Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jason goes to Docfest--Day 8

Yet two more movies, as the second week of the fest begins (lots of new movies this week).

First up a trip to Egypt and a family of belly-dancers in AT NIGHT, THEY DANCE. Reda is the matriarch of the clan, mother of seven (with a bun in the oven), and former dancer herself. Three daughters also dance for a living at raucous all-male parties (it's weird to see old Egyptian men "make it rain"). In the day (with the blazing Cairo sun overhead) they argue about life, love, the dangers of their business. But at night they dance. Great cinematography and the characters are interesting, but I needed more of a narrative or explanation to lead me in. It takes cinema verite to the extreme, not telling me why they dance or what other options they might have, or maybe a bit of the history of belly-dancing and how it used to be a more respected art (now it feels like they're treated just one step above prostitutes, but maybe I'm misreading that).

And the second film of the night was OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL. Oil City being Canvey Island, UK. And the confidential being the story of Dr. Feelgood, a blues-infused pub rock band that came from there and took at least the UK by storm, even if they imploded just as they were breaking out in America. Sadly, lead singer Lee Brilleaux passed away in the '90s, but the film takes a look at both the history (from kids in jug bands to psychotic rockers) and a 'where-are-they-now' look at the surviving members. The focus is on wild-eyed Wilko Johnson, Lee's counterpoint onstage (and ultimately, antagonist offstage), who still has the wild, he-might-kill-you look he had when he was mimicking machine gun fire with his guitar. Everyone else seems to have grown a bit mild with age, and even Wilko's antics are more comical than frightening, but damn if he doesn't still know how to entertain. Interesting side note, Wilko was the only one in the band who didn't drink alcohol--while the rest were at the pub getting trashed, Wilko was apparently off on harder stuff.

Total Running Time: 184 minutes
My Total Minutes: 252,068

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