HIFF 2011: Must See Preview Pt 2

So since today is going to be kind of a “long blog post” kind of day, we’re going to just jump right into things. Be sure to check out part 1 of the Must See Preview for my number 4-10 most anticipated films at this year’s HIFF.


Top 3 Most Anticipated Films

1) Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Website // Facebook // Twitter

The Enemy Within is a sequel to the 2007 film The Elite Squad. The film is a continuation of the semi-fictional account of the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. The plot resolves around the maturing Lt Col. Nascimento, who, after a disastrous operation on a prison riot, gets caught in a bloody political dispute that involves not only the Public Safety Departament, the State governor, State Military Police, and paramilitary militia groups. The movie also shows the family issues of Nascimento, with his now adolescent son gradually moving away from him due to his job and the influence of his stepfather. (via IMDB.com)

Why I Want to See It:
Everything I have read and seen about this film points to it being really awesome. The trailer is pretty enticing with the right amount of action and basic story setup. The HIFF description talks up its popularity in its home country of Brazil and supports what’s in the trailer by talking about the good mix of action and drama. The film was so popular in Brazil that they’ve submitted it as their selection for the Best Foreign Language Film category for next year’s Academy Awards. It’s also played on the festival circuit this year, and while it hasn’t really won awards, it’s gotten a ton of praise from movie bloggers (/Film, Film School Rejects). With the film being talked up so much, it’s no wonder that director Jose Padilha has been tapped to helm the long gestating Robocop reboot. With all the praise this film and the filmmaker is getting for Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, this definitely my top choice for this year’s fest.

2) Headhunters

Trailer // HIFF Page

An accomplished art thief risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary. (via IMDB.com)

Why I Want to See It:
Leave it to the Norwegians to give us more gritty crime thrillers. Headhunters is actually adapted off of a book by a Norwegian author that was adapted into a Norwegian film. Stop me if that sounds familiar. While the film’s pedigree shares a lot in common with the Millennium Trilogy (the same production company that produced the Norwegian version of that series also produced Headhunters), to me it seems as if Headhunters is a lot more action packed and a lot more gripping. Usually for a lot of these trailers for HIFF films, they are mostly in the native language that the film is from (meaning no English subtitles). As is the case you mainly have to infer and absorb what is going on in the trailer just from a visual perspective with the actors’ inflections as your only additional clue as to what might be going on. That’s not the case for the Headhunters trailer. The entire time I was transfixed and felt that I knew exactly what was going on even though the entire thing was in another language.

3) Red Dog

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Website

Based on the legendary true story of the Red Dog who united a disparate local community while roaming the Australian outback in search of his long lost master.

Why I Want to See It:
Ok, so I’ve already talked about this film in my initial blog post about the first 14. However, I’ll simply say this . . . anyone who is a pet owner can back up the fact that a pet can be just like any human. Pets have feelings, they have moods, they even speak to you without having to say anything. This is the biggest reason why I really want to see this film. Red Dog illustrates why humans have pets and why we are so attached to them. From everything I’ve just described about pets, you get a great sense of that from seeing Red Dog in the trailer. This is more than just seeing a cute dog in a movie. It’s about identifying with this special bond that people have with animals.


Just Missed the List

These next few films just missed making the cut for my top ten list. Don’t think these films are bad because they didn’t make it, I actually think they’re still pretty good and would still see these as well. It’s just one of those things when you’re making lists . . . where do you draw the line? I liken these three picks to being Oscar nominees, in the end only one person/film can win. Being in the conversation is definitely not a bad thing.

Paradise Broken (right, top)
Not going to lie, the trailer for the film is pretty sexy. It’s actually quite weird to have a trailer that “looks” like it’s for a Hollywood film, but then you see Waikiki or the Ala Wai in the background and then you’re like, “hey, that’s here.”// Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Site

Why It Just Missed the Cut:
Granted, the subject matter isn’t something an island resident likes to think about (or maybe I just don’t want to), but the story just isn’t speaking to me enough (enough to get in the top 10 anyway). However, the visuals are great and I’m definitely intrigued by the film.

The Forgiveness of Blood (bottom right)
What really struck me was that this film is from the director of Maria Full of Grace. The man can up and shoot just about anywhere. The trailer isn’t anything too special, but you can definitely see similar workmanship between ‘Blood’ and ‘Maria.’ What this film also had going for it was that up until Monday it was Albania’s Oscar submission for the Foreign Language category. I say was because a petition was filed against the film and now it’s been DQ’d from Oscar consideration. // Trailer // HIFF Page

Why It Just Missed the Cut:
This decision came down to pure scheduling conflicts. There’s only one screening of this film and it just happens to coincide with Elite Squad. Since Elite Squad is my first pick, I dropped this one off the list. I know it’s kind of a flimsy argument, but like I said, when you’re whittling down your list, sometimes it’s all you have to go by.

Knots (left)
Aside from Red Dog, this was the only other title in contention that was more on the lighthearted side. Everything else has been a pretty serious pick up until now. Shot locally and starring some notable actors, I can’t decide if it’s a romantic comedy, or a dramatic comedy. // Trailer // HIFF Page // Facebook

Why It Just Missed the Cut:
While I like the story and the people in it, something about the trailer just didn’t connect with me. I can’t really put my finger on it but it just didn’t pull everything together. Now I know that it’s really harsh to judge a film by its trailer. However, this is a film festival we’re talking about here and there are over 200 films to see. How do you stand out in a crowd like that? Show me a mind blowing trailer.


