Thursday, September 18, 2008

Europe, endless

Just spent the last five days watching movies at the Cine Europa film festival at the Shangri-La Plaza, which will run till September 21 (see schedule HERE). This is the 11th year of the festival, showcasing (supposedly) the best films from the European Union. Hmmm. I'm not sure. I've seen ten films so far but almost all of them were shockingly average. A friend of mine wondered what has happened to the festival. In the past, I would go to festivals like this, see the likes of Death In Venice, The Grand Illusion, and A bout de souffle, and get inspired to become a filmmaker myself. I'm not sure if anybody will get inspired after seeing that icky horse movie from Germany. Only three films I've seen so far in the festival have stuck in memory: Susanne Bier's "After The Wedding" from Denmark, nominated last year for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and showcasing fine acting from Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre from 2006's Casino Royale). The others are the entertaining "Vitus" from Switzerland, and "The Paper Will Be Blue" from Romania.

Funny thing about the Cine Europa is, it seems to attract a lot of strange moviegoers (is it because it's free?). I've written about this last year (HERE), but this year, there was this guy who kept mumbling to himself all throughout a movie; senior citizens who not only say "grabe, ang bastos!" ("How disgusting!") during sex scenes, but also feel the need to chat all throughout the screening; and the like. And it's also during Cine Europa when people always seem to be coming and going during screenings. It's like, "oh, it's not Hollywood," and then go out. Had I charged five pesos for every person who went up and down the aisles during The Paper Will Be Blue, I would have had enough to buy me a decent meal at Clawdaddy. What's up with that? It's not only annoying and distracting, but also disrespectful. Is it because it's free that people think it's okay to be rude?

Still, the festival is a success. Most of the screenings were packed, and some people had to be turned away because there were no more seats. For those who have not been to such an event and are intimidated by subtitled films, fear not! I've been going to film festivals like this for fifteen years, and for your convenience, I've made a simple guide for people who want to widen their horizons and inject some "culture" into their lives.

Presenting, my Idiot's Guide to European Movies:

1. German films - if they're not made before World War II or in the 70s, they generally suck

2. films from the UK - cool and hip, unless they're from, or about, Ireland then they're just dreary

3. films from Russia, Romania, and other eastern European countries - political, and almost always interesting. Also, as heavy as a hundred iron elephants.

4. French films - almost always have people taking off their clothes; that, or full of characters that are too introspective for comfort (or both). The best French films were made before World War II, and in the 60s--the French new wave. (If you wish to know how brain hemorrhage feels like, may I respectfully recommend Godard).

5. Spanish films - quirky and/or fun. Also, lots of sex, but they do it without moping first or becoming existential, unlike the French.

6. Italian films - they have the most gorgeous people. 'Nuff said.

7. films from other parts of Europe - either they're gloriously experimental, or will bore you to death, or just pure vanilla. Your call. (Check if they won awards or something). But if it's by Paul Verhoeven, then it will be full of sex Sex SEX! Clear your calendar.

* * * * *

The next major film festival will be the 1oth Cinemanila International Film Festival, which this year will showcase some of the best movies that ever came out of the Directors' Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival. However, the big question on movie buffs' minds is not what will be shown, but whether Martin Scorsese is coming! Help convince Marty to drop by Manila by visiting this blog. See you in the queue folks.

No comments: