Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jason goes to SFIFF--Day 13

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. Three more movies on Tuesday.

First up, the bizarre, personal, and delightful AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY. Years ago, director Terence Nance made a short film, featured as part of this film, called HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? He made it with his friend Namik Minter, and it was really about how loved her but wasn't able to say it. He presented it as fiction, and didn't tell her it was about his feelings for her until its first public screening. And now he made a feature length version that's part documentary, part animation, part recreation, entirely funny, maybe a tad too long, and pretty repetitive. As for the last part, his background is in music and he wrote the movie like a song--with a refrain and various verses. Not just repetitive but variations on the repetition. And the sum total is a wonderful work of art and play that still didn't keep him from getting "friend-zoned." I heard the best comment of the festival as we were walking out (I paraphrase), "Finally, someone who is honest about art. All art is about trying to get into someone's pants, but he actually admits it!" Oh yeah, and let me add that the title is total irony--he doesn't simplify anything here, he over-complicates it.

AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY plays one last time today, May 2, at 4:00 at the Kabuki.

Next up, a really fascinating Israeli documentary THE LAW IN THESE PARTS. It's all about the military justice system set up after the 6 days war to administer justice in the occupied territories. Some 45 years later, this system that was set up as a temporary court system to comply with international law has become an institution, and a weapon of the occupation. But at the same time maybe it mediates the occupation and keeps it from going too far (or at least as far as some Israelis would like it to go.) The movie only interviews the (retired) judges from the courts. It injects some stories of the Palestinians, but only to ask the judges to respond. And it's an interesting and difficult look at a system. In some ways, my gut reaction was this is just "justice theater." After all, what is the law if it's imposed by others and you have no democratic way of changing it? But on the other hand, these judges seemed to believe in what they were doing. Or at the very least, they were in a system that they weren't able to change, and believed they did their best given the system. And that's maybe really the point of the movie (and the point that certainly came out of the Q&A)--that if you make a conscience decision to work within a system, when history changes and the system is looked upon unfavorably, you will look like the villain even if you were just doing your job in the system to the best of your abilities.

So after that, how about something light, like SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, the new comedy by Bob Byington, who had previously either confused (most of the audience) or delighted (me) audiences at Indiefest with RSO: REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER and HARMONY AND ME. Well, he's kinda hit the big (or at least bigger) time now, and I still love his extremely dry absurdist brand of comedy. Max Youngman (apparently named in reference to how he doesn't seem to age, which could just be a shortcut to save on old-age makeup.) Max doesn't try very hard, but seems to get by pretty easily. He's a waiter at a restaurant, and will probably be there forever with his best friend Sal. He's divorced, but hooks up with the breadstick loving Lyla (Jess Weixler, and of course I can't stop thinking about her in TEETH so I wanted to jump into the screen and warn him.) Well, as life lurches forward five years at a time, they go through ups and downs, he has a fortune, he loses it all, he makes another fortune, he...dies. Oops, maybe that was a spoiler. The important thing is it's hilarious. Or not. Most people I know don't actually like Bob Byington movies, but I consider myself a fan.

Total Running Time: 270 minutes
My Total Minutes: 282,535
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