Tag Archives: film fest

What I’ve Been Up To Lately, Vol. 1

I haven’t been posting a lot on my blog these days other than the 50 Day Movie Challenge prompts, and even then I haven’t been posting those all that regularly. Thought I would buck this trend and start posting about what I’ve been up to lately, whether that be film, television, comics or video games.

Continue reading What I’ve Been Up To Lately, Vol. 1

AFI FEST: Final Day (Wedesday)

I woke up on the last day of the AFI Fest a little sad. Sure, it wasn’t technically the last day, but for me it was. Didn’t really have plans to go to Black Swan, nor did I have any way of getting into the awards at the end. At least, I didn’t quite look up anything about how to be a part of that. Sometimes willful ignorance is bliss.

Anyway, I got to the event early per usual and waited in line for some Werner Hertzog 3D action. Since I had tickets for the rest of the films that night, I would never see the Rush Line again. Funny that they saved these films for last.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Directed By: Werner Herzog
Starring: Werner Herzog and Charles Fathy
Rating: ★★★★☆

In generally, I’m not impressed by the whole 3D movement. It’s one of those gimmicks that got popular awhile back, disappeared and has now returned with a vengeance. Seems like every film these days boasts a 3D version, with a nice and hefty ticket price to go along with it. Cave of Forgotten Dreams was the first time I felt that 3D had been used properly, or that the medium had been utilized to meet an end. The cave drawings almost came to life. Each slow pan along the cave wall brought the images to life in a new way and I felt challenged by what I saw.

The handheld shaky-cam stuff, however, was disgusting and made my eyes bleed. Still shots in 3D already give me a headache, but shaking the camera like this was Cloverfield 2? Yeah…DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!

Mr. Herzog was there to talk about the film and offered that 3D will do well in the porn industry. He also referred to Avatar as “new age bullshit.”

Film Socialisme
Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Catherine Tanvier, Christian Sinniger and Jean-Marc Stehlé
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Film Socialisme marks my second outing with Jean-Luc Godard. The first thing I saw of his, Band Of Outsiders, was an absolute treat and offered some great narrative devices that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. This film was also unforgettable, but for different reasons. The copy we saw lacked any subtitles, so I was pretty much left in the dark as to what people were saying at any given moment. However, based on what I heard from people who knew the language, I didn’t miss much.

Given it’s seeming lack of coherency, there’s still a definite structure at play here and the oscillating use of digital film quality was an interesting way to go about visually describing an ocean liner.

And then there were a bunch of images, a gas station and a Llama set to somber monks chanting.

DES CHOSES!

NO COMMENT!

(And that wraps up perhaps the most exciting week or so I’ve had in awhile. It’s not every day I get to go to festivals or conventions, so I take advantage of these whenever I can. Hope to hit up C2E2 next year, provided awesome things happen there. HINT HINT!!)

Table of contents for AFI Fest 2010

  1. AFI FEST: Day 1 (Friday)

AFI FEST: Day 5 (Tuesday)

Once again I found myself in the Rush Line and once again I was super early. Thankfully, there were a few other people in line with me so I didn’t feel all too weird. The guy next to me turned to me and started conversing and at first I thought, “oh crap, not another weirdo.” He quickly revealed that he was a sane and level-headed person and was into film, things which tend to put me at ease and make me more willing to converse. I told him about all the films I saw and he whistled in a way that said, “you are a badass, sir.” He also said that aloud.

Myth of the American Sleepover
Directed By: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Nikita Ramsey, Jade Ramsey and Brett Jacobsen
Rating: ★★★★☆

[Hipster Bullshit] It’s jarring to hear music that you like in a film about an age group you have a difficult time relating with. Don’t these kids still listen to Miley Cyrus or spend their days thinking about the hot young bands to emanate from Disney/Nickelodeon like a vile stench? They seem way too young to have meaningful experiences set to Beirut or Magnetic Fields! Ugh, it seems like anyone can just say HEY I LISTEN TO THIS BAND THEREFORE I’M COOL BLAH BLAH. Well, I liked those bands WAY before they were in diapers! [/Hipster Bullshit]

Whoa.

What just happened? I think I was overcome by some weirdness. Anyway, I much enjoyed Myth of the American Sleepover. Coming-of-age films tend toward hit or miss for me, but this one offered the right amount of nostalgia without getting too ridiculous or sentimental. I found myself “d’aww”ing more than once during this film and thinking back to simpler times when I was much more innocent. Perhaps the strongest story in this bunch, and the one I could relate to the most, was the arc for the older brother (seen in the pic above). I am quite familiar with his regretful nostalgia and it was played subtly, which worked well for me.

Man, I wish my time in high school had been like this. :)

Some Days Are Better Than Others
Directed By: Matt McCormick
Starring: Carrie Brownstein, James Mercer and Renee Roman Nose
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I much preferred Myth to this film, but I appreciate that this film exists. James Mercer and Carrie Brownstein do well here, and the look into these characters’ lives was interesting to watch. I wonder if perhaps this film could have gone without tying everyone’s stories together in the end and let the theme do all the heavy-lifting. That could be why I felt a little underwhelmed with the ending and didn’t quite get the theme of “discarded things” from what I saw.

I want a Shins version of Total Eclipse of the Heart, by the way. Mercer, if you could get on that, you’d make a super-fan super-happy!

(OMG THERE’S ONE MORE DAY LEFT!!! NO COMMENT! 3D CAVES!! HERTZOG!! GODARD!!!)

Table of contents for AFI Fest 2010

  1. AFI FEST: Day 1 (Friday)

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)