“The Island Funeral”
Reviewed by Andrew Hamlin
This Thai feature doesn’t show us the island until very late in the film. It’s not all that big on funerals either. What it does show us, for most of its 1 hour and 44 minutes, is three people arguing which direction to go in their car. One of them is always sure that at least one of the others is wrong — that they missed a turn, took a wrong turn, blew through an intersection, or got spun around in wide, slow-going circles.
I laughed quite a bit at this earlier going, but the further in the film goes, the more it puts on its own world. The three young folks want to visit an Auntie they haven’t seen in decades, since they were children. But now they are grown. And Auntie is so much older and stranger.
Director Pimpaka Towira specializes in documentary films showing the upheaval in her country’s politics, so no surprise that she edges this, her second narrative feature, with soldiers toting guns.
They patrol the landscape in combat camouflage, automatic rifles at the ready, although any violence by them occurs by implication, not with onscreen noise and blood. Which makes it all the more frightening.
Much like Tarkovsky’s “Stalker,” which I’m reasonably sure Pimpaka Towira has watched, the whole film, with its trappings of friendship, association, technology (those phones get harder to use out in the boonies), personal friction, and psychological intrigue, culminates in one visit to one room. Unlike Tarkovsky’s colorful characters, this Thai bunch doesn’t debate on what to do when they reach the supposed goal. They go in, damning the torpedoes.
And what they find doesn’t quite make sense on a rational level. But it was not meant to. The filmmaker wants us to make our own meaning, our own complications, out of the brush strokes she lays down. She’s confident we’ll be willing and able to do that. That simple stand puts “The Island Funeral” over almost any Hollywood film in the last 20 years.
May 22 — SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival — 8:30 p.m.
May 27 — SIFF Film Center Festival — 9:00 p.m.
“Angry Indian Goddesses”
Reviewed by Tiffany Ran
A group of friends from various backgrounds gather for seaside bachelorette trip in the beautiful, lush region of Goa, India. What begins like an Indian “Bridesmaids” leads to a heavy dose of female solidarity. “Angry” shows us a glimpse of the struggle of the modern woman in India. In “Angry,” lighthearted, humorous dose of female kick-ass leads to candid conversations about sex, gender equality, and full on rage over violence against women in India. Set in light of the widely publicized Delhi rape scandal in 2012, the film sets up to continue the ongoing discussion. In
“Angry,” each woman’s personal trials reveal hurt, vulnerability, and uncertainty, and those who watch the film remain the next set of angry goddesses set to question the state of women’s rights in India.
May 23 — SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival — 7 p.m.
May 27 — Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center — 6 p.m.
May 28 — Lincoln Square Cinemas — 6:30 p.m.
Reviewed by Tiffany Ran
“Zud” follows an 11-year old Sukhbat, a Mongolian boy, as he enters a wild horse race to help pay off his family’s debt. From his young eyes, the panorama of the Mongolian steppe is vast and looming. In a breathtaking setting where families are at the mercy of extreme weather and nature’s perils, Sukhbat takes the risk of a lifetime. “Zud,” a feature debut by Marta Minorowicz, was filmed in Mongolia with supporting roles played by indigenous Mongolian steppe dwellers. The young protagonist and his father are played by real life nomads. Minorowicz provides a powerful experience through her subtle approach and cinematic precision so that we’re left with the haunting sound of wind through the steppe, the chill of the wide expanse, and heavy galloping that syncs to our rising heart rates. Perhaps for this reason, the film bears a startling realness, where every scene is a majestic painting. The horse is only inches from galloping off the screen and everyone is susceptible to the unforgiving force of nature. This is truly a beautiful film meant to be experienced on the big screen.
May 23 — Majestic Bay Cinemas — 4 p.m.
May 25 — Lincoln Square Cinemas — 6:30 p.m.
May 27 — SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival — 9 p.m.