Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and watches THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
PERILS OF PAULINE EPISODE 9: THE FLOATING COFFIN (1914): Another in the most famous of the silent serials, this one ultimately puts Pauline in a lifeboat in a Naval firing range. Yikes!
BACK STAGE (1919): Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Buster Keaton are working back stage at a vaudeville house, and of course get up to their usual shenanigans. When the strongman quits (just because the crew attacks him for abusing his small assistant, played by Molly Malone) they decide to put the show on themselves (including Keaton in drag!) It also features an eccentric dancer by the name of John Coogan--father of Jackie Coogan, the first child star (appearing in THE KID at Niles next Saturday)
Then a brief intermission, and on to the feature:
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (1921): The movie that made Rudolph Valentino a star (and I'm certain had a hand in popularizing the tango.) He plays the favorite grandson of a wealthy Argentine. As the designated heir and clear favorite, he can't help but grow up to be quite the libertine, living in Paris (where his mother is from,) painting (and romancing) beautiful women, including some of the higher echelon of society whom he'd be well advised to avoid scandalizing. Meanwhile, the other grandsons--his cousins--move to their fatherland of Germany. Then a little thing called World War I gets in the way. It's an epic (over 2 hours long) with quite an arc for Valentino's character.
Let me just say that I was kind of tired going in. I actually struggled to stay awake through the two shorts. But somehow this movie gave me my second wind and I had no problem staying awake through the whole thing.
Next weekend is Charlie Chaplin Days, with extended museum hours from 11 am to 5 pm (normally we're only open noon to 4 pm) During both days we'll feature all of the shorts Chaplin made in Niles, and Saturday night THE KID with Chaplin and Jackie Coogan. Then Sunday, a look-alike contest and the pie fight of the century. And more! Details here.
Total Running Time: 175 minutes
My Total Minutes: 286,445
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Jason Watches GOD BLESS AMERICA
Frank (Joel Murray) has a lousy job--which he loses, an ex-wife and daughter who hate him, neighbors who drive him crazy, and a brain tumor that will kill him any day. And to top it all off, he can't find anything good on TV--nothing but horribly despicable people on reality shows. So when he's on the brink of killing himself, he decides to take a little trip and kill some of the worst aspects of America, too. He picks up a teenage accomplice, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) who joins in with a little too much enthusiasm. She also has a creepy Bonnie and Clyde romance fantasy about Frank, which he admirably rejects. But these moments, like the discussions about who deserves to die and who doesn't, kind of slow things down. It's at its best when it's a delirious revenge fantasy satire. And such serious moments make it a bit uneven. But the revenge part--that's a lot of fun.
Running Time: 105 minutes
My Total Minutes: 286,270
Monday, May 21, 2012
Jason updates his total minutes, again.
You might have noticed in the last couple of posts, my total minutes number has gone up more than it should have. In particular, between my post on BATTLESHIP and THE BRIDGE BUILDERS, I saw 26 minutes worth of movies but added nearly 1,000 minutes to my total. Well, there's a simple explanation--I've finally gone through all my movies of 2006, looked up the running times for all, and entered them into my records (I had previously updated for 2007 and included that in my calculations without comment.) And it turns out 2006 is the current record holder for the highest average minutes per movie. My average time per movie in 2006 was 100.264 minutes. 2007 was actually pretty close with 99.666 minutes/movie. 2008-2012 (so far) is significantly lower, fluctuating between 96.25 and 97.63 minutes/movie. My gut feeling is I'm watching more film festival screenings instead of mainstream blockbusters, and they tend to be a bit shorter.
Anyway, updating my actual minutes and my estimate of the average running time for the movies I haven't updated yet explains that jump in total minutes. Also, 2005 is the first year I started keeping records of what movies I saw, so once I finish that I'll have a real* count of my total minutes. There is a bit of a problem with that, though. Turns out my records from 2005 are pretty lousy. For the regularly theatrically released movies I saw, I recorded the titles. But for film festivals I only recorded the festival name. I.e., I have records that say I say N movies at Cinequest, or the SF International, of the SF Jewish Film Festival, etc. but no titles. So I'm going to do my best to reconstruct what I saw, but worst case I might just drop 2005 from the count. In which case, my total minutes would go way, way down.
