Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 10

The big second weekend kicked off with a 5-show Saturday, starting with some shorts, #Love&Death
HE AND SHE: In a single shot, this German film shows a man driving a car full of his stuff to move in with his girlfriend. Then he gets a call and she breaks up with him. Then he gets some booze and cigarettes at a gas station convenience store. And then he meets a nice older lady who gives him a hilarious new perspective.
BONE GUITAR: A super-short animation of the ghost in an old guitar who gives it new life.
DEAR DEATH: Stewball the horse is haunted by the fear of death. So he writes Death a letter. And Death replies.
DOLL: You have to be pretty. Just like those dolls. The doll-obsessed personal trainer has a creepy back story, and an even creepier hobby.
THE GOAT ON THE ROOF: An animated retelling of a long life, with a long love (over 50 years married.)
MOLASSES AND LEMON: An experimental examination of love...and how painful it is.
PENNY FROM HEAVEN: From the UK, the spirit of a woman who killed herself must save 1,000 souls in order to get her wings and be a real angel. This is the story of number 999, and the particularly poignant beginning of number 1,000.
TEMPORARY: A man who performs in-home pet euthanasia sees it as his calling. But he has an ethical dilemma when he's asked to perform a very special procedure.
TEN YEARS: A couple is celebrating their 10th anniversary in Las Vegas. That night, they have a very sobering conversation about their relationship, spurred by how she noticed him looking at other girls. He claims he's happy being married to her, but can that ever be 100% true?
THANK YOU MR. IMADA: A legendary director, and his powerful technique for coaxing great performances out of struggling actors. Very funny.
#Love&Death plays again Tuesday, Feb 14 at 7:15

And then I saw SALTWATER, part of the festival's tribute to the recently departed local filmmaking legend Lise Swenson. Jenny is getting married. And she wants to get married in her grandmother's (and mother's) wedding dress. But her mother insists she doesn't have it. It must still be with her eccentric aunt, who has hoarded most of the family heirlooms. She lives down by the Salton Sea, an ecological disaster (mainly due to lack of outflow) in southern California. While there, she learns of the vibrant artistic community living amidst the ecological decay, a state that mirrors her own dysfunctional family. She fights with her aunt, who is pretty particular about how she lives her life. She fights with her mom, who is stubborn in opposite ways. Both she and her fiancee cheat on each other...kinda. He takes a friend to a lecture on "orgasmic touching" and practises what they learned, then she retaliates by letting a local artist paint a scene on her nude body. And as her aunt falls ill, her brief visit is extended, and the Salton Sea becomes more and more a reflection of her own tears (saltwater) but also a source of artistic freedom and inspiration. Eventually she will have to decide where she goes next in life. Beautifully done.

Then the next show started with a short, VIDEOCLUB. Nacho (Vigalonda, of TIMECRIMES, one of my favorite films, and my favorite blog post) is in a new video store. And this store has everything. Rare movies. Impossible to find movies. Never released movies (like Jerry Lewis' infamous THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED.) Even future movies, like E.T. RETURNS. This video store is like heaven!

And that was the lead-in for the Argentinian film, 2001: WHILE KUBRICK WAS IN SPACE. With riots on the street and frequent break-ins, 2001 was the worst financial crisis in the history of Argentina. And a trio of young people try to escape by...watching movies, hanging out, going on a road-trip in a stolen pink car to go to the national Paper Airplane competition for a chance to compete in the world championships in Europe.... Nothing goes as planned, and the shitty reality of 2001 (including a brief mention of the World Trade Center) plays out just as shitty as it really was, in stark contrast to the space-age marvel that Kubrick imagined. Oh, and the best part is when their car gets suck in the mud overnight and they're rescued the next day by a farmer who is the spiting image of Stanley Kubrick himself.

2001: WHILE KUBRICK WAS IN SPACE and VIDEOCLUB plays again Sunday, Feb 12 at 9:15 at the Alamo Drafthouse

Next up was EMPTY SPACE, a story of an overweight man who leaves Chicago to escape the bullying he faces daily and live in the aptly-named town of Protection, Illinois. His grandmother had a cabin there, and he moves in, gets a job washing dishes at a local diner, and tries to find some solace in his solitude. While there he meets a charming blind girl named Lily, and they develop a friendship that soon becomes something more, if he can get over his shame and body issues. He also befriends a kind of bratty little girl who steals food, crashes at his place, and basically avoids her alcoholic father. Each in their own way give him a chance to be a hero, if he doesn't completely blow it. A nice, tender story with characters you care about and real emotion. Very well done.

EMPTY SPACE plays again Monday, Feb 13 at 7:15

And then finally, I ended the night with HERE ALONE, a psychological drama with post-apocalyptic zombie genre trappings. Ann is living in the woods, foraging to survive. She's a survivalist, but we learn through flashbacks that she wasn't always like that. Her husband taught her a lot when they fled the virus outbreak with their newborn daughter. But given that neither the husband nor the baby are around, we know pretty quickly that those flashbacks are going to become pretty bleak before they catch up to the present. In the meantime, we see a lot about the logistics of survival, from foraging for food to some pretty disgusting ways to hide from zombies (e.g., using animal feces to mask your scent.) After a mostly unsuccessful foraging raid for canned goods, she runs across two more survivors, Chris and Olivia. Chris is hurt (but not infected) so Ann helps Liv bring him back to her camp and nurse him back to health. Like in so many zombie movies, mistrust is natural. But I liked that they moved passed it and worked together--at least for a time. Turns out Chris was married to Liv's mom (I assume he's not Liv's father, though, since she never calls him "dad"--I might have missed that explanation.) And now...maybe he's falling for Ann. In any case, they're heading north where it seems like the outbreak has been kept at bay. But Ann has made her little camp for herself here, and is opposed to moving. So it becomes a three-part human drama about relationships, dealing with past trauma, and how to move forward in the future. There just happens to be zombies, but other than that it's not much of a genre movie. Except for one twist at the end that is pure genre, and I'm still processing how I feel about that. Overall, a great little film.

HERE ALONE plays again Tuesday, Feb 14 at 9:30

Total Running Time: 441 minutes
My Total Minutes: 418,404
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