Friday, November 4, 2011

Jason watches I THINK IT'S RAINING

It was the opening night of Cinema By The Bay, part of the SFFS fall program, and probably the only film I'll see in this program.

This is the directorial debut of Joshua Moore, programmer for the SF Jewish Film Festival. So I already knew he could pick good films, but it turns out he can make them, too.

The film is mostly a character study of Renata (Alexandra Clayton). She's seems a bit of a quirky free spirit, opening the film with a monologue about always moving forward, until a little girl offers her an ice cream cone (What flavor? Yummy!) Then we see her wandering through San Francisco, getting drunk and disruptive, being both funny and annoying. And we see her taking some medication, and having a few breakdowns. And we learn that she's back in San Francisco after some unexplained absence. Presumably it had something to do with those breakdowns, but at least San Francisco is welcoming her with open arms.

And then she meets Val. And equally quirky guy, waiting for a bus in the rain. It's raining, she has an umbrella, he doesn't, but rather than just wait under the bus stop shelter, he decides to chat her up and try to get under that umbrella with her (opening move, pull out a cocktail umbrella and try to huddle under it). And it works, and it looks like romance might be in the air. At least, it might be if she can drop her quirky defenses and not have another one of those emotional breakdowns.

As a final point, I kind of hate the cliche of saying "the city is a character!" but g-d damn if it isn't appropriate here. I just loved that it's set in a very distinct San Francisco, but San Francisco for insiders (residents or frequent visitors like myself). There's not a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge or cable cars (or Coit Tower, the Transamerica pyramid, or anything recognizably San Francisco to someone who has never been here). Instead, it's the San Francisco of Muni buses and BART tickets (although using a BART ticket as a bookmark was kind of nostalgic for me, everyone is on Clipper now). In fact, now that I rack my brains, I'm not sure if the words "San Francisco" were ever spoken. I felt it made the movie work on different levels depending on if you're familiar with SF or not. If not, it works perfectly well as a universal story, it could happen in any city. If you know San Francisco, it's a unique story that could only unfold in exactly that way in exactly that city.

Running Time: 92 minutes
My Total Minutes: 254,217
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