It was a long, long day last Saturday. 7 shows, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
We started with the shorts program Adventures in Time and Space. Two of my favorite dimensions.
ALEKTO: Julia Forward from Earth finds out that the Alekto corporation is more than a multi-national insurance company, when she wakes up on a distant world and the locals tell her the truth.
ATTRACTIVE FORCE: An excellent Russian animation. A cosmonaut crash-lands on a planet, where local shadow creatures help him fix his ship. They're very friendly, as long as you don't try to take their beautiful sparkling jewels.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE PASSENGER: Every time our hero falls asleep, he wakes up in a slightly different universe. Something subtly changes, but those changes multiply over time to make his many lives very different--like choosing beer or pot, or maybe even bigger differences.
ENTROPIC: A scientist has come up with the perfect way to find the meaning of the universe--create a simulated universe, and analyze the meaning of that. It's not as easy as you'd think.
INFINITY: A cool time-travel mindbender, as an investor bullies a scientist to perfect her time travel device. Which leads to the question--with time travel, can you die an infinite number of times?
LONG TIME CALLER: A man can call himself in the past or in the future, to try to make sense of his life. But future self can't tell past self anything, or it will fuck everything up. Very funny.
THE QUESTION: A cool animation that ponders the great question of life out there in the universe. And more importantly, who's asking?
SPUTNIK: From Spain, so the American characters don't quite speak right, and I assume the same for the Russian characters. It imagines a different first man in space, Nikolay. He's just not the first person to return, since an accident makes landing impossible. As he's supposed to initiate the sequence to crash land (rather than become the first corpse in space and a great national embarrassment) he makes contact...with Sarah Sullivan of Los Angeles. A little girl confined to a wheelchair but dreaming of space. He pretends to be a Martian, and they become close friends in his final hours before his oxygen runs out. Despite what I said about the awkward accents, it's an amazing, beautiful, touching movie.
THEREFORE I AM: A man goes back in time to try to convince his younger self to take action and avoid a tragedy. He does this many, many, many times, with different branching results. But always leading to him having to go back in time and warn himself.
Next up was more shorts, Androids, AI's, and Other Good Neighbors.
APPLE: An android malfunctions, killing his owner. But only because his owner was malfunctioning and abusing his daughter. And the daughter was a friend--she gave the android an apple.
CAPACITY: A farmer invents a robot to carry on his work after he's gone.
ELF: From South Africa, an android learns about being human. Especially, she wants to feel the all the feels.
QUBITPUNK: A hacker girl delivers pizza--and vengeance against the punks who stole her cubes and killed her father.
ROCOCO NEURON: Rococo and Mori-maaa develop apps--virtual reality cosmetic surgery and such. Mori-maaa's latest is a bit strange. It creates an Arumata--an alter-ego. A vulgar man who does all the things that Rococo can't. And a battle of wits ensues over control. Very inventive.
THE SHAMAN: A scene from a future battle. A Shaman, using the power of music and...I don't know, astral projection? Goes into a netherworld trying to convert a battle colossus to his side. You know, it's a very well realized scene, that would be cool in a movie that expands on this universe more. I like story.
STREAM OF DOUBTS: Very inventive. A character in a streaming video makes a call to a crisis worker. You see, as a character in a streaming video, she's afraid that she doesn't actually exist. Nice little mind-bender.
GIFT OF LIFE: The human-android war has begun, and two androids are on the run seeking the sanctuary where they can ride it out until there's peace. But one escaped from the factory, and isn't quite all put together yet. Nevertheless, he appreciates his gift of life.
Next up, more shorts! Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales
BETA PERSEI: At the planetarium, the legend of Perseus and Medusa lives on. Or at least in the head of one guy.
THE BUNNY MAN: Don't go out at night, or the Bunny Man will get you, in this bit of rural horror. Pretty cool, but needs more bunny. Then again, that's just me. I think every movie needs more bunny (except one.)
A HOUSE OF ILL FAME: A legendary house, previously a brothel, where the owner froze to death. Now it's haunted, as an Okie during the Great Depression is about to find out.
LAMP: A woman rubs a tiny lamp, and immediately a genie is at her door. She gets three wishes, but instead they spend a little time bonding and becoming friends.
LEGEND OF DARK RIDER: The king's men, on the northern outposts, looking for the legendary Dark Rider. Nobody who sees him lives. But he's just a legend, so instead they'll spend their time bossing around the locals in the tavern. Cool scene, wish I could see the rest of the story. I like story.
MADRE DE DIOS: A gory little movie about a woman being turned into a flesh-and-blood icon.
QUENOTTES (PEARLIES): From Luxembourg, a cute little story about a mouse--not a tooth fairy--who steals teeth. Just don't lose them. That mouse can get vicious.
