H2N Reviews: Family Life; The Transfiguration; Score: A Film Music Documentary

Family Life (Vida de Familia)

Chilean directors Alicia Scherson and Cristian Jimenez teamed up for this tragicomedy about a trainwreck of a man who is ill-advisedly hired by his distant cousin to housesit for the family of 3 while they’re in Paris for several months. The script deftly hits on several beats including a satire of married life with a small child, the weird things people do when they’re alone in a house, and the trope of misunderstandings getting out of hand. Jorge Becker shines as the emotionally stunted house sitter who falls into a relationship with a single mother based on a fleeting ruse in this entertaining, dark, and occasionally poignant film.

Score: A Film Music Documentary

Matt Schrader wrote and directed this auditory treat about how music went from simply a distraction from the noise of a projector during silent film screenings to an indispensible part of the movies we love. You can’t think of Jaws, Psycho, or Star Wars without humming the score. Instrumental Gods like John Williams, Hanz Zimmer, and Danny Elfman discuss the nuances of their work and the process behind composing the most iconic music in film history. It’s lots of fun revisiting favorite emotional cinematic moments and also noting the vastly different outfits that score orchestra musicians choose to wear to work, from business suits to sweats.

The Transfiguration

Just when you think you’ve seen every possible take on vampires, Michael O’Shea presents a story that’s both genre subversion and a love letter to other subversive bloodsucker tales. Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a bullied teenage orphan living in the projects with his older brother. Whether or not his bloodlust is supernatural is left ambiguous, but he’s certainly studied. When he hangs with a similarly down-and-out neighbor girl, he ranks the realism of vampire iterations (his favorite being Let the Right One In). Dramatic irony meets urban allegory in a bleak but compelling story that will certainly resonate with fringe audiences.

These 3 films played at the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival.

Reviews originally posted on Hammer to Nail

 

 

 

 

H2N Review: Half Life in Fukushima

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The title of Mark Olexa and Francesca Scalisi’s documentary, Half-Life in Fukushima, is a pun, of sorts. Half-life is the time it takes for the radioactivity of an isotope to decrease to half its original value. It is also an apt term for the life of Naoto Matsumura, a farmer who, along with his elderly father, continues to reside in the Japanese town that was evacuated after the 2011 nuclear plant meltdown caused by the one-two punch of an earthquake and a tsunami. At a mercifully short sixty minutes, Half-Life follows Naoto through his day tending to his farm and caring for his father. His down-time resembles every “last man on earth” style apocalypse film, as he hits golf balls on an empty course, sings a mournful karaoke tune to no one, and chain smokes while watching the news. He lives this way because he knows no other way. There is nothing for him outside the city. He can’t abandon his home, even though everyone else has done just that.

Though Naoto passes the occasional clean-up crew, he leads a nearly solitary existence. Occasionally, the filmmakers layer in sounds of the bustling city over shots of the man walking down the middle of a deserted street. At one point, the ambient noise changes as Naoto wades into the ocean. This time, instead of a thriving cityscape, we hear the screams of terror coming from people who have been told that they must leave or die. It is the reason they have not returned. Naoto is not dead, though he is not exactly alive either…

Read the rest at Hammer to Nail!