AFI FEST: Day 3 (Sunday)

Confession time! I had never had crepes until today (Sunday). Yep, it’s true. To those of you who just gasped, I know. How could someone such as myself not have had crepes before? Well, I did and they were marvelous. Probably ate too much in the way of crepes, but that’s to be expected with something so wonderful. It’s with this sustenance that I was able to endure the harsh conditions of waiting in the evil Rush Line.

See, I’m not huge on awkward small talk. If I don’t really have anything to say, I’m not going to say it. I’m also probably not going to initiate small talk either. When I get into a line by myself, I zone out and go into my own little world. It’s a safe place where the outside world becomes a blur and I can reflect. Sometimes, I’ll pull out my phone and just get back to that wonderful internet. Well, this doesn’t seem to mesh well with a lot of the more friendly people in line who I had the fortunes of conversing with. Almost every situation involved the person standing or sitting next to me and making random observations in the hopes that I would acknowledge them and respond. Since none of them had the decency to talk above a mumble, I could only nod casually and go back to my phone.

I’m kind of a prick like that. I should clarify that if I’m with friends in line I’m quite chatty. That make things better? No. Okay. Jerks.

Did have one experience while in line for Heartbeats that was particularly interesting and didn’t involve me talking to anyone. It involved someone trying to give away his tickets to some screening I wasn’t going to. He waved them around and played the scalper game, laughing and saying he’d give these away for a measly fifteen dollars. This was the type of guy who wore faded baseball caps and button-up shirts a little too large for his frame. His jeans had painter’s splotches on them and were faded to light blue. Being a fan of darker colored jeans, I was quietly disgusted.

Someone in the line in front of mine got quite irate with this “fake scalper” and attempted to tell him off before leaving in a huff. In response, this guy went on a twenty minute rant against the person in line, claiming the guy was a real asshole and that he didn’t understand that it was all a joke. The rant bounced between accusatory and defensive in a potpourri of sentences that amused and irritated me. At one point I may or may not have used the twitters to express that the “joking” wasn’t all that funny to begin with and that perhaps the “joke” was infuriatingly unfunny to the person in line.

The guy next to me mumbled something about killing his mother, which I didn’t realize until later was him stating the title of Xavier Dolan’s previous film. Someone else in line awkwardly walked away.

Onto the day’s films!

Shorts Program 1

Successful Alcoholics
Directed By: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Starring: Nick Thune and Lizzy Caplan
Rating: ★★★★☆

A very strong short film starring Lizzy Caplan. I thought it was rather funny and had a solid turn at the end. It was distracting hearing music from Little Miss Sunshine, however, during some of the more cutesy moments. Still, I liked it. You can see the trailer HERE or by clicking on the title.

I Love Luci
Directed By: Colin Kennedy
Starring: Camilla Rutherford, Colin Harris, Wilson the Dog
Rating: ★★★☆☆

A voyeurish look into the lives of two recovering drug addicts and a case of missing teeth. Cute until the end. :)

On Leave
Directed By: Asaf Saban
Starring: Daniel Bruk, Dalik Volinitz, Irit Gidron, Dana Keila
Rating: ★★★☆☆

A rather dark piece about a soldier on leave. It didn’t really fit with anything else in this set, but it was still a solid film. Just not my cup of tea.

Time Freak
Directed By: Andrew Bowler
Starring: Michael Nathanson, John Conor Brooke
Rating: ★★★★☆

A fun little short about time travel with two likable leads and a funny concept.

Photograph of Jesus
Directed By: Laurie Hill
Starring: Voiceover by Matthew Butson, Neil Armstrong voice by: David L. Hayles
Rating: ★★★★★

The only animated short film in this section. I thought it was the best short film of the bunch. You can find the short film HERE or by clicking on the title of the film.

The Savage Canvas
Directed By: Tim Hope
Starring: Julian Barratt, Bethmi Tikiribandra, Monsterrat Lombard, David Ashton
Rating: ★★★★☆

A very cute short film that pits a young writer versus a stubborn director. I thought it was rather cute and that the characters were really well-developed.

Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires)
Directed By: Xavier Dolan
Starring: Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider and Xavier Dolan
Rating: ★★★★☆

Style and substance. The two met and you get this film. I don’t like to gush too much, but this film definitely deserves it. The story is simple, and gets fleshed out by excellent music taste and great camera work. Now I just need to go and see this fellow’s previous work so I can get a better look into his stylings and sensibilities. (Postscript: I would say this is the winner for the day and among my favorite for the entire festival) Did I mention that the music was really good? Yeah, that.

13 Assassins
Directed By: Takashi Miike
Starring: Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada and Yûsuke Iseya
Rating: ★★★★☆

I left the previous screening, well aware that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to reach the Rush Line for 13 Assassins. Sure enough, when I got there, the line extended rather far back and people were grumbling that “they might not make it.” Considering I had gotten in to the other things I rushed, I wasn’t 100% worried, but I was still kind of nervous. Thankfully, I got in and was able to sit where I wanted. The film started and what ensued was pretty much what I expected, except for the flaming bulls perhaps.

13 Assassins is a rather typical Samurai film, which takes it’s time getting us involved with the characters as they prepare to seek vengeance on a Shogun leader. Without this buildup, the ending could have been gratuitous and boring (not one to enjoy violence for violence’s sake). If you go to see this, there’s a specific scene that wowed me. You’ll know when you see it because it features a bunch of swords and one really swell swordplay.

Norwegian Ninja
Directed By: Thomas Cappelen Malling
Starring: Mads Ousdal, Jon Øigarden and Trond-Viggo Torgersen
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I’ve grown to be more open-minded about films, something my younger self would be very surprised by. That said, this film is strange. The premise is simple, sort of. Imagine if Ninjas from Norway filmed a propaganda film about their way of life. Since Ninjas from Norway tend to do ninja’y things primarily, their filmmaking draws heavily from films they watch. So, what we end up with is a incoherent piece of fun that will no doubt share shelf space with Black Dynamite.

That’s about the best I can do as far as a review goes.

(Stay tuned for Day 4 where I have trouble understanding the words that are coming out of this young girl’s mouth and where I experience OUTRAGE over a Yakuza film)

Table of contents for AFI Fest 2010

  1. AFI FEST: Day 1 (Friday)