LAFF 2011 Reviews: TOMBOY, DO NOT DISTURB, and DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME
There were lots of really beautiful films screened at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, I’ve already reviewed one of my favorites, Natural Selection, and now I wanted to share some thoughts for three additional films I saw: French film Tomboy, Iranian film Please Do Not Disturb, and Hong Kong film Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.
Synopsis: Laure is 10 years old. Laure is a tomboy. On her arrival in a new neighborhood, she lets Lisa and her crowd believe that she is a boy. Truth or dare? Dare. Summer becomes a big playground and Laure pretends to be Michael, a boy like the others… different enough to get the attention of Lisa who falls in love with him. Laure takes advantage of her new identity as if the end of the summer would never reveal her unsettling secret.
I was interested in seeing Tomboy after watching the trailer (which you can watch below), there was something about the premise that intrigued me, and that’s why when I saw it on the LAFF schedule I made sure to go check it out.
I really enjoyed Tomboy, it’s a simple and beautiful story about a ten-year-old girl, Laure, portrayed by the wonderful Zoé Héran, who passes herself as a boy to her new friends. I think director Céline Sciamma captured some genuine moments amongst children playing during summertime, that reminded me of my own childhood. And that’s probably what endeared me the film.
Not much happens in Tomboy, it’s really more of a character development, but I didn’t really feel bored because the performances were so compelling.
Tomboy is not a film for everyone because of its slow pace and character development focused story, but if that’s the type of stories you enjoy watching, then I highly recommend you give it a shot.
You can watch the trailer for the movie below, unfortunately it’s in French without subtitles.
Please Do Not Disturb
Synopsis: In this film we see three stories that take place in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. In the first story, we see a young woman who has been beaten by her husband. The woman is about to complain legally, but the husband is concerned about his job and the embarrassment. The next story is about a clergyman whose wallet and documents have been stolen. The clergyman tries to get the documents back from the thief. The last story is the story of an elderly couple whose TV has broken. The couple is alone in the building and is afraid of opening the door to the young repairman.
Please Do Not Disturb was a film I at first hesitated to go see, because since I hadn’t been able to find a trailer or clip with subtitles, I wasn’t sure what I would be getting into. But since I have had so many good experiences seeing Iranian films before, I decided to give it a shot anyway, and am I glad I did.
Please Do Not Disturb is one of the first comedy films from Iran that I have seen, most of the other ones were dramas. It has a very interesting set up that I think made it that much better.
The film follows three different stories, but it’s more of a moment in the lives of these people as they almost “pass the flame” to the next story when their moment has passed. I just loved how director Mohsen Abdolvahab was able to move from one story to the next so seamlessly. And the beauty of this film is that it finds the comedy in simple everyday moments.
I loved every one of the storylines, but I was particularly fond of the last one which focused on an elderly couple too afraid to allow a troubled repairman inside their apartment to repair a broken TV. There were some really hilarious moments there and it was a perfect way to end the film.
Overall, another film I would recommend you see, especially if the story sounds like something you might enjoy.
You can watch the trailer for the movie below. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a video with subtitles.
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Synopsis: The giant Buddha statue commemorating the coronation of China’s first female emperor is nearly finished and everything is on track for a grand ceremony when state officials suddenly start spontaneously combusting. Could the Empress be the next target? In prison for treason, Detective Dee has seen better days, but even the Empress knows he’s the only one who can solve the mystery of the phantom flame.
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame was a fun detective genre meets kung-fu movie. The movie is based on writer Robert Hans van Gulik’s Judge Dee mystery series, which I haven’t read.
A lot of people at the LAFF were describing the movie as Scooby-Doo meets kung-fu, which is somewhat accurate, but I think the film was a bit less goofy than Scooby-Doo although it retained that mystery aspect of it.
All I was expecting from the movie was to spend a couple entertaining hours looking at some great kung-fu cinematic fights and trying to figure out “whodunnit.” And that’s pretty much what I got. If you are a fan of kun-fu films and wouldn’t mind some added mystery, then definitely add Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame to your list.
You can watch the trailer below.