Friday, May 23, 2014

Jason goes to SFIFF--Day 13

Or whatever. The last Tuesday, and just one film. And it was beautifully made, but kind of a tough one to understand.

STOP THE POUNDING HEART is sort of documentary, sort of fiction. Italian-American director Roberto Minervini makes an odd, quiet, sometimes unsettling portrait of a real Texan family. Devout Christians who farm goats and home-school their children, the Carlsons are a pleasant, likable family (bias disclosure, I met them in the festival lounge a few days earlier and found them to be wonderful people. We even chatted soccer a bit, as they watched a lot with the Italian film crew who were staying with them. Coincidentally, my Earthquakes and their Dynamo play this weekend. But I digress.) It's their environment that gives me pause. Not so much the target shooting, including a pregnant woman firing a gun (although I knew plenty of people in the audience who have issues with that.) It's more the frequent sights of Confederate flags, and even (yikes!) a cross burning. To their credit in the Q&A the Carlsons disavowed any connection with that, and actually wanted it removed, but it's Minervini's movie, not theirs.

The story is...well, it's kind of hard to say. It's really more of a contemplative, poetic examination of the characters that doesn't follow a linear plot. Apparently Minervini and his crew just lived with them and shot footage for months until they finally decided on a character (teenager Sara Carlson) and a plot (her not-very-specific crisis of religious doubt) to focus on. The end result is a fascinating experience that probably wouldn't have been half as fascinating if I hadn't already met them.

Running Time: 100 minutes
My Total Minutes: 362,673
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