Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Well, that was a lot of fun. I thought Batman wasn't a very interesting character in THE LEGO MOVIE. And maybe he still isn't, but this movie does a good job of telling an exciting story while simultaneously mocking and deconstructing the superhero genre and the Batman mythology. It even references back to the 1940s miniseries (although too quickly for me to tell if it was the Lewis Wilson or Robert Lowery one.)

Batman was uninteresting in THE LEGO MOVIE because he's a one-joke character. Dark and brooding, he neither needs nor wants connection with anyone. Breaking that down and rebuilding him as a member of a bat-family is the whole point of THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE. It starts with him foiling and then insulting the Joker by telling him that he means nothing to him. Batman is the ultimate loner, he doesn't even value his arch-enemy. So Joker hatches his greatest plot--get banished to The Phantom Zone just so he can break out and bring all the worst villains with him. Batman has natural allies in his butler Alfred, (accidentally) adopted son Dick Grayson, and new police commissioner Barbara Gordon, but he has to get over his greatest fear--not clown snakes, but having a family he can lose--before he can win.

The jokes come rapid-fire, enough to make it worth watching again and Googling the more obscure ones (like all of Batman's minor villains.) Which makes the whole thing a lot of fun.

Running Time: 104 minutes
My Total Minutes: 419,532

Jason goes to Indiefest--Closing Night

The final night of Indiefest 2017 started with one more screening at the Alamo Drafthouse, the odd Brazilian coming of age story KILL ME PLEASE. I liked this a lot, but somehow wished I had liked it more. 15 year old girl Bia becomes obsessed with a series of local murders. I mean, everyone is talking about them, but she's downright obsessed. Like, similar to how normal 15 year-olds are obsessed Actually, the ideas of sex and death...and abuse and rape...permeate the film. But just on a fantasy level. To a large extent, this is a movie about the fantasy life of 15 year old girls, including all the dark fascination with rape fantasies and murder. And maybe I'm not the target audience, but I found it fascinating without being particularly insightful about any of it. But it was gorgeously shot. The cinematography deserves heaps of praise.

And finally, I ended the festival in Israel with OMG, I'M A ROBOT!?! High action wackiness abounds as mild mannered Danny is dumped by his girlfriend Noa. He's just not macho enough. In a fit of despair, he attempts to slit his wrists (the right way, down the arm, not across!) only to find not blood and guts underneath but wires and gears. Turns out, he's a robot! He can shoot lasers from his hands, has super strength, doesn't feel pain...except that he still feels pain because he's still kind of a wimp. Also, Noa didn't dump him, she was kidnapped. Time for a heroic rescue! What a fun way to end the festival.

Then a last beer at Dalva with a few of my front-row friends, and Indiefest 2017 is finally in the books.

Total Running Time: 176 minutes
My Total Minutes: 419,428

Jason goes to Indiefest--the Penultimate Night

Possibly the best night of Indiefest this year, with some truly powerful movies.

SOME FREAKS starts as a simple high school outcasts romance, but takes some strange turns and never ceases surprising. Matt has is missing an eye and teased for his eye patch. Jill is the new girl in school and significantly overweight, but with a smart abrasive personality that makes certain people (e.g., me) like her immediately. After a bit of awkwardness, they hook up and have a great senior year romance. She also happens to be the young aunt of Matt's best friend, openly gay and even more openly dorky Elmo. Then they all go off to college, and I don't want to spoil anything but it starts taking viciously dark twists. A well made movie about flawed characters who show that it's not their superficial traits that make them freaks, but their horribly damaged psyches.

And then the Indiefest jury award winner (insider secret--the IndiePass holders are the jury, and that includes me) HUNKY DORY. The trailer has been quietly making me tear up all week, and I'm pleased to report the full movie lives up. In a just world, this would be a star-making turn for Tomas Pais, who plays Sidney, a wannabe rock star who makes a living as a drag queen and borderline male prostitute. Equally great is Edouard Holdener as his 11 year old son George. A hectic weekend starts with George showing up at Sidney's home, after his mentally ill mother dropped him off and disappeared. Sidney clearly loves George, and does his best to not let on how horribly inconvenient his appearance is, at a time when his personal demons are tearing him apart and about to lead to some pretty drastic decisions. The chemistry between the two leads is amazing, showcasing the infinite capacity for a father's love and a son's forgiveness. Beautiful and amazing.

Total Running Time: 185 minutes
My Total Minutes: 419,252

Jason says Farewell to the Hypnodrome, then rocks out with a few 80's Power Ballads

Happy Valentine's Day (a few days week later) loyal readers!

Of course, I spent it with my loves. First and most important, my girlfriend.

Second, the Hypnodrome and the Thrillpeddlers. I was there when they opened 13 years ago with Welcome to the Hypnodrome (even before, when they were doing their Shocktoberfest show out of the old Odeon Bar,) and eventually the party had to end. I hate to use the "G" word, but I'm afraid they're being gentrified out of the city. But not until one last hurrah, with an immediacy and intimacy that made it a truly special show. This wasn't an audience coming to watch a show, this was a family celebrating an era while mourning it's end, with all the laughter, tears, singing, and drinking that entails. And it ended with a promise that their currently-in-rehearsal show Amazon Apocalypse will go on...somewhere, somehow. Here's hoping that's not the end.

And then third, I made my way back to the Roxie for Indiefest's traditional Power Ballads Sing-A-Long. More drinking, more singing, more 80s outfits and outrageous hair. But I didn't need a wig, and I got enough head-banging in for it to hurt the next day (Shot Through the Heart always does that to me.) Another beautiful tradition.

Running Time: 60 minutes (approximately how long I stayed for the Power Ballads)
My Total Minutes: 419,067

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 12

It's a week after the fact, but we're down to the final stretch. Two more shows on Monday, starting with the final shorts program, #WTF. Hooray for weird-ass shorts!
CANDY-GASMS: How a woman eats candy. How a man eats candy. How a leather-harness clad fetishist eats chocolate....
AARSA: From India, a janitor in a dance studio takes his chance to become a beautiful dancer.
THE COUNSELOR: Based on a true story, in 1971 at a crisis center hotline, a suicidal teenager calls in and is talked off the edge...but Ted Bundy.
GOLDEN SHOT: I saw this one last year at Cinequest. Machines, powered by light, spend all their time and effort trying to keep the lights on. But one has the daring idea--build the sun.
THE HISTORY OF MAGIC: ENSUENO: A funny animated piece about a reckless teenage girl in West Texas.
MADE IN SPAIN: Stop-motion insanity as a day at the beach gets crazier and crazier.
MINOR TURBULENCE: A pilot and co-pilot go through their routine while their attention is really on what happened in each of their home lives.
ODDBALL: A glimpse into the world of the local film archive, Oddball Films.
ZAAR: A suicide bomber goes to a diner. And meeting the friendly locals makes him doubt his mission.

