Monday, April 28, 2008

Film Fest DC had better get better

I am 2 for 2 with the Film Fest DC movies I have picked. And it’s not in a good way.

Tonight’s movie, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, started out really well. An adorable little girl, probably 5 years old, decides she wants to go to school, like her neighbor, Abbas. She shows great tenacity to buy a notebook because that is what she thinks she needs to go to school. She resembles any little girl excited to go to school like all the other kids.

And then the movie takes a very twisted turn, with a bunch of boys playing Taliban, taking her captive, pretending to stone her, digging her grave. Yes, it was probably some big, giant metaphor, but it was taken a little far. Which is fine, but I felt duped by the description of the film:

Winner of the Crystal Bear for the best first feature and the Peace Film Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame possesses an innocent simplicity that belies the shrewd eloquence of its anti-war message. In March of 2001, the Taliban blew up a massive pair of fifth-century Buddhas carved into the side of a mountain in central Afghanistan’s Bamyan valley. Six-year-old Baktay lives with her family in the caves surrounding the gaping holes where the statues used to be. Determined to attend the girls' school across the river, the beautiful child must trade stolen eggs for pen and paper while enduring the cruel taunts of local boys. This debut feature from Hana Makhmalbaf, the younger sister of filmmaker Samir Makhmalbaf, is the follow-up to her documentary on the making of Samir's Afghan-set drama At Five in the Afternoon, called Joy of Madness. -Eddie Cockrell

Innocent? Not so much. It was so depressing, and from what I overheard leaving the theater, I was not alone in my funk. The movie was a movie, that’s not my problem so much as the description. The scenes in the schools were a blink of an eye. Stars awarded=1.

Last night’s film, In the Name of God, was simply poorly made. The theme was basically how Islam is misunderstood in many cultures, a very worthwhile movie idea. The dialog, story lines, acting, and music were so simplistic, predictable, and just plain poor, and everyone was strikingly beautiful. The stereotypes were stretched to their limits. For example, the main character’s father was Pakistani, living in London with a white British woman, of course! Being married to her would have been bad enough in the eyes of his family back home, but to be living together made the strike that much worse. And it was more than 2 1/2 hours, and it started 30 minutes late. I almost left after about 2 hours, but felt bad so I stayed. Ugh, what a waste. It felt like a bad Hollywood movie. Stars awarded=2.

I have 4 more movies to attend through Sunday. Fingers are crossed that my choices get better.

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