[SIFF week two]

+ Shot on location in Seattle & rural Washington, Late Autumn is a very quiet movie about Anna (the immensely talented Tang Wei), a young woman on two day compassionate leave from prison to attend her mother’s funeral. On the bus to Seattle she meets Hoon, a young escort who borrows $30 from her and rather doggedly pursues a relationship.

Doggedly, I say, because Anna is, for reasons obvious in the film, maddeningly locked into herself. Large swaths of Tang’s performance are silent, where she manages to convey to the audience the unreachable depths her character has plummeted to, while still leaving Hoon persistent & baffled on the outside.

They spend a day together in the city, and it takes the better part of that day before she opens up at all. When she does, it’s in Chinese, which Hoon does not speak. It’s a marvelously touching scene in a film distinguished by excellent performances.

Late Autumn documents Seattle in a very precise moment, as the film includes as a key set piece the dismantling of the Fun Forest amusement park at the Seattle Center. Visually, other films set & filmed in Seattle have a lot they can learn from it. I’m looking at you, “The Killing”.

It did feel as though it couldn’t quite figure out where to end. But perhaps that was just me.

+ Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame was just a ridiculous amount of fun. It’s a Hong Kong “historical” action film starring Andy Lau, which should be enough reason for you to see it right there.

It also introduced me to Chao Deng who, as Pei (Dee’s albino sidekick), reminded me of no one so much as a Chinese Rupert Grint. Seriously, so great. Also Bingbing Li, as the asskicking lady Jinger. Good times!

+ SIFF had paired it with Karate-Robo Zaborgar for a double feature of pure awesome that we were powerless to resist. Inspired by a 1974 live-action mecha series, this follow-up from the director of RoboGeisha was even more entertaining than I could have hoped.

Where RoboGeisha was about the sisters trying to reconnect, Karate-Robo Zaborgar is about brothers and about children and parents. No, really. Even if one of the brothers is a robot that transforms into a motorcycle. I would probably like my brother a lot better if he turned into a motorcycle & obeyed commands I delivered through a microphone attached to a helmet.

Obviously it is a goofy, low-budget movie with a ridiculous script, and either you’re up for that or you’re not. I was up for it, clearly.

+ The Clink of Ice was a very French film about an alcoholic novelist (OSS-117‘s Jean Dujardin) who is visited by the incarnation of his cancer (Albert Dupontel). Not for everyone, I suppose, but I enjoyed it. I particularly liked the conceit that your cancer can only be seen by those who truly love you. What an instant cause of tension *that* is!