VIFF 2010 Mini Reviews: Inside whistle ... yeah

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Inside Job ( Charles Ferguson) U.S.A. This film should be renamed The Insidious Job - it was vicious finger-pointing, and most of it was probably deserved. Ferguson (impressively perusing his PhD in political science to make his case), with an eye for the global context, documented the beginning of the financial crisis that we're (hopefully) at the tail end of. While the film was fairly standard in terms of documentary style, the pertinent subject was deftly narrated in a way that was thought provoking, educational and entertaining. Interviews with financial insiders, politicians (hello Eliot Spitzer!), and journalists traced the crisis all the way back to the Icelandic economic collapse as the smaller scale model of what was to come. The eye opening aspect of the film for me - for someone who isn't as familiar with the U.S. government insiders - was that the new "Yes we can" Obamam administration carried some of the same cowboys that toppled the world on its pay load. The message was stark clear: we live in a world of recycled solutions offered by the same recycled system cogs who caused the problems in the first place. They work with an eye on personal gain above all else, protected by an irresponsible capitalist system. It's obvious that responsible government check points and a system of accountability should be put in place, especially for such a complex, faceless, economically driven system of governance. But the dance between freedom and responsibility will no doubt continue to play out in the market. In the mean time, don't forget that conventional wisdom: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier (If I want to whistle, I whistle; Florin Şerban) Romania. Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear, Berlin International Film Festival. | Set in a small detention facility for juveniles on some country side, the film told simply the story of a youth, Silviu (played with simmering anger betraying the doe-eyed exterior), nearing the end of his sentence only to blow it all away in the last couple of weeks. The triggering event began with his little brother, whom he acted as a guardian to all his life, informing him during a visit that their mother would be taking him away to Italy, thereby leaving him once again abandoned by family, particularly his mother. It lead to him taking a beautiful (and intoxicating) social worker hostage in an attempt to get his mother to promise not to take his brother with her. Broken family home life and childhood abandonment, the hallmark history of many delinquent youth, were at the root of the emotion that escalated in a rather unexpected and surprisingly understated fashion. The smart, reasonable way Silviu went about his plan clashed with the extent he would go to in order to prevent an event he felt helpless about spoke volume of the damage his mother'd done to him emotionally and psychologically. The film was so restrained, it seemed to lend more danger to the anger and frustration felt by Silviu, threatening to push the story to a violent end. To the film's credit, its focus was in the existential moment, almost singularly so, without melodrama and embellishment. Romanian cinematic industry has been going gangbusters in the past few years, churning out an impressive number of quality, award-winning films. While Whistle was less ambitious than what came before, it did an admirable job of continuing the much welcomed resurgence.

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