CIFF 37: Two “B” Days

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The Kings of Summer, filmed in various Northeast Ohio locales, is a light comedy typical of opening night selections. Its main characters are appealing and funny, each in his own way. The plot also has its moments—both funny and touching. Altogether, though, I spent more time trying to identify the shooting locales than engaging with the movie. Compared by many to “Stand By Me,” the film left me thinking it resembled “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”—with its sophomoric humor— more than “Stand By Me.”

Hatred, an Iranian film with a provocative title, follows the travails of two lost souls: Zhaleh, a tough young Iranian woman living in Turkey, and Hamed, a recovering (since meeting Zhaleh) drug addict and graffiti artist. The two plan to leave Istanbul as the film opens, but their plans go terribly awry in the hours before their flight out of Turkey. Beginning with little sympathy for either character, through brightly colored flashbacks to happier times, I left the theater feeling sad for both of them. Trying to figure out why the movie was titled “Hatred,” I decided that “Flight Cancelled” might have been more appropriate. A grim story with loads of tension!

Blondie, with four beautiful Swedish women, is not a comedy! Misled by the description in the catalogue, which included such phrases as “acerbically funny” and “hilarious family theatrics,” I went in with certain expectations. What I got was a poignant and touching story about mother-daughter and sibling (three sisters) relationships, and some pretty steamy sex scenes. Sitting with a few friends during and after the film, it became apparent that I was the only one who liked it.

Musicwood—that is the wood from which acoustic guitars are made. Like many other people, I never gave it any thought. My guitar, purchased when I was a teenager and given to my eldest son when he was about the same age, was made from walnut. The best instruments—the Martins, Taylors and Gibsons—are made from rosewood, mahogany, ebony and spruce, all of which are in danger of disappearing because of clear-cut logging. “Musicwood” focuses on the attempts of environmentalists and guitar manufacturing executives to persuade the Native American landowners of the Tongass National Forest to stop or cut back on the clear-cutting of the forest trees.

I’m giving these four Bs—from B- for Kings and B+ for Musicwood.

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