It's hard to believe that just one more day and the 2011 Milwaukee Film Fest will be history. Here's a sampling of the films that screened on day 10.
Don't Go Breaking My Heart: Johnnie To (director of 2010 Milwaukee Film Fest selection "Vengeance") directs this romantic comedy from Hong Kong. To may not be known for his romantic comedy chops after making a large number of crime dramas, action flicks, and mafia tales but he does very well with the genre. The backdrop of the film is 2008's economic crisis, Ching (Gao Yuanyuan) is a financial analyst who just broke up with her boyfriend. The ex has left things in her apartment. After an uncomfortable confrontation with her ex and his pregnant girlfriend on a city bus, Ching almost gets hit by a car and a stranger saves her life. She befriends the stranger, Kevin (Daniel Wu), who offers to take the ex's stuff including the hundreds of bottles of booze (which he finds out are mini-bottles) and a frog. She inspires Kevin to get off the booze and back to his architecture. They make a date to meet but little does he know there's been an office flirtation that Ching has been having with a guy (Louis Koo) in the building across the way. The guy does magic for her and makes pictures on the window with post-it notes. They set up a date and there's miscommunication leaving Ching to feel stood up. She confronts the guy and then he loses his job in the firm as a result of the economy. Three years later, a triangle develops as she encounters both men again. Lovely and sweet. A film that rises above Hollywood's romcom films. Rating: 5 of 5.
Film website: http://www.mediaasia.com/dontgobreakingmyheart
Bibliotheque Pascal: A half Hungarian-half Romanian woman fights to get her young daughter back from child custody. Facing charges of child neglect, Mona recounts a fantastic tale so she can win custody again. The film starts well delving into territory previously tapped into by Jeunet and Caro but it does not sustain the magic and quickly takes dark and ugly turns. Mona, the daughter of gypsies and circus folk, gets tricked into the sex trade by her father (who tells her that he's dying) as she gets sent to Germany and then ends up in a cruel upscale brothel frequented by the rich and famous. Each room in the brothel has a literary theme, Mona's is Joan of Arc, which adds more than a dash of pretension to the ugliness of the film. The film tries to pull fantasy elements in toward the film's final third but the efforts fall flat. The magic that started the film quickly fades and by the time the end comes around, the viewer really doesn't care what was fact and what was fiction and we really don't care if Mona ever sees her daughter again. A major failure. Rating: 1 of 5.
Film website: http://www.bpascalfilm.com
Karate-Robo Zaborgar: The midnight spotlight film of this years film fest is an update of an old Japanese TV show. Campy and silly, this found many fans at the screening. The film centers on a young man who's father was killed by the evil group, Sigma, who are out to capture all the candidates for Prime Minister of Japan so they can build a robot to destroy humankind. The young man is a karate expert who has a robot (the robot is actually his brother in a twist that's difficult to explain). The film is ultracampy to the extreme. True camp shouldn't feel forced.The film is beyond silly to a point that you never feel invested as it's constantly winking to the audience and you feel it telepathically communicating the thought Oh man, did you see what we just did to the point that it's almost self congratulatory. The film is generally good spirited and will make you laugh but the American audience is ill equipped to truly love a film that seems loaded with Japanese nostalgia. Still it's original (to America, at least) and at least worth a look. Rating: 3 of 5.
Keep reading here as the Milwaukee Film Fest wraps up and enters it's final day. For the latest in additions and changes at the fest, go to Milwaukee Film's website here. If you like the latest in film articles and reviews from a Milwaukee perspective, click 'subscribe' and get the latest from the Milwaukee Movie Examiner sent directly to your inbox for free. If you'd like to contact me, you can comment below, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and finally you can follow me on twitter @milwaukeefilmex. Are you on facebook? Join the Milwaukee Movie Examiner's group, here.