[Update: I've gone through what was easy to reconstruct in 2005, and that actually gives me another few ~300 minutes. My estimated total is now 286,536. I still have 72 movies from 2005 left to reconstruct, 50 from Cinequest (man, I went all out that year, and that's not counting opening and closing night films, which of course I know,) 15 from the SF International (I took it kind of light that year) and 7 from the SF Jewish Film Festival (I saw more, but I couldn't quite figure out what I saw on a few of the days.) I'll do my best to figure it out soon.]
*Except that sometimes the running times are estimates, especially when I see silent films that can and often are projected at different speeds. Or when I'm not sure which version of a movie I saw (an edited theatrical cut, director's cut, etc.) For these I've tried to at best underestimate the running time so as not to give myself undeserved minutes.
Jason goes to Bad Movie Night--John Carpenter's VAMPIRES
It's too damn easy to just say VAMPIRES sucks...but it does. James Woods is a vampire hunter for the Catholic church, who runs across a Master vampire who happens to know his name. But he's got a plan to bait the master. And that's pretty much the whole movie, just John Carpenter, one of the cheaper Baldwins, and James Woods master-baiting at the audience for 108 minutes.
Running Time: 108 minutes
My Total Minutes: 286,240
Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for a history lesson in Bay Area Bridges
Anyway, that's completely off topic, at 4:00, right at the end of my shift, we had a little program to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. First our very own museum president Dorothy Bradley gave us an overview of the history of all the major Bay Area bridges. As someone who has only lived in the Bay Area about a dozen years, it's interesting to think that it wasn't that long ago when the Bay Area was connected more by ferries than bridges.
Anyway, then Larry Hees gave a presentation on the history of railroad bridges in the Niles Canyon and the immediate vicinity. Quite an interesting amount of local history.
And then the highlight of the afternoon, they showed THE BRIDGE BUILDERS, a documentary made By Ray Hubbard for KPIX Television in 1962 (for the GG Bridge's 25th anniversary.) It's a rather stirring tribute to the brave, clever, and hardy men who built the Golden Gate Bridge when a lot of self-appointed experts said it couldn't be done. It was too large a span for a suspension bridge, the currents, winds, fog, etc. would be too hard to deal with. Or they argued it could but shouldn't be done. It would destroy the natural beauty of the Golden Gate (now it's become an icon, of course.) Or it cost too much during the Great Depression (of course, it created a lot of jobs.) Or it would attract too many picnickers from Marin County taking day trips into the city (ummm...I don't live in the city, but isn't it the reverse? San Franciscans escape to Marin County for a day in the country?) Mostly, the movie features dizzying shots from atop the half-constructed bridge, with workers hanging on what looks like the most delicate of wires. Pretty amazing stuff, and certainly triggers my sense of acrophobia.
Running Time: 26 minutes
My Total Minutes: 286,123
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Jason watches BATTLESHIP
Friday, May 18, 2012
Jason watches THE DICTATOR
Jason watches DARK SHADOWS
Monday, May 14, 2012
Jason goes to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival--Day 3
Well, then I stuck around for the documentary BARBARIAN DAYS. Not exactly Lovecraft, but about some kindred spirits following another pulp writer and contemporary of Lovecraft--Robert E. Howard. Howard created, among other characters, Conan the Barbarian. And he came from the small town of Cross Plains, Texas. And every year they celebrate him with a "Howard Days" festival, featuring the small group of Robert E. Howard scholars. Now I have to confess I've never actually read his work, so for me this movie is more about watching fans--some of whom get so obsessed they become scholars--come together and celebrate their shared passion for a few days. And what could be wrong about that? Well, nothing really. Although there's a little push-back from a few locals, and there's one incident between a pair of scholars that nobody really wants to talk about (and it's the reason one scholar who is referred to repeatedly doesn't show up for Howard Days or get interviewed for the movie.) I think my favorite part is near the end (sorry for the spoiler, but I don't think it's that important) where all the scholars reveal what their day jobs are and introduce their significant others. Nobody makes a living as a Robert E. Howard scholar (even if they've written a widely respected biography) and everyone has a pretty normal, happy life outside of Howard Days. It's just that Howard is always with them.
Then I had to race upstairs to a different theater and got in just in time to see the beginning of the Hammer Horror film THE SKULL (1965.) In fact, I'm not sure how much I missed, when I came in Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were at an auction bidding over a set of grotesque statues. It seems they are both collectors of such odd items. In fact, Peter Cushing plays Dr. Maitland, a professor of such oddities. Later that night, he is visited by a seller who is a frequent source for his collection--Anthony Marco (Patrick Wymark.) Marco has an interesting artifact--a book bound in human flesh. But not the Necronomicon, rather a volume by and about the Marquis De Sade. They make a sale, and then Marco tantalizingly promises an even greater prize. That prize turns out to be the Marquis' skull. And that skull turns out to be haunted by an evil spirit that takes over whoever owns it. The whole second half is practically dialogue free, and often Cushing alone with the skull. Often from the skull's point of view (which moves to follow him) as it manipulates Maitland into doing horrific things. Pretty remarkably experimental for a Hammer film, but it totally works.
