Here are reviews of the films I've seen so far (links go to the SIFF listing and trailers as available), and then a request for opinions of possible film choices after:MENASHE
, about a Hassidic widower who is so bereft that even after a year he just can't get his life together. His year of mourning is ending, he's having trouble keeping his job, he hasn't been able to bring himself to find another wife, and his son's being cared for my his late wife's family who don't think much of him. He's fighting to keep his son and needs to find a way to prove to everyone around him that he's a capable father and can live up to the standards of his community. It's a bittersweet story, filmed entirely in Yiddish, and really beautifully done. I recognized just enough of the language to know that the subtitles were covering the basics, but that some nuances were lost. Even with those lost nuances of dialog, the actors' faces are so eloquent that the words almost weren't necessary. I found myself understanding Menashe's pain and feeling very sad about his choices in the end, even though they were the only choices he could make and ultimately were the right ones. A very effective film and very much worth seeing. A good way to start the festival.BYE BYE GERMANY
, starring Moritz Bleibtreu, whom I've seen in other films shown at SIFF and whom I like quite a bit. Based on true events, the story follows David Bermann, a cool, smartly-dressed and ever-so-smooth linen salesman, in Frankfurt after WWII. He's survived a concentration camp, lost his family, and is trying to move on. When he applies for a business license, he finds himself being interrogated about how he survived. At times funny, at times deeply grim, I ultimately found the film very satisfying. Bleibtreu, as always, is terrific, and it was interesting to learn another untold story of the Holocaust.THE FARTHEST
, a documentary about the Voyager planetary probes, their design, their mission, the people who designed and built them, and what they've achieved thus far. I'm kind of a documentary junkie, and I have to say that this is one of the best docs I've ever seen: moving, exciting, educational and inspiring. It gave me chills listening to scientists talking about their passion, their wonder in this epic project they undertook and reviewing pictures we've all seen now with new eyes and a clearer understanding of the weight of the accomplishment. Look for for this doc on PBS in the coming year. It's well worth seeing.THE OSIRIS CHILD: SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME ONE
, an old-school Australian science fiction movie which starts by giving you the idea that the fate of a world hangs in the balance, but which, in truth, is the story of a father and child caught up in events they can't control. It's Road Warrior meets The Searchers meets a generic convict-with-a-heart-of-gold-on-the-run film. I found it a little uneven but I still enjoyed it. The monsters in the film aren't quite what one expects, the special effects are terrific, especially given the low budget and in the end, there's a nice little twist that makes quite a bit of what came before totally worth the watch. Overall it was a satisfying entertainment.
More to come as I see more festival films. In the meanwhile, I need to shuffle my schedule around a bit and so am looking for comments about the following films, if any of my SIFF cohort here on DW has seen them, specifically:
- What Lies Upstream
- Backpack Full of Cash