Next up was DESIRE WILL SET YOU FREE, a vibrant tour through the queer Berlin scene. There's a story there...something about an American who falls for a Russian and shows him around the clubs. But I was tired/drunk, so I didn't follow that all that well. Mostly it was just a very colorful, funny, and queer-positive tour of Berlin, with stars such as Peaches and Nina Hagen. Lots of fun.

Total Running Time: 176 minutes
My Total Minutes: 419,007

Monday, February 13, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 11

5 more movies, as the second weekend wraps up. We're down to the home stretch left.

First up was the documentary CHEER UP, from Finland. It's about the world of competitive cheerleading, seen through the worst team in Finland, the Ice Queens. Ever since SPELLBOUND, I've had a particular affinity for documentaries about eccentric competitions. Everything from Air Guitar to pizza dough tossing to Rock, Paper, Scissors to memory sports. So this should be right up my alley, and competitive cheerleading is relatively mainstream. And I enjoyed it, I just thought it could've been better. Using a 'fly-on-the-wall' technique, we see the Ice Queens come in dead last at the local competition. So their coach travels to the world championships in Plano, Texas to learn some tips and pick up some inspiration. Armed with a new attitude and a tougher philosophy, she returns and works her team harder than ever before. There's some resistance, some girls kind of drop out for a bit, but come back when they decide it's important. And the new, reenergized team is ready to come out strong in their next competition. Some of the best parts are the slow motion close-ups of the girls working on their routine. In slow motion, it looks less fun and more like the serious athletic feats it really is. But I said it could be better, and what I mean is that I think the fly-on-the-wall approach becomes limiting. It's good enough to make me curious about the sport (is it particularly popular in Finland? Why do all the teams have English names?) and about the characters (we see some of their home life, but never once do I get a sense of why they want to be competitive cheerleaders.) There's nothing wrong with a fly-on-the-wall, but this called for some more traditional interviews to set up the story better.

And then I saw another documentary that used an observational approach, although at least the characters in MYRTLE BEACH addressed the camera. But that mattered little, since I found them pretty insufferable and the movie alternately exploitative and boring. I gladly dozed through a good chunk of it. So instead, I'll tell you a story about my positive experience at the screening. Most people there (in the full-to-capacity 50-seat Little Roxie) were actually there to see the short (which I'll get to shortly) including the woman who sat next to me. She was hard of hearing, and had with her a hearing assistance dog--a very friendly and adorable pug. And he came over and sniffed me and let me pet him (I checked that it was okay first) and then climbed right up into my lap. So for about the first 20 minutes of the film, I got to pet an adorable lap dog, until he got bored, climbed down, and explored as far as his leash would let him. That was by far the best part of the film.

And then after the feature was the short, LADY BOUNTIFUL. A late (i.e., after the guides went to press) addition to the festival, this is a 20 minute film-poem about Joan Von Briesen. She's 85 years old, an artist and ultimate recycler, scrounging the trash of San Francisco to find things to use in her work. She even in the movie finds a fake breast, which turns useful as she has cancer and is about to undergo a mastectomy. She claimed she was in fact wearing it at the Q&A, I took her word for it and didn't check (sorry, my sense of decorum is more powerful than my journalistic zeal!) A lovely movie about a lovely woman. I feel bad for the people who walked out of MYRTLE BEACH and missed this. But I also feel bad for the people who watched all of MYRTLE BEACH.

MYRTLE BEACH and LADY BOUNTIFUL play again on Tuesday, Feb 14th at 7:15.

Next up, another movie with a fly-on-the-wall approach, but this time a narrative film (although it took me a little time to realize it,) LUPE UNDER THE SUN. Lupe (Daniel Muratalla) is a Mexican immigrant, working in peach farms in the U.S. He travelled there to make money to send back to his family, but now he hasn't seen his family in several years. He's old, has health problems, drinks a bit too much (lots of Coors Lite) and is full of regret for all the life he has missed away from his wife and kids. Moreover, he's having an affair with another immigrant, and she's filling his heads with ideas that his family has forgotten him and his kids hate him. Fears that unfortunately are founded, as he discovers when he calls them after wiring them some money. It's a slow, contemplative, melancholy film. One that shows the life of oft-overlooked people, and doesn't allow a lot of happiness in.

LUPE UNDER THE SUN plays again on Thursday, Feb 16th at 7:15.

Next up was technically the closing night film, but Indiefest always repeats their weekend shows over the next week. LITTLE BOXES is a subtle dramedy about the strange "nice" racism that exists in small, liberal towns where gosh darn it, if a black guy ever moved in, we'd be totally nice and welcoming about it. I've come to realize that I grew up in one of those towns, so this was particularly interesting. Interracial couple Gina (Melanie Lynskey, who also had a small role in the opening night film FOLK HERO AND FUNNY GUY) and Mack (Nelsan Ellis), and their sixth grader Clark (Armani Jackson) are moving out of their Brooklyn life so that Gina can start her new career as a college art professor in Rome...WA. Rome, WA does not actually exist, and as an old Bellinghamster, I was interested in what part of the state it was supposed to be in. Given that Wenatchee is referenced as a nearby town and it's on the way to Seattle, this puts it in the Eastern foothills of the Cascades, not quite to the dusty might-as-well-be-Idaho shitty part of the state (I kid because I love.) In any case, it didn't really look like the Washington I remember, and for good reason--it was shot in  Harrison, NY and Newburgh, NY. Anyway, they get there an people are friendly. Kind of going out of their way to be friendly. And not hiding very well that it's unusual for a black guy--and especially a mixed race family--to live there. Clark quickly falls in with two white girls who are excited because the town "totally needed a black kid." But to be popular, Clark abandons his kinda nerdy, book-loving true self and tries to fit in and learn the misogynistic rap music that the white kids like, thinking it's cool because it's black. Weird, weird dynamics. The parents are dealing with their own shit, too. Gina is nervous about work and fitting in. Mack is a writer who has been struggling to come up with a second novel and is making some money writing an article about food vlogs, complicated by the fact that the movers are late so all their stuff is on a truck somewhere between New York and their new home. Oh yeah, and their house has mold. As a metaphor for the ugly rot just below the pleasing surface--and the fact that only Mack can smell it--it's a strong metaphor, if a little on-the-nose. All in all, this is a great movie about attitudes that are a little hard to discuss (paradoxically, maybe harder to discuss as overt expressions of racism become easier?) And it's particularly remarkable that so much of the story is carried by the child actors, who are pretty terrific.