Then after a dinner break, I was back for the last two films.
First up, IT'S IN THE BLOOD (which won the award for best feature.) It's a father and son in the woods story, with the father played by Lance Henriksen. The son is played by Sean Elliot, but who cares, it's got Lance freakin' Henriksen! Anyway, the son has a photographic memory and is back home after being away for a long time. The father is the local sheriff and kind of a cold-hearted bastard. They go off into the woods for some not fully explained reason, and there they run into some sort of monster that causes the father to fall off a cliff and break his leg. So it's up to the son to take care of him and try to get them out of there, but the monster (who is excellent at camouflaging himself in the trees) won't let them out. Through flashbacks we learn a lot more about the family, including the adopted sister and a horrific encounter. It becomes a lot more psychological, as the monster represents the past they must face in order to escape and have a future. Well done.
And finally, I ended the night and the festival with MONSTERS (2010, which I guess stretches the meaning of "retrospective," but it did play in theaters before. I just missed it.) Sometime in the near future, aliens have invaded earth in the area of northern Mexico, up to the U.S. border. Trying to get from Mexico to the U.S. is even harder now, since you have to pass through the "infected zone" (that is, unless you get on the very expensive ferry that will take you around.) So a pair of Americans stranded in Mexico just south of the infected zone decide to make that journey, and it's more than a bit eye-opening. I'll just say that the biggest complaint I heard afterwards was that there weren't enough monsters. I'd say there were plenty of monsters--they were just all human.
Total Running Time: 356 minutes
My Total Minutes: 284,702
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Jason goes to the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival--Day 2
Next up I finished up the shorts programs with Shorts 3
THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME: Another great adaptation, this time from Sweden. A professor from Miskatonic discovers proof that his vivid dreams were in fact real, and he was used by the Yith to store knowledge.
A LOT OF EVIL: Beware of online scams on books for summoning monsters. Sometimes they actually work.
RE-ANIMATE HER: A mail-order bride...some assembly required.
GAMMA: Gamma is a company that regenerates cities destroyed by radiation. Of course, nothing could go wrong with that.
SPACE BUGS: They're bugs...from space...and they're deadly. Cool!
ASLEEP IN THE DEEP: Alyce gets caught in a strange world, courtesy of the Zahn's violin.
CODA: There's a bit of magic in that piano. Or maybe just in that melody.
SHINE: A puppet barbershop quartet and something that attacks them if they ever leave the spotlight. Very funny, and in 3-D...but it didn't really make much use of the 3-D effect.
Then there was a dinner break and a VIP reception at Magnolia's corner, just across the street from the theater. Had some snacks, had a few free glasses of wine, and chatted with some fellow fans and some of the festival staff. Good times.
Then the evening show started with THE LURKING FEAR (1994), one of the festival's handful of retrospective screenings. Leffert's Corner is practically a ghost town. Or, more appropriately, an underground-monster-demons town. Not much left there other than the drinkin'est, smokin'est priest ever (Lovecraft film icon Jeffrey Combs), a well armed soldier chick, and a pregnant lady. They're holed up in the church ready to put a final end to the monsters tonight. Unfortunately John Martense shows up. No big deal, he's just looking for his father's money that was buried in one of the coffins. But the bigger deal is that hot on his trail are a crime lord and his lackeys, and they're ready to kill just about anyone they need to in order to get that money. It's all very cheesy. Combs seems to be the only person who knows what he's doing in the movie, and he's a lot of fun. The rest of the people, I couldn't wait for them to die.
And then what might be my favorite film of the festival (at least favorite feature), WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. It's made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, who earlier had produced the excellent silent version of THE CALL OF CTHULHU (2005.) Since "The Call of Cthulhu" was written in 1928, they adapted it in the style of the time--a silent film. So for WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, they adapted it in the style when it was made--1931. So early talkies, the same year as DRACULA. That's an excellent choice of style (which they've dubbed "Mythoscope.") Professor Albert Wilmarth of Miskatonic University is a folklorist and a skeptic, spending much of his career debunking various legends. But an urgent letter brings him to the woods of Vermont, where he learns something of the truth behind the local legends, with terrifying and sometimes humorous results.
