Two more movies last Wednesday night, starting with Sophia Takal's ALWAYS SHINE. As a fan of Sophia Takal's work--mostly familiar with her acting work--I'm...let's say "keenly aware" of how often she is naked on screen. So the significance isn't lost on me when she opens the movie with an actress (Beth, played by Caitlin FitzGerald) auditioning for a part that requires extensive nudity, and they want to see that in the audition. But rather than showing it, Takal focuses on her face and her discomfort in the moment. Imagine that--a nude scene that shows female emotions instead of tits. This immediately lets the audience know this will be a movie told from a female perspective, not the male gaze. So I'll admit straight out that as a man some things will go right over my head. Anyway, Beth is an up-and-coming star of shitty, exploitative horror films she doesn't even want to be in. In the second scene, we see her best friend Anna (Mackenzie Davis) in what appears to be an audition for the role of "woman who is being cheated by her mechanic and is pissed about it." Until there's a wide shot and we realize she's actually at the mechanic. Anna is the more aggressive of the friends, but that hasn't helped her acting career. To reconnect, they take a trip to Big Sur for some best-friends girl time. But jealousies take hold, it seems Beth is so meek she hasn't even taken a chance at the steps she promised Anna she'd take to help her career (e.g., show her acting reel to a producer.) So there's an altercation, and then...things get strange. I don't want to spoil it more. But I will say there was much discussion amongst the festival regulars about what exactly happened there. Anyway, I enjoyed it.
Then the late show was on glorious 35 mm film, and started with the projectionist's stash of secret bonus shorts. This included a timely trailer for THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. And the highlight was a film called THE CREDITORS which a short online search reveals...nothing. It looked like it was from the 50s or 60s and was just a long, opening credit sequence. That's the whole joke. Stock footage and increasingly ludicrous credits. Like a previous generation's TOO MANY COOKS.
Anyway, that was the lead-in to the classic, PAN'S LABYRINTH. Still a fantastic movie. I remember seeing it back in 2007, and after all the trailers showing the amazing monsters, I was surprised how much of it was about fascist Spain, and how the fantasy elements were about escaping from that. But rewatching it now, I'm impressed at how well the two were integrated and the seamless transitions. Still a truly amazing movie.
Total Running Time: 203 minutes
My Total Minutes: 435,416