LITTLE BOXES plays again on Thursday, Feb 16th at 7:15. It also has distribution through Netflix, so keep an eye out for it.

And finally, I ended the night with a clever, low budget, local superhero...ish movie, SUPERPOWERLESS. Bob (Josiah Polhemus) used to be a superhero. He was Captain Truth, the savior of San Francisco, along with his sidekick Liberty Boy (our own local filmmaking hero, H.P. Mendoza.) But in his 40s, his powers started to disappear, to the point where he doesn't really have any anymore. Punches hurt him now. He can't run that fast. And flying...well, flying was never a matter of running and jumping, it was about falling and then...deciding not to fall. So the only way to test if he still can do it, is to take a chance that might kill him.

But he doesn't have a bad life, exactly. He's got his respectable if not fancy home in the city. He's got a beautiful and loving girlfriend Mimi (Amy Prosser) and he has his friends--most notably a homeless ex-psychiatrist Dr. George Holst (Pepe Serna) who helps him talk through his issues. Their backstory sounds pretty intriguing...I would see a prequel/spinoff just about that. Anyway, Mimi and the good doctor convince Bob to write his memoirs--if not for publishing, at least to work through the process and deal with his mid-life crisis. So he does. And he gets an editor. And when they meet he finds that "Daniel" is actually "Daniell" a pretty young woman who becomes really interested when she finds out he's Captain Truth. So of course that sets off a little wishful thinking about her. It's a very clever concept, that capitalizes on the popularity of superhero flicks but doesn't feature a single scene of super powers. Rather, it's a heartfelt drama about reaching middle age and realizing what you once had is gone, and what you dreamt of may never happen, but learning to appreciate the good things you do have.

SUPERPOWERLESS plays again on Wednesday, Feb 15th at 6:30 at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Total Running Time: 428
My Total Minutes: 418,831

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 10

The big second weekend kicked off with a 5-show Saturday, starting with some shorts, #Love&Death
HE AND SHE: In a single shot, this German film shows a man driving a car full of his stuff to move in with his girlfriend. Then he gets a call and she breaks up with him. Then he gets some booze and cigarettes at a gas station convenience store. And then he meets a nice older lady who gives him a hilarious new perspective.
BONE GUITAR: A super-short animation of the ghost in an old guitar who gives it new life.
DEAR DEATH: Stewball the horse is haunted by the fear of death. So he writes Death a letter. And Death replies.
DOLL: You have to be pretty. Just like those dolls. The doll-obsessed personal trainer has a creepy back story, and an even creepier hobby.
THE GOAT ON THE ROOF: An animated retelling of a long life, with a long love (over 50 years married.)
MOLASSES AND LEMON: An experimental examination of love...and how painful it is.
PENNY FROM HEAVEN: From the UK, the spirit of a woman who killed herself must save 1,000 souls in order to get her wings and be a real angel. This is the story of number 999, and the particularly poignant beginning of number 1,000.
TEMPORARY: A man who performs in-home pet euthanasia sees it as his calling. But he has an ethical dilemma when he's asked to perform a very special procedure.
TEN YEARS: A couple is celebrating their 10th anniversary in Las Vegas. That night, they have a very sobering conversation about their relationship, spurred by how she noticed him looking at other girls. He claims he's happy being married to her, but can that ever be 100% true?
THANK YOU MR. IMADA: A legendary director, and his powerful technique for coaxing great performances out of struggling actors. Very funny.
#Love&Death plays again Tuesday, Feb 14 at 7:15

And then I saw SALTWATER, part of the festival's tribute to the recently departed local filmmaking legend Lise Swenson. Jenny is getting married. And she wants to get married in her grandmother's (and mother's) wedding dress. But her mother insists she doesn't have it. It must still be with her eccentric aunt, who has hoarded most of the family heirlooms. She lives down by the Salton Sea, an ecological disaster (mainly due to lack of outflow) in southern California. While there, she learns of the vibrant artistic community living amidst the ecological decay, a state that mirrors her own dysfunctional family. She fights with her aunt, who is pretty particular about how she lives her life. She fights with her mom, who is stubborn in opposite ways. Both she and her fiancee cheat on each other...kinda. He takes a friend to a lecture on "orgasmic touching" and practises what they learned, then she retaliates by letting a local artist paint a scene on her nude body. And as her aunt falls ill, her brief visit is extended, and the Salton Sea becomes more and more a reflection of her own tears (saltwater) but also a source of artistic freedom and inspiration. Eventually she will have to decide where she goes next in life. Beautifully done.

Then the next show started with a short, VIDEOCLUB. Nacho (Vigalonda, of TIMECRIMES, one of my favorite films, and my favorite blog post) is in a new video store. And this store has everything. Rare movies. Impossible to find movies. Never released movies (like Jerry Lewis' infamous THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED.) Even future movies, like E.T. RETURNS. This video store is like heaven!

And that was the lead-in for the Argentinian film, 2001: WHILE KUBRICK WAS IN SPACE. With riots on the street and frequent break-ins, 2001 was the worst financial crisis in the history of Argentina. And a trio of young people try to escape by...watching movies, hanging out, going on a road-trip in a stolen pink car to go to the national Paper Airplane competition for a chance to compete in the world championships in Europe.... Nothing goes as planned, and the shitty reality of 2001 (including a brief mention of the World Trade Center) plays out just as shitty as it really was, in stark contrast to the space-age marvel that Kubrick imagined. Oh, and the best part is when their car gets suck in the mud overnight and they're rescued the next day by a farmer who is the spiting image of Stanley Kubrick himself.

