Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 3

4 movies on Saturday. Easy day, let's get right to it:

First up was the U.S. premiere (okay, technically the premiere was the screening the night before) of the Australian coming of age story LESS ADOLESCENT. Emmanuel is a young man dealing with a lot of issues that are all sort of brought to a head by his mother's sudden death (which is issue #1). The he's got his dad. His parents split up long ago, and is dad is living in a sort of halfway house (although drugs, alcohol, or crime is never really specified). Visits with his dad are strained at best, and made no better by his aunt always talking shit about him. Oh yeah, after his mom dies Emmanuel goes to live with his aunt who is pretty mean to him (granted, she's dealing with the loss of her only sister, and she's dealing with her own son who is never around to visit and has a secret of his own). And to be sure, his dad isn't a really good guy, as evidenced by the other woman with which he had a daughter while married to Emmanuel's mom. So now Emmanuel has a half-sister he never knew about. And thank god for that. I was afraid for a while there would be no relationship in the movie that I could really get behind and sympathize with. Every relationship is one of loss for Emmanuel, except with his newly gained sister who tentatively brings out the best in him. By far the best relationship in the movie, to the point where at times I found myself waiting for more scenes with her. But ultimately everyone gets a chance at a touch of redemption. Nicely done on nearly no budget. Oh yeah, and there's a mysterious person in a bear suit that keeps showing up, and makes for a nice subplot.

That was the last screening of LESS ADOLESCENT in the festival. Sorry.

Next up was the shorts program "The End is Not the End." Stories of endings--be they end of life, end of stories, or end of anything else)
ADRIFT: Strange nonlinear meditation in fountains in Rome--old woman, young girl, death...
THE LAST PAGE: He might be the first guy ever to die of writer's block. If nothing else, it's causing him a lot of pain. Very funny.
IN SPACE: Thai film of a young man who always had a different way of looking at the world. He becomes a Buddhist monk after the death of his grandmother.
DREAMLAND: Non_linear snippets of a 1940's-50's crime investigation, inspired in equal parts noir film and crime scene photography. Pretty cool after I just spent a week at Noir City.
TUNGIJUQ: Visually stylish adventure of natives hunting their prey.
RUFUS: Not all vampires are sexy. Some have a hard time just getting dates. Hilarious.

This shorts program plays again Tuesday, Feb 9 at 9:30

Next up was CITY ISLAND, a comedy of unnecessary secrets. Andy Garcia is Frank Rizzo, a corrections officer (i.e., a prison guard) who lives on a tiny spit on the sound off Brooklyn called City Island. Most people are surprised to find the place even exists, but his grandfather built a home there that he lives in now. Juliana Margulies plays his wife, an they're constantly fighting and keeping secrets from each other. Neither one knows the other didn't actually quit smoking, but Frank's bigger secret is that...he's taking an acting class. And covering it up by claiming he's out playing poker (don't think about that too hard. I already said it's a comedy of unnecessary secrets). Okay, actually he has a bigger secret--he just met his son Tony in jail. That's his son he had with another woman before he met his wife. And that would be the woman he walked out on before his son was born. He's up for parole, if only he had a family member to take him. So Frank makes a deal to release Tony into his custody, but doesn't explain to Tony or any of his family why. Oh yeah, the rest of the family has secrets, too. Their daughter was expelled from school and is now working as a stripper, and their son is a sarcastic closet chubby chaser who's obsessed with their next door neighbor. In comparison, he's the normal one in the family (check that, jailbird Tony is the normal one, they just don't know he's part of the family). Of course, all these secrets will have to come to a head, and that's pushed forward by Frank's partner in acting class who pushes him to go to an audition...for a Scorsese/De Niro film...and he gets called back. But of course his wife thinks he's having an affair...and might want to get back at him...and Tony does look pretty goof doing chores with his shirt off.... Eventually the flood gates open and everyone's secrets come out in one explosion. It's like the filmmakers set out to set a world record for the biggest fight scene with the most total secrets revealed (and I've left a few out of this review). While watching it, I actually had a great time. I just can't think about it too hard afterwards or I'll realize how silly it really is.

CITY ISLAND plays again Wednesday Feb 10 at 7:15

And the last show was a double feature of long-ish shorts. I know these 40-50 minute shorts are hard to program--too long for a typical shorts program or to pair with a feature, too short to be a program in and of themselves. So often, like this time, they're paired with a sort of tenuous thematic connection. In this case, a sense of isolation.

Oh yeah and it doesn't help when both of these could've been a lot shorter.

LILLI is a story from Italy of a nice guy who does his job and adores his cute doggie Lilli. So it's really sad when Lilli is run over by a car. Sadder still that his mom (whom he lives with) just thinks he should move on and buries Lilli in the backyard without waiting for him. He wanted to take Lilli to a pet cemetery in Milan.

SECURE SPACE is a tense story of wedding preparations in Haifa during rocket attacks from Lebanon. Well done, and an interesting balance of hope, fear, and going on with life even during difficult times.

Both of these films were well done, but again both could've been shorter.

LILLI & SECURE SPACE plays again Tuesday, Feb 9 at 7:15

Total Running Time: 353 minutes
My Total Minutes: 169,530

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