Sitges 2009: The Hurt Locker, Oscar material

October 7, 2009 at 9:55 am (Festivals, Movies, Reviews, Sitges)

Apparently, going the cheap way and choosing to stay in Barcelona wasn’t a bright decision after all. Sure, it’s only half an hour between Sitges and Barcelona, but if you add the waiting times, it adds up to two hours per day, which is too much when you don’t even know what to choose between the too many movies and events. Plus, after midnight, when the important movies end, everyone retires to different bars and cafes, or to the midnight screenings. Not me, I have to run and catch the last bus to town. This also made me miss two events I had planned for this morning: the Building Metropia masterclass, as well as the Vicenzo Natali press conference.

I got to Sitges right at noon, in time to catch a movie called Timer. A movie branded as a SF romantic comedy, but in which the SF part is just the premise: a device called Timer (duh), which can predict exactly how many days are left until someone will meet their soul mate. That’s it. The rest is a simple, but likeable romantic comedy, with above average characters and pretty interesting situations, including the necessary clichés. Still, a pleasant watch.

Next came a film I had high hopes for: Valhalla Rising. The new movie from acclaimed director Nicolas Winding Refn is an ultra-violent affair set in the 12th century, that follows a group of Vikings in search of Jerusalem. Refn uses simple, but effective shots – nothing spectacular, but surprisingly real, especially when it comes to the brutal fights and murders. Some of the violent scenes actually ignited waves of ovations from the crowd (yes, the audience here at Sitges applauds not only at the end of the film – but also during the beginning credits, and, to my surprise, after the most shockingly violent moments of a movie). The characters rarely talk – but it would’ve probably been better not to talk at all – the dialogues are horrendous and horrendously slow. Actually that was one of the few things I did not like about this film – it’s very tedious to have to wait for 20 seconds after every 3 or 4 words until characters utter the next silly words. Other than that, a good and solid effort.

Then came the best movie of the day. The Hurt Locker is a highly acclaimed war drama from Kathryn Bigelow, that depicts the last 2 months in Iraq for an American bomb squad. Extremely compelling and well built characters jump from one tensed scene to another, in this tour de force that reinvents war movies – just when you thought no new subject could be invented. The film is a real masterpiece, from the superbly recreated Iraqi locations, to the acting and to the writing. It’s one of those rare movies in which most scenes aim for perfection, and you practically wish they can go on and on, hoping they will not end. I haven’t had this feeling since the Coen’s No Country for Old Men. American critics are raving about this film, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oscars will also bow to its brilliance.

The day ended with a horror movie (FINALLY!), Splice, from Vincenzo Natali. A couple of scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) genetically create a monster that also contains human DNA. Named Dren, the female monster grows like a child, becoming more and more human. Things, obviously, become a lot more complicated, but the story is good and solid until the end, and it manages to avoid falling into predictability. Actually, for the most part, it isn’t even a horror, but a character drama that analyses its two flawed main protagonists, the relationship between them, and also the creature. It’s not one of those films in which the creature is only something to run away from, and that gives a brand new depth to the story, a story that strolls along nicely, despite a few missed notes, until a very satisfying and also intense climax.

In this report: Timer 7/10, Valhalla Rising 6/10, The Hurt Locker 10/10, Splice 8/10.

Apparently, going the cheap way and choosing to stay in Barcelona wasn’t a bright decision after all. Sure, it’s only half an hour between Sitges and Barcelona, but if you add the waiting times, it adds up to two hours per day, which is too much when you don’t even know what to choose between the too many movies and events. Plus, after midnight, when the important movies end, everyone retires to different bars and cafes, or to the midnight screenings. Not me, I have to run and catch the last bus to town. This also made me miss two events I had planned for this morning: the Building Metropia masterclass, as well as the Vicenzo Natali press conference.

I got to Sitges right at noon, in time to catch a movie called Timer. A movie branded as a SF romantic comedy, but in which the SF part is just the premise: a device called Timer (duh), which can predict exactly how many days are left until someone will meet their soul mate. That’s it. The rest is a simple, but likeable romantic comedy, with above average characters and pretty interesting situations, including the necessary clichés. Still, a pleasant watch.

Next came a film I had high hopes for: Valhalla Rising. The new movie from acclaimed director ……… is an ultra-violent affair set in the 12th century, that follows a group of Vikings in search of Jerusalem. …….. uses simple, but effective shots – nothing spectacular, but surprisingly real, especially when it comes to the brutal fights and murders. Some of the violent scenes actually ignited waves of ovations from the crowd (yes, the audience here at Sitges applauds not only at the end of the film – but also during the beginning credits, and, to my surprise, after the most shockingly violent moments of a movie). The characters rarely talk – but it would’ve probably been better not to talk at all – the dialogues are horrendous and horrendously slow. Actually that was one of the few things I did not like about this film – it’s very tedious to have to wait for 20 seconds after every 3 or 4 words until characters utter the next silly words. Other than that, a good and solid effort.

Then came the best movie of the day. The Hurt Locker is a highly acclaimed war drama from Kathryn Bigelow, that depicts the last 2 months in Iraq for an American bomb squad. Extremely compelling and well built characters jump from one tensed scene to another, in this tour de force that reinvents war movies – just when you thought no new subject could be invented. The film is a real masterpiece, from the superbly recreated Iraqi locations, to the acting and to the writing. It’s one of those rare movies in which most scenes aim for perfection, and you practically wish they can go on and on, hoping they will not end. I haven’t had this feeling since the Coen’s No Country for Old Men. American critics are raving about this film, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oscars will also bow to its brilliance.

The day ended with a horror movie (FINALLY!), Splice, from Vincenzo Natali. A couple of scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) genetically create a monster that also contains human DNA. Named Dren, the female monster grows like a child, becoming more and more human. Things, obviously, become a lot more complicated, but the story is good and solid until the end, and it manages to avoid falling into predictability. Actually, for the most part, it isn’t even a horror, but a character drama that analyses its two flawed main protagonists, the relationship between them, and also the creature. It’s not one of those films in which the creature is only something to run away from, and that gives a brand new depth to the story, a story that strolls along nicely, despite a few missed notes, until a very satisfying and also intense climax.

In this report: Timer 7/10, Valhalla Rising 6/10, The Hurt Locker 10/10, Splice 8/10.

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