Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 13

Okay, It's over a week late and the award winners have already been announced, so I guess I should finish my write-ups.

First up last Tuesday was a program of two shorts and one long, personal documentary.
I FEAR THE SHEARS: A dad's irregular, home-done bowl cuts have emotionally scarred ginger director Greg McDonald for life. This is a survivor's story, and it's pretty funny.
THE PHOTO MAN: The story of Mark Kologi, a collector and seller of "found" photographs. Odd little personal photos featuring people he has never met, sold to other people who have never met the people in the photographs. And interesting look into how we see into other people's lives.

And then the feature documentary, the intensely personal I HATE MYSELF :) (yes, the smiley is part of the title. No, this parenthetical is not. But wouldn't it  be weird if it was?!) So most years I name a film as my "reward for seeing everything"--that is, the film that I might have skipped if I wasn't so committed to seeing as much as I can, and ended up loving. This year, I'm not sure I have such a film (and not just for the technical reason that I didn't actually see everything this year.) But this movie certainly fits the mold of previous winners. A surprisingly personal documentary where the subject (in this case, also the director Joanna Arnow) reveals more about herself than you would normally expect in a movie. What keeps it from being a real gem for me is that I simply...didn't like her. I love that she had the courage and strength to make this movie, but it seems like that's the only strong or courageous thing she has ever done. The movie centers on her relationship with James Kepple, described as a "poet-provacateur." He has that charismatic don't-give-a-fuck contrarian attitude that makes me wonder whether if I really pushed him about whether or not he gives a fuck about whether I believe he gives a fuck he would....where the fuck was I? Anyway, another way to say it is he's a hipster jerk, and she's in his spell. Her parents don't like him, and they're right to (they especially don't like that she filmed a sex scene with him and makes them watch it.) And that...while it's brave to explore it...in itself is not very interesting. And then we see the editor, Max Carson. And by which I mean we see all of him. He's a nudist, and the smartest and most interesting person in the film. And he was at the screening and did the Q&A nude. And again he was the most interesting part of the Q and A. Not because of the nudity, he just had the smartest things to say! I'm confident enough to say the best part of show was the naked dude, and there's nothing wrong with that. But his nudity is not really what made it interesting.

Then we took a little trip to Japan for a short and a feature. The short, HERE, THERE is a poetic look at the aftermath of Fukushima, the workers cleaning it up, and the fears of a girl in Tokyo.

And then the feature, THERE IS LIGHT (KURAYAMI KARA TE WO NOBASE) is a strange little story of Saori, a young woman who works for the company Honey Lips. She is an escort a prostitute, but with a very specific clientele. See, the company provides sexual services for the handicapped. So we get to meet an interesting assortment of clients, almost all of whom are played by non-actors with real handicaps. The heart of the movie is her relationship with one particular client, 21 year old Kenji, paralyzed from the waist down (the one non-disabled actor playing a disabled person. In fact, in an interview director Yukihiro Toda revealed that they had to make creative use of gaffer's tape to simulate his impotence.) It's a sweet...ish story. Sentimental without being sappy. Hopeful without necessarily having a traditionally happy ending. Good movie.

Total Running Time: 146 minutes
My Total Minutes: 352,466
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