Friday, October 31, 2008

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 11

I'm so far behind in my blogging...

More movies last Monday, starting with "Elvis in East Peoria", one of the strangest 'is this real?' movies in the festival (up there with "Anvil"...something about offbeat musician docs?).  It's the story of a struggling, broke Elvis impersonator, the woman who takes him home to let him live with her (while she manages his career), her accepting husband (who is really accepting that their marriage has been over for a long time), and her daughter (who is either jealous of or a target of Elvis' affection).  The Elvis impersonator is Jimmy, and he's the most believable person in this movie.  I guess they should all be believable, since it is a documentary.  Donna is the woman/fan who brings him in and lets him freeload off her.  She books some (poorly attended) shows, and he's actually not that bad.  Many audience members really do like the show, and former Elvis impersonators and judges give him compliments.  His voice is okay, he's mostly hampered by age and injuries so he can't do all the moves right.  They enter competition after competition, and he never makes the cut, and never makes any money off it.  Which, of course, strains their relationship horribly (although by the end of the movie she's divorced and they're dating).  A very funny tragedy.  Director Eric Burdett wasn't at the screening, although I heard he was at the previous screening and is actually Donna's nephew, which is how he got such great home movie footage.  The closing credits gag reel of Donna screaming over and over again, "Eric, shut that camera off!" is hilarious.  Especially considering what he left in, I have to wonder what was too embarrassing for her that she didn't want filmed.

Next up was a short and a feature, which farkers will recognize the common theme.  The short was "Song of a Sperm Donor".  Jeffrey lives in a trailer in southern California, loves his doggies, and hangs out on the beach a lot.  In the past, he made a good bit of money donating to the California Cryobank.  Then one day he reads a newspaper article about sperm donor babies who are looking for their genetic fathers, and he recognizes his donor number!  So he comes out, announces he's the donor a group of girls are looking for, and meets with them.  Very interesting, particularly the economic and philosophical differences between his lifestyle and theirs. 

So then the feature was about killing kittens.  "Here Kitty Kitty" chronicles the 2005 debate in Wisconson over legalizing the killing of feral cats.  These aren't like bobcats or lynx or anything, just standard domestic cats that haven't been tamed and are running wild.  Apparently Wisconsin had (and still has) a problem with feral cat overpopulation.  They piss everywhere, and are really annoying, so why not shoot them all?  So there's a heated debate, both sides receive death threats, questions of killing vs. spaying (which is more economical), debates over how many birds feral cats kill every year, etc.  It's all filmed with a sense of bemused detachment, and really the whole debate seems so silly (and Wisonsinites want to chime in and tell me why it isn't silly?)  There are many great quotes from the debates, like "I've heard a lot of people say how feral cats aren't native to Wisconsin.  I'd like to point out that neither are white people!"  But my favorite comes from one of the anti-cat killing advocates, who explains how cats are an important part of what makes Wisconsin what it know, with all the cheese.  I had to ask people afterwards if I heard that right, and everyone heard it.  I believe he claimed that cheese comes from feral cats.  New ad campaign for California cheese--Good cheese comes from happy cows.  Wisconsin cheese comes from feral cats?

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