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Agata and the Storm-Movie Review 04/15/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, European Film Awards, Film Movement, Italian language film, Romance.
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Agata and the Storm (Italian) 2004

From Film Movement
Directed by Silvio Soldini
Starring Licia Maglietta, Guiseppe Battiston, Emilio Solfrizzi, Marina Massironi, Giselda Volodi, and Claudio Santamaria

NOMINATED, Best Actor (Battiston); Best Actress (Maglietta); Best Supporting Actor (Solfrizzi); Best Supporting Actress (Volodi), and several other categories, David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Actress (Maglietta), European Film Awards

A light romantic comedy combined with a story about redefining one’s identity, all done in the Italian way.

Agata (Maglietta), who owns a bookstore and is given to flights of fancy, is being pursued by a younger man. She is also experiencing some sort of psychic phenomenon: she causes light bulbs to go out and other electrical appliances to go haywire. When her serious, hardworking brother Gustavo (Solfrizzi) finds out that he was adopted as a baby, Agata tries to help him adjust to the idea of having a brother, the fun-loving and aptly-named Romeo (Battiston).

While not overly remarkable, this is a pleasant enough movie. I’m looking forward to watching Pane e Tulipan (Bread and Tulips), an earlier (2000) film by the same director that features some of the same actors. Pane e Tulipan was more critically acclaimed.

118 min. Not rated. Adult themes.


The Wind Journeys-Movie Review *** 02/17/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bogota Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Cartagena Film Festival, Emotional Drama, Film Movement, Movies, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, South American/Spanish language film.
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The Wind Journeys (South American/Spanish) 2009 ***
Los viajes del viento

WINNER, Golden Precolombian Circle, Best Colombian Film; Best Director (Guerra), Bogota Film Festival
WINNER, Award of the City of Rome (Guerra), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Colombian Cinema Award, Best Director (Guerra); Best Film; WINNER, Golden India Catalina, Best Colombian Film, Cartagena Film Festival
WINNER, Best Spanish Language Film, Santa Barbara International Film Festival

From Film Movement
Written and directed by Ciro Guerra
Starring Marciano Martinez

Ignacio (Martinez) feels cursed to spend his life as a wandering troubadour because he thinks that the accordion he plays is controlled by the devil. When he makes a last journey to return the instrument to his elderly teacher, he is followed by Fermin, a young man who envies the life Ignacio leads. The pair must travel a great distance, through beautifully sweeping and varying landscapes. Their stops at villages along the way provide opportunities for music and glimpses into other traditions of the region.

Ignacio is played by Marciano Martinez, composer of hit songs in the vallenato tradition. Vallenato is “born of the valley” folk music from the Caribbean region of Colombia. The spirited and emotional music originated as a means for farmers to deliver the news of the valley in song form.

Highly recommended.

Here’s a taste of Martinez’s music.

117 min. Not rated.


Alamar-Movie Review *** 11/25/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cartagena Film Festival, Film Movement, FIPRESCI Award, Highly recommended, Mexican/Spanish language film, Movies, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Toulouse Latin America Film Festival.
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Alamar (Mexico) 2009 ***
To the Sea

WINNER, Grand Jury Prize, Ibero-American Competition (González-Rubio), Miami Film Festival
WINNER, Feature Film Competition Award; Audience Award, Morelia International Film Festival
WINNER, Tiger Award (González-Rubio), Rotterdam International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (González-Rubio), Toulouse Latin America Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best First Work (González-Rubio); Best New Actor (Natan Palombini); Best Sound, Silver Ariel Awards, Mexico
NOMINATED, Golden India Catalina, Best Film, Cartegena Film Festival

From Film Movement

Directed by Pedro González-Rubio
Starring Jorge Machado, Natan Machado Palombini, Nestor Marin Matraca, and Roberta Palombini

This is one of the loveliest and most touching films I’ve seen in a while. Five-year-old Natan (Palombini) leaves his Italian mother to visit with his father Jorge (Machado) in Mexico. They travel by sea to the Chinchorro Reef off the Mexican coast where Jorge helps Natan become familiar with his Mayan heritage. Jorge’s father is a fisherman and the growing bond between the three generations is beautiful to see.

And the reefs, it goes without saying, are absolutely stunning. For more information about this protected area, click here.

Highly recommended.

73 min. Not rated. Suitable for older children.

Also highly recommended is the short film, No Corras Tantos (Take it Easy) that is on the same DVD. It is a five minute animation that uses sand as the medium. The music and lyrics are exceptional as well. I watched it once for the animation alone and the second time to read the lyrics (it was too hard to do both the first time around).


Ben X-Movie Review 10/28/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Drama, European Film Awards, Film Movement, FIPRESCI Award, Flemish language film, Greg Timmermans, Movies, Nic Balthazar.
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Ben X (Flemish) 2007

OFFICIAL ENTRY, Best Foreign Film, Academy Awards
WINNER Grand Prize; Audience Award for Most Popular Film; Ecumenical Jury Prize, Montreal World Film Festival
WINNER FIPRESCI Award, Istanbul International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Award; Directors Choice Award, Sedona International Film Festival
WINNER, Heineken Red Star Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION, Berlin International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Audience Award (Balthazar), European Film Awards

From Film Movement
Directed by Nic Balthazar
Starring Greg Timmermans, Marijke Pinoy, Pol Goossen, and Laura Verlinden

Ben is a high school student who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that affects his ability to communicate. Ben lives in a world of rituals that serve to allay his anxiety, and he is severely ostracized in school. He spends much of his spare time in an online computer game world, where he befriends Scarlite. When Ben reaches his limit because of the bullying at school, Scarlite helps him come up with the perfect way for him to resolve the situation.

An award-winning debut film for director Nic Balthazar and a moving performance by Greg Timmermans in his first role after graduating from film school.

93 mins. Unrated. Suitable for teens.


Under the Bombs-Movie Review 10/06/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Emotional Drama, Film Movement, Hebrew language film, Movies, Sundance Film Festival.
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Under the Bombs (Lebanese) 2007
Sous les bombes

NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Alternative Vision Award and EIUC Award (Aractingi); Venice Film Festival
WINNER, Muhr Award, Best Actress (Farhat); Best Film (Aractingi), Dubai International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actress (Farhat); FIPRESCI Prize and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury-Special Mention (Aractingi); NOMINATED, Grand Prix (Aractingi), Bratislava International Film Festival

From Film Movement
Directed by Phillipe Aractingi
Starring Nada Abou Farhat and Georges Khabbaz

Set in war-torn south Lebanon, a touching story about a mother’s search for her little boy, left for safety in the care of her sister. As Zeina (Farhat) travels through the bombed out sections of the country, she is accompanied by taxi driver Tony (Khabbaz). Tony’s original motivations are less than noble, but as the couple face dangers and share the losses that have impacted their lives, feelings of love grow.

Without taking a stance, the director uses the devastation of the countryside and the dangers and heartache experienced by the couple to show the universality of the effects of war on everyday people.

98 min. Not rated. Violence and destruction.