2001: WHILE KUBRICK WAS IN SPACE and VIDEOCLUB plays again Sunday, Feb 12 at 9:15 at the Alamo Drafthouse

Next up was EMPTY SPACE, a story of an overweight man who leaves Chicago to escape the bullying he faces daily and live in the aptly-named town of Protection, Illinois. His grandmother had a cabin there, and he moves in, gets a job washing dishes at a local diner, and tries to find some solace in his solitude. While there he meets a charming blind girl named Lily, and they develop a friendship that soon becomes something more, if he can get over his shame and body issues. He also befriends a kind of bratty little girl who steals food, crashes at his place, and basically avoids her alcoholic father. Each in their own way give him a chance to be a hero, if he doesn't completely blow it. A nice, tender story with characters you care about and real emotion. Very well done.

EMPTY SPACE plays again Monday, Feb 13 at 7:15

And then finally, I ended the night with HERE ALONE, a psychological drama with post-apocalyptic zombie genre trappings. Ann is living in the woods, foraging to survive. She's a survivalist, but we learn through flashbacks that she wasn't always like that. Her husband taught her a lot when they fled the virus outbreak with their newborn daughter. But given that neither the husband nor the baby are around, we know pretty quickly that those flashbacks are going to become pretty bleak before they catch up to the present. In the meantime, we see a lot about the logistics of survival, from foraging for food to some pretty disgusting ways to hide from zombies (e.g., using animal feces to mask your scent.) After a mostly unsuccessful foraging raid for canned goods, she runs across two more survivors, Chris and Olivia. Chris is hurt (but not infected) so Ann helps Liv bring him back to her camp and nurse him back to health. Like in so many zombie movies, mistrust is natural. But I liked that they moved passed it and worked together--at least for a time. Turns out Chris was married to Liv's mom (I assume he's not Liv's father, though, since she never calls him "dad"--I might have missed that explanation.) And now...maybe he's falling for Ann. In any case, they're heading north where it seems like the outbreak has been kept at bay. But Ann has made her little camp for herself here, and is opposed to moving. So it becomes a three-part human drama about relationships, dealing with past trauma, and how to move forward in the future. There just happens to be zombies, but other than that it's not much of a genre movie. Except for one twist at the end that is pure genre, and I'm still processing how I feel about that. Overall, a great little film.

HERE ALONE plays again Tuesday, Feb 14 at 9:30

Total Running Time: 441 minutes
My Total Minutes: 418,404

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 9

Two movies--kinda--on Friday.

First up was STRAWMAN, an experimental drama from rural China. Xiatian has a tough life. His parents are gone. His little brother is bullied at school. His sister works as a maid at a hotel where she's sexually harassed by her boss. And he turns to petty crime to make a living. It's beautifully shot, and as a window into a part of China that isn't often seen, it's pretty interesting. His struggles are easy to sympathize with, even if his actions aren't always sensible. And there's not a lot of chances for even little victories in his life. It's kind of pessimistic, which I suppose given his situation makes it pretty realistic.

And then I raced over to the Brava Theater to see as much of THE BIG LEBOWSKI as I could. The Big Lebowski party has been a staple of Indiefest almost as long as I have been going. Lately they've been "shadow-casting" the movie (playing the movie while actors act it out on stage.) And I always have to check it out because my friend Ira is the best damn Walter Sobchak ever. I got there pretty early in the film--right when the Dude is meeting with the Big Lebowski the first time. And I don't have to recap the film, I assume everyone who wants to see it has. And the shadow-casting was excellent (although I've heard rumors of behind-the-scenes drama, on stage it seemed to work pretty well.) Plus I always like a party where there are plenty of White Russians and/or oat sodas (beer.)

Total Running Time: 162 minutes (figuring I missed about 30 minutes of BIG LEBOWSKI, between arriving late and hanging out at the bar a couple of times.)

My Total Minutes: 417,963

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 8

Two more movies last Thursday.

First up, the high school comedy TIM TIMMERMAN, HOPE OF AMERICA. Tim Timmerman is a young politician. Senior class President, he has some slick people skills, but doesn't really apply himself. He's basically coasting by on his charisma and taking advantage of everyone. And he's really only doing this to pad out his resume and get into Yale--even though with his grades he doesn't have much of a chance. When he's given an opportunity to collaborate with the senior class President of a rival school, he blows her off, until he realizes her father is a senator who could help his career. But in the course of taking advantage of her (not that way, you perv) he actually starts falling for her. He's not such a bad guy, it's just his natural people skills have made life pretty easy for him, until someone finally challenges him. This is the kind of movie that could have been really trite and unappealing, but the performances were great, the script has a few unexpected turns, and Tim is, in the end, a likable enough guy that you root for him (especially because his main rivals are much, much worse.)

And then the documentary FINDING JOSEPH I. I hadn't known anything about the band BAD BRAINS or their lead singer HR before. A hardcore punk rocker, then a reggae singer and a preacher of peace an love. And an eccentric. And a little unhinged. And, as it turns out, pretty definitely schizophrenic. Using archival footage and interviews with friends, colleagues, and HR himself, we get an intimate view of his gifts and his curse. His amazing performances and his unpredictable behavior. His successes and his struggles--including many years homeless. You feel for the guy, and for the people who suffered his erratic behavior. And (spoiler alert!) you can cheer when he finally is diagnosed, gets medication, and sticks to it.

Total Running Time: 184 minutes
My Total Minutes: 417,801

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 7

Two more on Wednesday, starting with the low-budget sci-fi TWENTY TWENTY-FOUR. In the near future (the year 2024, to be precise--and this was made before the recent Presidential election, so that's a total coincidence) the threat of global nuclear war is so great that the government has built a series of underground bunkers to house scientists who will save the species and eventually repopulate the Earth. But this is really an excuse to make a sci-fi film with just one character in an isolated location. One scientist, Roy (Andrew Kinsler) maintains a bunker with the help of a computer screen and the occasional holographic message from up top. As the isolation sets in, he starts to question his reality--has the nuclear war already broken out? Is there no war, and it's all safe? Is he actually the subject of an experiment on isolation? Or is he one in a long line of caretakers of the facility? Or many other interpretations. And it became clear in the Q&A that the director, Richard Mundy, doesn't know which one is true either. Which explains why I found it vaguely unsatisfying. See, I can look at it and realize it's a clever approach to minimal-budget filmmaking. The actor is great, the sets are great, and I have no problem with ambiguity. I like ambiguity (or do I? Maybe I'm lying right now) but when the whole point of the film is ambiguity, what's the point of trying to decide which one is right? That "what's the point?" feeling kind of infects the film. Like it doesn't feel like it was made to explore ideas and feelings of isolation and insanity, it feels like it was made to make something cool for cheap--one actor, one setting. But the skill is definitely there, and it was a very well made film. I'm eager to see Mundy make a film that starts with a point.

