Day 3: September 6

'Tis not often that a film gets a standing ovation at the festival. Despite the fact that this accolade has been watered down some by over use (say, like with the "seventh inning stretch" in Baseball...), it's nice when it's genuine. Tonight's MM film, a ridiculous, kinetic Thai martial arts film received this honour. If the goal of MM is to keep you awake and entertained, than this is a prefect film for this venue, and I can't think of one in the history of the fest that can be considered better.

On the other hand, it's always distressing to go into a film with actors you like and respect, only to see them doing utter shite work. You ask yourself all the usual questions - is it just for the money? No, this is a little independent flick... Is it for prestige/oscar recognition? Nah, not that kind of movie... All these people must have seen something at the script stage that made them say "yeah, I'll work for scale!"

It's painful when it all goes wrong, and there's usually no easy reason to see why.

Just like jet lag, the third day's when it really hits you - I never want this to end, but the brain's already turning to mush. My Algernonian decent into madness and retardation is continuing apace. Wish me luck....

    

The Fog of War
Directed by: Errol Morris

Even handed, but never to a fault, this critical and at times even touching examination of Robert McNamara's life and role in the Cold War is as brilliant as I hoped it would be. Morris' much lauded technique of having his subjects look you in the eye when they talk to the camera continues to be very effective, as you can, head on, see the flickers of doubt and remorse in the eyes of McNamara. A stunning achievement, important both as historical testimony and a contribution to the documentary form.

Grade: A-

    

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
Directed by: Kim Ki-Duk

When I was at the Isle screening years ago, watching onscreen as some fishhooks were pulled from genetalia, I certainly had no idea that I was seeing a film from a director whose films would be mandatory viewing at each subsequent fest. Sublime and scary, the strange part is that the themes are quite similar to his more recent, more kinetic/grotesque films, while suddenly becoming accessible to a wider audience. This is a foreign film with all the positives that that word can convey, something entirely different from what our Western film experience has led us to expect. Truly remarkable, this is the most accessible of his films, to be sure, but there remains an edge that makes it all the more remarkable when the film settles in to be simply quiet and beautiful. Exceptional.

Grade: A-

    

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine
Directed by: Vikram Jayanti

Chess, computers and intrigue. A fun doc to watch, never gets bogged down in technicalities, playing as some strange mix of noir thriller and boxing flick. Quite simply the Raging Bull of chess documentaries.

Grade: A-/B+

    

Cooler
Directed by: Wayne Kramer.

"I think I love you.... no, wait... I'm pretty sure I do...."

If my reviews can help you at all this fest, avoid this film. It will eat your soul and vomit black bile in your face.

Grade: FAIL

    

Carandiru
Directed by: Hector Babenco

Carandiru could have been a great prison drama, but it mixed its genres so thoroughly in an attempt to make it entertaining and accessible that I felt it lost its bite. For me, the built-in dread of the internationally-known final riot wasn't enough to sustain the mood. Stylish and well shot, neither intense enough to be creepy or funny enough to be satiric. Any episode of Oz blows it away.

Grade: B

    

On-Bak Muay: Thai Warrior
Directed by: Pracha Pinkaew

Genius. Perfection. Thai-style fighting with sequences that will make you shout at the screen. One of the highlights of this or any MM. It doesn't get better than this.

Thai martial arts seems to be all elbows and knees. None of that chop-socky, hands aflay karate -chop madness, this flick is all about jumping up in the air, pounding elbows onto of a bad guy's head, as the vertebrae crush and the spine is severed. Brutal, yes, but simply awesome as a genre flick. The audience was in extasy.

Grade: A+