MEN ON THE BRIDGE I go to TIFF for films like this, films that probably won't be playing on multiple screens at the local multi-plex, and which, if they make it to television, will appear on a niche channel rather than on a network station. I like to see how people live in other countries, and this film gave me a glimpse of Istanbul that I have never seen before. The film follows the lives of three different sets of people who are all connected by the Bosphorus Bridge. The story of the young, uneducated street kid, who tries to find a job other than selling flowers to passing cars on the bridge is my favourite. Like the others, he is trying to improve his life, but with no schooling, his chances of getting even a minimum wage job are not good. My second favourite story is that of the single traffic cop who dreams of finding love and leaving Istanbul. His story elicits from us a certain sadness as we witness his ineffectual attempts at dating. Of least interest to me is the taxi driver with the harping wife. Their story is overshadowed by my personal interest in the other two storylines. When the couple appeared on screen I was biding my time until I could go back to the street kid and the cop. These character studies, the historical and political references about Turkey, and the scenes of Istanbul (the bridge at night, the Bosphorus Sea, ancient Turkey beside the modern) were all very satisfying for me.
HIROSHIMA I can't tell you why actor, Juan Andrés Stoll (director, Pablo Stoll's brother) is walking around in his underwear because I didn't stay around to find out. I was looking forward to this film because I had enjoyed the director's previous work (with the late Juan Pablo Rebella), Whisky, and I wanted to see a modern silent film. Well, I was disappointed on all levels. I happen to like silent films and go whenever I can, especially when there is live musical accompaniment. Silent or not, a film won't work for me if the characters aren't interesting. Perhaps this film would have worked better as a short film, but as a feature, I am not interested in watching someone walk from his job at a bakery to his home, where he goes to bed wakes up, does the dishes and cleans out the closet. Maybe if the Juan Andrés could act, I would pay more attention, but his facial expression never changes. Deadpan only works for Buster Keaton. The absence of a score, and the infusion of rock music that is only suitable for annoying your neighbours got on my last nerve. Contrived and boring. Want an introduction to silent film? Go to the TIFF screening of KELIN (see my review under Picks & Pans #1).