And then AMERICANA explored some similar aspects of ambiguity, but with different results (and, as was revealed in the Q&A, a director who knew what the truth of his story was.) Avery Wells (David Call) is an alcoholic. He's hiding up in a mountain cabin away from the world, drinking himself to death. Until he is called back to San Francisco to edit a film. Yeah, he used to be an editor, and his sister Kate (Kelli Garner) is the star of the film within the film (also called AMERICANA) and the producer wants to give him a break. There's some back story with them--years ago they were driving and hit and killed a kid. That might have been what pushed him over the alcoholic edge (or alcohol might have been involved in the accident.) In any case, he gets a creepy phone call from the dead kid's relative, threatening him. And shortly after the film is completed, he makes good on his threat--by murdering Kate. Which is horrible and tragic...and really helps ticket sales of the film. So there's a conspiracy theory that maybe this wasn't just a simple misguided revenge murder. Maybe the producer colluded with him... Avery digs and digs, trying to edit the pieces of information he has into a story that makes sense, all while succumbing to alcoholic urges far too often and alienating everyone who is trying to help him. An excellent little drama showing a snapshot into a character's life with all the foggy ambiguity (literally foggy, this is San Francisco) that comes with it, but one that knows what its underlying reality is.

Total Running Time: 169 minutes
My Total Minutes: 417,617

Friday, February 10, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 6

Two more shows on Tuesday, starting with the shorts program #LOL. Hooray for funny shorts!
SWIPED: A funny little animated piece about addiction to our smart phones and tablets. Note: this was definitely not written on my phone.
FANNY PACK: An Indian father, a rebellious daughter, and a misunderstanding in the airport.
THE INSPECTOR AND THE UMBRELLA: A slapstick cartoon about an inspector whose day is ruined by an uncooperative umbrella.
THE LAST LAUGH: More of a drama about comedy, but with some classic jokes, as old comedians prepare for another show and reminisce about their long careers.
THE MASSAGE: A wife gives her husband a shoulder massage, and notices a new mole on his neck. Hypochondriac humor.
SERVAL AND CHAUMIER, MASTER OF SHADOWS: Rival magicians--one a former apprentice of the other--duel in a French village, until a new form of magic replaces them both.
SHY GUYS: The difficulties of peeing in a public restroom. Normally...talking does not help. This was the funniest one in the program.
SOIREE: You know that feeling when there's a circle of friends talking and you're trying to wedge your way into the circle? Pretty funny if you take it to the extreme.
WIFEY REDUX: From Ireland, even if your marriage has grown stale, a father will do anything to make sure his daughter is happy. Wait, that sounded kind of creepy. It's not...too much.

And then we ended the night with the feature ZEN DOG. Okay, I have to start by saying I didn't know anything about Alan Watts prior to this film. And judging by the response, you kind of have to be a fan to really dig this film. At least, you have to be somewhat familiar with his work on lucid dreaming. Without that, for me this became one of those 'beautifully shot lullabies' that had pleasing visuals and kind of put me to sleep. a way made this film a kind of lucid dream for myself. The plot, as I could follow, was about Mud (yes, our hero is literally named Mud) and his boring day job running a failing VR company. So his cousin turns him on to lucid dreaming, and he ends up going on a bizarre cross-country trip in his dreams--and in a psychedelic VW. Well made, and pretty cool, but I don't think I was the target audience. The target audience thought it was a brilliant masterpiece.

Total Running Time: 189 minutes
My Total Minutes: 417,448

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 5

Monday kicked off a full week of 2-a-days at Indiefest, and I started with my first visit this year to the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission for THE MIRACLE OF TEKIR. A friend of mine has noted that Indiefest so far this year has had a notable number of "beautiful lullabies"--films that are beautifully shot, gorgeous to look at, but slow, contemplative, and tend to put you to sleep. THE MIRACLE OF TEKIR could almost have been one of those, but I stayed awake the whole way through. It starts by recalling an old legend about the mud on the Danube delta and it's magical healing powers. In modern days, Mara lives in a small fishing village on the delta, and collects mud from a special spot. She's also pregnant although she's not married. And she claims she has not slept with any man. But the village doesn't believe her, so they banish her, and she goes to work for a spa hotel called Tekir. There she meets a rich, eccentric woman named Lili who is at the spa specifically trying to cure her infertility. Their relationship is the main driver of the movie, filled with humor, wonder, and feminine energy (this passes the Bechdel test by miles) and makes the whole movie very enjoyable. And there's a side story of the local priest who starts to believe Mara--in a different movie that would be the main story, but I enjoyed that the story stayed with the women and mostly left the men out of it.

And then I ended the night with GRAND UNIFIED THEORY. Okay, this is my personal hang-up, but I find movies that try to use physics principles as metaphors for life really...problematic. I could trace this back to my college days, where one night I found a TV program that was a collaboration between the Physics and English departments at some college (I've never found this program since.) They were trying to simultaneously explain quantum physics and Shakespeare, using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as an analogy to Hamlet's indecisiveness and vice-versa. It did not work. At best it was just silly and forced. But this has influenced my view of physics metaphors ever since.

Okay, so to the actual movie at hand. Dr. Albert James (Scott Bellis) is a famous astrophysicist and popular lecturer. He has an offer at a prestigious University, it just means moving his family from the Pacific Northwest (I forget if the exact city was established in the movie, but it was made Vancouver locals) to New York. But his family is in the middle of a little meltdown. Make that, big meltdown. Involving infidelity, jealousy, vandalism, drugs, and more. The acting is great, and the situations get pretty darn hilarious.

