Thursday, June 1, 2017

Jason goes to SFFILM--Closing Night...and then some.

Well, as happens far too often, I've fallen way behind on this blog. So quickie reviews to catch up. My pre-pologies to all the filmmakers who really deserve better than this.

First off was a triple bill by Jem Cohen, a poetic, political, observational filmmaker.
BIRTH OF A NATION is his take on Trump's inauguration, and the protests around it.
BURY ME NOT is sort of a time capsule of the vibrancy of New York City.
WORLD WITHOUT END (NO REPORTED INCIDENTS) is his longer work, exploring post-Brexit England. Specifically the working class resort town of Southend-on-Sea. It's a quiet, observational, and poetic look.

Then I saw Short Program 3: Animation.
BROKEN – THE WOMEN’S PRISON AT HOHENECK: An animated documentary about a women's prison in East Germany.
EDGE OF ALCHEMY: Frankenstein collage. Pretty cool.
EVERYTHING: From the simulation game of the same name, everything from the atomic to the galactic. Neat.
HISTORY OF MAGIC: ENSUEƑO: The third time I've seen this hilarious cartoon of a girl riding her bike through a bizarre fantasy land. Every time I find something new to laugh at.
HOT DOG HANDS: They're a curse, but maybe also a gift.
SUMMER CAMP ISLAND: Surreal an silly, like a summer camp crush.
SECOND TO NONE: The deadly competition to be the world's oldest person.
VICTOR + ISOLINA: A he-said/she-said about their lives, their love, and why they separated after 50 years together.

And then the closing night feature, THE GREEN FOG. Guy Maddin doing his Guy Maddin-est, with the help of co-directors Evan and Galen Johnson, composer Jacob Garchik, and the Kronos Quartet. It's practically more of an event than just a mere film. For San Francisco, they re-made the Hitchcock classic VERTIGO, using found footage from films either set in or shot in San Francisco. But don't overexert yourself taking it seriously. Yes, if you know VERTIGO I'm sure it tracks pretty well with the story (I've seen VERTIGO, but I haven't committed every scene to memory.) You can also play a rousing game of "I recognize that!" as you try to piece together what films they used. But I preferred to just let it wash over me as a full on Guy Maddin experience. And it was awesome that way.

Then off to the closing party, for drinks and snacks and the joy of several satisfied film fans.

Oh, but it wasn't over after the closing party. It still went on for three more days. And I caught a few more films, and in the interest of dumping these reviews ASAP, I'm putting these capsules here.

Shorts 4: New Visions. The new, the strange, the avant-garde. Okay, I can't remember all of these. Usually I try to do at least one line about each short. I'm sorry, I just can't. I remember enjoying the overall program, but now, a month and a half later, the only one that sticks in my mind is THE WATERSHOW EXTRAVAGANZA. Which was beautiful and weird.

I skipped Tuesday, because I had a crazy early meeting on Wednesday, but Wednesday night I was back for the real finale.

Shorts 2: GGA Shorts. Again, I'm not going to go through them all. But here are the ones that stuck in my mind:
AMERICAN PARADISE: From the guys who are making THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO, a humorous story about white privilege and a bank robber who's mask won't come off.
BALLOONFEST: I love Cleveland, I really do. But sometimes they do some stupid shit. Like try to set the world record for most balloons released. But when the weather doesn't cooperate, there are some unexpected results.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARIO WOODS: A moving portrait of the mother of a local man shot by the SFPD.
IN THE WAKE OF GHOST SHIP: Ghost Ship was a tragedy, and the repercussions are dire for other live-work spaces. In this case, the focus is on Burnt Ramen and their attempts to bring their space up to code or be condemned.
MEANINGLESS CONVERSATIONS IN BEAUTIFUL ENVIRONMENTS: Exactly what it sounds like, and it's hilarious.

And finally, 3 days after "Closing Night" I finally ended SFFILM 2017 with Alejandro Jodorowsky's gorgeous ENDLESS POETRY. Part 2 of his planned 5 part cinematic autobiography (the first being THE DANCE OF REALITY) takes on his coming-of-age in Chile. Falling in with gangs of artists, opening up, being controlled by domineering women, fighting with his father... There's a story in all this, but the joy is in the dazzling exuberant imagery. People who aren't already in love with Jodorowsky might see it as indulgent...because it kind of is. But those like me who adore his work, think he's earned that indulgence. And I just hope he keeps it up and finishes his planned 5 films. He's only to the point in his story where he tells off his strict, domineering father and runs away to France to study art. What a beautiful way to end the festival.

Total Running Time: 443 minutes
My Total Minutes: 427,334

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