Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jason goes to SFIAAFF--Monday, Mar 14

Which I think is day 5. Obviously I've been at Cinequest instead, but the SF International Asian American Film Festival can be happy with having as much of me as I can give. Anyway, 2 movies Monday night.

I started the festival with a Japanese movie, ABRAXAS. Jonen is a punk rocker turned Buddhist monk and quite possibly completely insane. He totally freezes up giving a career day speech at school, and babbles about how there is no future and shrimps molt for life. It's quite a scandal amongst the small-town gossips. But he discusses it with his master, and decides he wants to sing again. As in put on a rock show. See, the world is full of noise, but pleasing noise is called music. By embracing your noise you turn it into music. Well, his master is totally behind him when the plan is to do a show in Tokyo, but when he decides it has to be in their small town, there's just a little hesitation. The story is well put together, and not so much about the plot exactly but using it as a point to explore past and future, life and death, loyalty, family, and just about anything else. But all done with a combination of sincerity and breezy humor that makes it all very enjoyable. An I suppose if your nature is that of a punk rocker, the Zen thing is to be a punk rocker.

Then I caught one film (the only I'll manage to catch) in their Southeast Asian horror retrospective. That movie was AFFLICTION (YANGGAW), from the Philippines. It starts with a portrait of a poor but loving family, their trials, their volleyball rivalry with their neighbors, a poor but pleasant rural life. Then there's an incident when a thief is nearly beaten to death, and then the family's daughter Amor is afflicted with a poison of the soul that turns her into a demon. But, of course, the family defends and protects her, for as long as they can. Highly melodramatic (especially the ending), but also effective as a horror film. It's cheaply made, and poorly lit and shot (or perhaps just poorly projected on the digital copy they had), and drags at times. I can't say it was a really bad film, but I was hoping for something better.

And so my Asianfest (SFIAFF, whatever you wanna call it) begins...

Total Running Time: 197 minutes
My Total Minutes: 229,100

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