Friday, February 6, 2009

Jason goes to Indiefest--Opening Night

So I'm back home from my vacation, and all day Thursday was getting back into the grind of working, and wistfully wishing I was still snorkeling and listening to whale song off the coast of Maui. But then night came, it was opening night of Indiefest, and it's like I'm back in the arms of my first love. Nice...

Ummm...okay, enough of that mushy stuff, let's get to the movies.

The opening film was a little Indie gem from the UK. Just days after complaining about a different British movie, I have to eat my words, because although the accents were still difficult to understand, I really liked this movie (and got the humour). According to the program notes, Somers Town started as a 20 minute promotional film, commissioned by Eurostar to promote their high-speed London to Paris train connection. But instead, director Shane Meadows created a 70 minute drama/comedy about two misfit youths in the working class London neighborhood of Somers Town. Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) is a runaway from the midlands, just moving to Somers Town (riding the train, so we get a bit of train footage) where he lives on the street. Marek (Piotr Jagiello) is a Polish immigrant living in Somers Town with his dad, who works construction on the new rail line (more train relevancy). Tomo gets beaten and robbed by some thugs, left with only the clothes on his back. He meets Marek in a small diner, steals some pictures he (Marek) took of a French waitress Maria, and after a bit of a chase they become good friends. Since Tomo has no place to go, Marek lets him stay with him, but he doesn't tell his father. Tomo hides in Marek's room, and while Marek's dad is away at work, they run around the town courting Maria (who assures them she loves them both equally) and getting into hilarious mischief (like stealing clothes from a laundromat so Tomo will have something else to wear, only to find they stole nothing but women's clothes). It's a touching, funny portrayal of misfit friendship and navigating love. And an excellent example of how Black and White cinematography is still beautiful and expressive in ways color can't be. Oh yeah, and Maria eventually moves back to Paris to tend to a sick relative, so Marek and Tomo have to visit her there. This part is actually in color, which lends a nice contrast. But more importantly it fulfills the original purpose of paying tribute to the London-to-Paris high speed rail (they travel by train, of course).

And the second film of the night was Fanboys. This is sort of a first for Indiefest, and something they apologize for/mock in their program notes. Indiefest has actually sold out, and played a sneak peek of a movie that's opening nationwide today. But if you gotta sell out for one movie, it might as well be this, a geek-splosion of inside jokes, references, and cameos. This was actually supposed to be released a couple of years ago, but was in stuck in Weinstein editing hell (I don't know if I saw a different version than is playing in theaters today, but for the record the cancer plot is in the version I saw). This movie takes you back to the halcyon days of 1998 (opening with Chumbawumba's "Tubthumper"), a year when geeks around the world were hyperventilating while counting down to the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (and prior to the disappointment). Four friends who grew up idolizing all things Star Wars meet again at a Halloween party. Three have remained geeks (Linus, Hutch, and Windows), but one (Eric) has grown up and is preparing to take over his dad's used car dealership. The reunion is a bit awkward, but later Hutch and Windows reveal to Eric that Linus has cancer and won't survive to see the release of Episode I. So they go on an epic road trip to Skywalker Ranch to steal a rough cut of the movie so Linus can see it before he dies. Along the way, they rekindle their friendship, Eric rediscovers their passion, they have violent clashes with Trekkies, and have celebrity cameos by Seth Rogen (in 3 roles, 2 of which he's unrecognizable), Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, William Shatner (as himself), Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Danny Trejo, and...I think I'm forgetting someone. Anyway, as I said it's a great big geeky treat. I don't think I can say it any better than my friend Ira, who turned to me after the credits rolled and said, "I think I just geeked in my pants!"

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