Sunday, April 24, 2005

48th San Francisco Intl. Film Fest - Day 3

Today: Double features at the Castro and at the Kabuki, and there's a percussionist in both! It's almost a theme day!

"Innocence" (dir. Lucile Hadzihalilovic, France, 2004, 115 mins.) Well. I just don't know where to start with this one. It is a slowly revealing story set in a girls boarding school. Let's see... How about the opening moment: an 8 year old girl arrives at the school in a coffin. In fact, that appears to be how all of them arrive. The only subjects they study are ballet and biology. There are no males. There is no escape out of the school. In fact, there are only 2 adult teachers and a small number of maids. It's quite deliberately paced. The atmosphere is very reminiscent of "Picnic On Hanging Rock," where there is a lingering sense of menace, but you just don't know why... The film is BEAUTIFULLY photographed, and is worth seeing for that alone. However, you'll either love it for it's quiet and disturbing surrealism or hate it for being slow and not making any sense what so ever. The choices Hadzihalilovic makes here don't allow you to be neutral to it, so that's its best and worst feature. (Sort of like the work her husband, Gasper Noe, creates!) I'd be willing to see this again, just to try and piece it together...

"Touch the Sound" (dir. Thomas Riedelsheimer, USA/Germany, 2004, 99 mins.) I MUST see this again! This is a documentary about percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Along with a great deal of footage of her performances (a lot along with Fred Frith), she speaks a lot about the technical aspects of music, the philosophical aspects of sound and the spiritual aspects of creating it. This is all the more remarkable as she is deaf. Between the heady dialogue and the gorgeous sound, the film was a transcendental experience for me. I. Loved. It. I even joined in a standing ovation when the director (Thomas Riedelsheimer of "Rivers and Tides" fame) was introduced at the end of it. Evelyn Glennie will be performing at Cal Performances in May and I would love to get to hear her! I can't wait to see this again, assuming that it does have distribution (based upon the modest success of "Rivers and Tides") and I'll anxiously await it's release on DVD. You. Must. See. This.

"Count Down: Nine Experimental Shorts" is the second of five short subject compilations I am seeing. This group, as is sort of obvious, is a collection of experimental/avant garde shorts. One always hopes for some beautiful abstractions or some freaky stuff and always expects some 'Emperor's Clothes'... I'm not going to even attempt to synopsis them, but in order of preference:

The Beautiful Abstractions: (I. Must. Get. Copies. Of those first two!)
"Shape Shift" (dir. Scott Stark, USA, 2004, 10 mins.)
"Play" (dirs. Matthias Muller, Christoph Girardet, Germany, 2003, 7 mins.)
"Come to See 'Ya" (dir. Eric Saks, USA, 2004, 16 mins.)
"Let Me Count the Ways: Minus 10, Minus 9, Minus 8" (dir. Leslie Thornton, USA, 2004, 17 mins.)

Freaky Stuff:
"Harmony" (dir. Jim Trainor, USA, 2004, 12 mins.) Though I LOATHED the previous work of his I've seen, "The Fetishist" (1998) and "The Bats" (also, 1998), this one made me chuckle.
"Dos Hermanos" (dir. Juan Manuel Echavarria, Colombia, 2003, 5 mins.)
"Tabula Rasa" (dir. Vincent Grenier, USA, 2004, 8 mins.)

Emperor's Clothes, aka crap:
"Chapel of the Bells Wedding Chapel Exposure: To have and to hold" (dir. Lynn Marie Kirby, USA, 2004, 5 mins.)
"Trace Elements" (dir. Gunvor Grundel Nelson, Sweden, 2003, 9 mins.)

The final film of the night:

"The Overture" (dir. Itthisunthorn Wichailak, Thailand, 2004, 104 mins.) You know, I really TRIED to like this. I did. I tried really hard. However... It's the story of a ranard-ek player (a Thai zylophone by any other name) who revolutionizes Thai music in the 1930's. Yet in the 1960's, he is a staunch traditionalist, protecting Thailand's musical heritage from the dictatorship's attempt to 'modernize' Thailand. The acting isn't very good. The script is completely predictable. The production values are manageable. The music is fabulous! There is a LOT of it, too! That's why I stayed and tried to like it more than it deserves. Great score + Bad film = a bearable couple of hours. I'll probably forgot I saw it when I wake up tomorrow.

Tomorrow: The Alloy Orchestra!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!

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