Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why do mediocre foreign films get distributed?

After watching The Double Hour (Giuseppe Capotondi) at the Main last weekend I had the same feeling I’ve had on occasion after leaving the Detroit Film Theatre (DFT) – are there not better foreign flics available for international distribution? The Double Hour by first time Italian director Capotondi is competently enough made in  basically what amounts to a kind of Hitchcockian (though the director prefers to call it a revival of Eighties’ post-modern Italian cinema, of which I really can’t speak). The plot is about passion and allegiance and it throws us curves as characters Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) and Guido’s (Filippo Timi) intense crime-shrouded relationship evolves. It’s a whodunit that blurs characters’ identities. I suppose this is inventive enough. But when you get right down to it,  this is a mediocre crime movie with plot twists that manipulate the audience.....Given the lack of independent art house film screens in the Detroit area it makes me wonder why such lacklustre foreign films end up on the big screen. And it also makes me grateful I go to film festivals where I can actually see great foreign movies which, for some reason, seldom get released in North America......For example, here are just a few titles from last year’s Montreal film festival which haven’t ended up anywhere close to local cinemas: Roberto Garzelli’s The Sentiment of the Flesh (France) – about art students whose obsession with physical anatomy is a metaphor for emotional intimacy (sounds banal but it isn’t), Miss Mouche (Bernard Halut, Belgium) - about teen precociousness on the disastrous home front, Le Mariage à trois (Jacques Doillon, France) – a kind of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf among self-aborbed actors, The Cameramurderer (Robert Adrian Pejo, Austria/Switzerland/Hungary) - a thriller where a couple’s bucolic vacation is interrupted by disappearing children, and The Incite Mill (Hideo Nakata, Japan) about a group of people who volunteer to make big bucks in an experiment, one that keeps you quite on the edge of your seat.....All these films either offer considerable suspense, novelty in filmmaking, or an intriguing plot the likes of which we seldom see. And rather than walking away from a film with feelings of being had we’re exhilarated by what we’ve just seen.

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