At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
February is “The Month of Hard-pressed Women” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave at least 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, February 13, 7 pm: Strawberry Shortcakes (2006) by Yazaki Hitoshi – 127 mins – Japan, Drama.
New York Asian Film Festival 2008: Strawberry Shortcakes tells the story of the intersecting lives of four different women in Tokyo: an office worker, a prostitute, an artist, and a receptionist for an escort service. Each of the women is miserable and unfulfilled to varying degrees. The office worker has a boyfriend who won’t commit to her, and is stuck with an unfulfilling job with coworkers who despise her. The prostitute engages in dangerous, unprotected sex with her clients and pines after a college buddy who spurns her affections. The artist suffers from bulimia, and the receptionist is not only deeply lonely, but also is trying to avoid the advances of her skeezy, married boss.
As the plot description suggests, Strawberry Shortcakes is a troubling film. All of the women in the film are rather weak-willed. Most, if not all, of them believe that they will never be happy or fulfilled until they are married. On the other hand, the men in the film are portrayed as uncaring, lecherous, two-timing sleazeballs. Is the film critiquing how members of both sexes destroy their lives by falling into stereotypical patterns of behavior? Or is the film merely reinforcing those stereotypes? The answer is not clear, given that the story is presented in a naturalistic style without an explicit point of view.
Although the film’s politics may be questionable, the film’s aesthetics are unimpeachable. Although the film is shot in avérité fashion, with long takes and minimal non-diegetic music, its imagery is far from rough-hewn. Most of the film’s shots are remarkably beautiful; the filmmakers have truly managed to find poetry in unexpected places such as back-alleys and grungy rooftops. Notwithstanding their eye for visual beauty, the filmmakers do not shy away from ugliness; scenes in which the women engage in degrading sex are particularly tough to watch. As a final note, all four of the lead actresses should be commended for their fine, fearless performances. The actresses are extremely convincing in their roles, even when they have to pull off tough dialogue, such as conversations with God.
At Film Space Saturday, February 20, 7 pm: Day Night Day Night / Jour nuit, jour nuit (2006) by Julia Loktev – 94 mins – US/Germany/ France, Crime/Drama/Thriller. StarringLuisa Williams, Josh Phillip Weinstein, Gareth Saxe, Nyambi Nyambi. Generally favorable reviews: 61/66 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: Day Night Day Night is a minimalist drama that refuses to indulge in stereotypes, making it all the more realistic and chilling.
Studio description: A 19-year-old girl prepares to become a suicide bomber in Times Square. She speaks with no accent; it's impossible to pinpoint her ethnicity. We never learn why she made her decision -- she has made it already. We don't know whom she represents, what she believes in - we only know she believes it absolutely. The film strips the story down to its existential core. It focuses on microscopic movements, the smallest gestures, an economy of banal details. Inspired in part by a story in a Russian newspaper and playing off a history of Joan of Arc films, the film transpires on the girl's face. The minimalism of the face is confronted with the visual and aural noise of the city. Faith comes face-to-face with the possibility of failure. -- © IFC Films
Salon.com, Andrew O'Hehir: Day Night Day Night has captured viewers' attention around the world for its remarkable craftsmanship, technical command, and distinctive vision.
At Film Space Saturday, February 27, 7 pm: Maria Full of Grace / Maria, llena eres de gracia (2004) by Joshua Marston – 101 mins – Colombia/ US/ Ecuador, Drama/ Thriller/ Crime. Starring Catalina Sandino Moreno, Virginia Ariza, Yenny Paola Vega, Johanna Andrea Mora. A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family. Rated R in the US for drug content and language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 87/83 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Consensus: In a striking debut, Moreno carries the movie and puts a human face on the drug trade. Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, two major awards at the Berlin Film Festival and six awards at the Cartagena Film Festival, Joshua Marston's Maria Full of Grace follows a bright, gutsy young woman on a life-changing - and life-threatening - journey. The film sweeps us along on its heroine's unpredictable odyssey from Colombia to New York, weaving a gripping narrative of risk, determination, and survival. Confronting crises that test her to the very core, Maria finally emerges at the threshold of a new future, one that will be defined by what she wants rather than what she rejects. Pausing at that threshold, Maria makes her choice and moves forward, carried by her grit and grace.
Maria Full of Grace made its world premiere in Official Competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Dramatic Audience Award. It screened at the Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize for Best First Film and Catalina Sandino Moreno won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. At the Cartagena Film Festival in Colombia it won six prestigious awards - Opera Prima (Best First Film), Mejor Actriz (Best Actress), Mejor Pelicula Colombiana (Best Colombian Film), Premio Especial del Jurado (Special Jury Prize), Premio del Publico (Audience Award), and El Premio de OCLACC (Organization of Catholic Clergy).
Chiang Mai Mail, Mark Whitman: A masterly debut by Joshua Marston called Maria Full of Grace. This searing portrait of the life and travails of a Colombian young woman tricked into being a drug mule was one of the best films of the current, dying decade.