Sunday, May 5, 2019

Jason goes to SFFILM: Closing Night

My final three movies of the festival. The fest continued for a couple more days, and I had tickets but my day job kept me from using them. But let's not worry about that, instead enjoy the films I did get to see.

I started the day with the documentary SHOW ME THE PICTURE: THE STORY OF JIM MARSHALL. Even if you don't know the name, if you've ever seen a picture of a musician you probably know the work of Jim Marshall. Chock full of archival footage and dazzling candid photographs, you get a sense of a master photographer, a man who loved music and the whole lifestyle, and whose lifestyle led to his ruin. Drugs and an obsession with guns ended up ruining him, and even his best friends and lovers couldn't sugar-coat it. But he certainly left a legacy, and this excellent documentary will ensure his legacy lives on.

Probably Jim's most famous photograph. The audience gleefully reproduced it.

Next up was THE HARVESTERS, a challenging film from South Africa. Janno is a sensitive boy living in a deeply religious, white Afrikaner family in Free State. His mother takes in a tough, troubled street kid named Pietr, and tells Janno to treat him like a brother. And Janno is a good kid, so he tries. But Pietr has a sort of charisma that seems dangerous. I'm sure if I knew more of the history and culture of South Africa, I could read a lot more into the parallels of family and post-Apartheid culture wars. But as it is, I confess I was a bit bored. So I'll leave it as "challenging." I could tell there was a great deal of skill and care taken in making the movie, but it's just not my cup of tea.

And then I ended the night with the closing night film, OFFICIAL SECRETS, the latest from Gavin Hood (TSOTSI, EYE IN THE SKY,...we won't speak of his attempts at a more commercial studio blockbuster). This time he takes on the true story of Katharine Gun (who was there for the screening!), played by Keira Knightley. She worked for UK intelligence, and was disturbed by an e-mail that went around urging them to dig up dirt on leaders of foreign countries as leverage for them to go to war with Iraq over...let's say "flimsy" evidence at best. For doing that, she was charged with treason and put on trial, then the charges were dropped because the government refused to present their evidence. The question of "Why?" has still never been answered. The movie is political, of course, but at it's core it's a story of the relationship between a journalist. In this case, Martin Bright of the Observer (Matt Smith) who carefully checked and corroborated every detail he could. All in all, a rousing and important film with which to end the festival.

Total Running Time: 308 minutes
My Total Minutes: 503,989


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