San Francisco International Film Festival 2012: “Last Winter”, “Tokyo Waka” and “Valley of Saints” Reviews and Trailers

Last Winter

Those impressed with young Vincent Rottiers protagonist role from last year’s I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive will be equally impressed with his performance as a stubborn cattle farmer who has fallen on hard times and forced to confront his path down life’s long road.  Picturesque countryside landscapes accompanied with slothful pacing and a sparse melodic stringed soundtrack made watching this film a meditative and calm experience, despite all of the protagonist’s woes.

Tokyo Waka

In just over an hour John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson‘s documentary, seemingly about some 20,000 plus Tokyo dwelling crows, transformed itself into an existential documentary that not only identifies the pulse of a city, but was able to offer a unique insight as to how this city breathes.

And now for my haiku portion of the review told in three verses with a 7-5-7 format as to the traditional 5-7-5 format, if I may:

Poetically photographed

An urban Jungle

Seen through eyes of native crows

Man’s ruins of desire

his patterned lifestyle

breeding bees is his scarecrow

The one doc you should not miss

Not a waste of time

Tokyo Waka.  See it!

Valley Of Saints

“Home, is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there” – David Byrne.  No, The Talking Heads have nothing to do with this movie, and none of their songs were featured in it, yet that line seems to sum up the entire character arc of this movie’s chief protagonist perfectly.

Musa Syeed‘s esthetically documentary-looking fictional drama deals with the relationship between two friends living in a turbulent and beautiful Kashmir.  While I no doubt enjoyed this movie, I would have enjoyed it even more had the high points of the story, being the photographed city and gritty realism, been further explored rather than wandering into a subplot of environmental awareness and bros-before-hos storyline.  In a fitting analogy, being that the film deals with tourism, watching Valley of Saints was like taking a boat tour of a city where you are unable to enjoy all the pretty sites because your tour guide is constantly trying to push an agenda unrelated to the tour.


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