Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jason tries out Film Movement

So after Cinequest, the one movie I most regretted missing was "The Bothersome Man". So searching around a bit I found it available on a website called Film Movement. In short, it's a DVD-of-the-month club, but the hook is that all their DVD's are special early releases of films that have been popular and/or won awards at various international film festivals.

Now, normally I don't review stuff I watch on DVD (mainly because the experience is so inferior to the theatrical experience that I don't think it's fair), but this is a pretty intriguing idea. So I got a one-year subscription, and I'll occasionally write about their selections. Mainly, I want to check out their taste and sensibilities. Specifically, two questions I'll try to answer by the end of the year:

1. Do I do a better job by seeing hundreds of movies a year? I.e., how does their selection stack up against my favorites of the year?
2. Would I recommend it to other people? In particular, I live in the S.F. Bay Area, where we're flooded with film festivals, but would I recommend this to people who can't go to a film festival every weekend? Or, to put it a third way, is this a good film festival substitute for people who have no film festival (or maybe just one a year) near them?

Well, I actually did that a while ago. I got my first DVDs already and have finally watched them. Each DVD comes with a feature and a short.

The first shipment came with a gift bonus DVD of "The Rage in Placid Lake" with the short film "At Dawning". The short is a British film about a woman sneaking out of an apartment after a one night stand, only to be interrupted by a suicidal guy who jumped out of the apartment above and got stuck in the tree. In other words, wacky hijinx. Then the feature, "Rage in Placid Lake" is an eccentric Australian comedy about trying to fit in. Placid Lake (a guy, not a place) is cursed with airhead hippy parents who send him to his first day of school in a dress to challenge gender stereotypes. Of course, he doesn't make friends easily, but does meet a nice nerdy girl who eats crayons. Sexy, sexy stuff--except their relationship remains platonic even through graduation. At graduation a stunt involving his student film he "outs" his biggest bully, and that of course ends with him breaking every bone in his body. Out of his casts much later, Placid decides to become normal. Problem (and the best overarching joke in the movie) is, everyone is really crazy, especially the normals. In the end, you can't be everything to everyone, the best you can do is learn to be yourself. Pretty cool, and film movement is off to a great start.

Then there's "The Bothersome Man", the whole reason I started this. To sum it up in 4 words, I'd call it surreal, dark, funny, and Norwegian. It starts with the main character, Andreas, committing suicide by jumping off a subway platform. Then it goes back to his arrival in town, and spends 50 minutes of awkward superficial conversation (and a discovery that getting out of town is impossible) getting him back to that subway platform, heartbroken. Then it gets really weird, as he survives, rides go-karts, and finds a crack in his neighbor's wall from which music comes out. Pretty cool. This is also a perfect example of a movie that I'd rather see in the theater. Most people think the big explosions and special effects are the reasons some movies are better on the big screen. For me, the theater is more about lack of distractions. In a theater, there's nothing but the movie. In my living room, I'm always tempted to pause, go get a sandwich or a beer, or start a load of laundry or anything. So for me, the movies that must be seen on the big screen are the ones that demand you pay attention. And "The Bothersome Man", I had to watch twice on DVD before I got it. On the big screen, I'm sure I would've gotten it the first time.

Okay, that's it for now. The next movie, "Mother of Mine" arrived today, but I haven't watched it yet.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like something that might be valuable to an Anchorage resident who only has one puny film festival per year...and that runs in the dead of winter. All hail the brave heroes who navigated the white-out storm to see Existo!

puppymeat said...

Ah yeah, Existo is awesome, and weirdly prescient--a movie made in 1999 predicting not just the presidency of W, but that he'd turn this country into a braindead theocracy and repeal term limits so he could be president for life (let's just hope it's only prescient up to a point). And risking our lives to see it definitely heightened the experience.