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May Movies At Saigon’s Alternative Film Venues

There’s a bit of everything in store this month at Saigon’s alternative film venues, from some recently acclaimed independent films and genre classics to the two most talked about documentaries from the past few months.

6th May @ 8pm – deciBel Lounge

The Babadook (Australia 2014)

Good horror films can be counted on one hand, but things seem to be changing lately. While we wait for other scary-goodies like It Follows, The Witch and Del Toro’s CrimsonPeak, let’s dive into the chilling and claustrophobic The Babadook.

Australian writer Jennifer Kent takes the lead behind the camera for the first time in this film that, on the surface, pays homage to classic horror and gothic tales, but whose unique execution and powerful performances had audiences gripping their seats. 

What sets this film apart from other horror flicks is Kent’s exploration into the psychology of her characters.

 

7th May @ 8:30pm – Saigon Outcast

Last days in Vietnam (USA 2014)

The latest Oscar-nominated documentary, Last Days in Vietnam, is the work of American producer-director Rory Kennedy and focuses on the last days of the American War. If you are looking for a comprehensive account of what happened during these moments, you will not find it here.

This film is a powerful account of human stories and personalities, interwoven with interviews with American soldiers and Vietnamese refugees. These stories are supplemented by extraordinary archival footage of the period leading up to the Fall of Saigon.

 

13th May @ 8pm – deciBel Lounge

Blind (Norway 2014)

For his directorial debut, screenwriter Eskil Vogt (Reprise) has chosen a melancholic, sexy and imaginative story with subtle hints of black comedy. Ellen Dorrit Petersen plays Ingrid, a blind author trapped inside her house where she slowly retreats into her own creativity, imagination and fear.

Although Ingrid’s blindness sharpens her creativity, it also helps create a fantasy world where the character’s sexual frustration, paranoia towards her husband and the concept of what it is real and what it is not becomes increasingly extreme. Vogt uses stylistic cinematic tricks to show the audience what the protagonist feels and senses around her.

Blind was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and was named the Best European Film at last year’s Berlin Film Festival.

 

14th May @ 8:30pm – Saigon Outcast

Point Break (USA 1991)

Kathryn Bigelow has said that she does not want people to praise her for her achievement within the film industry simply because she is a woman. However, considering the reports that have recently popped up regarding the marginalised role of women in cinema (save for the independent market, it seems), it is hard not to acknowledge the fact that she is the only female director to ever win an Oscar (The Hurt Locker).

Now renowned for ballsy and audacious films like Zero Dark Thirty, Strange Days and The Hurt Locker, Bigelow really stepped into to the “big leagues” in 1991 with Point Break.

A classic cat-and-mouse chase between an FBI agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), and a group of bank robbers dressed as American ex-presidents, the film takes on both spiritual Buddhist motifs and socio-political criticism when Utah meets free-spirited surfer Bodhi (played by the late Patrick Swayze).

A remake of Point Break is currently in post-production but neither Reeves nor Bigelow are involved in it.

 

20th May @ 8pm – deciBel Lounge

Blade Runner - The Final Cut (USA 2007)

Not many films have had such a strong impact on the imaginations of different generations; influenced and inspired other films; video games and comic books like Ridley Scott’s neo-noir gem Blade Runner. Now considered a cult classic, not only among sci-fi aficionados, Blade Runner has had seven official and unofficial “cuts.”

Based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the story is set in a futuristic, neon-lit, rainy Los Angeles, where a blade runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), has to hunt four dangerous androids, called replicants, who have come to Earth to search for their creators.

The first version of the film was released in 1982, followed by a “Director’s Cut” after footage of the film was found in an archive and was restored; however, Scott never recognised that version since he was not involved in the process.

“The Final Cut” or “definitive cut,” as many call it, was put together under Scott’s supervision in 2007 and it has recently been screened in cinemas across the globe. The differences among the various versions are many, most notably the ending of the film.

A sequel of Blade Runner is now under discussion, with Harrison Ford possibly reprising his role as the android-hunter and Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Incendies) in the director’s chair.

 

21st May @ 8:30pm – Saigon Outcast

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (USA 2015)

This is certainly not the first documentary or film based on the legendary lead-singer of the grunge band Nirvana but it is surely is the best one. Filmmaker Brett Morgen’s piercing ability to enter the life of his subject matter was already proven in The Kid Stays in the Picture (about Paramount producer Robert Evans), but in Montage of Heck he truly excavates the life, creativity and soul of Kurt Cobain.

The first authorised cinematic biography of the American singer, Montage of Heck, follows the life of Cobain from his childhood until his premature death by using family’s photos, home movies, writings, interviews and other collected archival footage. At times painful and distressful, the film is a pure documentation of a musician that still fascinates the collective consciousness.

 

27th May @ 8pm – deciBel Lounge

Mommy (Canada 2014)

This story of a trashy but resourceful mother dealing with her violent teenager son with ADHD disorder (played respectively by Anne Dorval and Antoine-Olivier Pilon) is so gutsy, intense and realistic that critics were surprised that a 25-year-old filmmaker had made it. Although not autobiographical, writer-director Xavier Dolan said in an interview that he did not use case studies to build his characters, but rather his personal experience, particularly for the character of the teenager son.

The narration is emotionally packed with sexual innuendos, swear words, fights, cynical jokes (Dolan is clearly not interested in politically correctness) that doesn’t provide audiences with a moment of respite.

The Canadian director owes a great deal to his two main actors’ performances, particularly to Dorval, who plays the “type” of woman rarely seen on the big screen and that can only be compared to the role Melissa Leo played in Frozen River: one of a hopeful and restless woman that “does” rather than dwells on problems. 

 

28th May @ 8:30pm – Saigon Outcast

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (USA 1961)

With a cast led by Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn and Blake Edwards, it is no wonder that Breakfast at Tiffany’s has stood the test of time. Mancini’s Moon River, Hepburn’s sunglasses and her Givency’s “little black dress” have become iconic beyond the silver screen. Breakfast at Tiffany’s centres on Holly Golightly (Hepburn), a naïve, romantically challenged socialite who struggles with her love for her new neighbour (George Peppard) in order to pursue a dreamy life with a rich Brazilian man. An unconventional romantic comedy for the time, Breakfast at Tiffany’s glorifies the beauty of the real life if you have the courage to truly look at it.    

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