Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jason goes to Asianfest--Day 2

A three movie Friday. After a full day at worked (actually getting basic training in First Aid/CPR), I raced up to the city (through rain and awful traffic) to sprint into the Kabuki just as the first film started.

And that film was YOU HAVE BEEN WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING, part of the Lino Brocka retrospective in the festival, which itself is part of a larger focus on Filipino cinema. Released in 1974 (just like me!), it's a vibrant and powerful melodrama on class bigotry. It opens in very grainy footage of a woman (we learn later her name is Kuala) giving birth to a baby that ends up still born. We see her running around, and then switch to present day and she's wandering through town crazy. She's well known there, and everyone makes fun of her.

We then meet the wealthy citizens of town--the gossips and backstabbers. The most important of these are the womanizing ex-mayoral candidate Cesar and his son Junior. The kids of town are only interested in partying and having a good time, even to the point of skipping the wake of a town bigwig (at least, enough of a bigwig that everyone wants their picture taken next to the casket) to go to a party. But Junior is different--he's more sensitive and realizes the hurt that the teasing and gossip causes.

Finally we meet Berto, a leper who works hard but can't even get the ugliest prostitute in town with his money. But he meets Kuala (passed out after the town kids got her drunk), and takes her to his shack and cleans her up. What starts as lust grows to love, and they are happy in their way. And although the kids tease them, Junior befriends them and learns important lessons (as the other kids point out, he talks like an adult now).

It's an excellent movie with a striking ending that I won't spoil since I've already given away half the plot.

Anyway, then I ran up to the Clay for RASPBERRY MAGIC, which I specifically passed over at Cinequest to see it here (Cinequest and SFIAAFF always have one or two high profile films in common--GOD IS D_AD also plays at both). It opens with one of my favorite things--a child doing science (but don't look for rigor, it's RASPBERRY MAGIC, not RASPBERRY SCIENCE). In this case, Monica Shah (Lily Javaherpour) is doing an experiment on therapeutic touch making raspberry plants grow faster. But you know there's more than just scientific curiosity at play here, she reflects on the raspberries that used to grow in their backyard but don't anymore. The vines are still there, thorns and all, but no fruit. Sort of like her parents' marriage. Dad is a failing game programmer (failing because he invented a really dull math game that no kid would want to play). Mom is a cook (like opening night, there's a cooking theme) with a book in the works on Indian-American fusion cooking. After one big fight, dad moves out. Shortly after mom's book deal falls through and she falls into a depression. So it's sort of up to Monica to hold the household together (with the help of her little sister). And now her science project--proving that human contact promotes growth--takes on new symbolic importance. The ending is predictable, even though it's not very realistic (but remember, it's magic not science), and overall it's a movie that mixes the sweet and sour in the same proportions as a raspberry.

So enough of that mushy stuff, I ended the night with a midnight screening of a graphically twisted Indonesian horror flick, THE FORBIDDEN DOOR. We start with an artist who does sculptures of pregnant women. The show is financially successful, but he overhears people talking about how his life cast method is not "real" art. Then it gets weird. Switch to a distorted TV feed of a young boy getting thrown against a table. Back to that artist. His girlfriend is pregnant now, but doesn't want the baby, so off to the abortion clinic. There he meets an old man who talks about all the abortions his wife got--the seventh one killed her but she kept coming back. His girlfriend gets an abortion, which they bring back home in a bag. After an argument, he realizes that putting dead fetuses (feti?) In his sculptures give them that extra life, so he starts getting takeout from the abortion clinic. Then it gets really weird. A club where they watch TV feeds of a family (and that kid I mentioned) getting tortured. The words "save me" show up everywhere. Turns out the artist's girlfriend is cheating on him, so it all culminates in the ultimate bloody revenge dinner. Only problem, after a huge buildup of weirdness, there's the ultimate (and ultimately predictable) cop-out ending which I won't spoil. But the ride getting there is incredible.

And that was Friday at SFIAAFF

Total Running Time: 325 minutes
My Total Minutes: 177,282

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