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CIFF 2012 Day 3: Flowerbuds – Alaskaland – Paradise: Love

By @DJansick
CIFF 2012 Day 3: Flowerbuds – Alaskaland – Paradise: Love

The third day of the Chicago International Film Festival began with the Czech film Flowerbuds. The first time director Zdenek Jirasky introduced the film by telling us that he brought us somewhat of a depressing film. Flowerbuds certainly adhered to the director’s statement.

Centered on a dysfunctional family living in a small Czech town, the film highlights the tragedy of that family and how they miss the opportunities to better their life. The father works as a train signal operator that requires him to simply push buttons to close off the road when a train comes through. After work hours he continues to push buttons, because of his serious video lottery gambling addiction. He digs himself deeper and deeper into debt with this addiction. With seemingly no options left the man is willing to give his life to save his family. Each of the other family members are equally as flawed and struggle to unite as a family.

The tone was perfectly set by the lack of saturation in the colors of the film. Had I not met with the director afterwards, I would have made one small criticism about the ending, but hearing his intention, which I will only allude to, a bridge over troubled tracks, makes completely sense. If you get a chance to see the film, it would have my recommendation.

RATING: 7.6/10

Flowerbuds movie review
Flowerbuds

Because I had plenty of time between my next scheduled film, I decided to randomly walk into Alaskaland. The film relies heavily on fish-out-of-water circumstances of a Nigerian man living in Alaska. The man wants nothing to do with his heritage despite his family (especially his younger sister) eagerly waiting him to embrace it.

Alaskaland had good intentions, but it felt too personal to the filmmaker for an outsider to enjoy. The acting was downright atrocious, except for the sister, who had to often work with over-acted performances. The only other bright spot was the cinematography which was done very well. The dialog felt very awkward and some scenes flat out contradicted themselves. It will stick with you for all the wrong reasons.

RATING: 5/10

Alaskaland movie
Alaskaland

The final film I saw today was Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Love. This is a film that leaves you speechless after you see it and will stick with you for a long time. It is bold, it is provocative, it is challenging.

From the very beginning Paradise: Love made it clear that the film is about fulfillment. The opening shot of autistic people running into each other in bumper cars with sheer satisfaction was a great way to show our human desire for enjoyment. The film expands off that when it follows an overweight German woman named Teresa who travels to the beautiful beaches of Kenya in search for fulfillment through love.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film was it’s use of exploitation. At first the locals there were engaging in sex with her in order to get to her money. But by the end she was using her money in attempt to purchase love, essentially using them.

The other observation that can be made is the progression of her character. When she first arrived she disinfected everything in her room but by the end she was practically rolling around in it naked. She was shy towards the men at first but became very dominating to them over time.

The only criticism I could come up with for Paradise: Love is that it drags on just a touch at the end. The point was made well before the scene towards the end finished. But that is only an extremely small issue that is easy to overlook considering the rest of the film. I think will be hard for another film to top this at the festival.

RATING: 8.5/10

Paradise Love movie
Paradise: Love

COMING UP: The Portuguese character study Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica and Cristian Mungiu’s follow up to his 2007 hit 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days with another existential drama Beyond The Hills.

Recap of some of my Tweets from today:

Follow @WayTooIndie for full coverage of the 2012 Chicago International Film Festival!

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