Other Film Notes

So after the top ten, after the films that were just left off the list, these bunch of films were briefly looked over, but ultimately didn’t make it into contention.

33 Postcards–interesting dramatic story and it’s got Guy Pearce in it.

Butter–a last minute addition to HIFF, the film is about a butter carving competition in Iowa that has political undertones. The film is a Hollywood picture that stars Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival just last month to lukewarm reviews and a media dust up due to a statement by Wilde on behalf of its distributor, The Weinstein Co;

The Bengali Detective–interesting hook about how people hire private investigators because the police in India are overwhelmed, also focuses on one detective who has a job moonlighting as a dancer?

Bullhead–”Animal feed thriller.” I never knew there was such a thing. Whatever the case the film definitely has a taut and suspenseful vibe to it. Oh yeah, it’s also Belgium’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar as well.

Cannonball Wedlock–A Japanese RomCom that looks pretty funny and quirky. Myong Choi, Nonstop Honolulu’s resident movie guy, has it on his list of films to see at HIFF. We’re definitely interested as well, and could be a fun date movie at the festival.

Delhi Belly–Could be an interesting action comedy.

Kill List–Freaky deaky hitman movie from across the pond. Once you’re in, there’s no backing out.

Le Havre–I keep hearing good things about this movie. HIFF programmer Anderson Le has it on his list of films to see at HIFF and it even got a shout-out from Chicago film critic Michael Phillips. It’s gotta be pretty decent with all that praise and being France’s Oscar Foreign Language submission to boot.

Punished–Chinese revenge film. Not sure it’s the same as a Korean revenge film, but it’s got some action and one pissed off dude in it.

Smuggler–Part of the HIFF Extreme section, the movie looks like it could be a fun Japanese action flick.

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale–It’s über long (290 minutes), but looks über awesome. Kind of reminds me of a Taiwanese version of Braveheart . . . just without Mel Gibson.


Must See Events

The Karate Kid Part II

1980s nostalgia seems to be everywhere these days and what better way to showcase it than with a film that was shot in Hawaii. Every time I drive by a certain stretch of road along Kam Highway at the beginning of Kahalu’u, it always gets me thinking of Karate Kid II (certain outdoor scenes were shot out there and you can see it from the highway). While I haven’t seen the film in ages, it should be fun to see it again in a theater with people who enjoy the film. Actress Tamlyn Tomita, who played Daniel-san’s love interest in the film, will be on hand to do a post film Q&A.

Super 8 + Michael Giacchino

This is actually a pretty interesting screening to attend. While Super 8 was the JJ Abrams’ summer nostalgia movie that was just in theaters as little as four months ago, it’s actually the post film Q&A with Giacchino that I think is going to bring out people to this film. While Giacchino might not be as recognizable of a name as John Williams (composer for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman), Giacchino is definitely making a name for himself and building a solid resume with composing credits on LOST, a number of Disney Pixar films, Mission Impossible 3 & 4, and obviously Super 8. The man does have a unique style (not to mention an Oscar for his work for original Score in UP) and hearing what he has to say about the Super 8 production and JJ Abrams should enhance the film experience.

Roundtable Discussion with Top Composers
Music and score definitely add a lot to a film. It can set the mood, convey feelings, and it can also take you out of a movie as well. With that in mind, HIFF has gathered five composers with cinema background to discuss what it’s like to compose music for a motion picture and the decision and planning that’s involved. Should be really insightful.

An Afternoon with Hawaii 5-0
Saving the best for last, I’m not sure what’s going to be bigger at this year’s fest: the closing night film The Descendants with Alexander Payne Q&A, or the Hawaii 5-0 panel at the Halekulani. I won’t be surprised if it’s the latter. I’m of the opinion that the local Hawaii 5-0 fan base has a more devoted and rabid following than our other most recent TV series LOST. As of this posting, I’m actually kind of surprised that the free panel hasn’t yet sold out (you still need to go online and get tickets). I’d figure the 5-0 fans would have snatched up all the seats to grab a glimpse of their favorite stars and potentially lead producer Peter Lenkov talk about what it’s like to put on this series. One thing I will guarantee, if you don’t get your ticket sooner rather than later, this panel will sell out.


Phew. After all that there’s nothing really left to do but go out and see some movies. Through the ten days of the fest, I hope to work four, maybe five days as a festival volunteer. If you’re lucky you might catch me out on the front lines working Theater Ops–it’s the only place to be and it’s where all the action is. For the other five days, I’m not quite sure. I have a few work commitments that will take me away from the festival for a few days, but if I can help it, I’m going to try to see as much as I can.

The festival starts tomorrow and like many, I still haven’t determined what I’m going to be seeing. Yeah, I made up this list of films ‘I’d like to see,’ but reality doesn’t always meet expectations I’ve come to learn. You just have to make most of what you have. If you’ve followed me this far through the post I’d love to know what you’re going to see at this year fest OR if there’s something I blatantly left off my list I give you full permission to set me straight in the comments below.

So, until next time, happy HIFFing!

3 Responses to “HIFF 2011: Must See Preview Pt 2”

  1. October 12, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    Wow, very thorough round up. Impressive!

  2. October 13, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Elite Squad and Headhunters! Two of my most wanna see films this year. See ya there!

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