Two more movies last Wednesday (I think...all the days are running together...today is Friday, right? Yeah, today is Friday because there were free donuts at work).Big weekend coming up, but apparently now is the time when my festival coverage devolves into less and less coherence.
First up was the local magic-realist urban fairy tale, Harrison Montgomery. Martin Landau executive produced and played the title role of an odd, obsessive resident of the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. More on him in a moment, because the real main character of the story is Ricardo Papa (Octavio Gómez Berríos), an artist and pot dealer. He's made some bad choices in his life (which probably is how he ended up in the Tenderloin), he owes a very bad guy a lot of money, and the big drug deal his friend sets up ends poorly (they're robbed by a pair of Asian seductresses). Plus, the delivery he threw from his window to a customer has landed on the balcony of the tenant below him. So he has to go talk to that tenant and get his pot back. That tenant is...Harrison Montgomery. Harrison is an old man, obsessed with watching game shows and finding patterns. He also claims that he won the lottery years ago and has $5.8M. But that can't be true, because he lives in an absolute dump. Ricardo also meets Lattie (Krista Ott), the 13 year-old daughter of Margo (Melora Walters). Lattie hangs out on the fire escape and barges in on Ricardo all the time. She tries to get him to let her smoke or drink, but he refuses. Meanwhile Margo is dating a real loser.
Oh yeah, I mentioned something earlier about Ricardo being an artist. He's pretty talented at sketching local Tenderloin residents, and the sequences of his sketches with the voice of Harrison Montgomery giving their back stories are the more charming parts of the movie. Margo is also an artist, so they have something of a connection (although she doesn't like her little girl hanging out with a drug dealer). It all leads to a magical ending where Harrison finally finds the purpose he's been looking for in the secret messages embedded in the game shows (secret messages in TV signals...is that a mini-theme of the festival?)
Next up was one of the movies I was most looking forward to, Strange Girls, and it did not disappoint. The Gruczechy twins, Georgia (Jordana Berliner) and Virginia (Angela Berliner, yeah, the actresses are twins, too) have been in a mental institution from a very young age. They do everything exactly the same--even standing and walking in sync. They have their own language, and almost never speak to anyone else, although they do write notes. They desperately want to get out of the institution, even if it means doing a little doctor-killing. Once out, they will become a famous romance novelist and be rich and marry rich famous men. Or they'll taunted and have to react by killing lots of people. Worse yet, a man could come between them. Oh no, that won't do. In some ways, the less said about this movie the better, since you really should enjoy this twisted horror-comedy for yourself and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. But I will reveal (since I'm such a fan), that it features trepanation! BTW, Jordana Berliner was there for a Q&A. I didn't get into it, but Georgia is supposed to be the "evil" twin (they're both pretty evil, though), and she acknowledged that they both agreed she was the more "Georgia-like" sister. She also confessed that as kids they fought all the time, and she even force-fed her sister a bottle of aspirin and peed on her (I assume in separate incidents). I thought you'd all like to know that for some reason....