Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jason goes to Docfest--Thursday, June 9

A couple more films last week Thursday.

KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE was the Centerpiece feature about actress Kate Lynn Sheil preparing for and shooting a movie about Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck, who in 1974 killed herself live on air with a bullet to the back of her head. It shows Sheil's preparation and process, and is pretty interesting. But it really should be called KATE PLAYS KATE PLAYING CHRISTINE, as it becomes clear that the existence of the documentary crew is changing the reality of how she (pretends to) prepare. I'm torn as to whether that's a detriment or not, but moments where she breaks from talking about the role to talking about how she really would prepare end up more interesting than when she's interviewing people who are tangentially connected to the shooting (i.e., people who work at the station now, or people who work at the gun store where she bought her weapon, or psychologists and other experts in suicide.) It picks up emotionally when she actually finds and talks to people who knew Christine, and the final scene is pretty powerful. But mostly I was just kind of exhausted by that time. It's another one of those films that desperately needs some editing.

Then the second program was 3 shorts and a short-ish (60 minute) feature.

JOSHUA TREE: THREATENED WONDERLAND is a gorgeously shot look at Joshua Tree National Park and the trees that give it its name. The trees, the rocks, the landscapes have given inspiration to several artists, but environmentalists warn that with air pollution, fires, and global warming the iconic trees might all be dead in less than a century. They're just not growing back at the rate they're dying, and that's sad.

CALIFORNIA DRYING is a short meditation on the years-long drought that has been affecting California, featuring some excellent aerial photography. I've certainly known the drought and have cut back on water, but honestly where I live in the Bay Area it hasn't really affected me much.

THE CROSSING is the reflections of a crossing guard in Silicon Valley, where the Caltrain tracks are a way too popular choice for teen suicide attempts. Pretty sobering.

And then the feature, EAST LA INTERCHANGE, narrated by Danny Trejo, is the story of urban planning cutting up the poorer neighborhood of Boyle Heights while leaving the more affluent neighborhoods spared. The neighborhood was (and still is, to some extent) home to a mix of Latinos, Jews, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and lower class whites (who admit to being "rednecks.) With no political power, their neighborhoods were carved up to put in the freeway interchange of the 5, 10, 101, and 60. An interesting story of what is done to the politically powerless in the name of "progress." I kinda wish I had been more awake for it.

Total Running Time: 200 minutes
My Total Minutes: 431,609

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