TFF 37 Mini Review: Chico and Rita, Spain-Cuba, 2010, 96m
Chico and Rita is an animated story of a talented Cuban jazz pianist named Chico and the love of his life, the talented singer Rita. They chase each other across the Americas and across the decades, overcoming personal and political barriers to their marital bliss. The director went to significant effort to stylistically match the period in geography, dress, and music. The movie’s soundtrack is filled out by performers such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.
Carolyn and I saw the Miscreants of Taliwood at the Telluride Film Festival last September and had an opportunity to talk with the director, George Gittoes. We felt the movie was an important record and George an important resource for the people we work with in DC and arranged to have him come for a screening.
Miscreants is the only western film by the only western observer in the Tribal region of Pakistan along the Afghan border during the tumultuous period starting with the siege of the Red Mosque/Lal Masjid in June of 2007 and including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
This is a unique document, the sole direct, ground-level view of the geographic heart of Taliban ideology and a core operations center for Al Qaeda. Further, the opportunity to speak with Gittoes is particularly exceptional as his two years in the region were marked by extraordinary encounters that he was unable to incorporate into his documentary because “when people are pointing guns at you, taking out your camera gets you killed.”
We are screening it tonight, Wednesday, February 24th at 8pm at the Letelier Theater at 3251 Prospect Street, NW (upper courtyard – above Café Milano) Wash, DC 20007 202-338-5835. Admission is free. A parking garage is located between Café Milano and Café Peacock.
There will be a Q & A with George Gittoes immediately following the screening.
I saw Red Riding at the Telluride Film Festival. It is a three part story of a corrupt police force in Yorkshire over three different eras, each marked by murders. As the series goes on, the weight of the unsolved crimes accumulates until it reaches a breaking point in the third, 1983.
Each movie was done by a different director, and the first, 1974, was the best. It had the strongest story line and the best acting. Andrew Garfield as a reporter was particularly good. 1980, about the yorkshire ripper, seemed to stand somewhat apart from the trilogy, though it did advance certain aspects of the story of police corruption. The last, 1983, brought the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion and was certainly a powerful bit of storytelling, but I found it somewhat burdened by flashback references to the earlier movies that proved a little confusing given the complex story line.
The series was well received at Telluride and many people thought it was one of the best in the festival. I enjoyed it very much, though I was glad I watched the whole series through in one sitting.
Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence is a series of 33 shorts about movies, each about 2 minutes long, each by a different and significant director. Some are a bit tedious or somewhat incomprehensible, but a few really stand out: a joke about moaning in pain (rather than orgasm) during a screening of Emanuele and another about a man who takes makes the ultimate response to a noisy, self-centered movie patron with an ice pick to the head, a fantasy to which we could all relate after dozens of movies.
The first movie we saw at the Toronto International Film Festival was Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case by Andrei Nekrasov. He was there to answer questions in person and make his final public appearance before he too is assassinated.
The movie makes a strong, nearly overwhelming case that Litvinenko was poisoned by the KGB for speaking out about the Moscow bombings, along with Anna Politkovskaya. Both journalists appeared in the movie in interviews shot before their deaths, and both spoke of their concerns for their safety.
While there seems to be little doubt that Litvinenko was killed by the FSB, the FSB cover story that he did it himself as a means to an end was given slightly more credence by the movie and the director’s comments. First, that Litvinenko converted to Islam a year before his death with some fervor (including his father’s befuddlement at having brought unwanted Christian icons to his hospital room). Second, Nekrasov said after the movie that Litvinenko’s first words to him when he arrived in Litvinenko’s hospital room were “this is what it takes to be believed.”
Technically the movie was bit shaky, all hand held footage and stylized with extreme close ups of people’s faces and hands as they talked. While it added interest to what was otherwise a movie composed entirely of talking-head interviews, it was a little nauseating after an hour or so.