Monday, April 25, 2011

SFIFF54 Day 5: The Troll Hunter

The 54nd San Francisco International Film Festival is going strong; it runs through May 5th. Each day during the festival I'll be posting a recommendation and capsule review of a film in the festival.

The Troll Hunter (NORWAY: André Øvredal, 2010)

playing: 6:15 PM this evening at VIZ/New People, with no more screenings during the festival.
distribution: Set for a June 17th release at the Lumiere and the Shattuck, through Magnolia Pictures.

Norseman André Øvredal's debut feature presents itself as a found-footage object: a documentary recovered from the hands of a trio of student filmmakers traveling around the Norwegian back-country on the trail of the country's remaining specimens of these dangerous creatures. What fundamentally sets it apart from its most obvious precursor, the Blair Witch Project, is the presence of an intermediary expert, the titular character played by Otto Jespersen. Like the students, we can remain skeptical of the film's fantastic conceits, yet engaged, as long as we're interested in this grizzled oddball. Clever formal note: the film's cinematography style changes subtly but perceptibly when different members of the team are behind the camera.

SFIFF54 Day 5
Another option: Cave of Forgotten Dreams (GERMANY/FRANCE/UK/USA/CANADA: Werner Herzog, 2010) One of the hottest tickets of the festival is the beloved Werner Herzog's latest documentary about the 30,000-year old Chauvet Pont d'Arc cave paintings in Southern France, filmed in 3-D no less. Not one of the Bavaria-born filmmaker's masterpieces, but probably my favorite of his films since 2004's The White Diamond.

Non-SFIFF-option for today: Baraka at the Red Vic. For many years this Haight Street cinema showed Ron Fricke's spiritual travelogue around Christmastime, but in 2010 they didn't. Perhaps they were saving it for Easter Sunday and Easter Monday 2011. Either slot seems an appropriate calendaring for the many Frisco Bay seekers of alternatives to traditional religious practices.

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