Friday, February 4, 2011

Jason goes to Indiefest--Opening Night

The one that started it all (for me) starts again. Two movies, let's just jump right in.

First up, Gregg Araki's KABOOM. I'm trying really hard not to write it opened the festival "with a bang" but it's just...so...appropriate (including as a double entendre). Araki introduced it as both his most autobiographical and most off-the-wall film he's ever made. Thomas Dekker (THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES, ALL ABOUT EVIL) stars as Smith, the most consciously ordinarily-named character ever. He's a college student who has sex with all kinds of people--he doesn't describe himself as gay, straight, or bi, just "undeclared" in a bit cleverness that let's you know Araki hasn't forgotten what college was like. He has weird dreams and then starts meeting the characters from his dream in a story that spirals into cults, witches, psychic powers, and doomsday plots. And Araki regular James Duval appears as his typical stoner character with a pretty awesome twist.

I'm no stranger to the weird world of Araki. I saw THE DOOM GENERATION so often it practically became the film of my college experience. And I always new of his career but hadn't really followed up. I even missed MYSTERIOUS SKIN when it was out. But tonight I only half paid attention to the Q&A because I was on the Amazon app on my phone buying pretty much everything of his that's out on DVD (NOWHERE only had used copies for $75, so I'll continue to shop around).

And just to play the pull-quote game, I'll reprise my tweet here (with thanks to Marvin and his Illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator): KABOOM was so earth-shattering I now have a better view of Venus.

And then I stayed for TRANSFORMATION: THE LIFE & LEGACY OF WERNER ERHARD. Mr Erhard and his EST seminars were well before my time. Here's the nutshell summary I got from the movie: it's a "human potential" movement, but for the mainstream middle class, not hippy-dippies. It's about seeing reality clearly (the main mantra is, "what is, is. What isn't, isn't.") The methods are confrontational, he'd start a seminar by yelling, "you're all assholes who don't know your ass from a hole in the ground" (to which I always thought, 'then how do I know I'm not actually a hole-in-the-ground-hole?' His movement quickly gathered popularity, attracting tons of followers including the expected celebrity wackjobs. And just as quickly there was a backlash--first against the 'no victims' message which allegedly included telling real victims (e.g., rape victims) that whatever happened they did to themselves. Then personal allegations--he abandoned his family, he molested his daughters, etc., culminating in a devastating 60 Minutes piece. And so he fled the country. The movie mostly interviews his defenders (director Robyn Symon talked about her frustration getting his attackers for interviews), which opens the film up to easy charges of bias (or as one audience member commented, it feels unfinished). Judging by the audience, which was heavily stacked with (former?) Erhard followers, it was a cathartic feeling of closure and/or completeness for many of them. For me, it only transformed me into a bored man who had trouble staying awake.

Due to technical glitches, TRANSFORMATION started late, so I didn't have time to run to the opening night party. That is, I could've run there and immediately turned around to catch BART. But no worries, there are plenty more parties (including the Lebowski party Saturday night!) So let's just pretend I had my own party by sneaking a few beers into the theater and drinking during the movies. It's easy to pretend that, because I did. Hooray for multi-tasking!

And that's how Indiefest 13 started.

Total Running Time: 163
My Total Minutes: 220,840
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