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May 1st, 2019 - Rounding up the Usual Suspects — LiveJournal
Steve's Livejournal

SIFF's capsule summary: "Teenaged Sam is the family caretaker after her mother's death, but when Sam is killed in an accident, she finds her mother waiting in the hereafter and plots to get them both back to the realm of the living in this delightful and meaningful drama." (Netherlands, 2019, 93 minutes)
SIFF link: Afterlife

Sam (Sanaa Giwa) is the daughter of loving parents Vera (Romana Vrede) and Erik (Gijs Scholten van Aschat). Her mother's untimely death indirectly leads to her own death, followed by her meeting with afterlife "civil servant" Martin (Jan-Paul Buijs), who presents her with the choice of reincarnation or afterlife. She also meets Joke (a name that is pronounced "yokə", not like the English word "joke"; Ria Eimers), who had been Vera's friend in life.

7 Good Writer-director Willem Bosch did a very good job with the writing, and a good job with the directing. The mood of the directing matches the quirky script well. The acting by the leads is all good, and when Giwa and Vrede are on screen together they're very good. The score is excellent, matching the quirky tone of the film.

Overall, I rate the film good.

Languages: Dutch, with English subtitles. Annoyingly, the subtitles fuse phrases such as "a while" and "all right" together into dubious compound words such as "awhile" and "alright".

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "PG-13", unless some language slipped past my notice.

Screening: 2 pm, Pacific Place (room 4).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, around 100, about 285 seats (estimated capacity).

Snacks: none.

Ads and announcements: no ads at press screenings; SIFF volunteer "R" provided announcements, reminding press screening audiences of the rules of press screening. Volunteer "J", who shares press screening host duties, was also there. Volunteer "K" greeted at the door.

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SIFF's capsule summary: "The struggles of a staid publisher and a rumpled novelist to adapt to the new digital media world, and the impermanence thereof, is complicated (because this is a French comedy) by adultery." (France, 2018, 106 minutes)
SIFF link: Non-Fiction

Alain (Guillaume Canet) has published every previous book by Léonard (Vincent Macaigne), but will he want his latest work? Alain has a young woman, Laure (Christa Théret), working to adapt to digital publishing. Who will she end up sleeping with? Will she succeed in adapting the publishing house to digital? Selena (Juliette Binoche) is Alain's wife, and an actress. Will she find work? Is she having an affair with anyone? Valérie (Nora Hamzawi) is Léonard's wife, and a political activist. Is she having an affair with anyone?

4 Lackluster The answer to the various questions in my summary is simple: I don't care. When the cast aren't having affairs, they talk endlessly about the decline of print publishing and competition from digital publishing. The dialog is supposed to be snappy and clever, and maybe it is in the original French. But in English it's banal, and sounds like every essay I've read about the decline of publishing since print newspapers started doing joint operating agreements to contend with competition with television news.

With the boring dialog, the film lost me quickly on any interest in the plot side of the film. But it's a comedy, right? Maybe it can hold my interest with the humor. No such luck there either. It was funny now and then, but there are quite a few serious dramatic films that have more laughs in comic relief moments.

The film is written and directed by Oliver Assayas. Although he's an acclaimed writer-director with a long record, this film is a dud. The characters were supposed to be intellectuals talking about intellectual things, but I've read it all before, and I didn't buy the idea that veterans in the publishing world would be having those sort of arguments in the present day; they would have worn out the subjects they talked about by the 1990s at the latest.

The comedy just wasn't funny, and although it may be a fumble by the translators, maybe the film-makers should have sought out better translators if they wanted to release the film into an English-language market.

The acting is solid all around, so the film isn't all bad. But it certainly doesn't make up for the pointless story and unfunny comedy. I rate it lackluster overall.

Note: This film seems to have really good reviews elsewhere. I'm baffled by that, but it's only fair to note that my dislike of the film seems to be in the minority.

Languages: French, with English subtitles.

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "R", because there are plenty of bare breasts on display.

Screening: 12 noon, Pacific Place (room 4).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, around 100, about 285 seats (estimated capacity).

Snacks: none.

Ads and announcements: no ads at press screenings; SIFF volunteer "R" provided announcements, with fellow volunteer "J", standing by. Volunteer "K" greeted at the door.

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SIFF's capsule summary: "In this Sundance award-winning documentary, high-tech China clashes with working-class America when a Chinese billionaire repurposes a defunct GM plant in Dayton, Ohio, and hires 2,000 blue-collar workers, only for the two sides to struggle finding common ground." (US, 2019, 114 minutes)
SIFF link: American Factory

When GM closes a factory in Dayton Ohio, things look bleak. Years later, Chinese automotive glass company Fuyao buys the facility and turns it into a glass factory, hiring lots of US workers, and even some US managers. But the US managers have to answer to the Chinese managers. There's culture shock all over, in spite of individuals who make friends across the cultural divide. The Chinese ownership is virulently anti-union. Can the factory deliver on the ownership's financial ambitions? Will it improve the lives of the workers?

9 Excellent This documentary is amazing. It seems to cover the story of the glass factory from every possible angle. It has great interviews with US workers, US managers, Chinese managers overseeing the US managers, Chinese workers and managers in the company's Chinese factories, and even the founder of Fuyao. The access is amazing; Fuyao allowed the documentary people to keep working even where a US company might slam the door because things aren't flattering any more. And the founder is surprisingly candid. The film tells a dramatic story. It's shot beautifully.

Overall, I rate the film excellent. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in manufacturing, internationalization, China, etc. If it sounds even remotely interesting from the capsule description, it's safe to say that it will meet or exceed expectations.

Languages: English, and Chinese with English subtitles.

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "PG-13", unless some language slipped past my notice. Rating: This film has a US rating of "PG-13", for reason.

Screening: 2 pm, Pacific Place (room 4).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, around 100, about 285 seats (estimated capacity).

Snacks: none.

Ads and announcements: no ads at press screenings; SIFF volunteer "R" provided announcements, with fellow volunteer "J", standing by. Volunteer "K" greeted at the door.

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Today, "J" and I went to three press screenings during the day. In the evening, we went to the SIFF members' preview. Meanwhile, "T" had a visitor: his friend "L".

The 10 am film, Afterlife (Hiernamaals), is a Dutch drama about a girl who dies, and is given the choice between reincarnation and an immediate afterlife. It's good.

The noon film, Non-fiction (Doubles vies), is a French ensemble comedy about a handful of writers and publishers talking about the decline of print publishing, and engaging in assorted adulterous relationships. Unfortunately for a comedy, it's rarely funny. Fair.

The 2 pm film, American Factory, is an excellent documentary about a closed General Motors factory that is reopened as an automotive glass factory run by a Chinese company. The amount of access the film has to people from line employees to the glass company's CEO is amazing.

We enjoyed the members' preview in the evening, and got home somewhat later than usual even though we skipped the "WTF" section of the trailer presentation.

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