AFI Film Festival 2009



Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo

Review Coming Soon

Christina Ricci and Justin Long play a sophisticated couple on the emotional razor’s edge: Paul wants to tie the knot, while Anna is hardly ready for the leap. What neither count on is the sudden presence in their lives of Liam Neeson’s undertaker, Eliot, who claims to have a gift of talking with the dead. (courtesy of AFI)

Bad Lieutenant
Werner Herzog

Kurt’s Review

This dark, shockingly funny drama keeps the focus on the title character, Detective McDonough, who scarfs down narcotics to cope with his back pain—making bets his body can’t cover—while neck-deep in a murder investigation. Nicolas Cage, in one of his strongest performances, invests McDonough with urgency and compassion. (courtesy of AFI)

Fish Tank
Andrea Arnold

Jandy’s Review

The cheap public housing block where Mia lives with her single mother and younger sister can barely contain their bad behavior and brutal affection, let alone her mum’s new boyfriend (HUNGER’s Michael Fassbender). With headphones on, Mia finds an escape route through dance and the calm of Constable’s pastoral Essex countryside. (courtesy of AFI)

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Damien Chazelle

Jandy’s Review

The electrifying GUY AND MADELINE takes the musical genre to a contemporary new level, telling the story of the title characters’ soured relationship in song and dance. After seducing Madeline, young jazz trumpeter Guy drifts from affair to affair, while his heartbroken conquest tries her best to get on with her life. Realizing his mistake, Guy utilizes his trumpet to verbalize to Madeline the words he cannot say. (courtesy of AFI)

The Hole
Joe Dante

Kurt’s Review

When their single mother uproots 17-year-old Dane and his 10-year-old brother Lucas from New York City to the sleepy town of Bensonville, the boys’ summer fun grinds to a halt. But the drudgery is disrupted when they find a seemingly bottomless hole under a locked trap door in the basement. As any curious kids would, they engage in a series of tests and experiments, only to learn that the dark pit seemingly goes on forever. (courtesy of AFI)

I Killed My Mother
Xavier Dolan

Jandy’s Review

The semi-autobiographical work tells the story of a young man who is navigating his way through the world, grappling with his emerging sexuality, his various lovers and, most of all, his embarrassment about his mother. I KILLED MY MOTHER is a bold and assured debut from a filmmaker who will undoubtedly be offering much more in the years to come. (courtesy of AFI)

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Terry Gilliam

Kurt’s Review

An inveterate gambler, Parnassus made a bet thousands of years ago with the devil, in which he won immortality but lost the soul of his daughter. Encountering a series of wild, comical and compelling characters, Parnassus fights to save his daughter in a never-ending landscape of surreal obstacles, hoping to undo the mistakes of his past once and for all. (courtesy of AFI)

In the Attic
Jiří Barta

Jandy’s Review

When Buttercup, the fairest doll in the land is kidnapped, it falls to her best friends—Teddy, Sir Handsome, and the spastic ball of clay Schubert—to undertake an epic quest to the darkest reaches of the attic to save her. Barta’s inventive and original world of misfit toys is a fully realized fantasy realm that will delight the young and the not-so-young alike. (courtesy of AFI)

London River
Rachid Bouchareb

Jandy’s Review

The emotional story of an unlikely friendship that develops between Mrs. Sommers, a prejudiced Christian mother, and Ousmane, a Muslim father, who search for their children following the July 7, 2005, London underground attacks. Though they differ in religious beliefs and cultural background, Ousmane and Mrs. Sommers share the common hope of finding their children alive. (courtesy of AFI)

The Loved Ones
Sean Byrne

Andrew’s Review

After a sweetly unassuming “other girl” (Robin McLeavy) tries to find a way into brooding teenage Brent’s life, the film rockets into disturbing territory. While most teen cinema heavily relies on romance or comedy, Byrne gives us a distinctly Australian version, teeming with car crashes, power drills and blood-soaked mayhem. That’s why we love it. (courtesy of AFI)

The Messenger
Oren Moverman

Review Coming Soon

Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq, is assigned to the Armyʼs Casualty Notification service and partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers. When he finds himself drawn to widowedOlivia, Willʼs emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival. (courtesy of AFI)

The Milk of Sorrow
Claudia Llosa

Marina’s Review

The film begins with a sublime, fable-like scene: Fausta’s peasant mother is singing a mournful song about horrible violence suffered at the hands of terrorists. A moment later, she passes away. We follow Fausta’s awkward attempt to bury her mother and then we witness, through subtle magical realism, how she heeds the advice of her mother’s neighbors and inserts a potato in her vagina to protect herself against future violations. (courtesy of AFI)

