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Moscow, Belgium-Movie Review 07/22/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival, European Film Awards, Flemish language film, Light Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy, Zurich Film Festival.
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Moscow, Belgium (Belgian) 2008

Directed by Christopher Van Rompaey
Starring Barbara Sarafian, Jurgen Delnaet, and Johan Heldenbergh

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, ACID Award (Van Rompaey); Grand Golden Rail (Van Rompaey); SACD Screenwriting Award (Van Rijckeghem and Van Beirs), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Krzysztof Kieslowski Award: Best Feature Film and Best Film (Van Rompaey), Denver International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Composer (Tuur Florizoone), European Film Awards
WINNER, Jury Award-Best Actress (Sarafian); Youth Grand Prize-Best Film (Van Rompaey), Mediawave Hungary
WINNER, New Talent Award (Van Rompaey), Zurich Film Festival

An enjoyable romantic comedy, with the emphasis on comedy as the romance itself is funny (and unpredictable). Matty (Sarafian) is a harried mother of three whose husband Werner (Heldenbergh) has moved out as part of a midlife crisis. When Matty’s car backs into a truck owned by Johnny (Delnaet), the younger man becomes smitten with her. Although Johnny has a volatile temper and seems to be no big prize, Matty experiences something of a midlife crisis of her own.

As the awards indicate, many aspects of this film are worth noting, chief among them the fast-paced dialogue and Barbara Sarafian’s performance. Her facial expressions portray the complex range of emotions that Matty undergoes, making the decisions she makes more plausible.

106 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults.

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Owl and the Sparrow-Movie Review 05/24/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Big Apple Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival, Independent Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Festival.
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Owl and the Sparrow (Vietnamese) 2007
Cu va chim se se

Written and directed by Stephane Gauger
Starring Cat Ly, The Lu Le, and Han Thi Pham

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Festival Prize (Gauger), Big Apple Film Festival
WINNER, Emerging Filmmaker Award (Gauger), Denver International Film Festival
NOMINATED, John Cassavetes Award (Gauger and producers), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Narrative Feature (Gauger), Los Angeles Film Festival

Young orphan Thuy (Han) escapes from her overbearing uncle and runs away to Saigon. There, along with other children in similar circumstances, she makes enough money for food selling roses on the streets. Thuy meets two lonely people, Hai (Le), a kindly zookeeper, and Lan (Ly), a disillusioned flight attendant, and conspires to bring them together. She only has five days to do so before Lan’s layover ends.

This film takes a more lighthearted approach than one might expect, concentrating more on the relationship that develops between the three main characters than on the hardships endured by Thuy (who seems to find her way in the bustling city with no plans but no insurmountable problems, either). This was the first time on screen for the young Han Thi Pham, whose very natural performance makes the story touching but not overly sentimental. Some reviewers complain about the quality of the camera work, but I didn’t find it distracting.

98 min. Rated PG.