More on HIFF HIFF showcase has something for everyone
Compiled by TGIF
Film critics Robert Ebert of Universal Press Syndicate and Bill Goodykoontz, chief film critic for Gannett, share their takes on of some of the films screeing at HIFF over the next week.
The annual Spring Showcase starts today and runs through Thursday at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18.
"Ajami" not rated, 120 minutes
On the mean streets of Jaffa, interconnecting vendettas lead to a chain of murder. Complicating them is a system of loyalties to religions, ethnic groups, families and criminal competitors. The first murder was perhaps deserved, the second took place in error, and then others follow in a sort of domino effect. The point perhaps is that this story is the Middle East in miniature, and that hatreds move beyond obscure beginnings and take on an energy of their own. Co-written and co-directed by an Israeli and a Palestinian. A 2010 Oscar nominee in the foreign film category.
"The Most Dangerous Man in America" not rated, 94 minutes
Narrated by Daniel Ellsberg, the man who supplied the Pentagon Papers to the American press, this doc tells the story of his personal evolution from Marine Corps company commander to a man accused of treason. In his very high ranking as an analyst for the Pentagon and the Rand Corporation, he had personal knowledge of fabricated information and official lies that justified the escalation of the Vietnam War. The film is skillful and provoking, although not very probing about Ellsberg himself.
"Vincere" biography, not rated, 128 minutes
The long-suppressed story of Mussolini's early mistress, who bore him a son and then was pushed into the shadows after he made a respectable marriage. She obsessively follows him, confronts him with their child in public, and is finally locked away by the fascists in an asylum. Giovanna Mezzogiorno's performance as Ida, the mistress, reminds me of Sophia Loren in the way she combines passion with dignity.
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" not rated, 148 minutes
Compelling thriller with a heroine more fascinating than the story. She's Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), a 24-year-old Goth girl with body piercings and tattoos: thin, small, fierce, damaged, a genius computer hacker. She teams up with a taciturn Swedish investigator to end a serial killer's 40 years of evil. Based on the international best seller. Intense and involving. The planned Hollywood remake will probably have to be toned down.
'Blood Into Wine' not rated, 90 minutes
Maynard James Keenan is one interesting dude. That's a fortunate thing for the makers of this documentary about the lead singer of Tool that chronicles his foray into the winemaking business in Arizona. It's an inconsistent film, put together somewhat haphazardly, but Keenan is such a compelling presence — smart, polite, creative and seemingly so full of bottled-up rage he might tear someone's head off at any second — that it's a journey well worth following.
"Blood Into Wine" is intriguing, to be sure. It would be better if the scenes were more evenly integrated, but that sounds like a wine snob complaining about an uneven blend of grapes. No matter. With Keenan as the main ingredient, the film is tasty nonetheless.