Movie reviews: Fresno Film Festival 2012

I greatly look forward to attending the Fresno Film Festival every spring, and this year Fresno Filmworks delivered a terrific and diverse lineup. I’m a bit late on these reviews, but here are my thoughts on three of the festival’s feature films.

“The Fairy”
Directed by:
Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romy
Format: Big screen
Viewed: Friday 4/27/2012 with my wife at the Tower Theatre in Fresno
This romantic comedy made the perfect opening night movie, and it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen at Filmworks. “The Fairy” follows a hapless hotel clerk as he falls in love with an off-kilter, wish-granting fairy. I remembered the writers/directors/stars of the movie from “L’iceberg,” an excellent Fresno Film Festival choice a few years ago. This fantastical movie was slapstick, charming, and a ton of laughs.

Directed by:
Wim Wenders
Format: Big screen
Viewed: Saturday 4/28/2012 with my wife at the Tower Theatre in Fresno
I’ve never seen a film quite like “Pina” and probably never will. Director Wim Wenders and the dancers pay tribute to the late choreographer Pina Bausch. I sat awestruck with the intensity of the dancing and the beauty of the filmmaking, but it was the stories of cast members interwoven throughout that lent an emotional weight to the movie that made it truly breathtaking.

“A Separation”
Directed by:
Asghar Farhadi
Format: Big screen
Viewed: Saturday 4/28/2012 with my wife at the Tower Theatre in Fresno
This Iranian drama, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past year. You wouldn’t think that a character study about a dissolving marriage would keep you on the edge of your seat. But “A Separation” is written with such heart-stopping suspense and intricate cultural nuance that it turns ordinary material into the extraordinary.

Also at the festival: I got a chance to see the gorgeous restoration of the Georges Méliès classic “A Trip to the Moon.” I will blog about that soon in a separate post. I also saw a ton of short films from all over the world. My favorite short was “L’equip petit,” which told the story of a sweetly inept team of 5- and 6-year-old soccer players. The panel discussion with Hmong American filmmakers Abel and Burlee Vang was also inspiring.

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