Bong Joon-Ho

Marina’s Review

The single mother Hye-ja works at a pharmacy, and occasionally engages in illegal activities to make ends meet. Her raison d’etre, her mentally challenged beautiful son Do-joon, proves to be a constant source of anxiety. When a young teenage girl turns up dead, the police arrest Do-joon, pushing the boundaries of the mother-son relationship to the extreme. (courtesy of AFI)

No One Knows About Persian Cats
Bahman Ghobadi

Jandy’s Review

Bahman Ghobadi’s infectiously lively and youthfully exuberant film follows two intelligent and determined Persian teens as they jump through hoops doing what in many other countries is relatively simple: forming a rock band. As they comb Tehran’s basements, recording studios, and even cattle ranches for other fellow indie rockers, they begin to understand the difficulty of attaining artistic freedom in a highly restrictive society. (courtesy of AFI)

Red Riding 1974
Julian Jarrold

Review Coming Soon

This harrowing, serpentine, five-hour tale of crime, revenge and ultimate redemption is based on British writer David Pease’s acclaimed series of crime novels about the true-life sexual murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper in the 1970s and ’80s. In the first film, directed by Julian Jarrold (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED), Andrew Garfield plays a young journalist who finds himself emotionally enmeshed in a murder story while running afoul of a local power broker, played by Sean Bean. (courtesy of AFI)

Red Riding 1980
James Marsh

Review Coming Soon

This harrowing, serpentine, five-hour tale of crime, revenge and ultimate redemption is based on British writer David Pease’s acclaimed series of crime novels about the true-life sexual murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper in the 1970s and ’80s. The second segment, directed by Oscar-winning James Marsh (MAN ON WIRE), stars Paddy Considine as the straight-arrow outsider investigating police misconduct. (courtesy of AFI)

Red Riding 1983
Anand Tucker

Review Coming Soon

This harrowing, serpentine, five-hour tale of crime, revenge and ultimate redemption is based on British writer David Pease’s acclaimed series of crime novels about the true-life sexual murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper in the 1970s and ’80s. The third episode, directed by Anand Tucker (AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?), follows Mark Addy’s broken-down attorney as he stumbles upon a troubling truth. (courtesy of AFI)

Eric Daniel Metzgar

Jandy’s Review

Eric Daniel Metzgar’s documentary follows two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof through a remote area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the summer of 2007. Acutely aware that “statistics deaden interest and compassion,” Kristof tries to get readers to care about pressing issues while shedding light on the atrocities occurring in Congo. But his coverage poses its own ethical dilemmas. (courtesy of AFI)

The Road
Eric Daniel Metzgar

Mike’s Review
Kurt’s Review

After an unspecified calamity, the world has been destroyed, leaving nothing but shells of cities—and the road. A father and son walk through an ash-grey landscape, surrounded by death, ducking the ever-present, terrifying threat posed by other survivors. This astonishing adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel presents a story about simple survival: a waiting game played by a father who loves his son. (courtesy of AFI)

A Town Called Panic
Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar

Review Coming Soon

This wacky, wonderful, and thoroughly absurdist feature-length film continues the misadventures of Cowboy, Indian and Horse, stars of Belgium’s cult favorite TV show of the same title. The three stop-motion heroes have their regular bouts of personal drama, but these petty skirmishes and debacles are ratcheted up a notch for the big screen. Deftly, beautifully animated, the film achieves a rare thing: humor wildly appealing to audiences of all ages. (courtesy of AFI)

The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke

Mike’s Review

Michael Haneke turns his caustic eye on an obscure German farming village just before World War I. The population operates on the same notions of class, hierarchy and morality that have reigned for a thousand years, until sudden mysterious acts of cruelty and violence occur. The town’s pastor, baron and doctor do their best to adjust, but are too embedded in the status quo to stem the tide. Inexorably, the poison seeps into the fabric of everyday life, foreshadowing the horrific catastrophes that soon will redefine German identity. (courtesy of AFI)

Woman Without Piano
Javier Rebollo

Jandy’s Review

The brilliant actress Carmen Machi slips into the role of a bored housewife with a startling blankness. Suddenly, though, night falls, and Machi’s persona alters, tarted up a bit, ready to bust out of the apartment and explore the streets. Anything might happen, and the film holds the viewer in thrall by a chain of extraordinarily staged sequences fueled by a visual command and wit that honors the cinema of Jacques Tati, Otar Iosseliani and Fellini. (courtesy of AFI)