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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
Two Main Competition films that explore Poland's past: one treating it as picaresque comedy, the other as harrowing special effects spectacle.

As demonstrated by the recent success of films as diverse as In Darkness (2011), Aftermath (2012) and Ida (2013) (to name but three), Poland’s turbulent and often traumatic history remains a topic of great concern for contemporary filmmakers. This interest is evident again in a large number of the films screening at Gdynia this year, of which Jerzy Stuhr’s picaresque comedy, The Citizen (Obywatel), must rank as one of the most curious.


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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Love, war and other crap at the Gdynia Film Festival, Poland's largest and most prestigious showcase for its national cinema.

Founded in 1974 and now in its 39th year (two were lost to the imposition of martial law in the early ‘80s) the Gdynia Film Festival (15-20 September 2014) is the oldest and most prestigious event in the Polish film calendar, and one of the primary showcases for national cinema. (Recent winners include Agnieska Holland’s In Darkness [2012] and, last year, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida.)


The range of movies, events, exhibitions and workshops that the festival offers clearly plays a large part in that reputation, while its blissful location in the gorgeous Gdynia (the northern seaside locale that’s part of the so-called “Tri-City”, or “Trójmiasto”, alongside Gdansk and Sopot) doesn’t hurt, either. As a first-time attendee, I’ve been struck over the last couple of days by the festival’s excellent organisation and welcoming atmosphere, and by the richness of its programming which offers a sometimes overwhelming choice of things to do and see.


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Monday, Apr 21, 2014
Horror flick The Canal slowly builds malaise into an excellent and unsettling genre piece.

The official summary of The Canal is a bit inaccurate and may spoil a part of the film (official description here). So I thought to create a revision (using some of the same language): A film-archivist views footage turn-of-the-century news report about a man who slaughters his family in his present-day home. When David’s marriage dissipates in a flash, the ghostly murderer rises from the murky waters, casting David’s life into an unfortunate downward spiral that threatens the lives of everyone around him.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
Lucky Them focuses on a music journalist who can't break free of her history as the girlfriend of a deceased-Seattle rock icon but this romantic comedy falls short of its potential.

Summary: Ellie Klug has one last chance to prove her value to her aging music magazine, Stax. As luck would have it, her editor has just the assignment: a no-stone-unturned search to discover what really happened to long lost local rock god, Matt Smith. And wouldn’t you know it? Ellie and Matt have a history. Joined on the road by well-meaning but music-hating documentarian Charlie, Ellie delves into her past and quickly discovers that hype and mythology have not soothed the pain of her own experiences.


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Thursday, Jan 9, 2014
A rookie police officer faces a moral dilemma in the excellent Monsoon Shootout as three possible scenarios stem from his decision at this pivotal moment.

At first glance, Monsoon Shootout recalled The Raid: Redemption with a rookie cop led by a morally questionable commanding officer in a gritty, impoverished setting. But that’s about the only real connection as Shootout doesn’t burst into extreme and continued bouts of violence. Instead writer-director Amit Kumar’s debut film turns into a Run Lola Run-style film in which our protagonist Adi (Vijay Varma) has the opportunity to shoot an alleged axeman or bring him in unharmed. The split-second moral decision and the course of action in this pivotal moment results in three differing scenarios for the rookie in this thrilling film.


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