THE ENGLISH SURGEON
94 min.,UK, dir. Geoffrey Smith| Reviewer Ed Farolan
Brain surgeon Henry Marsh looks like a Jesuit exorcist with his hat and coat walking the cold winter streets of Kiev where he is driven to help others. For 15 years, he and his colleague Igor Kurilets who sees him as his saviour and guru, have been trying to save patients with brain tumours. "Failed hopes", Marsh would say when an operation goes wrong. In one scene, he is brutally honest about the survival of some patients. He would say, "She has no more than five years to live", and his colleague, Kurilets, would try to find a way of translating his brutal prognosis in more euphemistic terms. He also feels remorse for some operations, particularly one patient, Tanya, who died eventually after a failed operation. This is a sad and gritty documentary. WARNING! Graphic scenes of the brain surgeries: if you have a weak stomach, cover your eyes in some of these scenes.Set in 1911, the days of silent film, the main protagonist, a 25-year old budding film director, Grig Brezianu (Marius Flore
THE YOUNG ROMANTIC: A Portrait of Yundi Li
88 min.,Canada, dir. Barbara Willis Sweete| Reviewer Ed Farolan
Yundi Li is a superstar in China, and the idol of 20 million aspiring concert pianists. Sweete takes us on a journey of Li's beginnings, his training as a pianist in China, his winning First Prize in the Chopin International Competition in Poland at the age of 18, and finally, at 25, his debut performance alongside Maestro Seiji Ozawa with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. An insight into the piano culture of China is revealed, as well as a scene showing pop star Jay Chou performing with Li in the Hong Kong Coliseum. This documentary gives us an insight on China, no longer the sleeping dragon, but indeed wide awake and taking over in full acceleration what once was the domain of the Europeans.
THE WRECKING CREW
95 min.,USA, dir. Denny Tedesco| Reviewer Ed Farolan
Tedesco pays homage to his father, Tommy Tedesco, a lead guitarist of The Wrecking Crew, a group of session musicians who played in the mid-fifties with the Beach Boys and the Monkees, and were responsible for putting these bands on top in the charts. This musical ensemble was behind not only Phil Spector but most of the famous performers from the 50s to the 70s including Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, The Mamas and the Papas, Herb Alpert, and many more. Glen Campbell, who was part of the Crew, made it big eventually because of his start with this motley group. Very informative in that who would have known that all these big singing stars made hit records because of the music of this group!
RESTUL E TACERE (THE REST IS SILENCE)
140 min.,Romania, dir. Nae Caranfil| Reviewer Ed Farolan
Set in 1911, the days of silent film, the main protagonist, a 25-year old budding film director, Grig Brezianu (Marius Florea Vizante) ventures into an ambitious film project, an epic about Romania's War of Independence against Turkey. He is highly successful with the film, but his patron, Leon Negrescu (Ovidiu Nicolescu), lies to him and his companions at the National Theatre that the film bombed, and manages to buy their shares. Revenge, however, comes at the end.
This is a charming film; the period costumes were impressive; and archival footage of that silent film which survived was included in this based on a true story film. It was a long film, but there was no trace of ennui, as we are transported into this era, 20th century Bucharest. A must see film.
STONE OF DESTINY
96 min., Canada, dir. Charles Martin Smith| Reviewer Ed Farolan
A charming film based on the Coronation Stone used for centuries in the coronation of Scottish monarchs. It was captured in 1296 by Edward I and taken to Westminster Abbey where it was fitted into a wooden chair where the English monarchs were also crowned. In this film, four Scottish students belonging to the Scottish National Movement of Independence feel it patriotic to get back this stone. Attempts in the past have failed, but the determination of the four nationalists ...well, I won't tell you any more. All I can say that this was a good film-- funny, witty, and if you're Scottish, you'll feel good when the film ends.
SUIVRE CATHERINE (FOLLOWING CATHERINE)
93 min., Canada, dir. Jeanne Crepeau| Reviewer Ed Farolan
I didn't particularly like this film, perhaps because I didn't see any reason why the filmmaker chose Catherine to be the main character in this film. I didn't find anything interesting in Catherine. We know that she meets her in Montreal and follows her to Paris, Venice and Lisbon. Is this some kind of a travelogue? She doesn't pinpoint why Catherine. Why not her friends who seemed to be more interesting? The film shows shots of Catherine's friends in Paris, and then she goes back to filming her friends and relatives in Quebec. But I don't see any direction in this documentary-style film that's layered with academic quotes and animated sequences.
© 2008 Ed Farolan
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