Friday, February 18, 2011

Portland International Film Festival preview day 12: MY JOY & THE DOUBLE HOUR

Set against the depressed landscape of the Ukrainian roadside, Sergei Loznitsa's My Joy hitches a ride with a young trucker, Georgy, as he hauls wheat to an unnamed destination.  Along the way, he encounters a young prostitute, an elderly war veteran, a gang of homeless robbers and no end of human misery.

And then a violent shift in the action and story occurs, leaving the audience stranded with a new and oddly inaccessible principal character, which is beyond confusing since there's very little in the way of a transition leading up to this change.  The only holdover from the first part of the film being a dark, malignant tone that never lets up.

My Joy plays at the Broadway Theater on Feb. 19th at 8pm and Feb. 20th at 6:45pm.  An additional screening is scheduled at Cinemagic on Feb. 21st at 2pm.


Guiseppe Capotondi's The Double Hour is an odd duck of a film, starting out as an exploration of one genre before hitting the brakes and setting off in an entirely different direction.  The first third of the film had me floored as it promised to be the most original, mature and honest love story since David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls

Alas, it wasn't meant to be, since the narrative quickly drops a bomb in the lap of the audience, sending the remainder of the film off onto a more conventional, thriller-based path, which is still very entertaining but left me wishing that the filmmakers had held true to the initial thrust of the story.  It's absolutely worth seeing for that first section but somewhat diminished by the decision to move away from a simple tale of connection between two lonely people.

The Double Hour plays at Cinemagic on Feb. 19th at 4pm.  Additional screenings are scheduled at the Broadway Theater on Feb. 21st at 2pm, Feb. 22nd at 8:45pm and Feb. 23rd at 9:15pm.

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