Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 13

I can see the end in sight. It's kinda sad, but I've gotta make way for Cinequest anyway.

First up was a short and feature of documentaries made (at least in part) here in the Bay Area (so filmmakers were around and there was an enthusiastic crowd).

First up, an absolute SF institution, The Bush Man. Some 25+ years ago, Gregory Jacobs was coming home at night. His front door stuck a little bit, and as he was wrestling it open a cat jumped out of the bush and scared him shitless. All night he laughed about it, and the next day he grabbed a few branches of leaves, set up on Fisherman's Wharf, and started sharing that experience with everyone else. I've seen his work before, he's a lot of fun, and he certainly deserves the (pretty good) living he makes snapping tourists out of their complacent stupor.

And the feature was not exactly a Bay Area product, although the subject is near and dear to a lot of Bay Area residents and artists, and director Harrod Blank is the son of local (prolific, award-winning) filmmaker Les Blank. Automorphosis is a film about art cars, and especially about the people who make and drive them. Harrod himself drives a famous van covered in cameras (that actually takes pictures as he drives), and that van was in front of the theater for the screening. Cars are a very American obsession, and art cars are a very American form of folk art. Even the German guy who built the Hamburger Harley came to America because he was obsessed with America and, of course, hamburgers. The movie plays out like a gallery where every few minutes you see something more amazing than before. There's a car covered with buttons. Another covered with brass ornaments. There's one covered with spoons. Uri Geller has one covered in bent spoons (and forks). Then there's the Big Horn (that guys story is particularly inspirational), the Carthedral and on and on and on. I'm not sure if it has a point beyond "these cars (and sometimes, these people) are cool!" But if that's the only point, I'm still sold.

Then the late show started with a short that really speaks to me--Asshole. A guy goes to the doctor. His problem is he's an asshole. No wait, his problem is that his asshole hurts. Finally, he gets some good advice.

And the feature was one that I probably should've liked more. The 27 Club is the (fictional) story of Tom, member of the popular band Finn. Tom has drug problem, and OD's on his 27th birthday. Tom's best friend and bandmate is Elliot, who was born just 6 days after Tom. Eliot is devastated. They've always done everything together, and in many ways the obvious choice would be to also die on his 27th birthday. The title refers to the collection of artists who've died when they were 27--Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, etc. I can't put my finger on why, but this story just didn't grab me right away. I struggled to stay awake for much of the first half. It's just Eliot being really depressed, and then a road trip with some stranger and a hitchhiking girl. There are some good performances, but some that just make it clear I'm watching a low budget film. It didn't really interest me until the end. I will grant that the ending was satisfying, and kind of made me wish I'd paid closer attention throughout the film. So yeah, this didn't quite do it for me, but I'm willing to chalk that up to my own failings rather than the film. Perhaps if I saw it again when more rested, I'd like it more.
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