By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
Final days of the Berlinale are coming, and yet no surprises arrived from the main competition at the Palast. As every year (and even in a particular quality decline over the years) the Forum section offered the best of what Berlin Film Festival had to present (except for a few exceptions in other competitions: Yann’s Demange’s 71’, or Tsai Ming Liang’s Journey to the West, to name a few of them). But still, one can’t help as to get a bittersweet taste after a competition which could have been a lot better. Just some liner notes: Not to miss, 20’000 Years on Earth, the documentary about Nick Cave, and Calvary by John Michael McDonagh.
ALOFT – CLAUDIA LLOSA (COMPETITION)
An overdramatic, sort of mystical melodrama, Aloft is probably Llosa’s weakest films to date: Starring a wonderful cast (Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent), the film loses its course rapidly with a story devoid from Llosa’s previously treatment of local rituals and bluff-like mystics. The actors do a amazing job trying to contain the massive amount of emotional overcharge in an already predictable plot. Not to say everything is completely bad: Visually, the film is impeccable, and Llosa certainly has a knack for panoramic sights and the use of close range shots with the camera (probably more of a cinematographic merit), and actually, there are random few moments that actually work in the film. But overall, Aloft ranks among the weakest films in competition for this year.
ALAIN RESNAIS – LIFE OF RILEY (COMPETITION)
Since last year’s You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet!, Resnais has been meddling (again) around with the idea of incorporating theater into an experimental format with somewhat good results. Life of Riley is somewhat a good result of the effort of the filmmaker, now incorporating animation to the formula (a merge of genres that only could work in the hands of a competent filmmaker). This is the third time Resnais adapts a Alan Ayckbourn play (the best result was probably the 2006 Coeurs) and he’s been radicalizing his adaptation ever since. Not to say these are incomprehensible avant-garde experimental works, the filmmaker has enough grips in the story to make a warm light comedy (in disguise) with pleasant results. Life of Riley, though, might be just a forgettable passage from his whole impressive body of work.
WU REN QU – NO MAN’S LAND (COMPETITION)
One of the issues of having a filmmaker like Quentin Tarantino, being overrated and overestimated among so many critics and audience alike, is the amount of copycats this phenomenon of the “genre homage” film has given birth to. No Man’s Land is an hybrid between Mad Max and Once Upon a Time in the West, and the results are ghastly. Without a doubt the weakest film in competition, this so called parody of spaghetti western and post-apocalyptic films just gets absolutely boring in the first 30 minutes of footage (and there are 90 more minutes to endure) with its plot-less story, excess of pyrotechnics, and unrelatable characters. Not much to say about this train wreck, except that my time could’ve been invested in something better, like saying, watching an actual good film. And yes, we have to blame Tarantino for that.