96 min.,IRAN, dir. Majid Majidi| Reviewer Ed Farolan

Another "sparrow" film! What's with the sparrows? I've just reviewed a Hong Kong film entitled "Sparrow", and now we have an Iranian film, this time with "song" attached to "sparrows". I was wondering why this title, when in this film, I only saw one sparrow which entered the bedroom of the protagonist. I think this film should be more appropriately called "The Song of the Ostriches" because it dealt more with the loss and finding of an ostrich.

But this was a delightful film. The main actor, Reza Naji, by just looking at his face, made my day. He has that kind of face that makes you giggle, and his acting was honest. He carried the film extremely well from beginning to end. Director Majidi was nominated for an Oscar for a previous film, Children of Heaven (1997).



91 min., DENMARK/SWEDEN/AUSTRIA/ITALY, dir. Jacob Thuesen| Reviewer Ed Farolan

I think Thuesen was inspired by Frederick Nietzsche's concept of "superman" and that's why he gave the philosopher's name to the protagonist. Even the first name rhymes with the German existentialist's first name. In this film, the protagonist is portrayed as an idiot who can't even pass an entrance exam to film school. But through an accident of fate, the entrance exams get mixed up and he is accepted.

There is something about the dry humour of the Danes that makes this film interesting. It's Hamlet all over but on the dark comic side. The director parodies film schools who are taught by incompetents, and as the film progresses, we begin to see a metamorphosis in the personality of Nietzsche. From a bungling and naive student, he transforms into a conniving Machiavellian. An interesting film for filmmakers.




102 min.,FRANCE, dir.Mabrouk El Mechri| Reviewer Ed Farolan

The action star Jeanne Claude Van Damme is portrayed in a completely different light in this film. It's part autobiographical, and whether the events are true or not, we see a different Van Damme. No longer is he the hero in action films; he is aging, has debts, is going through a divorce, and, the entire crux of the film, is taken as hostage and when he saves the other hostages, is put to jail!

Even in a monologue halfway through the film, Van Damme shows his dramatic talent as he laments about the sad state of his life. Life is full of surprises, and many times, when we get used to seeing an actor do the same type of film, and then, we see something like this, you can't help but be surprised at an actor's versatility. No wonder the Cannes critics acclaimed this film.



63 min.,AUSTRALIA, dir.Julien Temple| Reviewer Ed Farolan

If you like musical films, this is a film to watch. It's quite short, a little more than an hour, but I'd say that it's quite creative and innovative. It's operatic singing from beginning to end, but sometimes, with some spoken dialogue. It's based on a true story of an alcoholic, illiterate veteran, Arthur Stace, who undergoes a religious conversion in a soup kitchen when he hears the word "eternity". In the next 40 years, he scribbles this word with white chalk all over Sydney.

Although I felt the majority of the audience didn'tt like the film (some walked out), I felt that from an artistic point of view, it was well-executed. The music composed by Jonathan Mill wasn't commercial in the Lloyd Webber sense, but somehow, I liked the energy that emanated from actors Grant Doyle, Christa Hughes, and the others in the cast.



110 min.,SOUTH KOREA, dir.Jung Byung-Gil| Reviewer Ed Farolan

Unlike the stunt men in Europe and North America who are protected not only physically with protective clothing and other special equipment to protect them from harm, Korean stunt men don't have that privelege. In this documentary, we see how they go through stunts without much proection and many end up with teeth knocked out, limbs and backs broken, and in one scene, the death of a stunt man.

The first part of the film was funny, especially the interviews for those wanting to enter stunt school. As the film progresses, we see actual stunts being recorded and accidents occurring. I found it hard to follow because I was reading the subtitles most of the time, and the pacing of the film was too fast that I missed reading a few dialogues. Interesting film as it gives us an insight on the life of a Korean stunt man.



84 min.,CHINA, dir.Yang Lina| Reviewer Ed Farolan

It's curious to know that at 90, you can still have romance. And this is what the documentary is about. It's the story of this nonagenarian who still flirts and dances at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing. Even as he is hospitalised (inset), we see him flirting and dancing with the nurses 70 years younger than him.

I think this is a good lesson for senior citizens who think they're too old to go romancing. There's some wisdom not only in Chinese philosophy but philosophy as a whole that if you're around young people, you'll feel young and you'll live longer. But money always talks, and if you're an old guy, then you'll have to shell out a lot of your moolah to catch the attention of those young girls.And towards the end of the film, Yang Lina captures a scene where money passes from the old fella to a woman who appears to be in her 30s. It's hard to tell with Asians; they look perpetually young.

© 2008 Ed Farolan

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