Sunday, May 1, 2016

Movie No. 26 (2016): GIOVANNI'S ISLAND

Giovanni's Island (2014)
Director: Mizuho Nishikubo
In Japanese and (some) Russian, with English subtitles

Synopsis (from IMDB): Inspired by true events, the movie is about the aftermath of the most devastating conflict mankind had ever experienced, where the tiny island of Shikotan becomes part of Sakhalin Oblast. On the unhealed border in this remote corner of the world, friendship among children from two different countries timidly blossoms, striving to overcome language barriers and the waves of history.

Like most Japanese animated films, particularly those of Studio Ghibli's, this movie is hand-drawn. This traditional animation style almost always results in stunning scenes. The movie is bittersweet and really a feast to the eyes.

Rating: 3.5/4.0

Date seen: May 1, 2016

Movie No. 25 (2016): WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power

A courtroom drama at its best.

This genre requires that there'll be surprise and twist and turns somewhere, usually toward the end. This movie does not disappoint. In fact, it masterfully crafts the narrative flow to make us unprepared when the twist pops out. Or, should I say, twists? 

By today's standards the movie looks too theatrical. But the movie cares about the characters at the same time that it cares about the genre. The performances are excellent. The black-and-white cinematography helps to showcase the best experience one can get from the genre.

Rating: 4.0/4.0

Date seen: May 1, 2016


Movie No. 24 (2016): PROMISE ME THIS

Promise Me This (a.k.a. Zavet) (2007)
Director: Emir Kusturica
Cast: Uros Milovanovic, Marija Petronijevic, Miki Manojlovic
In Serbian, with English subtitles


I saw some movies directed by Emir Kusturica before. I generally liked them all, especially the Palm D'Or winner Underground.  But, Promise Me This, for me, is too absurd. There may be more to it than meets the eye, but I can't figure it out. If I take it as comedy - a slapstick kind - I just can't laugh at some scenes which, I think, are contrived and crass. I may not like the movie in general but there's one particular scene that I think is genius and metaphoric (or maybe sarcastic), but insightful - the wedding procession and funeral march "head-on collision" on the dirt road.

Rating: 1.50/4.0

Date seen: May 1, 2016