It’s a bit daunting starting my blogs about MIFF 2017 because I have to process my thoughts about 60 films. Procrastinating I’ve been thinking about how I judge success in a film. Critical elements must haves are, first, that I’m taken somewhere I can enter fully so that I forget I’m in a cinema (authenticity). Second, I want to be emotionally engaged with the characters which includes loving, liking, admiring or hating them; I have to care one way or the other (empathy). Third, I like a film that has something to say (meaningfulness). I don’t like coming out and thinking what was the point of that? So these are my bedrock requirements without which a film won’t get to first base.

Other things that contribute to my enjoyment can be present or not. That I learn something; about a place (exotic or familiar) or a period in time (past or present), or about a person (famous or not) or something about how people relate to each other or respond to things (enlightenment). I like to be moved; to laughter or tears or anger (emotion); while not critical, tears will generally get a film a 5 stars from me. While excellence in cinematography is nice, it’s also not critical. It takes a lot to make me sit up and take notice of how a film is shot, I’m more interested in the story. Although I did mention how good a film looked in my on the spot tweets, six of which made it to the big screen to my delight. A handy shorthand for describing my response within the twitter character limit I think. Another favourite descriptor was heart-warming; I like a good dose of emotion. Acting and directing are obviously important in delivering my must haves so I don’t really think of them separately, although I do follow particular directors and actors who I’m confident will deliver what I want (and avoid those who I think won’t).

The biggest turn-off for me is intellectual or artistic over-reach where you need to read reviews to understand what a film is about. I’m not big on allegories or irony or metaphor in the cinema. For instance I hated The Lobster a few years ago, and I hated The Killing of the Sacred Deer at this festival. No more of director Yorgas Anthimos for me! On the other hand I enjoyed, and gave five stars to The Square which some people would put in this category; although its been criticised for hitting viewers over the head with its’ message so maybe it got me on meaningfulness. I like directness in films as in all else.

I also avoid grim, which to me are those that focus on really dark corners of the world or psyche. It doesn’t necessarily mean violence although I am not keen on that. My grim is more intangible. Primarily it’s about the subject matter and maybe about the likely style of film. It can be hard to pick from the programme notes. I’ve found myself in some in the past that I have regretted. On the other hand, I’ve also found some very rewarding so it’s a tight rope! I did manage to avoid films in this category this year. I may have missed some masterpieces.

Of my 60 films I gave five stars to 19 – I thought maybe I was in a generous frame of mind but reviewing them again, I would not change any of these, all thoroughly recommended. Here they are in alphabetical order (I’m going to describe these in more detail, including trailers, in subsequent posts grouped around themes):
Ali’s Wedding
Buena Vist Social Club: Adios
Claire’s Camera
Faces Places
I’m Not Your Negro
Jupiter’s Moon
Let The Sunshine In
Loving Vincent
My Happy Family
On Body and Soul
The Lovers
The Nile Hilton Incident
The Party
The Song Keepers
The Square
Where You’re Meant To Be

I gave four stars to these 17, for some close run thing as to whether they should have been a five, one gets hyper critical in a festival setting:
April’s Daughter
Brigsby Bear
Call Me By Your Name
Golden Exits
Hotel Salvation
Lover For A Day
Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts
Patti Cake$
Pop Aye
Revolution of Sound: Tangerine Dream
The Man Who Cried
The Tango Lesson
The Teacher
Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy

And three stars for 16, bearing in mind that if I’d seen any of these on a week-end at our local cinema I’d have thought they were great:
A Man of Integrity
Big Big World
Family Life
Final Portrait
Fly Away Home
Ingrid goes West
Los Perros
Marjorie Prime
That’s Not Me
The Paris Opera

I gave two stars to these 3 films:
School Life
The Butterfly Tree

And one star, meaning I really didn’t like them at all, to these 5:
24 Frames
On the Beach At Night Alone
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Woman Who Left


3 Responses to MIFF 2017 OVERVIEW

  1. [...] MIFF 2017 OVERVIEW MIFF 2017: Heartwarming films [...]

  2. [...] I mention here, when tweeting about the movies I was seeing at MIFF 2017 I often found myself reaching for [...]

  3. [...] was my overview of everything I saw. I still agree with most of my five star ratings. Although I’d probably [...]

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