Before the Fall (Tres días)

Before the Fall (Tres días) (2008) – [rate 4.0]

Considering the fact that deaths are more common than the end of the world by a few dozen orders of magnitude, you might say that the latter gets an inordinate number of movies written about it. But often a movie will focus on what happens after the world has ended. Or the actual ending of the world is portrayed with lavish use of sfx and Hollywood stars. With movies about death, it’s generally the other way around; they tend to focus on either dealing with the death of others, or preparing for one’s own approaching passing.

Before the Fall is more like that than most apocalyptic cinema, but with a twist. At first it reminded me of Last Night (1998), which also shows people in the knowledge that the world is about to end. But Before the Fall doesn’t just tell the story of average people in an agricultural are and the way they might deal with the situation (a rock falling from the skies). It focuses on a single family that seems to have more pressing matters that need to be dealt with before the fall.

This wasn’t at all what I expected it to be and that contributes to how much I liked it. Believable characters, effective use of effects and surroundings to make the situation believable. Interesting cinematography and overall a movie I would recommend.

From Inside

From Inside (2008) – [rate 3.5]

John Bergin has delivered an impressive piece of work, if you consider that most of it is his own doing. A feature-length story of a woman on a train, traveling through a wasteland with nobody around to tell the passengers where they are, where they are going and why they are here. The movie is sufficiently vague to allow many interpretations and for some, maybe a bit too vague.

I really enjoyed the first half, but after that I started to feel little new in the way of ideas and images was being added, without the questions posed sofar going anywhere near an answer. A bit of a missed chance in my opinion, since the world the movie is set in evokes more than enough questions worth exploring.

Just so you don’t go and get disappointed: be aware that a large part of this movie consists of camera movements on stills, paintings, drawing and other static material. The narrative is driven by a (good) voiceover and camera movement and this may be a bit tame if you were expecting visual spectacle. Some of the more dynamic scenes are very atmospheric in their own way, but some of the viewers disliked the stark contrast between relatively clean computer graphics and the freehand drawn scenes.

Original and creative, this is not for everyone and I won’t tell you more about it, because I think this is a story best enjoyed with as little information as possible…

European Fantastic Shorts

One part of the AFFF I never miss are the European Fantastic Shorts. The format of a short movie is perfect to show an idea that wouldn’t really come out in a feature film and isn’t big enough to be a the center of a longer piece. Some are jokes, some are clever ideas, some just paint a quick picture or express a novel style. And then it’s on to the next one.

This year, I’ve seen both sections of shorts and the quality was exceptionally high. In previous years, there would always be a few that were a bit weaker (say, TV fare) or of lesser production quality. But this year, every single one was new, novel and produced for the movie theater.

In EFS #1, my favourites included Die Seilbahn (2008, Swiss, no dialogue), The Magic Show (2009, Dutch, English dialogue), Arbeit fuer Alle (2008, German) and Porque hay cosas que nunca se olvidan (2008 ,Spanish). In EFS #2, Coupe Court (2008, French), Cold and Dry (2008, Norwegian) and Operator (2007, British) stood out.

In Die Seilbahn and The Magic Show, it’s mostly style and originality that caught my attention. Die Seilbahn tells a tale of a man on his way to a mountain top, with a troublesome cold. The Magic Show shows you what is really going on on stage and nothing is what it seems, while everything looks like a painting from the 60’s, set in a variety theatre from the same period.

Arbeit fuer Alle and Cold and Dry both offer a humorous criticism on our current day society. In Arbeit fuer Alle, the effort to keep our elderly at work is spoofed and the movie shows that the world of movie horror has the same problems ours does. Cold and Dry also goes into the effects of doing something worth doing too well and riducules the effort to freeze people with problems that might be solvable in the future.

Coupe Court mixes Lynchian style with a strange 50’s setting and cannibalism. The makings of a classic all rolled into one, I’m sure you’ll agree. Operator is just a joke, but told well and as short as it needs to be. A man make a phone call and “He” answers.

Worth seeing, these, if you can find them of course…