Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 2

Now the festival is really in full swing. I started last night with a special presentation of short Italian films from RIFF (Roma International Film Festival) on tour. The lineup:
Boxing Paradise--Several boxers meet in an opulent hotel room. No one knows why they're there. Well crafted and well acted, but the "twist" was very predictable.
Fede e Fido--Funny story of a woman who is unlucky with men but lucky with dogs, so she makes a wish and turns her dog Fido into a man. I'm not sure if it's about women wanting men they can train like pets, or if it's just about bestiality. Either way, the performance of the man-dog really makes it work.
L'Oro Rosso (Red Gold)--A woman pounds tomatoes into sauce. Her daughter asks where the tomatoes come from, which brings back painful memories of her lecherous boss.
La Moglie (The Wife)--A couple spends a weekend at the beach house, having typical married conversations. Christmas plans, etc. she reveals she's pregnant. He's overjoyed. The twist at the end is really cool.
Mondi Simultanei (Simultaneous Worlds)--A weird head trip mashup of a Phillip Glass score with an M C Escher world that loops in on itself. My favorite of the program.
Personal Disease--Creepy sci-fi psychological piece where diseases and antidotes are sold together so that people can test their physical and mental limits. Creepy and weird. And I want that virtual BDSM game.
Wanted in Rome--A romantic midnight journey moving a piano through Rome.

Next up was the feature Leaving Barstow. The acting is stellar in this low budget character drama. Andrew (writer/producer/star Kevin Sheridan) is a star student at high school, especially in physics (how about a shout out to my physicist brethren!). However, he's not going to college. At least, not right away. He has a lot of drama in his life, and he has to stay home and work in a bookstore to help out his mom. Or at least, that's his story. In reality, he's kept in Barstow my a more fundamental physics principle--inertia. Luckily he has people trying to exert an external force on him. His best friend Carlos, always going on about how the real winners in life aren't the popular ones in high school, they're the geeks like "Bill Gates, you, and me." He's also got his teacher, a Stanford grad who somehow wound up teaching high school in Barstow. He's always seen greatness (and probably more than a little of himself) in Andrew and is angry he's not going to college. There's a cute new waitress at his mom's restaurant who catches his eye. Too bad hels painfully shy. And most humorously there's a sarcastic radio host swearing his way through the midnight to 6:30 shift whom Andrew calls on air (and who pep-talks Andrew through asking out the waitress). Things might just be looking up, if he can only overcome the force of his mom and her new loser boyfriend Cody.

This is one of those low budget character pieces that lives or dies on the strength of the acting. You can take this fine script and with bad actors turn it into a cheesy mess. Fortunately, the acting here was great.

And finally, I ended the night with a giant pile of WTF? Super Happy Fun Monkeybash! is a tradition at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, TX. The owner travels to Japan and collects Japanese TV weirdness, then compiles a ~90 minute program. We're talking weird commercials with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger (my Governator), Britney Spears, Brad Pitt, Jodie Foster, Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis, and others who shouldn't have to do this for a paycheck (well, maybe Seagal). We're talking comedy shows where a guy gets hit with pies all day. We're talking a show where actors try to maintain the drama while ignoring the pans falling on their heads. There's a show where a giant woman beats up a little man in various contest (sleeping bag battle, fondue battle, champagne cork ass catch battle, etc.) And there's even CNC, the Chimpan News Channel, hosted by a remarkably clever monkey and his camel co-host. Anyway, it totally fucking melted my brain.

Today at Indiefest, five more movies and the Big Lebowski Party.
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