Movie Reviews, The Best of Cinetopia: Lilting + Obvious Child

My two favorite movies I saw at the Cinetopia International Film Festival were Lilting and Obvious Child. The funny thing about Lilting is that I almost didn't see it: it wasn't on my list of movies I wanted to see, even though I had heard good things about it, but then a fellow movie blogger pulled myself and my friend in to the line to see it, so we saw that instead of Jingle Bell Rocks. Lilting actually won the Cinematography award at this year's Sundance Festival, as well.

Official synopsis:
What would you do if the only person that could help comfort you from the sudden death of a loved one spoke an entirely different language than you? That’s the dilemma facing the main characters of Lilting, as Junn, an old Chinese woman, and Richard, the English boyfriend of her late son, must try to overcome their inability to communicate—and their dislike of one another—in order to deal with their grief and honor their memories. The winner of the Cinematography Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, the first feature film by Cambodian director Hong Khaou teams British actor and BAFTA winner Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Cloud Atlas, I’m Not There) with acclaimed Chinese actress Pei-Pei Cheng (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) in this delicate yet memorable tale of how love has the power to overcome that which gets lost in translation.

I found this film to be very beautiful, and there were scenes where I was definitely tearing up. Junn (Pei-Pei Cheng) is in an assisted living home, where she was placed by her son, Kai (Andrew Leung), who passed away shortly after. Her son was gay, but neither him nor his boyfriend, Richard (Ben Whishaw), got to come out to Junn before Kai passed away. To complicate matters, Junn doesn't speak English, so when Richard goes to the home to try and talk to her, she isn't interested in seeing him; she also thinks that he's the reason she has to live in the home, since she couldn't go and live with Kai. 

I would definitely recommend seeing this film if you can. There's no official release date yet but it will be at a few other festivals this year. I regret not staying for the Q&A afterwards with Pei-Pei Cheng, as we were headed out to another movie shortly after; she had flown in all the way from Hong Kong, and I bet it was a great Q&A. Lilting is a great mixture of humor, sadness, and understanding, and I would see it again when it's released nationwide.

Lilting has a runtime of 91 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

My other favorite from the fest was Obvious Child, which is already playing in NYC and L.A., and will be in the Detroit area on June 27th, I believe. I wasn't expecting much out of this comedy, but was hoping it would be funny, since 90% of the films I saw at Cinetopia were dramas or documentaries; my hopes were far exceeded.

Official synopsis:
27-year old Donna Stern has little to complain about. A Brooklyn comedian, she is the sweetheart of the crowd thanks to her brand of lewd comedy and stunning wit. Her almost perfect world goes topsy turvy when her two-timing boyfriend dumps her. She hits rock bottom and tries to find solace in the company of her divorced parents and indulgent best friend. A drunken rebound with business-school grad Max, who is not really her type, helps her get out of her depression. But once again, Donna’s life is thrown into a whirl by her newly discovered pregnancy. Not quite ready for motherhood, Donna is tossed into a variety of awkward situations, which the film showcases in a humorous vein. A heartwarming lead performance by Jenny Slate and honest writing from director Gillian Robespierre make this romantic comedy a satisfying watch.

Jenny Slate in Obvious Child

I didn't know much about Jenny Slate going in to this movie, except she was on Saturday Night Live for one season and she uttered the F-word on her first time on the show. Although some of the subject matter in the film was serious (abortions, etc.), most of the film is lighthearted, and her suitor (Jake Lacy) is adorably cute. David Cross, Richard Kind, and Polly Draper also have supporting roles.

I would recommend this movie as well, and it should be easier to find than Lilting, currently. It's one of the funniest comedies I've seen in a while, although it's definitely R-rated, so this might be one for which you should leave the kids at home. The cast works very well together, and Slate steals the show, outside of David Cross being a creepster in the one long-ish scene he shares with her. I'd like to see this film again at some point too, perhaps on Redbox, because it was so hilarious.

Obvious Child is rated R with a runtime of 83 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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