Friday, May 1, 2009

MSPIFF: Day 14

As the lights came up on my last screening of the Festival, I wanted a bubble filled Lawence Welk farewell (Good night, sleep tight, and may all your dreams come true...), but St Anthony Main was little more than a ghost town as all MSPIFF staff and groupies attended the closing night film Brothers Bloom and gala party at 7 Sushi. For me seeing interesting films (ie not Brothers Bloom) outweighed the impulse to hob-nob and booze. The two screenings I attended may have not offered a grand finale that would be appropriate, but it came pretty close. Had I went home after The Chaser, the Fest would have ended with a blood pulsing bang, but I insisted on watering down the evening by also attending Apron Strings:

The Chaser (2008) directed by Na Hong-jin
I had seen Na Hong-jin's The Chaser on import DVD, and while I was impressed, I was also let down by an overworked ending. The two fade-to-black endings was my last and lasting impression of The Chaser, but seeing it again has led me to reevaluate not only its problems but its overwhelming merits. The Chaser is a heart-pounding action thriller that is apologetically brutal and clever. It is a film of shifts—not turns, but shifts—that questions social conventions, genre playbooks, and political power. I'm committed to giving this one some more thought in perhaps another screening and a full review. The Chaser was the first Korean language big screen offering in the Twin Cities since the last MSPIFF (but only one, Woman on the Beach) and that is just not right. And before that? Probably three years ago or whenever Oldboy was in town (for one week.) I appreciated The Chaser and Tokyo Sonata, but the Film Fest need to bone up on their East Asian film offerings in a big way. Seriously. Give me a call.

Apron Strings (2006) directed by Simu Urale
Apron Strings was a mash-up of so many movies that we have all seen before. This drama from New Zealand focuses on two families amongst a culturally diverse backdrop. Lorma is the owner of a traditional cake shop who is trying desperately to understand her lay-about son and her single daughter who is pregnant and vegetarian and macrobiotic. The other story is of two sisters of Indian decent who have not spoken to each other in 20 years. Anita, cut off from her family years ago, has moved away from Indian tradition as her sister Tara continues the family curry house and her Sikh traditions. False divides and stereotypes dominate this film about familial relationships. Although it wasn't terrible, it was pretty bland.

I'll do a Fest recap as soon as I get some space and some laundry done.

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