WOLF OF VENGEANCE: From Japan, some stylish sword-fighting as a man known as The Wolf kills everybody. Then more come. Cool scene, wish I could see the rest of the story. I like story.
And then up next, guess what? Even more shorts! The Bold, The Beautiful, and The Bizarre.
ABSENCE: 15 goddamn minutes of a lady in a bathtub. I think it's supposed to symbolize birth. And then after dumping her out, it catches on fire.
ANIMA RADIX: Dark, ghostly animation. Very evocative.
AYMARA: A strange little story, that creates an other-worldy look by shooting in infrared black-and-white.
BØLGE: A funny little animation about a brain-damaged box who is almost tricked by an old friend into helping out an anarchist collective.
DECISION: The anxiety of choice. Do you go with the black and white? Or the white and black?
DOGSTEIN:SUPER SCIENCE ADVENTURE: A dog is taught to play catch with a disk. He loves it. This skill will come in handy.
FIST BIRD FLIES THE GAUNTLET: The most literal interpretation of "hand-made animation" I've ever seen.
GINGER AND SNAPPER: In the zombie apocalypse, Ginger survived by going to high ground. But now she's lonely. Not even zombies have come by in days. So when one is trapped in her fence, she has a new friend. Turns out zombies get lonely ,too.
MY QUEEN: The memories of an old house, as layers are stripped away.
NEMESIS: A bounty hunter, on a mission, but always checks in with his wife. She's his reason to live.
THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT: A freaky little story of a couple reliving their old memories. Like literally their heads become video input panels and they plug into old VHS tapes of their life together. Hopefully that will rekindle a spark.
RIPTIDE RHAPSODY: A cool little paper puppet stop-motion animation of a band of furries swept up in a flood. Cool music, too (the project started out as a music video for the band, but took on a life of it's own, and several years later, here it is.)
SUBMERGENCE: A woman looks at her fish bowl, while remembering a time when water did something awful to her.
SUFFER NOT A WITCH: Hand-drawn animation of superstition and violence.
WORLD DOMINATION: A sketch animation of a mad scientist and his plan to conquer the world with an army of cloned mammoths. Not as easy as it sounds.
ROGER BALLEN'S THEATRE OF APPARITIONS: A beautifully freaky spectacle of dreams, violence, sex, and insanity. Might actually be my favorite of the whole program.
And then we got into the feature film part of the day, starting with LET HER OUT. 23 years ago, a woman was raped in the Gemini Hotel. When she became pregnant, she decided to end her life and her fetus's life, with a pair of scissors to the belly. She died, but her baby lived. Now that baby, Helen, is a bike courier in Toronto. One night she is struck by a car. She survives with just a broken arm. But then some strange things start happening. She has blackouts where she's been doing some strange things. Turns out, she has a growth in her head. Not a tumor, but her twin sister who was absorbed into her in the womb. And she's coming out, and planning to take over her life. And she's not a kind person. There's a lot to like about this very well made movie, but there were also a lot of little moments that just kind of insulted the audience's intelligence. Little clichés, like "we have to go back to where it all began" that just took me out of the movie. Don't get me wrong, it's like 90% great. Which means it's not consistently bad enough to enjoy as a bad movie. But it's also not consistently good enough for me to take seriously. But it's close enough for me to wan to see what director Cody Calahan does next.
And then to Korea for some animated re-animated in SEOUL STATION. I haven't seen TRAIN TO BUSAN (out in theaters now) but this is an animated companion piece to it. An old man, bleeding from the neck, wanders through the city and lies down in the train station. Lots of homeless there. Soon, a zombie outbreak. Meanwhile a teen runaway is living with her boyfriend, but is mad that he tried to sell her into prostitution. After all, she's done it before, she just doesn't want to do it again. As the zombie outbreak starts, she's trapped in the station, while her boyfriend is accosted by her father, who found her picture online. There's some sharp social commentary, which I'm sure if I were Korean I would get more out of. But even I can recognize the significance when the authorities can't tell the difference between zombies and homeless. It's an exciting, sometimes terrifying story. And that's the most important part. I might have mentioned before that I like story. This has a hell of a story, with action and great plot twists that kept me engaged the whole way through. It just never freakin' lets up.
And finally, we ended the night with TOKYO GRAND GUIGNOL, an anthology of weird, gory stuff going on in Tokyo. From a man who can travel back in time via murder, to a woman haunted by her mirror self, to shadows that hide, to an extremely loyal BDSM werewolf (featuring, I believe, the first werewolf transition scene that includes the dick.) Crazy, violent fun in the night in Tokyo. Gotta love it.
And that was the end of the night. And the end of a very long day. Thank goodness for the Daylight Savings Time transition. I really needed that extra hour.
Total Running Time: 679 minutes
My Total Minutes: 436,589