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Ian Briggs » qft

Film review: The Living Room of the Nation

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 20th April 2010 at 12:29 pm

Categories: Films | Tags: , , , | No comments

Having never before seen a Finnish film, I was looking forward to this documentary, which featured a collection of short clipped segments from various people throughout Finland.

Filled with moments of humour, fear, pain and love it presented a story good enough to capture me for the duration. It presented a sequence of contrasting images throughout – the birth of a new-born baby sat alongside the deterioration of a minister suffering with his obesity in his old-age, being thrown out of his home. On reflection it seemed to feature the widest range of emotions it was possible to create.

However, I felt the moments of sadness, in particular, could have been more drawn out and helped to create a greater feeling of empathy – as it was, these few moments of tenderness felt a little constrained and short-lived.

Overall, an interesting portrayal of the various lives of the people it featured, shot entirely with static cameras, indoors (as the title suggests), but with few stand out moments to lift it above other documentaries.

The Living Room of the Nation (Kansakunnan olohuone (2009)): 3/5

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Film Review: Dogtooth

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 20th April 2010 at 12:22 pm

Categories: Films | Tags: , , , | 1 comment

This film from Greek director Giorgios Lanthimos proved to be a popular event at the QFT.

The film was billed as a shocking portrayal of children held captive by their parents. In reality it turned out to be far more shocking than most people were expecting.

As expected, in a style similar to Haneke, the film provided a darkly comic storyline which went on to fully explore the depths and depravity of human nature. However, it used topics that felt even more uncomfortable to watch than some of Haneke’s films, the foremost being the parents instigating an incestuous relationship between two of their children, which is then played out in full; uncensored.

It was interesting gauging the reaction of people watching the film: the viewer seemed happy enough to laugh along in disbelief with the story until this part of the film, at which point the mood in the theatre completely changed and suddenly we felt much more empathy with the suffering and naivety of the children. It was as if this was the first thing we had so far seen that we thought was totally wrong.

The few moments of sudden, shocking violence certainly produced stunned gasps from everyone in the theatre – especially from those who like cats…

The unresolved ending added to the general unease and left us feeling a bit short-changed, but it was certainly one of the most talked about films, with some people loving it and others feeling they couldn’t even rate it on the paper form everyone is given as part of the audience review!

That said, a film which can tell a disgusting and challenging story in this way and provoke a reaction like this from its audience is surely one worth watching, and the various technical ploys used to unsettle the viewer (unfocused framing, action happening just out of shot, people not framed correctly with heads ‘cut off’), never mind the disturbing plot mark it out as something different.


Dogtooth (Kynodontas (2010)): 4/5

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Film Review: Shirley Adams

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 17th April 2010 at 8:35 am

Categories: Films | Tags: , , , | No comments

Over the course of the Belfast Film Festival, I am going to be posting short reviews of some of the films we see. Feel free to add your comments at the end of the blog and share any experiences you may have. Note, there may be spoilers, so beware.


First up, Shirley Adams.


This was an intimate, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother’s struggle to cope with her disabled son.


The majority of the story in the first half was told through reactions and expressions rather than a great amount of dialogue, and with the lead character appearing in almost every frame, the viewer is forced in particular to analyse her thoughts throughout an often difficult-to-watch film.


The handheld, shuffling and very close-cropped camera work adds to the feelings of tension and discomfort for the viewer throughout.


An interesting sub-plot involving a departed husband who has left the family through an inability to cope with his son’s disability, means the added feelings of rejection felt by both mother and son are clear to see and feel.


The interesting relationship between violence and poverty is hinted at throughout; a single act of violence leads to the utter destruction of a previously happy family.


Although a compelling story, the climax was perhaps a little contrived, with the build up removing some of the tension and surprise that could otherwise have resulted, but maybe I’ve seen too much Michael Haneke and have come to expect the surprise element…


Overall, a good start to what promises to be an excellet film festival, and speaking of Haneke, tomorrow night’s film is Dogtooth, which has been compared to some of his work. Can’t wait!


Shirley Adams (2009): 4/5

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The sign of things to come

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 9th March 2010 at 4:29 pm

Categories: Computing, Films | Tags: , , , | No comments

Well this is my first post on my new blog here on Blogger. I hope to post some interesting stories, comments and articles as and when I can find the time.  Today’s short blog will be all about films.  Enjoy…
Firstly, news of the Belfast Film Festival.  The 2010 programme was released today and it is packed full of interesting cinema from across the globe to go and see, as well as some excellent-looking films from Ireland.  The festival has been extended to 16 days this year to mark the 10th anniversary of the event.  I’ve had a quick look through the list of films and have got a ‘short’ list of 22 films to see – better narrow that down slightly to suit the budget!
On other film matters, me and my fiancee are going to see the new Jean-Pierre Jeunet film Micmacs on Thursday at the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast.  I liked Amelie and Delicatessen although Ellen was not so keen, so it will be interesting to see what she thinks of this new one…we’ve seen some ‘interesting’ films recently, although none of them have really blown us away so a good one would be particularly welcome.  Actually, the best film we have seen recently is Taken with Liam Neeson. The story is typical of Luc Besson, but intriguing nonetheless.  Neeson in particular makes a really good tough guy.
Well that is all for now. More soon…

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