Abraham Lincoln

RVIFF Reviews: Coffee Shop Time Recursions, Steamy Intrigue, and Profundity from a Balcony

September 11th, 2023 | Robin

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

For the second year running, my wife Valerie and I are attending our own at-home film festival. It takes the place in our hearts and vacation plans formerly reserved by the Toronto International Film Festival. The Robin and Valerie International Film Festival is the cinema event you can play along with at home, with a roster of streaming service and SVOD titles. Its roster includes the foreign, independent and cult titles we used to love to see at TIFF, but cheaper, hassle-free, and on the comfort of our own couch. Daily capsule reviews roll out throughout the festival, with a complete list in order of preference dropping a day or two afterwards. Review ratings are out of 5.

The Balcony Movie [Poland, Pawel Lozinski, 2021, 4] Over the course of a year, a documentarian conducts interviews with passersby from his apartment balcony, coaxing them to reveal their lives and worldviews. Simple premise yields a rich portrait of humanity.

Naturally a film about people walking along a sidewalk also features many excellent dogs.

Broker [South Korea, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2022, 4] An unlikely temporary family forms when a dry cleaner (Kang Song-ho) and his accomplice (Gang Dong-won) attempt to sell a young woman’s (Ji-eun Lee) baby, with a tough minded cop (Boona Dae) on their trail. Koreeda’s deft touch with emotion illuminates material that in lesser hands would easily slop over into manipulative sentimentality.

Stars at Noon [France, Claire Denis, 2022, 4] Trapped and on the skids in COVID-era Nicaragua, a flailing journalist (Margaret Qualley) involves herself with a British businessman (Joe Alwyn) who turns out to be in worse trouble than she is. Denis reconfigures the international intrigue genre to her moody, elliptical style, with a sexual frankness no American director would dare attempt. Qualley burns the screen with a nervy, livewire portrayal of a woman in distress in a world without rescuers.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes [Japan, Junta Yamaguchi, 2020, 4] A coffee shop owner and his pals look for ways to capitalize on the fact that TV monitors in the cafe and his apartment upstairs are connected on a two minute time delay. Fun, fast-moving micro-budget time travel comedy shot on a phone in a single take.

Making of shots alongside the credits roll include a shot of the whiteboard where the filmmakers diagram the story’s many time recursions.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are available in the Ken and Robin merch store.

If you enjoy this special text feature of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast and don’t already support our Patreon, consider tossing a few bucks in the tip jar. Or check out my book on action films and their roleplaying applications, Blowing Up the Movies. Or the roleplaying game inspired by the Hong Kong films I first encountered at TIFF, Feng Shui 2.

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