Monday, November 9, 2015

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 3

Once again, we start the day with a shit-ton of shorts. Let's go.

Shorts Block 4
666 SQ FT: There's something in the walls in this apartment, and the landlord is powerless to fix it.
THE ARID ROOM: A prisoner, fed dust and given no water. Except that there's one slowly leaking pipe. Which is enough to keep him barely alive, until another prisoner is thrown in there with him.
AWAKENINGS: An Indian ghost story about a babysitter, the children in her care, and the mysterious entities haunting her thoughts...or their reality.
CHEESE DOG: THE MOVIE: Snaxtime, the inventor of cheese-stuffed and cheese-covered hot dogs produced this super-colorful film about their employee who wants to improve her life, and so enrolls in Snaxtime University! Best comment I heard from the audience afterwards, "I think the Internet just threw up on me."
HOLIDAZED: You're never too old to believe in Santa Claus, or God, or other fairy tales. Especially during the zombie apocalypse.
MERIDIANS: An acupuncturist and her patient, on their last session together.
MIASMA: A stop-motion animated story of a dying village. A village that feeds their dead to a frozen lake and harvests the gases from it. But there's not enough villagers left to keep the spirits of their ancestors buried.
THE PERIPHERAL: A psychiatrist has patients who all see creatures that shouldn't be there in their peripheral vision. Well made, but scarier when the creatures are just blurry shadows in the corner, not so much when they leap into view.
SHI: Bad news--the latest in a string of bad luck--is just the start of an awful day for a worker.
THE SIXTH PRISM: From the same team that made THE ARID ROOM, a world of devout monks who carrying the six prisms from when the original glass sphere was split. They observe the rites, like placing the prisms into the bloody baby skeleton hanging from the spiral tree. But one decides to go their own way.
VICIOUS: A young woman afraid that there's something in her house that shouldn't be there. And she's too foolish to think of opening a door instead of reaching around it. But still pretty scary.
THE WAY OF THE KAYAK: What the fuck. Who put a kayaking documentary in my genre festival?

So I talked to one of the festival producers, and he said that these people submitted their non-genre films, despite it clearly being described as a horror, fantasy, and sci-fi festival, and so he wanted to give them a chance because they were actually good films. My suggestion (and I'm not alone in this) is to take all the good short films that were submitted despite being not in the genre, and put them together in one screening, the first of the day, so the genre fans could skip it and other cinephiles could watch it and maybe discuss what genre means, anyway. Here's hoping they'll take my advice...but then I've been hoping that for about a decade.

Shorts Block 5
CRASPEC: A French billionaire, going crazy boarded up in his mansion with the corpse of his wife, who died of a drug overdose. Guilt and decay.
DRONE: A pair of drone operators in Nevada observe their target in...Afghanistan, I think? In any case, while waiting for their chance to take the shot, the new guy starts thinking about the guy they're targeting. Heck, he doesn't even know his name.
THE EVE: Simon is a wealthy, handsome, but unhappy boy. So he wants Santa to take him away to the toy factory where he and other disillusioned children can build toys and then burn them. Needless to say, there's more going on with this kid than holiday ennui.
JUBU: Based on a true story, a mother fights a losing fight against depression, and has to consider what to do with the children.
MIND CITY TERROR: The inner workings of a man's mind are the battleground for a giant monster and the Eg-0 One fighting robot.
NEIGHBORS: That woman across the street won't stop staring. And as more is revealed, the more horrific it becomes.
THE STUDIO: A map hides a mysterious painting and a more mysterious artist. The painting, it...captures something.
UNIVERSAL GENTRIFICATION: A quick, comical look at how those rich bastards are always moving in and kicking out the existing locals in order to build luxury condos. Pretty funny, about a serious issue here in the bay area.
VICIOUS: Okay...now the program says this was in both Shorts Block 4 and 5. I know I only saw it once, but it's all run together. I don't know what program it played in. Refer up above to my review.

Shorts Block 6
3 MEN: Three guys collaborate, one at a time, trying to tell a loop story. They've got a big fan.
DRIFTING CLOUD: A newborn cloud at play. Every time the cloud gets sad, it cries. And that's what rain is. Soooo cute...what the heck is this doing in a genre festival!
KNOCK, KNOCK..: Did not play. I don't know why, exactly. I know this was a huge problem with the festival last year. And actually after 6 shorts programs and 57 (scheduled) shorts, only missing 1 is not too bad. Not great, but not too bad.
LAKE NOWHERE: A funny, exciting, near feature (50 minutes long, which makes it a feature according to the Academy, the AFI, and the BFI.) An excellent job of recreating the look of an old slasher film recorded on a bootleg videotape.  A group of friends at a cabin, by the lake, where the Masked Maniac attacks and kills them all!
ONE SCYTHE FITS ALL: A killer on campus, as the town debates whether the reopen the community pool. I mean, all that's wrong with it is that someone was killed there. Silly bloody fun.
SCISSION: From Australia, this well-woven story of a father, his girls, and his sister-in-law as he tries to hold it together after his wife's disappearance. Chopping wood seems to do the trick, at least temporarily.
YOUTH IS SUDDEN...: A frog reads manga, then life happens. That was weird.

Then to the feature films. Two last night, starting with the locally made OTHER HALVES. It's the night before a big new dating app launches, and the programmers are up doing last-minute bug fixes (which, as someone in the heavily-regulated medical device industry, totally cracks me up.) The idea of the app is simple--it matches people, but not based on some bullshit survey you're going to lie on. It matches you based on your actual behavior. Stated preferences vs. revealed preferences. It's what you do that matters, not what you say. So...for example...if the app messes with your mind, turns off your sense of morality, and makes you kill, it doesn't matter if you say you're not a killer, your behavior shows differently. The night becomes pretty dreadful, starting with a peeper in the women's shower room, and ending with...well, ending with a lot of destruction. But consider the profitable upside! Nicely done, for everyone in San Francisco who want to see a lot of techies die.

And finally, we ended the night with HAIL TO THE KING: 60 YEARS OF DESTRUCTION. A documentary about the 60 now 61 year reign of Godzilla as the king of monsters. Directed by and starring Kyle Yount, the creator of a podcast about the kaiju (Japanese monsters) genre, it's his trip to Japan in the midst of celebrating the 2014 release of the American produced Godzilla. Given that it's been about a decade since the last Toho Godzilla film, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (although they have one in production for next year!) Yount expects to find that the kaiju genre has grown old and stale in Japan. In fact, he expects to learn that Americans are more eager for Godzilla movies than the Japanese are. But, in fact, he finds they're just as obsessed as anyone. Or at least that fandom is global. He interviews a collector, he interviews stars from several of the movies. He interviews a director, and he hangs out at a kaiju-themed bar, chatting with young fans. In some ways, it's kind of like watching a stranger's vacation video. Except that (for a fan of Godzilla) he just got back from the Greatest Freakin' Vacation Ever!!! This is a new edit of the film, and it's already short running time of 68 minutes in the program guide came in at just about 60 minutes even, which is fine. Anything more would just be padding it out. Although if he could get the rights, padding it out with scenes from the Godzilla movies he talks about would be pretty good.

Total Running Time: 455 minutes
My Total Minutes: 409,479
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