Monday, November 7, 2011

Anomalies - but that's not bad

Starting the second week of the 34th annual Denver Film Festival. So far I have seen a Japanese film set in Paris (Yukiko), a Finnish film set in Brittany/France (le Havre) and a Dutch film with a French title (Bon Voyage).

Does that make them anomalies? Sort of. Does that make them bad? Hardly. They are all well worth seeing.

There have been others of course (12 films through Sunday) and on the whole a good festival so far.

I was not crazy about "Like Crazy" (opening night film) but after that, I would recommend almost everything else I have seen.

"Martha Marcy May Marlene" may end up being the stand-out film of the festival. It just grips you. It is a bit like passing a bad automobile accident - you just can't look away or stop watching.

The easy comparison, of course, is that it is a 'Manson-like' story. And there are those parallels, but it is much more than that. It is a disturbing view of a disturbed character, surrounded by other characters who have their own varying levels of emotional issues. It is unsettling and compelling and always waiting for the 'shoe to drop', because while you don't know what will happen next you are certain that something will and it will probably not be good.

Look for Oscar nominations for this film, including one for Elizabeth Olsen as Martha, it is an amazing performance.

"Joanna" is equally disturbing but for different reasons and in a different way. This Polish film set during the Nazi occupation features outstanding performances as well. It reminds us of the brutalizing effect that tyranny has and how it can turn the innocent against each other with the brutalization not just coming from the oppresors.

"Wish Me Away" is a moving documentary about Country Music Star Chely Wright, who in May of 2010 chose to come out as a lesbian. A courageous move that she is currently paying a serious price for. But as she says, she had to - not just for herself and her own sanity and peace, but for all the young people who are struggling to understand their own identity and deal with constantly being told that they are evil because of their sexuality.

the best line in the film comes from a Minister - a spiritual advisor - that Chely has contacted to help her through the process. He is with the Interfaith Alliance and he tells her at one point that the worst meanness he has seen comes from people being mean for Jesus.

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