Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 9

And we just keep chugging along, entering the second weekend with three movies on Friday.

First up, BLOODIED BUT UNBOWED, a documentary about the Vancouver punk scene circa late 70's to early 80's. The movie's funny, fast paced, and wild--kind of like the music. It's very, very specific in time and place. Vancouver, 1978-82, in very specific clubs with very unique people. Bands include D.O.A., The Subhumans, Pointed Sticks, etc. Music was varied, ranging from angry, fast, thrashing punk to comic political anthems. Oh yeah, and the politics was sort of unique to Vancouver (as opposed to L.A., where the punks were just about music, partying, and being punks). The political side of punk actually create a bridge between the scenes in Vancouver and San Francisco, where it seems like the two punk cultures "got" each other better than others. But what makes the movie is the personalities--people like Joey Shithead, Zippy Pinhead (who was there--and wasted--at the screening), Randy Rampage, Gerry Useless, Mary Jo Kopechne (not that one, the one who is alive and I assume named after her), and Art Bergmann (there's probably an interesting movie just about him. The star of the scene who burnt out way to quickly and seems to live a quiet life out in the country now).

The Q&A was pretty amusing, too. As I mentioned, Zippy Pinhead was there along with director Susanne Tabata. And he was wasted. After we found him drinking in the alley behind the theater and dragged him in for the Q&A, he took over and went a little wild, telling rambling stories about his childhood that had nothing to do with the questions. So we had Q's, we had A's, but there was nothing connecting the two except whatever neural pathways were left in Zippy's pin-head. Example: "How did you get the name Zippy Pinhead?" Answer: "I've known Joey Shithead since we were in junior high! Let me tell you a rambling story of how I first met him...[something about a tree-house and him beating me up...]). Maybe some people found that annoying, but it amused me. That's just part of Indiefest.

Next up was the skateboarding flick MACHOTAILDROP. Skateboarding is the spine of the movie, but the flesh is a bizarre surreal fantasy about glory, opulence, aging, and oppression. A sort of WILLY WONKA AND THE SKATEBOARD FACTORY THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Walter Rhum looks to escape his boring suburban life and find fame and glory through the Machotaildrop skateboard company. His carefully edited (and gold-painted) video earns him just that invitation, and he gets to meet The Baron. He also gets to meet his idol, skater Blair Stanley. Yup, Walter is all about the BS. And after a rough start he quickly becomes the fresh new face, gracing the cover of the brand magazine MT Life (Empty Life, get it?). But there's a dark side to his current glory. What happens when he gets too old and injured to skate? And what's with the band of feral skaters roaming the abandoned amusement park?

I went in to MACHOTAILDROP knowing little more than it's a 'skating movie.' So that was the biggest, weirdest surprise of Indiefest, and it's a good one.

And finally, I ended with the late screening of THE TRASHMASTER. It's machinima (movie made from video game footage) made using Grand Theft Auto IV. Our hero grew up wanting to be a cop, but failed the exam three times. So he's the next best thing--a garbage man for the Liberty Sanitation Department (LSD. It's been a night of interesting acronym-play), although the film's pretty inconsistent as to whether it takes place in Liberty City or New York. He drives around the city, disposing of garbage--mostly the human kind. That puts a crimp in his budget, as he has to constantly explain to his boss why he's late and has to fix up the truck with his own money. But it's worth it to him. Every night, he relaxes in the local strip club. But when one of the dancers is murdered, it's time for him to investigate. Seems there's a stripper murderer (umm...someone who murders strippers, not someone who murders and strips) running around town. Worse yet, he might be linked to the big oil company RON, who pretty much rules Liberty City/New York. And worse worse yet, our hero gets framed for the murders.

Most machinima I've seen is either comedy shorts like Red Vs. Blue or bits inserted into live-action movies (like R U THERE and SECOND BODIES from this very festival). This is the first time I've seen feature length machinima. It's a solid accomplishment, although the format does put up some interesting roadblocks. Dialogue apparently isn't a part of the game, so every place there should be dialogue there is instead our hero's voice-over narration explaining the conversation. It's clunky when used, and sometimes left me puzzled when not used. And the violent action is awesome in a short clip but grows pretty tiresome over feature length. So I think it's safe to say that machinima will continue to be a niche novelty, but it's an interesting experience.

Total Running Time: 255
My Total Minutes: 222,775

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