once upon a time in shanghai

so this was my final movie of 2014 at the fest, my fifth of the day and it did feel a bit gratuitous. all in all this festival was superb, like always, although pretty intense – i had a headcold this year and thus saw less films than normal (this being the only day i achieved the holy five). but still over 20, so that’s ok.perhaps last year had more amazing movies overall (i remember seeing 8 fantastic ones in a fckn row!) but then i still saw some corkers this time round (metalhead / jacky / hopefactory / fantail / how we played the revolution / electro chaabi).

in any case, maybe M was right and we should have gone south to lantaren for the documentary about chimps. but yeah fuck lantaren and alos i will prob get the chance to see the docu another time, whereas this kung fu flick is unlikely to get distro.

the plot was dire, a mum counsels her son not to punch too hard but then he learns that some people deserve to get punched. i didn’t really like the CGI/digital feel, but the film did look nice though, really leached out colours. and the moody love interest was cool.

and i have now seen the legend of philip ng in action.


Grand Talk – Peter Sloterdijk & Andrei Ujica – Fall of the Romanov Dynasty

Hmm…. so the big talk is a chat with a key figure eg director or inspiration (eg No, but i cannae find the review) before the film.

The grand talk is much much more (in theory). Next year  i’m hoping for the talk oorlog and maybe even a kapsalon (that’s one for the dutchies)…

So this wasn’t very well publicised and indeed it was quite hard to work out what was going on, even when we were there and being loaded up with headfones.

partone – a silent movie made by the soviet union in 1927 about the fall of the romanov dynasty. this was AMAZING to see, but an hour and twenty minutes long, when i thought it was goingto be a short. the live piano accompaniment was great, but got a bit boring after a while.. the footage first of all was of the decadent capitalists, then about the WWI, then about the soviets… then Lenin popped up and then it was all over. So loads of really interesting archive footage but too long, too long. And the performance was marked every so often by one of the headsets falling onto the floor.

parttwo – peter sloterdijk read from his new book, in heavily accented english…. sorry i didn’t undertsand SHIT!!! it was hard enough deciphering the words, let alone the meaning.. it reminded me of seeing baudrillard talk once in english and understanding precisly fuckall.

partthree – a debate between sloterdijk and Ujica – we were now about 2.5 hours into the event and with energy levels flapping around and down, O’s headset didn’t work for the simultaneous translation so we left…

all in all, with better organisation and a ten minute break halfway through this could have been banging… but why have sloterdijk talk in bad english when he could have read from the original german and be live translated?

roll on the kapsalon talks next year — they start at 4am/when centrale finishes, don’t be early!


this is a dutch gangster movie which lays on the brooding tension a bit thick – think lots of rain and a cat… killing .. a mouse.

nothing really happens which is ok, but i would prefer this as a quirky comedy. i think the japanese or americans or even the english do heavy gangsters better.

i don’t really like seeing Q&As for movies i’m not keen on but D who slept through pretty much the whole thing (and the short at the beginning as well! impressive!) wasn’t ready to move so we stayed…

we learnt that the director was proud of the symbolism (ummmm) and he called it helium after having a different working title, because he wanted a wacky intriguing title (nouja… neee)


my fave 10 of all time..

[edit 2015 just found this in my drafts – a pretty good list but no THX1138??]


pointless i know but it’s fun to think..

interesting a lot of these i saw in rdam…

in no particular order:

of freaks and men




half nelson

hope factory



men with guns

in bruges


synechdoche NY

fay grimm



fantail (spoilers)

Another awesome movie, which i saw straight after the hope factory. This meant i saw two magnificent movies before noon, leading to my annual “i heart the festival” moment.

This one is from new zealand and it actually chimed really well with hope factory, somehow.


Both stories are about a young female stuck in a smalltown which she wants to leave, who then accidentally murders someone. Odd. Whereas in hope factory i laughed at the murder (you had to be there i guess), this one is pretty tragic. The film builds up to the terrible moment really well, by which point you really have a lot of sympathy for Tania, the main character. The subplot of the love story is really well done and of course the theme of racism is superinteresting, since Tania is a blonde who passes as white although she is (or thinks she is) Maori.

In the Q&A we heard that the film has had a rapturous reception in the few screenings it has had in NZ so far. It’s based on a play that never got made and i guess you can see that since like In Bruges it’s a tight drama based on a few characters and their interactions.

Looks like this has been snapped up for international distro already, that’s great news!



the hope factory

Definitely one of my faves of the festival!

The story begins with a group of friends boozing and bounces around the characters before settling on Sveta, the main protagonist. It’s a doomed love story set in Norislk, a heavily polluted northern city which is inside the arctic circle and cut off from the rest of the country by impenetrable terrain .. “Norilsk has an extremely harsh climate. It is covered with snow for about 250–270 days a year, with snow storms for about 110–130 days.”

The ending is perfect, ambiguous but with a hit of hope in a movie which is pretty bleak.I hope things work out for Sveta but the options don’t look too good. I think I dig endings where the sound and visuals tie together well, just like Half Nelson and Blue Valentine.

The Q&A was interesting, giving a bit more context on the place and the director’s ideas. She denied making a feminist movie, which is fair enough, lots of directors aren’t keen to label or box their productions, but for me this is a feminist movie in some aspects, using a strong young female protagonist to show what a patriarchal place Norilsk is and how few options for escape there are. I’d like to get more into that but can’t really do so without spoilers.

The director stated there were no metaphors in the film and that it was a specific story set in a specific place, but that argument is full of holes. The title is itself metaphorical, being detourned from an actual factory. It’s cool that she came though and that we got to discuss zapoi afterwards. I agree that Russia does drinking well but London squat raves can compete in terms of bingecore i would respectfully suggest.

The film was finished just before the filmfest and unfortunately it didn’t win a Tiger and I’m pretty sure it won’t get distribution in Western Europe, especially the UK. Would love to be proved wrong though! The film will probably also cause controversy in Russia since it’s made by a Moscow-based troupe who were lambasted in the local press for showing Norilsk in a bad light. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but it doesn’t misrepresent I think. It must be a pretty shit place to live in terms of the pollution and prospects. Then at the same time, people make do wherever they are.

how we played the revolution

Big up cafe scopitane for again showing amazing free music documentaries with a political content at the schouwberg kleine zaal! How we played the revolution was a well told story using loads of archive footage of how a band formed as a joke by some architects became an unlikely figurehead for the lithuanian revolution.

It was pretty tear-jerking stuff to see full on people power in effect, huge lines of people holding hands down the highway as a plane flew above filming them and showering them with flowers.

Also the bit where the band goes on tour through the countryside in a bus with the lithuanian flag flying proudly was cool. The old grandparent types that they visited were crying and saying they thought they would never see the flag in their lifetime again. Kinda reminiscent of tekno travellers spreading the revolutionary message of dance…