Monday, February 15, 2010

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 11

Sunday. Chinese New Year (today begins the Year of the Tiger--my year). President's Day Eve. John Barrymore's Birthday. Cheesefare sunday (last day orthodox Christians can eat dairy until Easter). Ferris Wheel Day. And for my Germanic followers, it's Fasching Sunday. Did I miss anything? Okay, let me tell you about the movies.

First up, Alfred Hitchcock starred in DOUBLE TAKE. That's right, famed director Alfred Hitchcock. Johan Grimonprez built a collage of footage from Hitchcock's films (featuring THE BIRDS and TOPAZ), his TV shows, and Folger's commercials. Mixed it with news footage from the cold war--spanning the period from VP Nixon meeting with Kruschev up to JFK, the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Add in a professional Hitchcock look-alike and a sound-alike, and he creates a story of doppelgangers, spies, time travel, murder and television killing cinema. Absolutely amazing, my head is still spinning.

This was the last screening of DOUBLE TAKE in the festival. Sorry.

So then I saw the shorts program An Animated World. Yay, cartoons:
BACKWARDS: A reverse story of love gone bad.
LIGHT HEADED: Wax critters on an adventure outside the candle.
UNBELIEVABLE 4: It's the final countdown--starring Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice.
DOWN TO THE BONE: Hilariously sick story of a boy who sneezes himself inside-out
MANIFESTATIONS: It's a little trippy hallucination of a little greenish-yellow cloud man.
FUZZY INSIDES: Stop motion. Hilarious. Gross.
'NSTACHARGE: Robot love, at the recharging station. Poor Rusty.
THE FALCON: Flying bits of antique cameras. It was awesome.
LEV: A janitor...with radio antenna and speaker earphones.
DAVE TALKS ABOUT STUFF AND THINGS: That would be David Lynch. Recorded bits of interviews, animated.
PAUSE REPLAY: Cameras in love, and in death.
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Box Head and Round Head are friends, until the bombs start falling.
ROUE: Dreams of scary mushrooms and marching...somethings.
SO THEN DON'T WAIT: A bus ride...that was so washed out it was hard to see anything. I can't wait for the Roxie to replace their projector.
ENTERING THE MIND THROUGH THE MOUTH: Korean story of a cat with the mind of a boy and a mouse with the mind of a girl. They actually like each other, although the circus master won't let them. This dragged on too long.

An Animated World plays again Monday, Feb 15th at 7:15

So next up I caught the sneak preview/world premiere of a movie I had seen before--CORNER STORE. Okay, I had seen a rough cut earlier. And here's what I wrote at the time:

It's the story of Yousef (Joseph) Elhaj, a Palestinian man who moved to San Francisco 10 years ago (with his father, who passed away and was only mentioned briefly in this cut of the film). He's a quiet, cheerful man who has operated a little corner grocery store, saving up money for his family. He even lived and slept in the back of the store (his apartment/office) the whole time (one of my favorite scenes was when he was in the back talking about how much he enjoys the rare times when he has company when he eats back there). Well, in the past year his decade-long dream became reality, and we get to follow him back to Palestine, meet his family, and eventually bring them to the U.S. (where Yousef finally has to move out of the back of the store and into a real home). His family is a pretty interesting mix. His wife is pretty quiet, he has an adorable daughter who plays tour guide, but most interesting is his eldest son who doesn't want to leave. Even living in occupation, he'd prefer to stay there and build a life in his home with his people (BTW, it's neither here nor there but the family are Palestinian Christians, not Muslims).

This is a movie that has a lot going on. There's the whole Palestinian occupation issue, there's community and the people who make neighborhoods special (a few months back I was listening to an NPR story about these so-call "significant strangers"), there's the immigrant story, and there's the touching human drama of the sacrifices Yousef makes for his family's future.

This was definitely still a rough cut, but it's very close to complete (this was supposed to be the last rough cut screening). There are bits that drag--most notably the traveling scenes (although there's one scene in the airport near the end that cuts to the heart of the film). But all in all, it's already pretty good and it's pretty close to ready for prime time.

I can stand by that review, but let me say a few things about the new cut. It's much, much better. First, maybe it's just from watching it a second time, but I think the story flows better. The "chapters" are more distinct--the neighborhood story, the immigrant sacrificing for his family story, the Palestine story, and finally the returning to America story (and eventually, bringing his family back). There's a new edit as he's preparing to leave Palestine again where they cut between people making arguments for staying and arguments for going. That, and his face, tells of the inner conflict he's too polite to talk about. I really liked that scene.

CORNER STORE plays again Tuesday, Feb 16th at 9:30

And I ended the night with LOVE BITES: The 80's Power Ballad Sing-along. I got drunk with a lot of weirdos, we played old hair band love ballad videos, and sang along as loud as possible while still heckling the videos. It's exactly what it sounds like, and it was much more fun than it had any right to be. And since I do have the hair for it, I even got up in the front and head-banged to Shot Through the Heart to end the show. That's not something I thought I would do...ever.

And that won't play again in this festival, although there's talk of making it an Indiefest tradition (since Indiefest always overlaps with Valentine's Day. Oh yeah, that was the other holiday yesterday)

Total Running Time: 376 minutes (based on an estimated 2 hours for LOVE BITES)
My Total Minutes: 171,448

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