directed by Gao Feng
A visually impressive "Chinese Western", set in the picturesque Gobi Desert. Unfortunately squanders the incredible setting and plays it safe all the way. There are some cool action sequences, but it adheres too closely to the typical adventure film formula, is extremely heavy on the melodrama, and uses some cheap CGI.
Our Children (A perdre la raison)
directed by Joachim Lafosse
Devastating. Niels Arestrup and Tahar Rahim repeat their chemistry from A Prophet, but Emilie Dequenne blows them away with her best performance since Rosetta. Story and character evolution is expertly done. Even though we know early on where the film is headed, the journey there is just as compelling and no less powerful. Unfortunately technical issues meant they had to resort to using a DVD screener with time-codes in the middle of the screen and two minutes of footage missing. Hopefully they get that fixed for the remaining screenings.
directed by Cate Shortland
This seems to be the year of films about children affected by war. Cate Shortland's second feature is one part Walkabout, one part The Piano, and some sprinkles of Diamonds of the Night. A breakout performance from newcomer Saskia Rosendahl in the role of the title character (pronounced Lor-a). Sometimes gets a bit too heavy handed with the symbolism, but overall a very impressive effort.
Key of Life
directed by Uchida Kenji
Hilarious. Most laughter I've had at the movies all year. Great mix of characters and very clever dialogue. It's a bit long for a comedy (128 minutes), but it never feels that way because it's so fun to watch. Sakai Masato and Kagawa Teruyuki are terrific. Great way to end the day after the two very heavy films I saw before it.