Sunday was the aftermath of the great bathroom flood of Ought Nine. So, I had to spend the first part of the day repacking 10 days worth of clothing and replacing damaged supplies (nothing too significant). Plus, had a couple of meetings - so only two movies to report on.
A Brand New Life - Ounie Lecomte - South Korea / France
Based partially on her own experiences, Ounie Lecomte's directorial debut is a beautifully realized story of loss and growth in childhood. Set in 1975, A Brand New Life introduces us to Jinhee, a young girl who loves her widowed father very much. Her father buys her a new dress and tells her it's time to take a trip. She's unaware that the trip is to an orphanage and that she will stay there until she finds a new family. Where many films could have collapsed into stark territory or turned their lead character into a saintly force fighting the demons of darkness and depression, Lecomte instead opts for realism and real emotions. Young Jinhee doesn't adapt easily at first - she fights the authority of the directors and lashes out at her peers. Eventually, she is taken under the wing of an older Sookhee, who teaches her the necessary things to do to impress potential parents. At first, Jinhee will have nothing to do with it, because she's sure her daddy is coming back to get her...but eventually, she learns the territory. Like absolute best deserts, this film is simple, sweet, and actually a little good for you. It never cloys or attempts to be overly cute. It's just an honest story about lifes massive shifts and how we has human beings adjust. Quite lovely.
Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl - Manoel de Oliveira - Portugal
Oliveira remains a mystery to most American movie-goers. I'm hardly an expert, having seen only four or five of his many works (his first came out in 1931 and at 101 years old, his latest is due out next year). This slight comedy of morals is a nice, if curious, addition to his oeuvre (when you've been making movies for nearly 80 years, you get to have your own oeuvre in my book - hell, it's practically a canon at this point!). Once again, a very simple tale of a young accountant who becomes infatuated with the blonde who lives in the apartment across the street from his office and the drastic effects it has on him. While set in present day, Oliveira's characters and actors seem to be in a film from the early part of the 20th Century, which adds to the charms of this dryly witty little film (it runs a scant 63 minutes). With such short length, it seems a bit of a lark, and it comes across that way. P&I crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. It's light on its feet and fun for the more astute crowds (I don't see The Hills demographic getting into this one...)
Ran into Harmony Korine. I'm seeing his film Trash Humpers on Thursday. More meetings today along with a great selection of films.
Let me know if there's anything on the Toronto schedule you'd like me to see and I'll try to add it in before the end of the festival and let you know my thoughts...
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