PFF Day Two: I'm actually blurbing
Hell (Danis Tanovic, France/Italy/Belgium/Japan) [C-]
Hell is...being in love with a married man decades older than you...finding out your husband is [gasp of gasps!!] cheating on you...having this weird guy who probably sports an ulterior motive stalk you until you start to, I dunno, like him or something. I have no clue how much of this particular trilogy Kieslowski banged out before keeling over, but I'm gonna bet he made it no further than a vague outline on No. 2, something like, "Checkhovian study w/ ghastly parental tragedy." (At least Heaven smelled like a second draft.) Admittedly starts to snap into focus towards the end, but even then not really; holding off the big secret till the end, like a Shyamalanian twist, was a gross miscalculation, as what precedes it a) can't support it, and b) is, as the italics should've already conveyed, rather on the deathly dull side. It really should've gone no lower than a C, but then it went and explained the subtext, via first a university lecture and then a literary dissertation. What a great way to knock it down a couple more rungs.
Hanging Garden (Toshiaki Toyoda, Japan) [C]
Blah blah blah family members who conduct illicit affairs blah blah blah long-suffering matriarch whose ear-to-ear smile masks a maybe psychopathic streak blah blah blah lying to preserve the good of all blah blah blah, et al. Better than 9 Souls, if only because at least this one has a fine performance from Survive Style 5+'s Kyoko Koizumi (quickly becoming a personal fave). Word prior was this showed a more mature Toyoda, but that turns out to only be in the sheep fucking category (in that this one doesn't have one). Otherwise, same irritating structure -- unfunny wackiness leading to goopy symbolism-a-go-go -- and far too much gratuitous swirling for anyone's tastes.
/The Sun/ (Alexander Sokurov, Russia/Italy/France/Switzerland/Japan) [A-] [2nd viewing, first projected]
No real bump on the grade; simply a treat to see on the big screen, and with an oddly reverent crowd to boot. (Excepting the guy in the front row whose angle was such that he wound up snoring away on four separate occasions, everyone seemed to eat up Issey Ogata something fierce.) This time it was easier to catch the physicality of the film, the way Ogata seems to be trying to emulate human beings; he studies pictures of Hollywood stars (and fellow despot Hitler), but when he struts outside for the first time, he more closely resembles the crane with its dainty steps. ("MY body in no way differs from a human one," he keeps asserting.) Love the multi-camera live shooting...
Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, USA) [B+]
I'm sorry I dubbed Anthony Mackie "dull as shit" after She Hate Me. More on the way.