2009 Film Festival -- Sunday, Nov. 15
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 14, 2009 - Amreeka, Directed by Cherien Dabis. Amreeka is the word for America in Arabic and that little bit of harder-edged accent neatly expresses this tale. Imagine being a Palestinian (no fun already), with a chance to move to America with your teenage son, but you happen to arrive just as the U.S. is invading Iraq. Also imagine that you are an overweight divorcee with two degrees, whose husband has left you for a younger, thinner woman. The inevitable culture clashes are raw, sadly predictable, but ultimately upbeat in this unsettling little movie. This movie is like last year’s “The Visitor,” but less polished and more down-to-earth. Pairs neatly with “Bollywood Beats” ( Nov. 22) for contrast. -- Reviewed by Nick Otten, Special to the Beacon
Game of the Year, Directed by Chris Grega
This mockumentary left me more perplexed than amused. Is St. Louis director Chris Grega laughing at or with gamers? I'm too far removed from that group of people to know.
The film follows a group of guys who have been getting together regularly for years in a south St. Louis basement to wage mythical battle with imagination and gaming cube. Now they have hooked up with a documentary team to chronicle their attempt to get on a British gaming show, “The Game of the Year.”
The documentary inside the mockumentary introduces the character – a, gasp, woman – who causes the gamers to split for a bit. Will they get back together for a shot at stardom? As one guy says, “I gave up my marriage for this.” Gamers and those who love them ought to check out this picture for themselves. -- Reviewed by Donna Korando | Beacon Staff
Directed by Adrian Biniez
This little gem is about a big man. Jara (Horacio Camandulle) is not really a giant but is bigger than his own refrigerator. A security guard at a supermarket and a bouncer at a club, he secretly falls in love with a girl at work after studying her on the security TV monitors. The movie is maybe four times better and smarter than you might expect. It's a shrewd and subtle exploration in color, with an "ear" so sure that the movie has four or five sound-jokes, and a quiet, charming pair of characters you will root for all the way. This is the kind of pleasure you always hope for at a film festival: a fine, polished work that seems unassuming at first. -- Reviewed by Nick Otten