CINEMA: Philadelphia Film Festival Picks

DEFICIT (2007, directed y Gael Garcia Bernal, 75 minutes, Mexico)

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal (Che from The Motorcycle Diaries) tries his hand at directing with this multi-character story of twenty-something college friends meeting at a decaying summer home. Bernal’s filmfestogoheadercropped_1.jpgroving camera picks up a number of relaxed and funny performances although none overshadow the director’s own, alternating between cockiness and insecurity as a privileged son in a quiet panic as his parents are in the middle of losing their fortune. Ultimately Deficit is lacking the ambition to make much of an impact yet Bernal’s insights in class and self-absorbed youth are too savvy to describe his new career behind the camera as anything but encouraging.

Friday April 11th, 7:45pm, Ritz East
Saturday April 12th, 2:30pm, Ritz East




TIMECRIMES (2007, directed by Nacho Vigalondo, 88 minutes, Spain)

Low-tech sci-fi mystery explores the space-time continuum as the filmfestogoheadercropped_1.jpgmiddle-aged everyman Hector (Karra Elejalde) discovers a neighbor’s time machine while running from a mysterious bandaged man. First-time director Nacho Vigalondo gets the ball rolling with aplomb, creating an atmosphere where the everyday can exist alongside the fantastic (neat looking time machine too). Before long though, there is a surplus of Hectors running around and Vigalondo’s script is at a loss on how to round them up for a satisfying conclusion. –D.B.

Friday April 11th, 10pm, Ritz East
Sunday April 13th, 7:15, the Bridge

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tracey_walter.JPGTRAILER PARK OF TERROR (2008, directed by Steven Goldman, 91 minutes, U.S.)

An adaptation of the anthology horror comic from Reading PA, Trailer Park sticks to one story here, filmfestogoheadercropped_1.jpgshowing a group of juvenile delinquents on a Christian retreat who wander into redneck zombie Hell. Borrowing its Southern-fried black humor from the films of Rob Zombie this Trailer Park is a good looking but generic vehicle for gory mayhem that is more interested in making sure the blood spurts out just right than in injecting any wit or originality into the proceedings. By merging its sadistic torture scenes and its zombie plot, Trailer Park is a film that combines two currently exhausted genres for a doubly-wearying bore. Please don’t let this become the franchise it so desperately wishes to be. –D.B.

Saturday April 12, 7:45pm Ritz East
Monday April 14th, 9:30pm, International House


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nail_1.jpgTHE YEAR OF THE NAIL (2007, directed by Jonas Cuaron, 78 minutes, Mexico)

Alfonso (Y Tu Mama Tambien) Cuaron’s son Jonas makes his debut with this youthful and well-observed story of a fourteen year old Mexican boy and his love-struck crush on a visiting American student. Like Chris filmfestogoheadercropped_1.jpgMarker’s ground-breaking work, Nail is told without moving images, only still photographs that have been taken by Cuaron and arranged into a fictional narrative. Like his father, Jonas has a taste for character studies and his free-wheeling story has no problem slipping in and out of the thoughts of a wide-variety of people, young and old (I love the old man unimpressed by a new digital camera, “Why do I want to see something that just happened?”). Cuaron uses this multiple perspective to show how two people spending time together can be living out radically different interior narratives even while spending intimate time together. Cuaron’s photography can be a little too casual at times, while still binging a breezy spontaneity to his story of puppy love. –D.B.

Friday, April 11th, 4:45pm, Ritz Five
Monday April 14th 5:00pm, The Bridge


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