Monday, May 4, 2015

Jason goes to SFIFF--Day 9

Three movies last Friday as the big second weekend kicked off.

First up was UNEXPECTED, by Kris Swanberg, wife of acclaimed indie director Joe Swanberg (although refreshingly, this was never brought up in either the introduction or the Q and A. She has quite an accomplished career herself and while they're always collaborating, she shouldn't be known as just "Joe Swanberg's wife." I don't even know why I brought it up...)

Anyway, Kris played on her own experiences with this film--as a Chicago school teacher who got laid off at the same time she got pregnant with her and Joe's first kid. In the movie, Cobie Smulders plays the teacher Samantha Abbot, who learns she's pregnant shortly after learning the school will close over the summer and not reopen in the fall. But she does have a wonderful boyfriend John who marries her and promises to take care of her. Although the pregnancy does kind of mess with her chance at her dream job. While that's going on she learns her best student Jasmine (Gail Bean) is also pregnant. So they bond over that (pregnant yoga? Kris did say in the Q&A she never actually did anything like that.) But the emotional heart is Samantha trying to convince Jasmine that she still can (and should) go to a good college. Which ends up being a pretty interesting dynamic about different ideas of what's best for the baby, how to get ahead in life, etc. As a college-educated middle class white guy, I certainly think that college education is a good thing. But this movie shows--as Samantha learns a little bit--about a different kind of support structure people can have.

Then I caught the Japanese youth culture film, WONDERFUL WORLD END. Shiori is a popular vlogger (video-blogger) who showcases Gothic Lolita fashion. Ayumi is her biggest fan. Fandom turns into something like friendship when they meet and Shiori is flattered by the attention. And it turns into something way more complicated when Ayumi runs away from home and moves in with Shiori and her boyfriend. Jealousy and rivalry ensue. But really it's less about the story and more about exploring the style of teen life in Japan--full of emojis, consumerism, and cute fashions.

And then I headed over to the Roxie for the late show, THE EDITOR. In the introduction, I was horrified to learn that it was made by Astron 6, the folks behind MANBORG (Indiefest 2011.) I gave them as charitable a review as I could back then (and yes, contemplating the "hell that would be watching MANBORG at home, on DVD, alone,...and sober." is charitable if you've seen the movie.) So I was ready for an awful parody of the giallo genre with maybe a few good jokes. But sometime in the last few years these guys actually learned to make a good film. They have the look and feel of the giallo down--saturated colors, bad dubbing, black-leather gloved killers hands, erotic fetishism and sleaze. Yeah, they got that. They're never making fun of the giallo genre, they're paying homage to it and then letting the humor come in by doing silly things inside of it. Rey Ciso is a film editor. He used to be a great one, until a freak accident took his fingers, leaving him with clumsy wooden prosthetic ones. Now he toils away on sleazy 1970s Italian films (oh yeah, the film takes place at the time when giallo films were at their peak.) When the cast and crew of his latest film starts dying one by one, he's a prime suspect, and wacky hijinx ensue. Good fun, and I'm still in a bit of shock that Astron 6 actually made a good film.

Total Running Time: 268 minutes
My Total Minutes: 394,908

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