Friday, February 17, 2012

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 8

Two more shows last night, starting with the local shorts program Nothing is What it Seems. I have to say this was a really excellent program. I was very impressed.
SUSPICION!: A dance party on the beach. With a gargoyle and people dying.
I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY: A rom-com in a mental hospital. He's a schizophrenic singer, she's a psycho who stabbed her last boyfriend. But you just gotta root for these crazy kids to make it work.
PROPOSAL: Based on a true story, a man recounts how he caught his wife cheating on him, so he took back her wedding ring and uses it to make a very different kind of a hit man.
ROAD RAGE: A woman is driving with her boyfriend when two things happen: First, she confronts him on a certain sensitive topic. Second, a cop pulls her over and takes her away.
CHUCK'S CHICKEN: The secret, disturbing lives of those guys who wear costumes and hold signs. I'm pretty sure there's not really a Chuck's Chicken restaurant, it's all some guys weird fetish.
WORKING: The son's boss is a total jerk. Wackiness ensues.
SEVEN MINUTES IN HELL: This was a pretty cool concept, very cleverly done. A zombie movie that mixes real life performance with what's on the screen. The technique dates back at least as far as 1914 with Winsor McKay and Gertie the Dinosaur, and it's still magical when it works today. And it totally worked here.

And then the second show was a very interesting feature, STILL LIFE. It's a disturbing film made all the more tense by its stoic approach to a very traumatic and controversial event. A father hires a prostitute, with very explicit instructions for her to act out. It becomes pretty clear that he is acting out (maybe reenacting?) an incestuous desire for his own daughter (now fully grown, but apparently his desire was from when she was a child.) His son follows him, finds the prostitute, and finds out what he has done.

And now I have to confess, I kind of dozed off for parts of the movie. I tried to stay awake, but it was difficult. I blame my sheer exhaustion at least as much as this movie, but the rest of this review is based on piecing together the parts that I was awake for and talking to friends about what happened. The son finds the daughter to try to find out if anything really happened. The daughter may have suppressed memories, but she insists he never touched her, just took naked pictures of her. The dad does masturbate to those picture. The dad is wracked with guilt but doesn't know what to do. He even goes to the police, but it turns out just fantasizing about your daughter but not acting on it isn't a crime they can punish. Oh yeah, and everyone drinks a lot.

I see this movie as kind of an exercise/challenge from the filmmaker. What's the most shocking, traumatic event you can conceive of and show everyone suppressing their reactions as much as possible? Still life could refer to the cinematography, that includes long shots of static scenes (a shed in the field, the street corner after the prostitute has left, etc.) Or it could refer to the stillness of everyone's reactions. Or it could refer to the fact that they are still alive and life goes on. In any case, it was interesting and very tense, but the tension is never released. That's very intentional, it's just not very cinematic.

Total Running Time: 157 minutes
My Total Minutes: 265,865

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