Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 14

Say it with me, folks, it's the penultimate night!

Actually, it's all over but the writing. This year I ended the festival with just 4 shows (2 nights) to finish writing up. Not bad.

First up was the short THE UNADVENTUROUS LIFE OF AI: THE MARRIAGE OF AI AND JIM. This is actually the second in a 3-part series on the UNADVENTUROUS LIFE OF AI. In this one, Ai is married to Jim (not James, or Jimmy, or Jimbo, just Jim.) But they don't really have a traditional marriage. They see other people (or rather, she sees people, he watches porn.) Their therapist has them slap each other. And they are hateful and competitive to the point where Ai wants to kill Jim. In other words, true love? Pretty funny.

Speaking of love, the feature was JUKO'S TIME MACHINE. I'm a total sucker for time travel movies, and this is sort of the rom-com take on TIMECRIMES. Juko has loved Rory since he first saw her in grade school. He has also been afraid to talk to her since then (he's now about 30.) His best friend Jed has always been there to help him. They've both been inventors since grade school, and their inventions have always been about winning Rory. But now, it seems that the dream is finally over--Rory is getting married. Wait, there's one last invention that could work--a time machine! But, of course, Jed and Juko don't get it right the first time so they have to go back again...and again...and again, with the extra complication that if a past self sees a future self the "exponent goes to infinity" and they both blink out of existence. That would be bad. But this movie is good, and lots of fun. A lot of the fun is watching Juko get more and more confident every time as things get worse and worse--he's got problems of existence to worry about, so talking to the girl he loves is no big deal.

And then we ended the night on a completely different note with MONSTERS CLUB, by Indiefest super-veteran Toyoda Toshiaki who previously played at Indiefest with BLUE SPRING (Indiefest 2002), 9 SOULS (2004), HANGING GARDEN (2006), and THE BLOOD OF REBIRTH (2010). As an aside, Indiefest should clearly do retrospective screenings of PORNOSTAR and his documentary UNCHAIN just so we can complete his filmography as a director.

Anyway, MONSTERS CLUB is at times beautiful and at times completely unsettling. In an isolated cabin in a beautiful, snow-draped woods, Ryoichi fends for himself and tinkers around with mailbombs that he sends to CEOs and TV networks responsible for the scourge of advertising (for the record, although his lifestyle is inspired by the Unabomber, his philosophy is somewhat different. Ryoichi seems to have a general grudge against advertising, consumerist culture, and the system. Kaczynski had a beef about how modern convenience robs us of the freedom to pursue what he called the "power process" which is never addressed in this movie...but I digress.) One night, a mysterious creature with a face covered in white foam with red lips and a blue eyes visits him. And then things get really weird, involving the ghost of his brother (who committed suicide, which is something of a recurring theme for Toyoda) family secrets, and eventually him smearing white foam on his face and becoming the monster himself (the scene where he's riding the train covered in face foam and the passengers move away from him is pretty funny.) I reiterate, it's a film that is at once beautiful and unsettling, but beyond that I'm not really sure what to make of this oddity.

Total Running Time: 155 minutes
My Total Minutes: 267,553

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