Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 9

Berlinale Palast

Recap of the ninth and final day of competition at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Beauty and the Beast by Christophe Gans (out of competition).

    The latest from French fantasy/genre director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf), is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, starring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux.

    Official Synopsis:
    1810. After losing his fortune at sea, a ruined merchant is forced to retire to the countryside with his six children. Among them is Belle, his youngest daughter, who is full of joy and grace.
    On an arduous journey, the Merchant discovers the magical realm of the Beast, who sentences him to death for stealing a rose.
    Belle, who blames herself for her family’s terrible misfortune, decides to sacrifice her life in place of her father’s. However,it isn’t death that awaits Belle in the Beast’s castle, but rather a peculiar life of magic, joy and melancholy.
  • The Little House by Yoji Yamada.

    82-year-old Japanese director Yoji Yamada (recipient of the 2010 Berlinale Camera), returns to the competition lineup for the 5th time in his lengthy career, with The Little House. A family drama set before and during WWII, based on the Kyoko Nakajima novel of the same name.

    Official Synopsis:
    A furtive love affair that began under the roof of a little house. After 60 years, a closely guarded secret is finally revealed...
  • Macondo by Sudabeh Mortezai.

    German-Iranian documentarian Sudabeh Mortezai presents her feature-length fiction debut in competition at the Berlinale. A drama named after the tough ethnic neighbourhood in the suburbs of Vienna where the film takes place. The story follows an 11-year-old Chechen refugee living with his mother and two younger sisters detailing their lives as foreigners in a new society.

    Official Synopsis:
    Ramasan has a lot of responsibility for an 11-year-old. In traditional Chechen society, he is now considered the man of the house in charge of his mother and two younger sisters. His world is now centered in Macondo, a tough ethnic neighborhood in the industrial suburbs of Vienna.

  • Day 6 - Thursday, February 14
Out of Competition
Beauty and the Beast
directed by Christophe Gans
France, Germany

Critical response:
"An effects-laden adaptation of the famous fairly tale whose visual flourishes hardly compensate for a premise that plays out as kitschier than ever before"Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter)
"The film's failings, mainly the wasted opportunity of updating and contextualizing the story for a contemporary audience."Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg (Twitch)
"Not one for the ages, then, but also not without its entertainment value, especially towards the end when it goes off the rails."Anne Bilson (Multiglom)

Competition Film
The Little House (Chiisai ouchi)
directed by Yoji Yamada

Critical response:
"Most audiences are likely to find this prim romance hokey, dull and dramatically unconvincing."David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
"Looks entirely fictitious, a banal collection of clichés piling up one on top of the other, all of it wrapped in Joe Hisaishi’s syrupy soundtrack, entirely alien to what the Japanese spirit the images pretend to convey. "Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)

Competition Film
directed by Sudabeh Mortezai

Critical response:
"Modest in scope yet entirely captivating in the docu-style humanism of its approach, enriched by unsentimental compassion for its characters."David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
"Without the slightest hint of manipulation, Macondo allows audiences to discover Ramasan’s fate for themselves, opening its heart to a character who becomes our connection to an incredibly foreign lifestyle, just arm’s reach from opportunity the rest of us take for granted."Peter Debruge (Variety)

Tomorrow at the Berlinale (Saturday, February 15):
  • Award Ceremony and Encore Screening of the Golden Bear Winner.

See our other coverage of the 64th Berlinale:

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