[A Matter of Size]

A charming Israeli movie in the tradition of The Full Monty, A Matter of Size is the story of a group of fat friends who have had enough of body hating diet groups and opt to give the health-at-any-size world of sumo a try.

The world is not all sunshine and roses: sumo is a club for men only, to the disappointment of at least one woman, and though the film is on the whole really good about the gay character and bear culture, there is one pretty upsetting line delivered to him. Aside from that, it’s a pretty by-the-book story about finding your bliss despite the haters, regardless of if the negativity is coming from the world, your friends, your family, or yourself.

I had been nervous going into it — there is a fine line between laughing with people and laughing at them — but I was relieved to see that the film fell on the right side of that line. In a lot of ways it’s a formula movie, but there’s nothing wrong with a formula elegantly executed.

Two cast/crew notes: The reluctant coach is played by Togo Igawa, who just graced SIFF’s screens this spring in the Golden Space Needle Award winner The Hedgehog, which has me wondering just how many languages he speaks.

Co-director Erez Tadmore also codirected Strangers, a bittersweet romance between an Israeli and a Palestinian who meet in Berlin during the World Cup Finals. It was a selection at SIFF a few years ago.

Verdict: See the original version before the inevitable tone-deaf American remake happens.

[SIFF week two]

* Savage Grace was a late addition to my schedule, when I realized I had screwed up somewhere and needed something to fill out a 6 pack. What better than a Julianne Moore incest movie? Well. That’s how my brain works, anyway. It was disturbing, but not as much as it should have been. Which is weird. And it is, oddly, the first time I have *not* felt that Hugh Dancy was miscast. So apparently his other roles – even in Evening! – were Just Not Gay Enough. Good to know!

* Strangers, the love story of an Israeli man & Palestinian woman who meet during the 2006 World Cup, is flawed but endearing. The leads are wonderful & the politics are complex, but there is the occasional plot-wise suspension of disbelief that gave me pause. Still, one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while.

* Sparrow was the first of three Johnnie To movies I seem to have scheduled for myself. I am a sucker for Hong Kong action; I’m not gonna lie. This one is a lot of fun — it follows a team of four pickpockets as they all get involved in the life of a mysterious beautiful woman. Happens to the best of us. When the team works together, particularly in the final heist, as it were, it’s like a dance. Good times!

* It’s impossible to watch Mad Detective (my second Johnnie To flick) without wondering how long it’ll be before some American studio buys the rights to it for a crap remake. Because a remake will be crap. Mad Detective was much darker than Sparrow. It’s a dirty cop story with a twist — the detective of the title has a most unusual investigative method, as he can see people’s inner personalities. The ending was a little much for me, but the ride to get there was great.

* Finally, another local documentary, Good Food is about organic farming in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps not earthshattering — we can probably all agree that organic, local food is better for us and better for the planet — but beautiful and inspiring. And as it was the world premiere, it was pretty awesome to see a group of farmers taking the stage to a well-deserved round of applause.