Movie Diary 7/22/2018

More from the 9th Odesa Film Festival, which closed Saturday night.

Our FIPRESCI jury gave two awards, announced on Friday. We gave the FIPRESCI prize for Ukrainian feature to Oleksandr Techynskyi’s Delta, a superb documentary about life in the watery countryside of the Odesa Oblast. Our prize for Ukrainian short film went to Ihor Hanskyi’s The Magnetic Storm, a hilarious 8-minute vignette with a strong, simple cinematic idea. For a picture of the jury announcing its winners, click here, although you’ll have to translate the accompanying text. My fellow jurors are Sanjin Pejkovic (from Sweden) and Sergii Vasyliev (from Ukraine).

The Trouble with You (aka En Liberté, Pierre Salvadori, 2018). The only problem with going to a film festival where you have responsibilities is you don’t get to see everything because of timing. So I missed acclaimed new films by Kore-eda and Chang-dong Lee, for instance, to say nothing of the 230-minute An Elephant Sitting Still, which sounds pretty cool. Saw Salvadori’s film, however, based on fond memories of his 2006 film Priceless, a well-turned Lubitschean comedy with edge. This one doesn’t live up to that level, and its concept is fairly tiresome, but at least there’s Adele Haenel (late of BPM) in the lead role.

When the Trees Fall (Marysia Nikitiuk, 2018). A Ukrainian film that won the Best Acting award from the National Jury, for Anastasia Pustovit. Her performance is probably the best thing about this lively, well-shot, but somewhat disconnected film.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant, 2018). I generally like it, even with the conventions of the inspirational biopic lodged in place. It doesn’t unfold like the usual thing, and the performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Black, and – gloriously – Jonah Hill provide ballast.

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