping in the back of his restaurant and winds up giving him a bed and a job. With the help of the Wikstrom’s connections, Khaled is reunited with his sister and manages to find a way to stay in the country.

Hats off to Kaurismak. He wields quite a powerful wand in The Other Side of Hope. Bringing the main protagonists together after nearly forty minutes and having the story and its characters gel in a believable manner is no easy task. Quite the opposite. Tiina Kaukanen rapid fire costume changes aids immensely in the humorous attempts to find a working restaurant motif. I would be amiss not to mention the uber strong production design managed by Mark Lwoff and Misha Jaari. Director of Photography, Timo Salminen, captures the telling mise-en-scene with various lighting sets ranging from very low-key sets to more traditional tungsten indoor lighting set ups.

An interesting note: Eevi Kareinen handled the casting while serving as the Assistant Director.

In the end, Kaurismaki brings these two characters together – the practical businessman and a refugee seeking a life free from Syrian war for him and his sister. Along the way, he provides plenty of comic relief in this heart-warming and life-affirming tale of pragmatism and redemption. An exceptional film in light of the present migration dilemma and one I recommend highly without reservation.

*Featured photo credit: Malla Hukkanen © Sputnik Oy

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: The Party (Potter, 2017): Great Britain

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Director Sally Potter and her new dark comedy, The Party, found a receptive audience at the Berlin International Film Festival with a near-capacity crowd at the spacious Berlinale Palast Theater. Filmgoers were abuzz after the screening. Potter is most well-known for films Orlando (1992), Tango Lesson (1997),The Man Who Cried (2000) and Ginger & Rosa (2012). She is also an accomplished writer and performance artist.

Potter artfully chooses to portray The Party feature in black and white over color. The film opens with an unusual dutch angle-style frame of Bill, portrayed by Timothy Spall, the drunkard husband to Janet, played by Kristen Scott Thomas,  a recent ministerial appointment in the British government. The two have decided to celebrate her appointment with a few close friends.

Without much adieu, the film’s other characters are adeptly brought into the fold with revealing details as they begin arriving one-by-one. Janet, the aforementioned appointee and wife of Bill, is having a clandestine affair. Gottfried, played by Bruno Ganz, is the husband of Janet’s most ardent admirer, April, played by Patricia Clarkson. Gottfried has taken up with meditation in public spaces and is a practicing life coach. Tom, portrayed by Cillian Murphy is a high financier – emphasis on high as after he makes a grand entrance he retreats to Janet and Bill bathroom to ingest a fair amount of cocaine and to get a grip on a semi-automatic pistol complete with a hidden body holster.

Next to join the group are Jinny, played by Emily Mortimer and Martha, played by Cherry Jones, a same-sex couple expecting a child. Jinny is three months pregnant fresh off an overwhelmingly successful ultrasound while Martha is a drab, pseudo-intellectual, college professor. Quite an eclectic set of characters to celebrate with!

Imaginatively, Potter intertwines innuendo, double entendre and some wickedly pointed dialogue exchanges in setting the stage for the ensuing drama hiding in The Party’s underbelly. Meanwhile, Director of Photography, Alexey Rodionov is utilizing deep focus and ultra low angle framing, ala Gregg Toland in Citizen Kane, with satirical affect. Editors Anders Refn and Emilie Orsini keep the viewer’s eye moving from frame to frame matching pace with the characters’ rapid-fire bantering.

Expertly, Potter leads the viewer to the precipice where it’s all about to implode into a dark chasm as tempers are starting to flare when Bill flips the entire scenario inside out. The drunkard declares he is terminally ill and then collapses unconscious! The fury seething beneath the surface has found a fissure for its release as the characters all come rushing to aid Bill in his time of need.

The film’s narrative notches up a warp here with some philosophical musings, snarky female comments and Gottfried’s Eastern meditative point-of-view insights. Gottfried’s comments bring some resounding comic relief while also beginning to make sense now in the teetering moments of crisis. As the characters begin revealing their innermost sacrosanct feelings and beliefs, the situation comes to a climax.

Thanks to the casting of Irene Lamb and Heidi Levitt, Potter has considerable talent to work with and she does a nice job of  providing ample space for character development. She uses the intellectual bantering very effectively to tap into the charatcer’s emotional reserves revealing some serious sensibilities while keeping the viewer guessing at what is coming next.

And, Potter’s efficiency is remarkable. One character action leads right into another as the plot advances in whirlwind fashion. It is lean and mean and before you can say Jack Robinson, it’s over and and it’s complete.

Very nimbly and quite adeptly Potter and The Party make a seamless, nearly compass accurate, full circle narrative from opening to close with nary a dull moment in between. A highly recommended film.

The Party was a bonafide 2017 Golden Bear contender and was Potter’s eighth feature film. Potter previously took part in the Berlinale Competition in 2009 with Rage.

 

*Featured photo credit: Adventure Pictures Limited 2017

BERLIN UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BEAR

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

MID FESTIVAL RESULTS LOOKING GOOD FOR THE 2017 BERLINALE

Audience crowds at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival have once again been overwhelming. Halfway through the festival, again more than 250,000 tickets have been sold.

Berlinale_Director“We’re very happy that the Berlinale has drawn so many people into cinemas again this year. The passion for film shown by curious audiences who spend eleven days on a cinematic voyage of discovery, is really impressive. And the response to the new EFM initiatives and events is extremely positive”, says Festival Director Dieter Kosslik.

The Open House program at the Audi Berlinale Lounge gives the public an additional opportunity to experience the festival up-close and personal and see Berlinale guests in the flesh. Open events are held there every day, such as talks with celebrity filmmakers, discussions, and lounge nights with a DJ or live music.

The 2017 European Film Market (EFM) has drawn more participants than last year (9,640). The popular “EFM Industry Debates” segment celebrated its ten-year anniversary this weekend. This year, Gropius Park also played host for the first time to the “Berlinale Africa Hub”, a platform for innovative projects and ideas from the African film industry.

Over at Berlinale Talents, Jury President Paul Verhoeven and juror of the International Jury Maggie Gyllenhaal, as well as the artist Christo, have been among the distinguished guests at the panel discussions. The coming days will see more exciting events, with Agnieszka Holland, Isabel Coixet, Sally Potter, David OReilly, Raoul Peck and juror Olafur Eliasson on the program.

The Berlinale Publikumstag on Sunday, February 19, 2017, provides an encore chance for audiences. That day, numerous festival films from various sections will have repeat screenings at the Berlinale venues.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)