Monday, March 21, 2011

Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Closing Night

And finally, it's over. I've loved every minute of it, but I really need a rest.

I started Sunday with the 3rd I South Asian Shorts program.
KUNJO: A poor refugee girl tells her story to her friend, a privileged school girl. She goes on to win the school playwriting contest, taking credit for the story and endangering their friendship. A story of seeing how the others live.
YOU CAN'T CURRY LOVE: A Bollywood romance between a gay UK man of Indian descent and a hotel desk clerk he meets on a business trip to India. Very funny.
GRANT ST. SHAVING CO.: An old widower visits his daughter in New York. She's too busy for him, but he gets a delivery man to take him around the city, which also takes him back in time to when he visited New York as a newlywed.
RAJU: A debt relief scam is played out by a smooth talking Indian man. But it turns out he's as much a victim as anyone.
VICTOR RAMIREZ ASESINO: Victor Ramirez is a killer for hire. Or maybe he's just a loser kid trying to be a man like his father. Either way, it's hilarious.

Then the next show was SURROGATE VALENTINE, a delightful no-budget comedy from Dave Boyle (WHITE ON RICE) and starring local musician Goh Nakamura, who did a brief set before the movie. Interesting aside, Dave and Goh actually met at SFIAFF and decided to collaborate. And the results are pretty awesome. Goh plays...basically himself. A musician on the road, making a living but crashing on friends' couches from SF to Seattle to LA and back. He's got fans (at least, one psycho-devoted fan), he's got old friends, he's got an old friend he wishes was a girlfriend (Lynn Chen, also from WHITE ON RICE). And now he has an obnoxiously full of himself actor tagging along learning how to play a burn-out musician for a movie. It's shot in black and white, which somehow gives it a more real, stripped down feel. And it's got a brilliant deadpan comedy that provides an even greater reward than the off-the-wall antics of WHITE ON RICE. Excellent, I bought the DVD (which comes with a download code for the soundtrack) right away (since they were selling them in the theater lobby).

Next up was BI, DON'T BE AFRAID, which seems ironically titles since 6 year old Bi doesn't seem to be afraid of anything. A sort of slice-of-life adventure in the life of a Vietnamese family. His mom and aunt are always there for him. His father is always drinking and/or visiting a masseuse. His grandfather has just returned home and is basically lying on his death bed. And Bi runs around everywhere. Among all three worlds, and into the wild grasses where he plays with (or spies on) other kids. A subtle film that deserves a second look.

And finally, I ended the night, and the festival, with Gurinder Chadha's IT'S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE. Like the title, the movie is chock-full of classic movie references, starting with a hilarious opening scene referencing SEVEN and culminating in a CARRIE homage (that needed split screen, my only minor quibble with the movie). Mrs. Sethi wants nothing more than to see he daughter Roopi married. But Roopi, while a sweet, wonderful girl, is not the loveliest creature...she's fat. Which isn't a problem if you get to know her, problem is that people belittle and mock her before they even know her. And so Mrs. Sethi has to kill them...with Indian food. And then they come back as ghosts and haunt her. But she eventually wins them over into trying to help Roopi find the right man and get married (if for no other reason than Mrs. Sethi can die in peace and they'll all be released). Yeah, I've given too much away already. It's a murder caper, a ghost story, a pile of movie references, and a hilarious, awesome way to end the festival.

The End.

Total Running Time: 353 minutes
My Total Mintues: 230,075

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