The story is intercut with scenes from his farewell lecture, expounding on physics principles and tying them to the human condition. And I really wanted to like that more. The idea seems good on paper, and I really wanted to like it more. But there were parts that just bugged me. Starting with the fact that he has more charisma than any physics lecture I've ever seen. It's more like a TED talk than a physics lecture. But that's beside the point, I understand that for a film it needs to be interesting. But when you make a physics metaphor, I can't help but use my own knowledge to question whether that metaphor makes sense. And I'll give you an example of a part where that broke down for me. In one part he's talking about how quantum particles stay connected over long distances. I don't think he used the term "quantum entanglement" but I took it that's what he was talking about. And as a metaphor for how we're all connected to each other and the universe, it's not bad. But he's talking about particles called quarks. And this isn't in the movie (unless I missed it) but quarks are sub-sub-atomic particles that make up the protons and neutrons in an atomic nucleus. And they have some very weird properties. Most forces (e.g., electro-magnetism or gravity,) the further away two particles are the weaker the force becomes. That's why we aren't much affected by the gravity of distant galaxies, or why medium sized magnets don't push or pull on each other from across the room. But quarks are different--the force that binds them together in a proton (for example) gets stronger the further apart you pull them. And it gets stronger pretty quickly, to the point that it's really impossible to separate quarks. So rather than a metaphor for how we're all connected, even across great distances, quarks make a better metaphor for how you're inseparable from those closest to you--which might make a good metaphor for love? Except...if you do try to separate quarks, the force between them gets so strong that it rips quark/anti-quark pairs out of the quantum vacuum and the original quarks end up bonding with them. So it's becomes a metaphor for...something like serial relationship addiction and the fear of being alone. And while that's part of some human conditions, it's not a very positive part, and not one worth celebrating in a movie.

But here's the important thing--none of that stuff about quarks is in the movie. It's just in my head, and invades the movie that I'm trying to watch. Which is why these efforts to make sense of the human condition through fundamental physics principles just don't work for me, no matter how much I want them to.

Total Running Time: 193 minutes
My Total Minutes: 417,259

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 4

The big first weekend wraps up with 5 movies, and a damn good day of films at Indiefest.

First up was #Adulting - shorts about coming of age...or failing to do so
TWINSBURG: Set in the real life town of Twinsburg, OH, during the real life Twins Days festival, twin brothers learn to be a little bit individual. Jerry loves the fun and tradition of Twins Days, but Paul has sort of outgrown it and wants to do his own thing.
BIRDY WOUAF WOUAF: The animated struggles of a newborn birdy whose chirp is more of a bark. It's hard to succeed in the wild when you don't sound right.
HI-GLOW RETRO: A nerd, disco dancing, embarrassment, and teenage masturbatory fantasies.
PIECE OF WOOD: From Egypt, some kids doing skateboard tricks in the mall have a run-in with the security guard. And so they have to pull off their biggest trick ever.
SCENT OF GERANIUM: A Persian immigrant retells her experiences in America through animation.
SNOW CONE: (Also played at Another Hole in the Head last year) A father tries to teach his son how to live like him, just before he goes away to prison. It's not a very good lesson.
THE EMPTY: An animated reflection on life, from birth to dust, through our living spaces.
THE LAST DAYS OF THE CINEMA: From Spain, a story of a free spirited father and his businessman son, the cinema that was their shared ground, and the closing of that cinema. A poignant reflection on cinema as a sacred space, even a sanctuary, and what is lost when it closes.

Then we kept up the coming of age thing by going to Denmark for WHERE THE WINDMILLS ARE. Based on a true story (from the director's childhood,) Thomas is a seventh grader in a small town in Denmark. His divorced parents are both authority figures--his father's a cop, his mother's a priest. And a good kid. Kind of a nerd, stays out of trouble, mostly. But he knows how to make bombs. Little firecrackers, really. His dad taught him. And he's infatuated with school bad girl Vikki. To impress her, and to get in with her group of cool kids, he builds a bomb to blow up their gym teacher's bike. And it works, but that just brings him into a group of bad kids and bullies who demand more bombs--or other extreme, uncomfortable behavior--from him or will make his life a living hell.

As someone who was not popular in school (I'm a nerd whose last name is a slang term for penis) I could easily sympathize with his plight, and his reaction--or non-reaction--to bullying. Anti-bullying campaigns (at least here in the U.S.) make a big deal about how not fighting back makes you the stronger man. And now that I've grown up, I can confirm...that this is kinda bullshit. I didn't fight back against my bullies, and it wasn't from some quiet wellspring of strength. It was a quiet wellspring of cowardice. But it all worked out for me, so I don't have a good answer. And neither does this film, I think. It just does an excellent job of portraying a boy stuck in a bad bullying situation, and what that feels like.

Then the theme of the day--coming of age stories--continued with WEST COAST. This is a comedy from France about some not very cool white kids who fashion themselves after West Coast American gangsta rappers. They are, of course, widely mocked at school. Enough so that they decide to take a bit of revenge at a cool kids party. They just need one of them to steal his dad's gun (oh, his dad is a cop, another recurring theme of the day.) Well, that sets of a wacky string of adventures, as the gun is lost/stolen and they have to get it back. Also, the nerdiest, pimpliest one is on a quest to meet his Internet girlfriend and get laid. Hilarity ensues, and it's pretty awesome.
Then a program that started with a few shorts, all appropriating "found" footage.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE USSR: A montage of old narrative films, news reels (from America and the U.S.S.R.,) and defense educational films. It tells a story--kinda--of a physicist that saves the world from attack.
COUNTER-CHANGE: Leisure Suit Larry 3 game footage becomes a subversive discourse on the nature of love and lust.
BATTLESTAR ABSTRACTICA: BSG - the original series - seen through a kaleidoscope.

And then FRAUD, which if it isn't my favorite film in the festival, it is my favorite to talk about. In our new world of "alternative facts" this film is particularly resonant. Director Dean Fleischer-Camp found a family that has uploaded thousands of hours of home video to YouTube, and with editor Jonathan Rippon turned it into a story. A story of a family struggling with bills, so they burn down their house, take the insurance money, and run away to Canada.

To be clear, none of this happened in real life. And this movie was made with the family's permission, but not with their editorial control.

Nothing new was filmed (although one key scene was heavily manipulated) and so with all "real" footage, FRAUD made it's world premiere last year at the Hot Docs film festival, and is listed as a documentary on IMDb. So there's a double-meaning to the title--is it referring to the fraud the family commits, or the fraud that is the movie itself (passing itself off as a documentary.)  So I see a couple of ways of watching it:

1. Watch it as a narrative, fiction film. In that case, the fact that it was compiled with existing "found" footage is an interesting technique, and brings to mind the question of whether a DJ who is sampling other people's music is a musician himself.
2. Watch is as a documentary (i.e., a real family committing real fraud and leaving clues to it online,) find out you've been lied to later, and then be super pissed off about it. Apparently this isn't an uncommon reaction.
3. Watch it as a meta-commentary about documentaries, remembering that the genre itself goes back to NANOOK OF THE NORTH which was completely staged. One of my favorite documentaries--the Oscar-winning THE HELLSTROM CHRONICLE--is equally fake. And ponder how easy it is to make a real-looking fake documentary, and what it says about our ability to spot a fake.

