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The SIFFiest time of year!

Look at the time, it’s SIFF o’clock! Between graduating, crying over this year’s Met Gala theme, and general adulting it almost slipped my mind. For the sake of length I am not going to include anything past 1900 and be forewarned, some of these summaries have spoilers on the SIFF site. (spoiler warnings aren’t needed for film fests?)

Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil, Spain: In the 19th-century Basque countryside the stories of an orphaned girl looking for her doll’s head and a government official looking for missing gold payments intertwine in a blacksmith’s sinister workshop. Dark and moody, evokes the feelings of gothic literature.

Gaugain, France: Biopic about the post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin. Stories about white Europeans discovering themselves in “primitive” countries are not my favorite and I don’t like the overt colonial tones in primitivism works so pass.

Giant, Spain: Based on a true story, it’s set in the early 19th century about a poor young man sent to fight in the first Carlist War. When he comes back he discovers his brother has become a giant, so he joins the circus as an attraction. Bleak and weary, I’m noticing a trend here.

Hagazussa, Germany: The Vvitch, 15th-century Austrian countryside edition! When a young girl’s mother passes away she leads a hard life leading to her having a child out of wedlock. After being ostracised by her village she befriends a mysterious woman who leads her down a nightmarish path. Again, I am a fool for thinking there would be enough color that I could actually see what’s happening on screen.

Mademoiselle Paradis, Germany: Rococo period piece based on the true story of blind pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis who was popular for her beautiful musical compositions. Her parents take her to see a physician who tries experimental procedures to restore her sight. The summary noted the attention to detail and costumes, which from the brief shots in the trailer look lush. The first film here that has more than earth tones and doesn’t look like it was shot on an overcast day. I’ll have to see more stills but it looks promising on that front.

The Bottomless Bag, Russia: A Russian tale inspired by the Japanese Rashamon. A lady-in-waiting in the Czar’s court tells a story set in the 13th century. While aesthetically poetic, the trailer seems too esoteric for me and the summary was equally vague. Pass!

The Sower, France: Set in the 1850’s, the coup d’état that dissolved the French National Assembly has men arrested and hundreds of women find themselves alone. Violette and a group of these other women move to the alps to start their lives anew. Since there are no men in the village they agree that the next man to pass by will be used to “repopulate” the village. One day a man appears and the close-knit village falls apart as Violette falls in love with him and tensions rise amongst the women.

Overall there are more period pieces and a good mix of pre- and post-20th century. The only diverse films are the Gaugain biopic and a movie about an Australian Aboriginal rancher. On the other hand, there aren’t any movies about slavery, poc suffering endlessly, and there is only one WWII movie. What I dislike the most about this batch is the unspoken ban against color and being able to see what’s happening on screen. None of these movies, or any others in the festival, have interested me enough to want to see them so hopefully, they’ll show up on Netflix eventually.


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SIFF 2016 roundup

It’s that time of year again where SIFF is playing and I meticulously plan and budget which movies to see. Usually. Recent years’ selections have left me uninspired. This year is no different.

Overwhelmingly the period dramas are gritty or WWII-era with little in between. Aside from Love & Friendship there aren’t any pre-20th century films. Either public tastes have strayed away from over the top fare or the curators for SIFF passed over films like that. I’m assuming the latter, since many films I was looking forward to never showed up in past years (ex. La Belle et la Bête).

Of course, the one movie that is set in 1930’s Hollywood is a Woody Allen film (an automatic pass). I wish someone else was producing movies from that era because he is the last person I want to support. Overall the selection of period pieces this year is lack luster. None of the films from the other sections really grabbed my attention either, which is a shame since I look forward to SIFF every year. Fingers crossed that TV will fill in that gap.

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SIFF 2015 Roundup

Mid-terms are over and I can say I am properly beat! I am enjoying my Gothic Lit class very much, although the workload can be heavy at times. I dropped my Italian Sculpture class, however. I wanted to enjoy it but I just couldn’t get into it. The teacher sounded like she was reading from a script which made the whole thing awful. Instead I am taking an Intro to Architecture class where we are currently studying ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings.

SIFF is starting soon, which is a popular film fest that shows films from all around the world. There is a decent amount of period pieces, although I get the impression they only put dramas in that category this year. This has made it harder to find anything, even things set in recent decades or comedies. Of all the films I saw only Liza the Fox Fairy caught my eye.

It is set in the 70’s, and about a girl who is obsessed with Japanese culture who takes care of the widowed wife of a Japanese consulate. She’s also very unlucky in love, with all of her dates ending horribly due to the fact she might be possessed by a demon. I was going to say it was messed up that a film with a heavy Japanese influence had only one Japanese actor. However, the movie in Hungarian and I can’t even find ethnicity demographics that mention non-European ethnicities, so the point it moot. Its looks like it’ll be a lot of fun.

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