SFIFF2013: “In The Fog”, “The Strange Little Cat” and “Juvenile Offender” – Capsule Reviews and Trailers

In The Fog

In_the_fog_01three-stars15In The Fog is a difficult film to review. Aesthetically, it is an incredibly remarkable film. The cinematography is beautiful, with monochromatic shades dancing around intricate, long shots. The acting is quite good, and the Mise-en-scène is perfect. However, unfortunately the plot sneaks into the mix.

The film is about three people during World War II in Belarus, two of whom are trying to kill a third for his alleged role in the betrayal of a group of saboteurs. This is fine. However, the film progresses in the main storyline, which takes place basically over a day, and then through a series of flashbacks which barely do anything to elucidate the psychological background or the plot, and end up feeling meaningless and misplaced. Not to mention the main character’s constant, repetitive, and essentially unchanging claims of being innocent (“I wish they had killed me,” he explains four or five times in the exact same way), as well as moments which tread on nationalism badly damage this film. Great direction, great cinematography… perhaps the writing is in the end to blame.

Of note: the Romanian actor Vlad Ivanov plays a pretty interesting role as a Belorussian Nazi.

Showtimes for In The Fog: Fri, Apr. 26th – 6:30pm (PFA – Berkeley)

Sun, Apr. 28th – 6:30pm (New People)

Tue, Apr. 30th – 9:30pm (New People)

The Strange Little Cat

Strange_little_cat_03three-stars15A strange little film, Das merkwürdige Kätzchen (The Strange Little Cat) appears to show the absurd in the mundane. To describe the plot is to say nothing about the film – two siblings are visiting their parents, and help them cook dinner for other relatives who are visiting; meanwhile the washing machine breaks. The film handles simple familial realities in a way that is entirely dream-like and absurd way, with dream-logic and simple, distantly simple conversation piecing together this film.

It’s a perplexing work, and is certainly interesting; more than many other films, I’d be interested in hearing other people’s interpretations of it.

Showtimes for The Strange Little Cat: Wed, May 1st – 9:00pm (Kabuki)

Sun, May 5th – 7:00pm (Kabuki)

Wed, May 8th – 4:00pm (Kabuki)

Juvenile Offender

Juvenile_offender_01four-stars4South Korea’s response to the 400 Blows and the Dardenne brothers (The Kid with a Bike), Juvenile Offender is a tragic and ever-downward flowing spiral of poverty and neglect. With an unfortunate tendency towards quiet melodrama of a specifically East-Asian flavor, which they thankfully shy away from always at the last moment, the highly realistic acting always shines through. It is a story of a boy abandoned by his family, caught up in the wrong crowd, sent to a youth center, and then re-uniting with his mother and the girl that he was with.

Overall it is a great, sympathetic and realistic portrayal of the down and out in a particularly uncaring and unsympathetic world. Constant hand-held camera in the cinema-verité tradition, location settings.

Showtimes for Juvenile Offender: Fri, May 3rd – 6:15pm (New People)

Mon, May 6th – 9:30pm (Kabuki)

Tue, May 7th – 3:00pm (New People)


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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

4 Comments on “SFIFF2013: “In The Fog”, “The Strange Little Cat” and “Juvenile Offender” – Capsule Reviews and Trailers”

  1. Lawrence Chadbourne
    April 23, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Tom: I’m looking forward to seeing The Strange Little Cat, Actually “merkwuerdig” in German means remarkable, not strange.

  2. Tom Ellis
    April 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    It’s worth seeing. However, your correction is not wholly true. Depending on which German-speaking area you are in, merkwürdig, like “geil” and “komisch”, can mean different things. Overall, though, it means strange. Check out a simple google translate of the word to English.

  3. June 11, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Really good post!


  1. Filmbalaya’s Guide to SFIFF56 2013 | Filmbalaya.com - April 30, 2013

    […] Offender – “Overall it is a great, sympathetic and realistic portrayal of the down and out in a particularly unc…” – […]

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