Saturday, April 7, 2018

Jason goes to SFFILM--Day 2

Two more films on Thursday. Also, I think this festival is trying to give me a heart attack, having me run all over town between films (and from the lounge to the films,) and scheduling very little time to do it.

Anyway, I made it to the Castro just in time for I HATE KIDS. It's an okay comedy, in a sort of old-school screwball way. Pleasing enough, but nothing special, at least for a film festival. I can't help but wonder how I'd react if I saw it in a regular theater. I'd have different expectations, and probably like it more.

Tom Everett Scott plays Nick Pearson, a famous writer and asshole who wrote the bestseller "I Hate Kids." And he's about to get married to a woman who equally hates kids. Okay, if you push them they don't really hate kids, they just have a different life plan and say it kind of tongue in cheek. Well, at their rehearsal dinner, who shows up but the son he never knew he had. And the psychic--The Amazing Fabular--who found him. At first he laughs it off as an obvious joke, but the kid has a DNA test to prove it. And he doesn't want a father, he wants help finding his mother who put him up for adoption. So just days before the wedding, Nick, his son, and The Amazing Fabular go on a road trip from angry ex to angry ex (including one particularly crazy ex) trying to find his mother. Oh yeah, and keep it from his bride-to-be. And, of course, to learn some life-changing lessons along the way.

Then I had to rush over the the Victoria just in time for AMERICAN ANIMALS. This is the first film in the festival that I can say totally fucking blew me away (hey, and only three films in--not bad!) As the opening text says, it's not based on a true story, it is a true story. But it emphasizes the "story" part more than the "true" part, calling attention to intentional storytelling techniques and how memories differ and change. It takes place in Transylvania University in Kentucky, and is about the great rare book heist of 2004. Four friends--Warren, Spencer, Chas, and Eric--plot this heist, once they know the library's rare book collection includes first editions of Audubon's "Birds of America" and Darwin's "Origin of the Species" (among others, but these are the big prizes.) The movie blends documentary and narrative, with the real people involved appearing and narrating the action or offering their recollections (and they're actually credited as actors, playing their "real" selves, just to add to the jumble.) At one point the real Warren appears on screen with the actor playing Warren, while his character asks the real guy if this is how he remembers it (it's not, because that scene was based on Spencer's memory.) Anyway, they plot the heist basically based on watching heist films, and of course it goes wrong--the moment it goes from playing heist to actually trying to pull it off. Turns out, they're kind of morons who don't know the first thing about how to pull off a daring heist, and they get caught pretty quickly. What's most interesting is there's a through line about how the money is only part of their goal. What they really want is a kind of transformative experience. And they kind of get it--they are all transformed into criminals. But they're also all out now (after spending about 8 years each in federal prison) and all getting on with their lives in different ways.

Total Running Time: 206 minutes
My Total Minutes: 475,193

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