Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) began on 16 November already, but it's not too late to catch a screening, as the festival lasts through this Sunday! Culture.ee technical editor Taavi Hallimäe has provided short reviews for three of the films being screened again this week.
Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben)
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
"Everybody Knows" is a family story that, instead of introducing its world and characters or drawing a branch-filled family tree, throws the viewer right into the middle of the relationships between the family members and those who are close to them, and the yet unclear meanings that are bringing tension to these relationships.
Farhadi is able to convey a very complex story with special attention and care. Each subsequent scene or dialogue makes the characters and their relationships more and more understandable for the viewer. The initial mess is gradually being sorted out, which, at some point, not only justifies the decisions and behaviour of the characters but also makes you see that in some cases, there was no other choice.
Just like the characters in the movie are being set up to do the detective work to find the 16-year-old Irene, the viewer also has to do the detective work — but extend it to the entire family. This is a film about getting to know people, and by the end of the film, every glance you missed before is suddenly full of meaning. The viewer has become part of the depicted family. The viewer is drawn into it, although the matter of who can be part of the family and who cannot remains the leitmotif of the film. 4/5
The final screening of "Everybody Knows" was on Tuesday, 27 November at 19:00 EET at Tartu Cinamon.
Directed by Gaspar Noé
A visual and sometimes even lethargic mishmash that is the opposite of the boys-in-one-corner-girls-in-the-other type of parties. The viewer's attention, however, may move away from the individual, well-composed aspects and get stuck in the empty dialogue and stereotypical, even banal plot.
This film takes most of its clichés from American teenage comedies — party, sex, dance, finding yourself or your place among other people, alcohol, characters' naive future dreams, boys' and girls' talk about the opposite sex, an innocent child who accidentally happens to be at the party and is often someone's little brother or sister, but in this case is the child of one of the characters — and mixes them with elements characteristic of the horror genre — death of an unborn baby, super bad trip, burning hair, self-harm, rape, beating, incest, child death, suicide.
Add to this Noé's rollercoaster visuals, which are so overacted that it creates the feeling that Noé is a mediocre imitator of his own style, it ends up being a compote that can only be consumed at the diner's own risk. 1/5
The next screening of "Climax" is on Saturday, 1 December at 22:00 at Tallinn's Solaris Apollo Cinema.
Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku)
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
This is a film that, in addition to its several significant awards, is famous because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn't like it. If Abe mostly disapproves of the fact that Japan, which is known for its cult of success, is given a low-life look here, depicting characters who are sincere and humane despite their poverty and social problems, "Shoplifters" would probably be disapproved in the same vein by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, or in the Estonian context by the Helmes, Vooglaids and Järvis.
Kore-eda shows great social sensitivity in order to portray a story of a family that does not qualify as a family for many people. He plays with the concept of the nontraditional family, which, in addition to topics such as stealing and teaching how to steal, reveals the family values that have disappeared in Japanese society.
The film shows that blood is never thicker than water, because if there's anything that really ties people together, it is the attention that they pay each other. 4/5
The next screening of "Shoplifters" is on Sunday, 2 December at 15:15 at Tallinn's Cinema Sõprus.
This post originally appeared on the Culture critics' blog at culture.ee.
Editor: Aili Vahtla