The editing is pretty choppy (apparently that's how the original footage was, but it serves the end result well) which sometimes make watching it unpleasant and disorienting, but like I said talking about it afterwards is pretty amazing.

FRAUD and the shorts plays again Wednesday, Feb 15th at 9:30

And finally, we ended the night with DOWN UNDER. Set in the aftermath of a race riot on the beaches of Sydney, the film follows the adventures of some truly dim-witted men (literally, the nicest and smartest one has Down's Syndrome.) A group of white guys want to take back their beach from the "lebs" (Lebanese) and "wogs" (somewhat generic term for non-white, I'm not going to delve into the fine distinctions.) And a group of Lebanese immigrants are tired of being pushed around and want their rights. In each group, there is a guy who doesn't really want conflict (you know, the typical stereotype of the "no worries, mate!" laid-back Australian) but is along for the ride out of solidarity and peer pressure from his friends. And wacky hijinx ensue and it's funny as hell. That's the interesting thing, director Abe Forsythe has created a film that doesn't soft-pedal the tense race relations (he opens with actual footage from the actual riot) but is not afraid to laugh at the idiots on both side. And it's brilliantly done.

DOWN UNDER plays again Friday, Feb 10th at 9:30.

Total Running Time: 439 minutes
My Total Minutes: 417,066

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 3

The big first weekend kicks off with a 5 film Saturday

First up, the shorts program #ForReals. Hooray for non-fiction!
CREE CODE TALKER: Charles "Checker" Tomkins was a Cree and a patriot who served his country (Canada) in WWII. He served by working for the Americans sending secret messages with the one tool the enemy didn't have--the Cree language.
A WAY FORWARD: A look at the difficulties and dangers of young girls just trying to go to school in Kenya. Either walk 10 miles each way, or get rides from shady guys on motorcycles. Amazing how something like a bicycle can change a life so much, and for the better.
BE FABULOUS, FIRST STOP: SEXITUDE: An amusing look at a uniquely SF dance class, where sexy attitude is emphasized in a body-positive, sex-positive, age-positive community.
BEING SEEN: Candid lives, and endearing loves of the developmentally disabled. Very beautiful.
PROPERTY: A short look at the National Wildlife Property Repository, a warehouse of confiscated wildlife trophies just outside of Denver. Who knew such a place even existed?
TODAY THEY TOOK MY SON: A poetic docu-drama about a Palestinian mother, her son, and the Israeli police. Very moving.
WHAT'S EATING ZACH TURNQUIST: Zach, a young man who kinda looks like Leonardo DiCaprio, looks up and contacts his birth mother. Spoiler alert: Leo is not his real father, but his mother is pretty cool. And the lucky man now has two families who love him.
WHERE WE STAND: Feminism is Mormonism might seem like an oxymoron. But this movie shows its very real, as we get a look at a couple of strong Mormon women and the organization Ordain Women.

#ForReals plays again on Moday, Feb 6th at 7:15.

And then a really strange movie from Bosnia and Herzegovina, PAPAGAJKA. Damir  is a security guard for what appears to be an abandoned apartment complex. At least, the hours he works there's no one else there. Or there isn't until a mysterious woman shows up and moves in with him, at least until they can figure out who she is and where she belongs. And then...well, I can't say there's even a story there. They just sort of are there together. Cooking, playing games, clipping fingernails...I have no idea what happened. Except that the shots are absolutely gorgeous (the director Emma Rozanski studied under Bela Tarr, and the influence is obvious.) I totally endorse the cinematography, I just wish I knew what it was all about.

PAPAGAJKA plays again on Moday, Feb 6th at 7:15.

And then the strangeness continued, in a completely different way, with TICKET TO THE CIRCUS. A witch, a murder, a gnome, weird racial issues, and some zombies...they're all somehow...around a road trip of two lesbians on the run from the law. There's a lot in this movie that doesn't make sense (my favorite is the guy looking for his lost friends who opens the microwave and looks in there.) It quickly became a running joke between me and my friend to point out something and say "that's what doesn't make sense about this movie." (Like, how they remain on the run even when they're cleared of the crime and no one's chasing them.) I did not sneak enough whiskey into the theater for this movie. Especially given how often they stop in bars and drink, I couldn't help but feel jealous.

TICKET TO THE CIRCUS plays again Sunday, Feb 5th at 12:30

And then some weirdness that was actually pretty awesome, SHE'S ALLERGIC TO CATS. Michael Pinkney (played by Michael Pinkney) is a dog groomer and video artist, and the video art invades this movie so it looks like it was made on--or at least copied to--VHS. He enjoys watching old John Travolta movies on video and has a dream to make an all-cat remake of CARRIE. Now that's revealed early on in the movie, and if the idea of an all-cat CARRIE remake sounds awesome to you, you're the kind of person who will love this movie. If you're confused, this movie probably isn't for you. Anyway, there's an infestation of rats in his apartment, and his landlord/L.A. street musician isn't doing much to help. And he's got a date with the lovely Cora (Sonja Kinski, granddaughter of Klaus Kinski) so he better be able to take her home without it being overrun with rats. This movie is bizarre and hilarious. I loved it.

SHE'S ALLERGIC TO CATS plays again Thursday, Feb 9th at 9:30

And finally, we ended the night with LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR. Drew Glass is in police custody, and the whole movie is told from his unreliable narration. See, his (adopted) father is the drug kingpin of Tulsa, Oklahoma. And Drew is back for a little revenge, and to run away with his love--his adopted sister June (Sam Quartin.) But his dad sends his own hitman--Pope (Marilyn Manson, out of makeup and playing a creepily cerebral character) to get Drew. It's a wild yet understated movie. Bloody, but not gratuitous. And I confess it was a late night so I didn't quite stay awake at all moments. So I'm going to have to watch this one again. Good thing it's been picked up and should be released later this year.

LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR plays again Monday, Feb 6th at 9:30

Total Running Time: 440 minutes
My Total Minutes: 416,627

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 2

Two movies on Friday, as the festival starts rolling along.

