Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jason goes to SFIFF--Day 6

Another night, another two movies. And little time in between, so I actually had no time for a drink. Meaning my one-sober-day-a-week streak for 2013 is still intact.

First up was the Experimental Shorts, and I really could have used a drink. These are experimental, so describing them can be difficult, but I'll give it my best shot.
THE NAME IS NOT THE THING NAMED: A stream, a tunnel, extreme darkness, extreme brightness. I...really don't know what to call this.
ARTIFICIAL PERSONS: P.T. Barnum's hoax remains of a 10 foot giant. And the continuing hoax that corporations are people, my friends.
A FEW EXTRA COPIES: On obsessive re-creation of Budd Dwyer's infamous final speech (Google it).
PIPE DREAM: The first Arab in space, Syrian cosmonaut Mohammed Fares, has a phone call with the late President Hafez El Assad. Connections with the current upheaval in Syria, as his statues are torn down (for safekeeping against vandalism).
LIFE IS AN OPINION, FIRE IS A FACT: Fragmented, partially animated look at a man who lights himself on fire. In protest? Out of despair? For the lulz? We don't know, but there is a doggy!
VERSES: Probably my favorite of the bunch. Old ledgers from an abandoned juvenile detention center. Flip the pages, and the dirt and decay become an animated Rorschach test.
THE INDESERIAN TABLETS: Okay, this one might actually be my favorite. Tablets of a mysterious language are translated, in increasingly surreal and absurd ways, until I finally realize it's all a joke.
VIEW FROM ACROPOLIS: From atop the actual hill, the view shows soldiers running drills, ruins, modern buildings, a changing landscape.
BLOOM: Oil fields, fire, flowers, and a woman throwing knives at a child. All set to multiple overlapping renditions of "Edelweiss." Taken from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. The knife throwing scene alone was worth the rest of the movie. Heck, it was worth the rest of the entire program.

And then I caught the feature PEARBLOSSOM HIGHWAY, by Mike Ott (LITTLEROCK, which I thought I had seen when it played in 2010 but it turns out I haven't). Cory (who apparently was featured in LITTLEROCK and will be in Mike Ott's next film, LAKE LOS ANGELES, due out next year) is a weird looking, weirder-sounding vocalist for a shitty punk band in Lancaster, CA (about an hour north of L.A.) He does whippets of nitrous and has big dreams--like being a reality TV star. Really, his dreams are all about getting the heck out of Lancaster (the titular highway is the only road out of town.) His only friend is Atsuko, a girl who is desperate to raise money to visit her dying grandmother in Japan. Desperate enough to turn to prostitution. Meanwhile Cory's big brother Jeff returns from a stint in the Marines (don't call it the Army) and while he is there to take care of him he's also pretty fucking tired of Cory's shit. A road trip to meet his biological father ensues, taking them to San Francisco (yay, a shot of the Roxie! Which lately has kind of become the go-to shot for Indie films to establish they're in San Francisco. Even more so than the GG Bridge.) I found myself being both repulsed and fascinated by the characters, while mostly bored by the story. That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, and I guess it isn't. But there's something to this film I can't quite put my finger on. As often as it makes me cringe, I still find myself drawn to it. Perhaps when his "Desert Trilogy" is completed with LAKE LOS ANGELES, I can watch all three in a row and see what it is I couldn't quite grasp this time.

Total Running Time: 166 minutes
My Total Minutes: 326,101

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