Total Running Time: 363 minutes
My Total Minutes: 284,364
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Jason goes to the HP Lovecraft Film Festival--Day 1
Shorts Program 1
AMBIDEXTROCITY: An amusing demonstration of 2-handed drawing, using a split screen mirror effect to make it look like faked 2-handed drawing.
BEDTIME FOR TIMMY: A cute and funny stop-motion animated piece. Timmy is worried about the monster in his closet, when he should really focus on the monster under his bed.
BLACK PHARAOH: A scene shot and then cut out of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (included as an Easter Egg on the DVD,) re-worked with Swedish metal music.
CULTIST CO. STARTER PACK: A commercial for everything you need to go to hell.
DOCTOR GLAMOUR: Funny, crazy mini rock opera about Miskatonic students in love, a portal to surreal lands, and the Doctor who is your guide there.
MIDNIGHT, THE STARS, AND LOVECRAFT: Beautiful visions of the heavens, hellish rituals, and an observatory, with Lovecraft's face in the sky.
STAY AT HOME DAD: A comedy of gender roles, male lactation, and demons.
THE CURSE OF YIG: A story of an anthropologist studying snake god legends in Native American tribes, who finds more than she bargained for. Based on the story by Lovecraft, but it sort of dragged on too long. Could've been tightened up considerably for the screen, I think they were too faithful to the story and every element in it.
THE EVIL CLERGYMAN: Shot in 1988, this is a segment of the abandoned horror anthology PULSE POUNDERS. It's actually being cleaned up and released on its own, but this was a special sneak preview of the unfinished footage. It reunites the RE-ANIMATOR cast of Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton (looking very good!) and David Gale.
THE TUNNEL: A Swedish short about dark brooding, a darker tunnel, and an even darker creature.
And after a brief Q&A, I raced upstairs to another theater for Shorts Program 2. Not as much comedy as Shorts Program 1, but still very good. And a fair bit of silent film, which I not only love but is very appropriate for Lovecraft's time.
CELL PHONE PSYCHO: A graphic display of what will happen if you're rude with your cell phone in the theater.
CTHONIC DOODLING: Another live art creation piece from Mike Dubisch (AMBIDEXTROSITY), this one showing all the weird mirrored creatures he creates by pure chance while doodling.
DUMBSHOW: Mimes have strange, brutal powers. At least, some mimes do.
FORTUNA: Second in a trilogy of silent film homages, it's the story of a woman who wants to speak to her recently deceased father, and instead lets a demon into the world.
NIGHTGAUNTS: Terrifying stop-motion dream monsters.
THE EARTH REJECTS HIM: The sad, scary story of a confused little kid who plants a tooth and grows a man out of the ground.
THE THING IN THE LAKE: The thing is certainly bizarre and twisted. So much so that the professor wants to destroy it. But the student wants to study it...that might not end well.
VADIM: A chest bolted to the floor unleashes a bit of hell on the couple who just moved in.
Then I caught a bit of the after party at Tony Starlight's Supper Club and Lounge just down the street. The Irresistible Manhattan was delicious, and the musical entertainment courtesy of Mike Dalager singing from "Ogham Waite and the Amphibian Jazz Band: Live at Gilman House" (available on CD) was pretty damn amusing.
Total Running Time: 181 minutes
My Total Minutes: 284,001
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Jason watches THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS
Jason watches CHIMPANZEE
Monday, May 7, 2012
Jason goes to Bad Movie Night and watches VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED
Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and finds himself LAUGHING AT DANGER
Jason watches THE AVENGERS in 3-D
Jason blasts off in the Starship Vortex and lands on THE PHANTOM PLANET
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Jason goes to SFIFF--Closing Night
Well, I've had the whole weekend to recover, so I might as well finish up my festival coverage with the last two movies I saw, and then the festival is officially over for another year.
