Wednesday, September 8, 2004

A supersize film festival opens

Magic Lantern offers 11 films over two weeks

Express Staff Writer

Robert Redford and Willem Dafoe star in ?The Clearing,? which is featured in the first week of the Magic Lantern Fall Film Festival. Photo by Lorey Sebastian

There are many high falutin? film festivals in the world. You name them?Venice, Cannes, Berlin, Telluride, Vancouver, Seattle and Sundance?but the one that makes it all easy and fun is the Magic Lantern Fall Film Festival, held each year in spring and fall.

Who needs klieg lights and red carpets when we have Baldy in the background?

This year marks the 16th year the Ketchum cinema Magic Lantern has brought foreign films, documentaries, and independent films to Ketchum for the benefit of valley?s film lovers.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 10, and running in rotation on two screens through Sept. 16, the films being screened are ?The Corporation,? ?Super-Size Me,? ?Maria Full of Grace,? ?The Clearing,? ?Control Room? and ?Before Sunset.?

Then, from Friday, Sept. 17, through Sept. 23 the featured films are ?Garden State,? ?Riding Giants,? Vanity Fair,? ?We Don?t Live Here Anymore? and ?Door In The Floor.?

Three of the festivals four documentaries are being shown the first week. ?The Corporation? was the 2004 winner of the Audience Award for documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the audience award winner at eight other international festivals. This complex and highly entertaining documentary directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, and written by Joel Bakan, examines the far-reaching repercussions of the corporation?s increasing preeminence, as well as the lot of whistle-blowers, brokers, gurus, spies, players, pawns and pundits. The film features interviews with Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Naomi Wolff and others. Bakan wrote the book, ?The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power,? while making the movie.

?Super Size Me? is all about fast food, our health and waistlines. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock made himself a test subject in this 2004 documentary by eating a diet of McDonalds? fast food, three times a day for a month straight. Spurlock sought to prove the physical and mental downside of living off fast food.

?The Control Room? deals with the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news outlet. Donald Rumsfeld has called Al-Jazeera ?Osama bin Laden?s mouthpiece.?

Made by Jehane Noujaim, this documentary shows how different news organizations can put spin on the same news stories, thus influencing public opinion. In particular, Al-Jazeera is shown as a counterpoint to Fox News. For the most part, the film takes place at Central Command, in Doha, Qatar, 700 miles from Baghdad. The film follows President Bush?s threat of invasion through the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

The feature films playing include ?The Clearing,? which stars Robert Redford and the exquisite Helen Mirren as a seemingly happy couple, and Willem Dafoe as a disgruntled ex-employee of Redford?s who kidnaps him. Directed by Pieter Jan Brugge, the thriller tells two parallel stories with equal tension.

In ?Before Sunset,? the audience is reunited with a young couple?Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy?as they are reunited with each other. We met them nine years ago in Richard Linklater?s ?Before Sunrise.? This time they wander in Paris, older and perhaps less free spirited, but they still spend the movie talking (a lot) about life and love and themselves. However, instead of having an entire night to exercise their brain and tongue power, they only have 75 real time minutes. This alone gives the movie more tension than its predecessor. Some reviewers advise renting ?Sunrise? before seeing ?Sunset?; it?s a package deal. What?s particularly interesting about this film is that Hawke and Delpy wrote their own dialogue.

Finally, ?Maria Full of Grace,? a Colombian film, written and directed by Joshua Marston, follows the desperate plunge of a young pregnant girl from a dead-end job as an assembly-line worker into trafficking heroin from Colombia to the United States as a drug mule. Straightforward and shot in a nearly documentary fashion, the film is emotionally riveting and has been a critical hit. It was the winner of the 2004 Sundance audience award for Best Drama.

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