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Berlinale Journal, Day 3

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Berlinale Journal, Day 3

Ria Kataja in "Black Ice"

Berlin Film Festival
Updated July 28, 2008

Daniel Day-Lewis Gives Me Two Thumbs Up;
Plus Impressions of Black Ice, Auge in Auge, and a Finnish Premiere Party

After the underwhelming In Love We Trust and the noxious Leo (see Day 2), my Friday continued with the press conference for There Will Be Blood. It was difficult to resist the temptation to take in Paul Thomas Anderson's spectacular film -- my favorite of 2007 -- for the 5th time on the giant screen at the Berlinale Palast, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask Anderson about the way "I drink your milkshake!" has taken on a life of its own. When I mentioned that I'd created the discussion site idrinkyourmilkshake.com, Anderson and Day-Lewis broke into smiles: "That was you?" Anderson asked. "I love it!" Day-Lewis gave me two thumbs up. Needless to say, my day was made.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around to chat with Anderson (who was apparently looking for me) because I had to run off to a screening of Black Ice, a constantly twisting love triangle from Finland directed by Petri Kotwica. After the wife of an architect discovers her husband's infidelity with a karate teacher, she invents an false identity to befriend the young woman. Jealousy and treachery run so deep in this gripping thriller that a few coincidences too many are easily forgiven. Black Ice also features the best use of a penguin suit at the festival so far.

Together with GreenCine Daily's David Hudson, I caught Auge in Auge, an inspired romp through German film history featuring interviews with Tom Tykwer, Wim Wenders, Doris Dörrie, Michael Ballhaus, Christian Petzold and others about their favorite films. Interspersed with these more considered looks at individual films are a delicious montage sequences covering periods in German film as well as themes such as smoking, gaze of the stars, and telephone calls. Sadly, Auge in Auge screened without English subtitles, which limited the audience dramatically. At an international festival with a visible interest in spotlighting German Cinema, I found this oversight inexplicable.

My fifth and final movie of the day was Shiver, a Spanish horror film set in a small village nestled in a ragged canyon. Santi, a handsome teenager with a skin disease that forces him to stay out of the sun, becomes a suspect in a number of grisly murders and has to investigate to clear his name. Shiver offers a few decent scares but remains safely within genre conventions: spooky old men dispense dire warnings, things go bump in the night, and the police is worse than useless. Director Isidro Ortiz relies heavily on the tricks of the trade -- an overbearing score, night vision footage, and so forth -- but neglects to flesh out his characters, which remain generic.

Andrew "Filmbrain" Grant generously invited me along to the Black Ice party, which kicked off after midnight at the Nordic embassy, a sleek building just south of the Siegessäule. As an avid fan of Aki Kaurismäki, I had a pretty good idea that Finns know how to throw a party, and as expected, the top-shelf vodka was flowing. Ria Kataja, the lead of Black Ice, looked stunning in a red evening gown. At the Finlandia bar, we had the honor of running into Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, the director of the lovely Cold Fever (1995). Passionate, approachable, and not altogether sober, Fridriksson told us about his next project, which he said he wants to be "a beautiful masterpiece" or he'll "cut off his head." Then, while a Finnish cover version of "I Will Survive" blared from the dance floor, Fridriksson hugged and kissed us on the cheeks, and my Kaurismäki fantasy was complete.

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