Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jason goes to Indiefest--Opening Night

The one that started it all (for me) started again for the 14th time (the 11th time with me) last night. It's one of my high holy days.

The opening night film was quite a blast, Abel Ferrara became the first filmmaker featured in all three Indiefest productions--Indiefest, Docfest (CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS, '08), and Holehead (DRILLER KILLER, '05) by opening Indiefest with 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH.

It's kind of a cliche to say, "Live each day as if it were your last," but how would you live if you really knew it was your last day? Even more, what if you knew it was the human race's last day on earth? Say, the ozone layer would give way to cataclysmic failure at 4:44 am tomorrow (give or take a minute) and we all fry? I'm still going back and forth in my mind whether that specific element worked or didn't. On the one hand, it's not very plausible. On the other hand, it's more contrived to not give a reason for the world ending, and it's appropriate that it's civilization's own fault--predictable (and predicted) but still inescapable.

More important than why the world is ending is how people react. Specifically, our hero and heroine Cisco and Skye (Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh.) They're a couple living in New York. So they make love, Skype loved ones, paint, and freak the hell out (specifically, Cisco does--Skye is more at peace with her beliefs.) It's a very specific end of the world that Ferarra has envisioned. This isn't the moment of learning you're doomed where everyone panics. Those who are left in New York have already accepted their fate (well, except for the odd 11th-hour suicide.) So the restaurants that are left still deliver and people still hang out on the streets and drink beer. There's just a cockeyed (or maybe sensible) understanding of what's really important. Not that it gives a trite, easy answer (or perhaps any answer,) it just shows the struggle of a man who doesn't quite know what to believe in. In some ways it asks 'If you aren't going to pursue meaningless commercial goods, what's left?' Maybe it's the easy high of drugs. Maybe it's love. Maybe it's faith. Maybe it's reconciliation with your ex, even if that pisses off your current lover. Maybe it's the process of questioning what is valuable that's valuable in and of itself. In any case, a well-made, interesting, and thought-provoking movie.

Oh, and Abel Ferrara was there, and he was a total live wire. The Q&A mostly stayed on point (at least compared to tales I have heard). He did talk about how he could've turned it into a gay story with Dafoe and Ed Burns (or himself and Jim Jarmusch), and he did go off in odd directions. My favorite part was when he described filmmaking as a process of constantly becoming an expert in something you'll never do again. My second favorite was when he asked if anyone in the audience was a Buddhist and seemed disappointed when no one raised their hand.

And then there was the after party. It was at Sub-Mission and it was loud as hell. It was themed as Spinal Tap, but was really a venue for Live Evil to rock out. I love those goofy guys. Abel did show up, but left before Live Evil actually took the stage. And while it was too loud to talk to him, he was very quick with a handshake or embrace. That's right, I've now hugged Abel Ferrara, and for my money that's cool as all hell.

Oh, and after Live Evil finished up, around 11:30 in the evening Spinal Tap actually showed up to play. That was pretty awesome, and I think I figured something out. If I looked closely, Nigel Tufnel, Derek Smalls, and David St. Hubbins looked an awful lot like the members of Live Evil.... That's right, Live Evil must be one of those incognito side projects that the members of Spinal Tap do. Pretty awesome!

Running Time: 90 minutes
My Total Minutes: 264,119

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