Thursday, December 22, 2016

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 12

Two features on Monday...about a month...and a half...ago. I apologize, but it's time for a late data dump.

SAVE YOURSELF is a clever and knowing look at the role of women in horror films. A team of female horror filmmakers are on a cross-country trip, traveling from their film festival premiere screening back to their homes in L.A. They met some...interesting people at the screening, and they'll meet a couple of them again. And they'll get kidnapped and held for twisted experiments by an ex-Nazi scientist with some interesting ideas about eugenics. That's pretty spoiler-y for a short-ass review. Oops.

Then the highlight of the festival MAD MAX: SILENT FURY. I should say, as someone who has attended the festival from the very beginning (even before the beginning, if you count the final horror-themed weekend of the 2003 SF Indiefest as the proto-Holehead) they roped me into a volunteer job for the festival. Specifically, my job was to introduce the films and (when there were filmmakers present) lead the Q&A. Which turned out to be a lot of fun. And nothing was more fun that introducing a packed house to MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, in black and white, with the sound removed, and with a live score by The Firmament. Especially as a silent film fan, I got to wax eloquent on how silent film is still alive today. It's inspiring your favorite filmmakers, I guarantee it (unless you have no taste.) And, in fact, silent films are still being made today--you just don't know it, because of all the talking in them. The fact is, the art of a silent film is not in the lack of dialogue--that's just the technical limitation. The art of a silent film is in conveying an idea--an emotion, a story point, a little piece of information--through a moving picture, rather than through exposition. Show, don't tell. And every time that happens in a movie (and it happens all the time in a good movie) silent films are still alive. And what we watched that night completely validated my theory, as MAD MAX: FURY ROAD still works in black and white, and it works without dialogue, and it was brilliant.

Total Running Time: 211 minutes
My Total Minutes: 437,162

Friday, December 2, 2016

Jason goes to Holehead--Day 11

Okay, catching up from about a month behind...

The final Sunday of Holehead started with a program of local films that just didn't quite fit into the festival theme, but were great anyway--Not Another Hole in the Head
I HATE THE COLOR RED: The comic struggles of a family working hard to keep their business afloat. Difficulty level: that business is a video rental store. A film about cinephilia with a touch of nostalgia.
IMPRESSIVE STACKS: Trying to impress with the books you pick up at the library. Very funny.
THE LAST SUMMER: Five friends on a road trip, sharing a night in a cheap motel, and pondering their future. And comically struggling with the lights.
REBEL CHILD: A kid can't be a kid forever. And when you're raised in war, personal tragedies can determine which side you'll join.

And then more shorts. These ones fit in the festival, but not in any particular program. Beacause they're Random Acts
THE BRIDGE PARTNER: A nice, genteel bridge club gets a new member. And the timid housewife she's partnered with gets quite a shock.
CRUEL FORGIVENESS: A cool Mexican horror film about strange religion.
D.C.E.: Fight over a mysterious box, in a post-apocalyptic world.
DARK_NET: A man, with a problem, finds his assassin. Or maybe he just found a scammer online as is about to be taken for everything. Pretty amusing, either way.
THE EASTERN SEA - THE FOOL: Love and UFO conspiracies.
THE EDGE: Primitives, refugees, and anarchy in the woods. Pretty cool.
THE GREAT EMU WAR: The only surviving documentation of the time emus and humans fought a war.
LAURA, LOST: Friends believe a creepy woodsman is responsible for the disappearance of a local girl.
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE: Surprises, as a man picks up a stranded woman. But who will be victimizing whom?
THAT'S HOW I ROLL: A Dungeons & Dragons game goes badly out of control.
WHISTLE IN THE DARK: Brother and sister in the woods. And some demons. Pretty cool.

Then more shorts, with people doing bad things. It's Inappropriate Behavior
AFTER WORK: A black and white animated normal evening at home. Getting ready for dinner...with a little sexual assault.
THE DUCHESS OF MARS: A noise complaint is not at all what it appears to be, as a racist, homophobic cop is going to be put through an awkward situation. Actually, it's strange enough it would be awkward for anyone.
HARMFUL SENSATIONS: The night life takes its toll. This time, in the form of a particularly gross venereal disease.
IN A WORLD OF BAD BREATH: Ummm...I remember this one was pretty weird, but not much else about it.
INK, COCKS & ROCK'N'ROLL: Steve Martin (not that one) talks about his graphic artist alter-ego, Krent Able, and his outrageous works.
LAVENDER: A drug that will make you live your greatest sexual fantasy. But what if you find out something about yourself you weren't prepared for?
THE MUFFLER TEST (A SHORT FILM ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS): An emotional connection to something an old man left in his VW bus.
SCARY LITTLE FUCKERS: Goes on a bit long, and is heavily inspired by GREMLINS, but a lot of fun.

Then guess what? More shorts! These ones with an LGBT theme, because it's Dark Rainbow
AXIOMATIC: When seeking revenge, it helps to suppress your conscience. A few nanobots can do the trick, and make you unstoppable.
THE DOODLER HOMOCIDES: A fascinating documentary about a serial killer who victimized the gay community of San Francisco in the 1970s. Scary stuff.
DREAMS WE SHARE: Outside, there's war. Insider an abandoned house, there are memories of when there wasn't war.
EDEN: In 2042, "curing" gay people is once again the norm. And gay youth are sent to the Eden Institute to be tortured cured. A story of an attempted escape.
A FALL FROM GRACE: The prequel to EDEN.
HARD BROADS: Three women are living it up on a celebrity's long as nobody finds out she's dead.
NUOC: Experimental narrative of a Vietnamese American kid trying to understand his mother's experience as a war refugee.
PYOTR495: In Russia, after the passage of a "Gay Propaganda" law, online hookups come at a great risk. But a little monsterism makes the risk a two-way street.

And then the one feature of the day, the very strange THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK. A young black man hides out in a trailer in the woods. His supplies--including his anti-psychotic medication--is provided at regular intervals by his friend. But he's out there to crack the secrets of alchemy--to turn base metals into gold, and to make a fortune. And the isolation and...irregular medicine intervals...they take their toll on him. Either that, or he's really tapping into some satanic forces to get his fortune at a terrible price. The movie is an excellent, slow-paced burn, that keeps a surprising amount of tension for what is mostly one guy puttering around his trailer alone. Actor Ty Hickson deserves a heck of a lot of credit for keeping it intense but believable. And director Joel Potrykus deserves just as much credit for keeping the audience guessing and interested in the little glimpses into a broken mind.

Total Running Time: 463 minutes
My Total Minutes: 437,052