Monday, April 28, 2014

Jason goes to SFIFF--Day 2

I skipped opening night, so my San Francisco International Film Festival started on Friday with two movies. This is also the first time I'm really taking advantage of my press pass. In the past I just got a CineVisa to see whatever I want/can, and just used the press pass to hang out in the festival lounge (which means free beer every evening, so I got plenty of use out of it.) This year I'm doing it all on press comps, which means I'm not necessarily guaranteed to get everything I want (tickets are released 1 hour prior to showtime, and if you're not right there they can run out.) But so far I'm 2 for 2, so it seems like a good strategy.

My festival officially kicked off with HELLION, a dark coming-of-age/absentee father drama directed by Kat Candler and starring Aaron Paul (as the absentee father Hollis Wilson) and a couple of excellent child actors in Josh Wiggins (playing 13 year old Jacob) and Deke Garner (playing 10 year old Wes.) All three of them are dealing with the death of Jacob and Wes's mother. Hollis by drinking a lot, Jacob and Wes by acting out--as kids do--with their friends. And acting out in increasingly dangerous and destructive ways. Aaron Paul builds on his work from BREAKING BAD to bring sympathy to another fundamentally unlikable character. And the kids...well, this features some of the finest child acting I've ever seen. While the story is often uncomfortable, it gives a very real and moving portrait of a broken family trying to hold it together. The line of the movie: Jacob tells Wes "I know, I miss mom, too." and Wes replies, "I miss dad." That pretty much sums it all up.

And then I caught a cool treat, COHERENCE, a low-budget, semi-improvised sci-fi mindbender. A group of friends meets for a party. And...weird things happen. I'm going to just struggle to avoid spoilers, but on a night when a comet is brilliantly visible in the sky...cell phone screens crack, power goes out...except for on house, and...people are not necessarily what they appear to be. Yeah, that's as close as I'm going to get to a spoiler. So instead I'll just speak in very general terms about how the performances are excellent and apparently the actors didn't have any idea what was going on in the greater, mind-bending story. And that's pretty cool. The actors are just as confused as the characters who are just as confused as the audience (although it is pretty much explained by the end...I think...I might need to rewatch it to make sure.)

And with that, my SFIFF57 officially started.

Total Running Time: 182 minutes
My Total Minutes: 360,382


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