Monday, February 11, 2008

Jason goes to Indiefest--day 3.

All right, this was the day that getting a hotel in the city payed off. I was well rested and took a leisurely stroll down to the Roxie for the first program, the shorts program "Who Loves Ya, Baby?" Let's jump right in. The shorts were:

"On a Tuesday"--a couple gets married midday on a Tuesday at city hall. Then he has to go back to work rather than honeymoon. It's a little flash of joy and love in an otherwise bitter, cynical world. Here's a pic of director David Scott Smith:

"Saturday Night Newtown Sunday Morning Enmore"--If you can't remember what you did to end up in bed with a stranger last night, just make up something really romantic.
"Antes y Despues de Besar a Maria" ("Before and After Kissing Maria")--A little boy obsesses about kissing the new neighbor girl Maria. This would've been a lot better with subtitles, but I could more or less follow it.
"Perfect to Begin"--A hilarious story from the UK about a guy who steals a camper trailer to go on a weird camping trip with his girlfriend and her daughter (he didn't initially plan on the daughter). This movie also features a dead bunny rabbit. Please, won't someone stop the bunny killings!
"Gimme Music, Gimme Shelter"--A guy shows up for a date, while the girl gets ready he judges her by her record collection. High marks on organizational skills, but low marks for taste. Particularly marked down for the Beatles and Britney Spears. Hereƕs a blurry pic of director/star Shawn Telford (who doesn't actually hate the Beatles):

"I Hate Musicals"--A bitter, heartless insurance agent has a girlfriend who is making her debut as a musical actress. He shows up, but can't hide his disdain for musicals. A little magic dust cures him. Does it mean I'm getting old and bitter myself if I'd rather see him punished than redeemed? Well, he gets a little of both. Here's a pic of the filmmaker representative from "I Hate Musicals". However I have to admit that I did not note who he was. He might be writer/director Stewart Schill, or he might be one of the producers. Possibly Jeff Shapiro? For some reason I remember the name Jeff. But maybe I'm losing my mind:


"Copy"--if you don't have the guts to talk to that hot chick, just clone her with your clonamatic 6000. Program her to love you, just make sure you have the right DNA sample.
"The Art of Stalking"--There are very careful rules, and nothing distracts a stalker like a second stalker who doesn't follow the rules.


Next up was the Armenian comedy "A Big Story in a Small City", but first the short "Ground Floor Right". "Ground Floor Right" is the brief introduction of Fang. Fang is an old man with a long white beard, living in his small London flat with 100 birds. That place is a mess, but Fang is a pretty interesting guy. And where else could he live?

As for the feature, "A Big Story in a Small City", it was hilarious. This is exactly my type of slapstick dark comedy, which I find very typical of eastern Europe (I've noticed it particularly in the Balkan states, where I originally coined the term "abserbity" to describe it. Since then I've noticed it's not unique to Serbians). The story is narrated by Grigor Janoyan, who dies in a freak piano moving accident in the opening scene. His grieving family collects the body from the morgue, and sets him up in the house for the traditional viewing. But after most of the day, the daughter realizes that the body in their house is not actually their father. He's a dead ringer (pun intended) for their dad, but he has a small scar on the chin...oh yeah, and prison tattoos on his hands! So a wacky slapstick caper ensues wherein Hadyk, the eldest son, has to lead his brothers (and village idiot friend) to a) find their father's body, and b) swap it back, without c) everyone finding out. Of course, the mob gets involved. Excellent.

Then I was supposed to see "La Creme", but for the first time in Indiefest history, a screening had to be cancelled. Blame the French, who sent the wrong format tape. Fortunately, I'll be able to see it Monday afternoon at 5 pm (I'll just have to leave work early yet again). So instead, after some searching, they played "The Road to Nod". This is described as a "film noir road movie", which is pretty appropriate. Particularly the "road" part. Man there's a lot of driving in this movie. But more than that, there's a load of religious symbolism (Nod is the land that Cain was banished to after killing Abel). The hero is Parrish, who in the beginning of the movie is released from a Frankfurst prison. He goes to the bar and meets with his boss, the Reverend, who has a job for him. The next morning he's to meet for the job, but instead witnesses him getting gunned down by rivals. And so he flees, searching for sanctuary anywhere, and finally ending up in Ireland. For a crime action piece, it's amazingly slow and contemplative, and I'm not sure if I really "got" it. But it plays again tonight, so I might rewatch it and see if I get it better the second time.

Next up was a grafitti documentary, "Bomb It!" There's always been a sort of affinity for independent film and grafitti. I suppose it has something to do with the guerilla nature of the two art forms, but there are a lot of indie films made about grafitti (both documentaries and narratives). But this one is perhaps the most ambitious, starting from the roots in Philadelphia and exploding all over the world (London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Capetown, and of course New York and Los Angeles). After it comes out theatrically this spring and DVD in May, the filmmakers are planning a 5 DVD set featuring individual cities. Anyway, I don't really know the grafitti world, but after seeing a number of films about it I believe I can kind of get it. And the debates about public space were interesting. They make a convincing argument that grafitti is a vital art form (although I'd object to grafitti on private property) and it's no less offensive than giant billboards telling you to buy the right kind of car so you'll get laid. At least the only thing taggers are advertising is the fact that they exist. And a lot of the grafitti art is really pretty beautiful. I can't really say the same about the tagging, but they make an interesting point that the elaborate artists start out as taggers so you really shouldn't discriminate between the two.

Here's a picture of director John Reiss at the Q&A:


Next up was a reel of Japanese experimental animation. "Tokyo Loop" was made a couple of years ago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of animation on film. Most of them are very experimental. A few are funny, and some just boring. I found it kind of a mixed bag, mostly the kind of experimental movies that appeal mostly to other filmmakers. But I do like some of them. The first one, with the man and dog represented by dots connected by lines--that one totally hit my math geek buttons. And there's the one with all the poo. And there are finally bunnies that don't die! Turns out the Japanese treat their bunnies nice--reaaaal nice.
And finally, the midnight movie "Pop Skull", a drug-addled horror movie. Daniel is a pill addict living in Alabama. He's got a really hard time keeping his life together, and it's made all the more difficult by the murderous ghosts (or something) in his home. Of course, this might all be his dream, as he admits early on that he's having difficult telling dream from reality, and they do no favors making it any easier to the audience. This is one part horror film, two parts drug film, and about 10 parts art film. But don't let that scare you off, there's plenty of visuals and creepy style to satisfy the horror fans, plus enough strobe effects to incapacitate a roomful of epileptics. All I can say is that while the similarity of the title to "popsicle" is a complete coincidence, it still gave me a beautifully nasty brain freeze.

Here's a picture of the filmmaking representatives, which I believe is the producing pair of Peter and Aron Katz. I hope I got that right, I was pretty tired by this time:

And that (after running down to Cell Space to catch the last 30 minutes of the after party) was day 3 of Indiefest.
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