Explore the world of original plots and unique storytelling with Sylvy, a film major and chronic indie fan. She will steer you toward the best that independent cinema has to offer at home and abroad, past and present.
Now go get the popcorn ready…
By Sylvana Fernandez
Chacun son cinema
(To Each His Own Cinema)
Directed by 35 separate directors
Release Year: 2007
I first saw Chacun son cinema at a special screening during the 2008 edition of the Miami International Film Festival. A work commissioned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Fest, it was the first time it was shown outside of France.
The format of the film is like Paris, Je T’aime—a collection of 32 three-minute shorts by the most legendary directors of our time about the subject of film. With credits not showing up till the end of each mini-movie, part of the fun in watching these for any film buff is guessing who directed what.
My favorites were the humorous Cohen brothersdirected “World Cinema”, which stars a cowboy (Josh Brolin) trying to decide what to watch at a multiplex, and Zhang Yimou’s endearing “En Regardant le Film” about rural Chinese children gathering for an outdoor screening.
The film runs the emotional range from tragic (David Cronenberg’s “The last Jew in the world in the Last Cinema in the world”) to happy (Youssef Chahine’s “47 Ans Après”) to just plain weird (the always-shocking Lars von Trier’s “Occupations”), proving in snippets why cinema is the most important and influential art form of the century.
Director: David Slade
Release Year: 2006
Hard Candy has to be one of the creepiest films I’ve seen this year. A pre-Juno Ellen Page plays Haley, a mysterious, wise-beyond-her-years 14-yearold girl who’s been flirting online with Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson), 32 and a successful photographer, for three weeks. She suggests they meet at a local café, and when they do she coyly invites herself over to his house and studio.
In a shocking reversal of roles, Haley—the “innocent victim” you’re already cringing for as she climbs into Jeff’s Mini Cooper heading for a California suburb—drugs Jeff and ties him to a chair. A slew of tense scenes follow and the spotlight hardly ever leaves Page and Wilson, as Haley’s aggression toward the would-be pedophile escalates and Jeff’s disbelief of what he’s gotten into becomes panic.
A film that literally leaves you at the edge of your seat, Hard Candy finds its success with a formula of solid performances and clever dialogue. In one scene where Haley is “operating” on Jeff, she asks, “Was I born a cute, vindictive, little bitch or… did society make me that way? I go back and forth on that.”
Longer than expected, the film culminates in a powerful last scene that manages to give closure yet remain a cliffhanger ending, leaving you thinking long after the credits roll about revenge and how much it equates to justice.
Director: Rod Hardy
Release Year: 2007
December Boys is one of those movies that IS likeable for its old-fashioned simplicity. Miles and decades away from the typical Hollywood coming-of-age tale, the storyline of this Australian film revolves around four boys who all arrived at an orphanage in December and have grown up together.
Maps (Daniel Radcliffe sans lightning bolt scar and robes), Misty (Lee Cormie), Sparks (Christian Byers) and Spit (James Fraser) are given the birthday present of a lifetime: a family offers to take care of them for the summer on the coast. Everything seems perfect and they’re overjoyed to be on vacation until Misty overhears a local couple talking about adopting one of the boys.
Suddenly the four inseparable friends are competing for parents and trying to one-up each other. Maps, especially, is conflicted once his first girlfriend Lucy (Teresa Palmer) leaves town without telling him. With subtle dialogue and acting from a talented young cast and stunning cinematography in a gorgeous backdrop, this bittersweet story about friendship and abandonment is nothing short of memorable.