First up, I saw TRISHNA, Michael Winterbottom's take on Tess of the D'urbervilles reset in modern India. So first a confession--I've never read Tess of the Du'rbervilles. So for all I know this is a wonderfully innovative adaptation, but sadly it never really caught my interest as a movie. Freida Pinto plays the titular role, but kind of sleepwalks through the movie giving a performance that made me reassess whether she was actually any good in her breakout performance in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. After a traffic accident cripples her father, she takes a job in a hotel, offered to her by Jay, a wealthy businessman and heir to his father's hotel fortune. She takes the job for money, but he has romantic plans. And the romance goes nice for a while, then goes very, very bad. I bet if you've read the book you know how bad. I get the sense that the book was a story of class differences, and coming from a lower class Tess is treated like the property of the businessman. Resetting it in India seems to focus on the caste system (even if it's not explicitly spelled out) and makes me wonder if this isn't a bit racist. At least, all the Indians I know (who, granted, and Indians living in America) get pretty defensive about the caste system and claim it's a thing of the past.
Anyway, on the closing night film. Let me try to lay out the bare elements of the story without getting into details first. Poor boy living in a poor country (I don't know, does the Philippines count as third world?) At one time he was even homeless living in the park. Had some trouble with drugs and alcohol at one time, but is clean now. And he's a big fan of a certain institution. In fact, he practices to be just like them. And then, just when he's about to give up on his dreams, that institution contacts him with an offer to try out and see if he's got what it takes to join them. And he does, and is successful, and basically lives a fairy tale life.
Now if you wrote that script for a fictional movie, first nobody would believe it, it's just a little too perfect. Second, if you actually got it made the soundtrack would probably feature a lot of the inspirational music of the band Journey (especially, say, their hit Don't Stop Believin'.) Well, the documentary DON'T STOP BELIEVIN': EVERYMAN'S JOURNEY is the story of Arnel Pineda, Journey's new lead singer. They were going into the studio to record a new album but didn't have a lead singer. Neal Schon was actually on Youtube looking at video of Journey cover bands and found Arnel's band Zoo, and thought he was perfect. They flew him out, auditioned him, and after jet lag and nerves wore off, he killed it. And the rest is history. Well, the rest is the history of an incredibly successful tour, a legion of new Filipino fans, and marveling at how Arnel had the pipes to not just sing but run around the stage like "a cross between David Lee Roth and Bruce Lee," a quality that earned him the nickname "Air-nel." And it's a history of converting the haters who insist Journey isn't the same without Steve Perry (Arnel, for his part, doesn't argue. He's a Steve Perry fan who is just doing his best and letting his performance speak for him.) There are a few moments in the film that talk about difficulties and temptations on the road, and you get the sense that it's foreshadowing a 'Behind the Music' moment when things break down, he cheats on his wife or falls back into drugs and alcohol. But luckily [SPOILER ALERT!!] it's foreshadowing for a breakdown that never happens. It's really a remarkably, consistently upbeat story. And it's all true, which is even better.
And then it was all over but the Q&A, featuring all the current members of Journey. And featuring an impromptu bit of singing by Arnel that pretty much blew the audience away (I heard from at least one person there who wasn't a Journey fan before, but was moved by that moment.) And then, of course, the after party. Crowded, noisy, but plenty of free beer and food (yay garlic noodles!) as long as you're willing to fight through the line for it.
Total Running Time: 234 minutes
My Total Minutes: 283,221
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Jason goes to SFIFF--Day 14
It's the penultimate day. I can't believe it's almost over.
First up I saw 17 GIRLS...and then I saw a movie, ha ha ha! (Yes, it's that time in the festival I make lame jokes like that. I'm surprised it hasn't happened earlier.) While the film was made and set in France, it's actually based on real events that happened in Massachusetts, where an epidemic of teenage pregnancy broke out. I don't know the details of the real case, but in this movie it starts when the most popular girl, Camille (Louise Grinberg) gets pregnant. Rumors swirl, and after a little thought and discussion she decides to keep it. She has all these romantic notions that far from ruining her life, it'll give her something to live for. She'll live 200% and have someone who will always love her for the rest of her life (that reminds me, Mother's Day is coming up soon. Everyone go get your mommy something nice.) Soon enough the unpopular, annoying girl who is always trying to get into the cool girls' clique announces she's also pregnant. And that does get her into the clique but also sets off something of a chain reaction, with all the girls intentionally getting pregnant so they can raise all of their kids together in some sort of Utopian commune. And if that seems incredibly naive, that's nothing compared to the parents, who can't for the life of them figure out what's going on. At one point their discussion even goes so far as to blame the unique conditions of the city--a combination of old, crumbling construction and the new, which causes the girls to...no, I don't get what they're thinking either. And that's kind of my only issue with the movie. It's well made and well acted, but I can't really understand what anyone is thinking. I know from the script and performances that peer pressure and naive thinking is the main part of it, but I suppose since I've never been a teenage girl I don't really understand that degree of peer pressure (back in school, I was just told about peer pressure in relation to doing drugs, but I was never even cool enough to be offered drugs.) I'm sure this movie speaks more to people other than me, as it was I got a well-made movie that adds up to something of a mystery.
