Short reviews of 15 films at the 2011 Traverse City Film Festival. Rated 1-5

Short reviews of 15 films at the 2011 Traverse City Film Festival. Rated 1-5.

HESHER, 2010/ USA/R/106 min.

Grief interruptus by Hesher. #4

RID OF ME, 2011/USA/NR/105 min.

Great casting. Great photography. There’s a place someplace for everybody. Lots of musical montages. Made in Portland, Oregon. #4

BLACK BUTTERFLIES, 2011/Germany, Netherlands, South Africa/NR/100 min.

See South Africa a little bit. Discover poet Ingrid Jonker (compared to Sylvia Plath). You are beautiful, my dear, but mad. Painful. #3

BRIDE FLIGHT, 2008/Netherlands, Luxembourg/R/130 min.

A tangled tale of love & remorse…and resignation. #4

THE GUARD, 2011/Ireland/R/96 min.

Kick ass funny. Top rate. Needed subtitles for some jokes (dialogue), because it’s Irish. Featuring entertaining intelligent socio-psychopaths! #5

LARGO WINCH, 2008/France, Belgium, Croatia/NR/108 min.

In the spirit of James Bond ( filmed in many locales) without the gags. #5

MY PIECE OF THE PIE, 2011/France/NR/109 min.

This took too long to develop. The only tension: Would the despicable character change or what? #3

ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS, 2010/France, Belgium/NR/80 min.

Two neurotic people, “emotional” they translated the condition, ( fearful, I’d say), let it fly in a sweet, funny highest rank French comedy. As sweet as the chocolate they made. #5

THE WOMEN ON THE 6th FLOOR, 2010/France/NR/104 min.

An arrogant boss finds humanity with Spanish maids. #4


A New York Times photographer dedicated to his art, and beauty in the form of women’s fashion. His bowed-head silence when asked about his attendance at church was more than provocative. #5

CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, 2010/Canada USA, France, Germany, UK/G/90 min.

After seeing the same cave drawing for the 3rdtime, I concluded this doc was over long. Herzog’s strange philosophical script, for example, about white alligators thriving in the hot house made from nuclear waste water effluent was ridiculous. However, the black V on the Venus painted on the stalactite from 32,000 years ago turned me on! #3


Co-director Sam Cullman said after the film, “How hard it is to make change.” #5

THE SWELL SEASON, 2011/USA, Czech Republic, Ireland/NR/91 min.

About Academy Award in 2006 for best song “Once” Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Painful film. Strident music. #2

WHEN THE DRUM IS BEATING, 2011/USA/ Haiti/NR/84 min.

Michael Pussy, lead singer, said, “We should talk about music not politics.” They didn’t talk enough about politics. Implied US intervention ended in 1934; didn’t mention Aristide’s hands tied by Clinton or the US coup against him. I told the director in Q&A that the film was “politically unsophisticated.” #3

THE WHITE BALLOON, 1995/Iran/NR/85 min.

Saw it because director Abbas Kiarostami has been banned by Iran. Much ado about nothing…er, a 500 kopac note, that is, and kids. The lead little girl had an irritating voice. #3