Another Day, Another DIFF: Observer Reviews Let Me Out and Maya.
Much as you'd like to catch all 160 titles at this year's DIFF, scheduling (and life) make it impossible, so you have to learn to pick, choose and hope you get awesome results. Leaning from Sunday's mistakes (yeah, I'm looking at you, Bringing Up Bobby), I went with two Faust recommendations yesterday. Turns out that you should always listen to the guy in charge.
When a movie's title sequence animation turns '80s a-ha "Take on Me" into a crazy Korean zombie chase, you know it's going to be good. Making its world premiere at DIFF, the South Korean film Let Me Out is what you get when a 13-year film professor gets to show his students what they're really like - and what they have to change to be successful.
Every school has that kid (actually, many of them) who thinks he knows everything. That guy who argues with teachers and calls everyone sell-outs. In Let Me Out, that kid is Mu-young, a convenience store-working Truffaut-loving film student who challenges the portfolio of visiting indie director Yang Ik June. Unfortunately for Mu-young, Yang has little tolerance for know-it-all students, and he throws down the "if you think you can do better, prove it" gauntlet. What follows is a sweet, hilarious and thoughtful take on film making for the inexperienced as Mu-young and his rag tag team of rejects jump through hoops and hit every snag imaginable as they try to produce the best zombie melodrama ever.
On the other side of the film spectrum and from half a world away, you have the Albanian flick Maya. A story of love, hate, corruption and envy, Maya is universal in theme but distinctively European in style.
In Maya, Samiu returns to Albania to bury his father, and upon falling for his distant cousin's wife, he decides to stay. Samiu opens up a hair salon, and through a series of events ends up turning the whole village upside down and against one another. An outsider at heart, Samiu tries to integrate himself in the small community, and though the move seems successful at first, his welcome declines as rumors abound, families fight and a jealous police chief takes revenge on the interloper. Though this film may not be for everyone (judging by the gaggle of asshats who insisted on talking throughout last night's screening), the striking cinematography and heartbreaking story is a definite don't miss for most cinephiles and foreign film fans.
If you're interested in seeing either of these films, you're going to have to pick your pony and knock out of work early as both of them have their final screenings tonight at 4 p.m. (Let Me Out at the Magnolia and Maya at the Angelika).