Friday, February 8, 2013

Jason goes to Indiefest--Opening Night

It's the 15th annual SF Indiefest, and they're calling it their Quinceañera celebration.

I don't mean to be nitpicky or to inject math into the celebration, but technically the start of the 15th annual festival means it has only been around 14 years. It started in 1999. In 2000--one year after the founding festival--they held the 2nd Indiefest. The third Indiefest was in 2001--2 years after the first festival. Most importantly, in 2002 they had the 4th Indiefest, and the first one I attended. So as far as I'm concerned, we should start counting from there. Happy 11 years since I started attending Indiefest! (making this my 12th one)

In any case, everybody gets this wrong (a couple of years ago when Cinequest held it's 21st festival, they claimed they were finally old enough to drink. I pointed out A: not really, and B: that never stopped them before.) And I'd rather party than do math, so happy Quinceañera, Indiefest!

The festival opened with Michel Gondry's new film, THE WE AND THE I. At first it seems like kind of a departure for Gondry (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP) as he puts aside his magic realism and goes for an intimate, improvised look at the lives of high school kids on the bus. But there are, in their own ways, flashes of his magic and sense of humor in there. Kids hurry excitedly out of school, grab their cell phones from the local convenience store (a friend of mine explained that in NY cell phones are banned from school, so the kids will pay a couple of bucks for the local corner store to hold onto their phones so they can get them as soon as their out of school. Interesting phenomenon.) They get on the bus, and they immediately start acting like kids. I.e., assholes (or victims of assholes.) This is the "WE" part of the title. Mob mentality, bullies, showing off for friends. The "I" comes later, as we get more revealing glimpses into the characters. But the WE was unpleasant enough for me to hate the I before I ever met it. I'm sorry, but I know I have a bit of a block when it comes to kids being jerks. I think it's understandable, as I was (still am) a nerd whose last name is a slang term for penis. I don't need to be reminded of how awful high school kids are. And if I am reminded, I am unlikely to later sympathize with them in any way. I could tell it was an interesting, well made project. And many times the entire audience (including myself) laughed. And everybody else seemed to have more enlightening things to say about the movie. But my only takeaway was that kids are awful, awful human beings.

And then I stuck around for the party. Had a little beer, talked to a few friends, marveled at the huge crowd there (I'm sure ~80% of them I won't see again in the festival.) Watched the band play for a while. Had another beer. And eventually they ran out of beer, so I decided my work there was done (even though there was still wine and liquor there. But it's a long festival and I gotta pace myself.) So I headed back to BART and eventually home. Apparently if I had stayed a little longer I could've seen Barry Zito play guitar.

By the way, there was also a last minute addition to the festival, a one time only screening of FACES IN THE MIRROR. I had seen everything that played at Indiefest since my first year--even in years when that was impossible. But this year...Indiefest just isn't set up that way. This is the first either/or decision I've had to make in my festival schedule, but it won't be my last. A bit of an end-of-an-era for me. I won't quite be able to definitively say what the best film in the festival was this year. And I can't claim to be "the guy who sees everything at Indiefest" anymore (but at least no one else can, either.) And, for the record, a friend whose opinions on movies I trust reasonably well told me I made the right choice.

Running Time: 103 minutes
My Total Minutes: 313,162


Adam & Nick said...

Yes, Jason. Indeed you did make the right choice. I wrote about Faces in the Mirror on my blog,, and I was maybe a tad too harsh, but hey, it is what it is, right. Loof forward to seeing you at some of the screenings later on this week.


Brian Darr said...

Oh you and your nitpicky math. I think there's an argument either way. If you look at a film festival as the culmination of about a year's worth of work (which may in fact be a low estimate for most successfully launched festivals- though I'm not familiar with the particulars of IndieFest's founding) then it's fair to celebrate a Quinceañera during the 15th edition of a festival, or call for retirement at the 65th edition, or whatnot.

Have you seen Gondry's Dave Chappelle's Block Party? One of my favorite Gondry films and sounds like it connects more to this than his other work does.

Adam & Nick said...

@Brian, The Michel Gondry East Coast Urban Trilogy: Block Party, Be Kind Rewind and The We and The I.

Now, if only Criterion would release all three as a box set with a slew of substantial supplements.

Brian Darr said...

I'd have a hard time resisting buying that. Be Kind Rewind is probably my favorite Gondry.