Friday, February 15, 2008

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 7

An actual short day at the festival, only 2 movies! Of course, I still had to get there by 5:00.

Oh, and first off, just an addition to my previous review of "La Creme". There was a brief scene showing a painting of a bunny in the background. That is all.

That 5:00 show was the bay area shorts program--4 medium-length shorts all made by local filmmakers.
First up was "The Trees That Survive", where a little boy describes the lives and histories of the trees in his backyard. Pretty adorable.

Then there was "High Heels". A lonely man named Gregory watches a TV psychology program. The psychologist explains how women are afraid when they're walking down the street and men follow them. But they're not afraid when women follow them. Gregory has a crush on a woman who works at the California Theater in Berkeley. He doesn't want to scare her, so he dresses up in women's clothing and follows her around. Ummm...dude, you're doing it wrong! Pretty funny.

Here's a pic of director (and California Theater manager) Dale Sophiea, with Indiefest programmer Anita Monga:


"Inertia". This is the story of four twenty-somethings going through their monotonous, dead-end lives. There's the telemarketer who idolizes the powerful and the successful. He's neither. In fact, he's about to be homeless. There's the homeless girl, addicted to drugs, can't get a break or even any respect. There's the woman who's days of freedom are at an end when she learns she's pregnant. And finally, there's a strange guy who seems to be the only one who sees life as an unending cycle that must be broken. A cataclysmic traffic accident will change all their lives. Very well done.

Here's a pic of Bo Heimleich, George Seamer, and Kyle Garrett, makers of "Inertia"


And finally, a retrospective screening of Jay Rosenblatt's "Human Remains" (1998). Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, and Mao Zedong are all shown in rare home movie footage, as first person narration describes the little details in their lives. Details like Hitler liked chamomile tea (both drinking it and enemas). Mussolini also liked chamomile, but only drinking it. Both Hitler and Mao had only one testicle (each, not one testicle shared between them, that'd be weird). Mostly it's a meditation on the banality of evil. When Hitler declared that he tries to control his weight, but he has a weakness for chocolate ├ęclairs, I said, "wow, just like me!", and so I Godwinned myself. But what really struck me is that other than a few quirks (and a few million murders), the first four seemed like ordinary guys. Then Mao came on, and talked about how he never bathed, washed his teeth with tea, conducted all his business in bed in his pajamas, was famously constipated, etc. I actually knew most of this already from a movie called "The Passion of the Mao". But the juxtaposition of 'banal, banal, banal, banal, batshit insane' was pretty striking.

Next show was the feature, "Broke Sky". This is another strong contender for my "reward for watching everything" prize, but really it shouldn't have been in the running. I should've read "black comedy about roadkill removal" and been very excited about it (hence, it couldn't surprise me with how good it is). Anyway, Bucky and Earl work for the county cleaning up roadkill. One day their boss shows them a fancy new roadkill removal van that does it all automatically (kind of a street sweeper with a built in incinerator), hence making one of their jobs obsolete. Not good. Particularly not good for Earl, who's the older, lazier guy who makes young sensitive Bucky do all the work. Bucky, for his part, is just about the nicest guy possible, and if he could he'd give every single animal a proper burial (instead of throwing them all in the pit). Anyway, Earl hatches a plan to make themselves look good and the neighboring county (that's already using the new van) look bad. At night, they'll sneak over to the neighboring county and steal roadkill, adding to their total while subtracting from the other county's total. Things are going fine, until they're called in to retrieve an animal from the well of a creepy old man who lives on the outskirts of town. Instead they find human. In fact, a young sexy woman they had just met days earlier. Hijinx ensue, but not so much wacky as pitch black and kinda disgusting. Okay, I can't say much more without spoilers. But I will say there is a bunny scene, in fact, an extremely pivotal bunny-killing scene.

Okay, what's up with all the dead bunnies this past year? I know it's no one filmmaker's fault, but is there something in the air, in the zeitgeist that just makes this a good time to kill bunnies? It's like we've experienced an Elmer Fuddification of the global independent film community!

Okay, that was Wednesday at Indiefest. Just a few drinks at the Kilowatt, and I was back on the BART home. I actually got home before midnight!
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