Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 2

I took today off from work, mainly because I didn't get home until 3 am and was pretty hungover. But as a bonus, this allowed me to see the early show of Chris Gore's live talk, "Filmmaking in the Nude". After initially promising that the festival description was wrong and he wasn't going to be funny, he proceeded to break that promise for an hour and a half. He ran off on odd tangents on creating Film Threat, selling it to Larry Flynt (after a stint as a joke writer for Hustler), making "My Big Fat Independent Movie" (which I saw at Cinequest a couple years back). He gave advice to aspiring filmmakers, he made silly sexual metaphors about asking for money to make a movie. He ripped on Canadians. And overall, just wallowed in movie geekdom. He's a pretty cool guy, and since he'll be around the festival for at least the weekend, I hope to have time to have a beer with him.

Then it was over to the Victoria for a couple of neighborhood history documentaries. First was the short, "Mischief at 16th and Florida". "Mischief" being the term for a group of rats (a gaggle of geese, a pod of whales, a murder of crows, and a mischief of rats), and "16th and Florida" being an intersection in San Francisco's Mission District. Rats tend to stay in a 60 foot radius, and get to know their area very well, and the movie uses that as a jumping off point to explore the history first of that intersection and expands to where it impacts on all of San Francisco. Pretty interesting.

And then there was the feature documentery, "The Ballad of Greenwich Village", exploring in an all-inclusive manner the history of the artistic, social, political, bohemian culture of the famous New York neighborhood. Mixing archive material with interviews with local residents and interviews with famous people who got their starts in the village (like Woody Allen, Tim Robbins, Norman Mailer, etc.) A pretty interesting look, focusing more on breadth than depth (as filmmaker Karen Kramer noted, any of the subjects could be expanded to its own feature length doc).

Next we switched from recent culture to renaissance culture with a new adaptation of "Dante's Inferno", this time in a contemporary setting made with paper cutout puppets from the team of Sean Meredith and Sandow Birk who made "In Smog and Thunder" a few years back. Hilarious, and by wonderful coincidence I actually read "Dante's Inferno" just a year back. Here they stayed sorta close to the text, but mixed in their own politics and jokes (Dick Cheney is the only guy evil enough to be in hell without being dead). Oddly enough, my favorite circle of hell both in the book and the movie is the false flatters, but for completely different reasons. In the book, I liked how they were drowning in a river of boiling shit, and in the movie I liked how it was turned into a musical number about Congress. Still, I do miss the boiling shit.

And the torture of the inferno led well into "The Third Eye", a thriller about treppanation--the practie of drilling a hole in your head to release pressure. Nika's brother died of a drug overdose about a year ago, and she's finally eager to get back to work as a photojournalist. However, she still talks to her brother's ghost, and there are clues that maybe he didn't overdose. And I guess I've already revealed that it has something to do with trepanning. Oops, sorry for the spoiler. Anyway, as many gory movies as I see, I thought this would be nothing, but I was wrong. It still made me squrm to see a drill going into a skull. Very well done. Oh yeah, there are rabbits featured in this movie, too--her brother's dealer and trepanning enthusiast is a musician named Charlie Rabbit who wears bunny ears at his club, and there's a bus stop poster featuring rabbits. Have I spotted the first theme of this Indiefest? I'll keep an eye out for rabbits and let you know.

And it turns out that the squirming I did watching the trepannation was a good warmup for the midnight show. First was "Rick Trembles' Goopy Spasms Live Cartoon Show", a sick and twisted autobiographical cartoon about sex, masturbation, and shit-play based on Rick Trembles' comic strip "How Did I Get So Anal?"

And finally, there was the uber-sick and utterly hilarious feature "Neighborhood Watch". Billed as the sickest thing to ever play at Indiefest, and as one who'd know I can say I can't think of anything that would prove that wrong. Bob and Wendi have just moved into a new neighborhood, and their neighbor Adrien is there to welcome them. But behind his friendly demeanor he's actually a complete fucking psycho inspired by the rantings of a radio evangelist. And what happens next has to be seen to be believed. In fact, I just saw it and I'm not sure I believe it. Interesting point, in talking to director Graeme Whifler, he explained that the radio evangelist is based on a real guy.

Anyway, then I hopped on the bus home, which is where I'm writing this. So day 2 of Indiefest is done.

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