Next up, a short and a feature. The short was POSTCARD FROM SOMOVA, ROMANIA. Scenes of life--goats, a dog, a cat, a horse, garbage. Eventually a couple of guys show up and ride away with the horse and cart. Then more shots of garbage. And why the heck were there so many shots of that horse's vagina?
Well, that was the lead in to TOKYO WAKA, a "city poem" about Tokyo (of course.) And more to the point, it's about Tokyo's crows. It's funny how we reflexively think of nature as intruding on a city instead of vice-versa. But you can't keep nature out, and in Tokyo that means crows. Crows eating the garbage, building nests out of coat hangars, cracking walnuts under car tires. Oh yeah, these crows are damn smart. They build hooked tools out of twigs, they know how to operate drinking fountains (as an aside, I was a bit disappointed to learn in the Q&A that some of the crows-being-clever footage was bought or licensed from other sources, they didn't always just find crows doing brilliant things in the city.) I guess there are also people in the movie. People who love crows, people who consider them pests, even people whose job it is to trap and exterminate (humanely, through CO2 asphyxiation) crows. But honestly, I was so taken by the crows that I was a bit bored and impatient when there were only humans on screen. Especially when they were talking about something other than crows.
Then I caught another short + feature program, this time animated. We start with the short AND/OR, a visual exploration of an artists struggle with finding inspiration, and how awesome it is when it happens just right.
Then the feature, the brutal and disturbing CRULIC - THE PATH TO BEYOND. We open with Crulic's death, and his uncle in Romania reclaiming his body from the Polish authorities to return him for burial. Crulic was only 33. We then learn a bit of his childhood and growing up, and finally his false arrest and imprisonment in Poland. Although he had travel documents proving he was in Italy on the day in question, a judge insists that he and his girlfriend were the Romanians who stole his wallet. When the legal system doesn't work for him (the prosecutor rejects the whole "here's the travel agency I used, they'll confirm I was in Italy" line of investigation as "irrelevant") he goes on a hunger strike. This is, eventually, what kills him. Turns out that an inept, possibly racist (I got that sense but not knowing the racial tensions in Eastern Europe I don't know for sure) system that falsely imprisons you isn't necessarily going to be very good at responding to a hunger strike and saving your life. In fact, for months psychological reports claim he's fine (although he's hovering just above 50 kg) and force-feeding is unnecessary. Well, since he dies in the beginning you know how it will end. But what's also interesting is the multi-layered use of animation. Photographs, collage, watercolor, stop-motion animation. It paints a bleak but surprisingly beautiful (or at least moving) world. I've decided if I ever live a life (or suffer a death) worth retelling, I want it to be told by Eastern European animators.
And finally, we ended the night with the new cult (soon to be) classic from Don Coscarelli, JOHN DIES AT THE END. It's a whacked-out story of crazy drugs, alternate dimensions, demons, ghosts, unlikely heroes, and a doorknob that turns into a penis. David Wong (Chase Williamson) relates his story to journalist Arnie (Paul Giamatti) who is skeptical of its truth but at least appreciates a good story. And he spins a tale with all the bizarre, absurd elements I listed above, plus some. Dave and his best friend John (who actually dies in the middle but is still talking to him because the drug "Soy Sauce" either makes him live outside of time or allows David to talk to the dead. I'm not really clear on that) encounter the drug and shortly afterwards all the demons of which it's a harbinger. You know...I give up on trying to retell the story. It's crazy, it takes a surprise turn every few minutes, and dissecting the story would kill the fun of the insanity. In fact, the core of the fun is watching Dave go from freaking-out incredulity to taking it all in stride as part of his new role as a reluctant cross-dimensional hero. Damn, that was fun. And in the Q&A afterwards Don hinted that not only would he (and the whole cast) like to also make the sequel (the book's sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders, is due out soon) but he teased his fans with a little hint that there might be news about a new PHANTASM movie soon. Here's hoping, on both those counts. And while we're at it, how about BUBBA NOSFERATU?
And that was the penultimate night of SFIFF. I caught the bus just in time to make it to BART and home (avoiding a two hour bus ride) so I'm bright and rested for the big closing night with Journey tonight.
Total Running Time: 348 minutes
My Total Minutes: 282,978