First up was TRAIN DRIVER'S DIARY, Serbia's official nomination to this year's Academy Awards (it did not make the cut, unfortunately.) I do love me some Serbian comedies, and this one is pretty great. Lazar Ristovski plays Ilja, an old train driver who, in the opening scenes, is describing to a pair of psychologists the latest incident where he ran over a band of gypsies. Not on purpose of course, it's just part of the job. People get stuck on tracks, or commit suicide. In a typical career, a train driver might run over 15-20 of them. Ilja comes from a long line of train drivers, and keeps a meticulous count of how many he killed, his father killed, his grandfather killed. But every time he was innocent. That's just the macabre comedy of Serbia, and I love it. Ilja almost adds to his total when Sima, a runaway orphan, refuses to get off the tracks. But Ilja stops just in time, and takes Sima in, making him his adopted son and bringing him into the strange world of train drivers. But although Sima seems to have found a place where he fits in and likes it, Ilja doesn't want Sima to join the family business. Sima is just too weak and fragile, he'll never take the mental and physical strain of the job. So it becomes a hilarious macabre coming-of-age comedy. I do love me some Serbian comedies.

TRAIN DRIVER'S DIARY plays again in Indiefest on Saturday at 12:30. Shoot, that's just a few hours! But if you miss it there it also plays at Cinequest.

And then DARK SEDUCTION was an entirely different kind of comedy. A 40s detective movie, with vampires, shot in the 80s, and finished and released just last year. There's a documentary on Youtube about the making of this, but the short story is it was stuck in post-production limbo for decades (15 years because the negative cutter suffered stroke.) But now it's out on VOD and we got to see it on the big screen. The hero is Dic Jones, an alcoholic private eye who just needs a break to get back on the force. The villains are a lesbian pair of vampires, Vera and Serina, tearing through the coke-fueled Hollywood community sucking their victims dry while rocking their best 80s glam outfits in glorious black and white. A mash of styles, excellent deadpan comedy, and quite a lot of fun and silliness.

That was the only showing of DARK SEDUCTION in the festival, but like I said it's on VOD now, so I'm sure you can find it if you search.

Total Running Time: 166 minutes
My Total Minutes: 416,187

Friday, February 3, 2017

Jason goes to Indiefest--Opening Night

Hey, another film festival! Seems like the last one ended just a few nights ago!

So two full weeks of great independent films kicked off last night, and of course I was there at the Brava theater. A couple of pre-film drinks, and I was ready to settle in for FOLK HERO AND FUNNY GUY.

Jason Black (Wyatt Russell) is a semi-popular folk rock musician. He's successful, he's got his fans, but he's not at the upper crust of stardom. He's the Folk Hero. The Funny Guy is Paul (Alex Karpovsky) who is a much less successful comedian, paying his dues and trying to make a living so he doesn't have to go back to advertising. They're friends from childhood, and since Paul is in kind of a funk (after his fiancé dumped him) Jason decides that they should tour together, with Paul as his opening act. So friends, on the road, performing, reexamining their relationship, maybe getting into a little complications with a girl they meet and who joins them along the way (Bryn, played by Meredith Hagner.)

I really wanted to like this movie more. There are certainly very funny scenes (a cameo by David Cross is one highlight, the emotional breakdown near the end is another.) I laughed many times, and I could here everyone else in the audience laughing, too. But something was just missing. Pacing, energy, urgency maybe? And it ends just short of a breakthrough (or at least just short of a satisfying one.) And talking to friends afterward, I know I wasn't the only one who felt that.

I know this is a lousy, lousy review, because I can't say the movie was bad or even that I didn't enjoy it. Only that it felt like it fell short in some oddly undefinable way. Much like this review.

Running Time: 92 minutes
My Total Minutes: 416,021


And it's an immensely enjoyable story, with lovable characters who break race, gender, and professional lines to achieve great things (you know, like sending John Glenn into orbit and bringing him home safely) in a difficult environment. A testament to meritocracy triumphing over bigotry. Something I desperately want to believe is true.

Running Time: 127 minutes
My Total Minutes: 415,930

Jason goes to Noir City--Closing Night

The last 2 movies of our multi-decade overview of heist films, and they were pretty awesome.

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (2007): So this one I'd actually seen before, and actually blogged before. Normally when that happens, I like to go back, copy-paste my review from before, and take a look at whether I still feel the same about the movie. And then I read what I wrote...

Ugh. Who is that despicable person who glossed over this fantastic movie to talk about Marisa Tomei's tits (and to insult Philip Seymour Hoffman's body?) I am ashamed I wrote that.

But now, with the benefit of another decade of cinephilia inside me, I can notice the great acting. I can see the flashback structure and the influence of Kubrick's THE KILLING. I can see how a large part of the movie is dedicated to dumping on the Hank character (Ethan Hawke.) As an aside, my favorite line of the film is when Gina (Tomei) admits to Andy (Hoffman) that she's been having an affair with his brother Hank, and he says "Really, Hank?" and she just says "Yeah,...Hank" in this really resigned way like 'I know he's a loser and a cry-baby, but still....'

Oh, and the brutal family dynamic, punctuated with literally shattering flashbacks. This movie is brilliant. So much so that Marisa Tomei's tits are nearly the least interesting things in the movie. They are nice tits, though.

VICTORIA (2015): And finally, we end with a movie that could only be filmed digitally. The film is a single, 138 minute take, in real-time with no edits. Victoria (Laia Costa) is a Spaniard in Berlin, about to have a wild and terrifying night. She starts out partying in the clubs, and is about to head home early for a good night's sleep before opening the cafĂ© in the morning. But she meets an odd group of strange and lovable guys. They seem nice enough, they like to party and have a good time, and one of them is celebrating his birthday. So she stays up a little longer with them. And then a little longer. They drink, they smoke a little pot. The birthday boy goes a little overboard and passes out.... Which is a problem, because now they have no driver for the heist they're about to pull, at the behest of a pretty damn ruthless gangster. Yeah, this night is going to take a pretty dark turn, and the morning isn't going to be much better.

With real-time movies it's always hard not to have some slow moments, and the story takes a little while to get going. But the cast is great and the technical achievement is amazing. It certainly pushes the boundaries of what can be done in cinema.

Total Running Time: 255
My Total Minutes: 415,802