Sunday, April 24, 2005

SF Intl. Film Festival - Day 2

The 1st of 5 shorts programs; the 1st of 3 silents; the 2nd of 4 midnight horrors and beers...

This afternoon was the first of 5 shorts programs, "Reversing Destiny" which is a collection of international shorts, animated and live action. In preferential order:

"Ryan" (dir. Chris Landreth, Canada, 2004, 14 min.) This is the Oscar winning animated short from the National Film Board of Canada. It is a computer animated interview with Ryan Larkin, who was an animation innovator in the late 1970's. Today, he is homeless. It's touching and disturbing. Sort of a CGI'ed "Crumb." Just excellent!

"Obras" (dir. Hendrick Dussolier, France, 2004, 11 mins.) This computer animated short was a maze of apartment buildings, their destruction, construction and repeating the cycle over and over as we zoom throughout the girders, hallways and windows. Trippy! Loved it!!

"Twilight" (dir. Victoria Gamburg, Russia, 2005, 21 mins.) A live action study of a woman who is unable to grieve for her daughter, who has been missing for over a year. A nifty little character study about the inability to 'let go.'

"Candy Viola" (dir. Fabio Simonelli, Italy, 2004, 13 mins.) A live action story about a plus-size woman and how she takes, er, serves up her revenge against the size 2's of this world! Great to look at and has a fun sense of comedy to it.

"Butler" (dir. Erik Rosenlund, Sweden, 2005, 9 mins.) An animated story about a butler who goes WAY BEYOND the line of duty for the couple who employs him. Animated dildos are funny!

"Desequilibrium" (dir. Francisco Garcia, Brazil, 2004, 21 mins.) A live action 'dream film,' in Portuguese, in B&W, and making no sense whatsoever, which all adds up to: I got to take a little nap! Luckily, it was the LAST of the shorts, so having the houselights come up is a dandy way to wake up.

After a little dinner with Jimmy and delivering some of the tickets that I won at last night's midnight movies, I met up with Judy at the Palace of Fine Arts for the first of three silent movies with live accompaniment.

"Street Angel" (dir. Frank Borzage, USA, 1928, 102 mins., accompaniment by American Music Club) I believe I have seen a performance by the American Music Club once before. I only say that because I vaguely remember being annoyed at another silent screening by a band which was more determined to have you listen to THEM than experience the film. The score that AMC presented tonight really had very little to do with the plot, much less the style of the film they purportedly spent four months working on. However, "Street Angel" just isn't that impressive to begin with. Or at least not to me. In fact, the Festival catalog uses the term 'under appreciated,' which is giving it the benefit of the doubt, in my opinion. Janet Gaynor just isn't a very convincing prostitute. No, she didn't want to be one. She is arrested for 'robbery while soliciting' which she is doing to purchase drugs for her ailing mother. Of course. She escapes the police, joins a circus, falls in love with an artist, and, on the very evening of his marriage proposal, is caught by the police to serve her time of one year of hard labor. I think we were supposed to cry at some point during this. However, the AMC was just too distracting and the film itself was too melodramatic to make me care. Apparently, director Borzage is historically considered a master of combining melodrama in expressionistic settings. I sort of thought this was an example of cheap sentiment on cheap sets. And speaking of low budgets, this leads me to the second of four Midnight Horror flicks and a bottle of Stella Artois back at the Kabuki.

"Zombie Honeymoon" (dir. Dave Gebroe, USA, 2004, 83 mins.) is just about as much of a horror-hoot as the title would suggest! Filmed entirely in New Jersey, Denise (Tracy Coogan) and Danny (Graham Sibley) just got married and have run away to a beach house for a nice little honeymoon. Before you know it, Danny is attacked on the beach by a zombie that just dragged itself out of the sea! What sets this little flick apart from being campy trash is the relationship of the couple. He loves her so much that he is able to resist quenching his flesh quest upon her. She loves him so much that she doesn't exactly assist him, but shares in his anguish as he struggles against his need to cannibalize. The hook to the piece is that his zombie-ness is a lynchpin in their new marriage. Tracy Coogan gives an excellent performance as the wife. The script gave her a wide range to play with: newlywed, frustrated spouse, struggling victim and eventual widow. She delivers an honest and complex center, which makes it a lot more interesting than your run of the mill zombie pic! Plus, the opening credits are a brilliant little gem unto themselves. "munch, munch, munch..."

Tomorrow: a double feature at the Castro and back to the Kabuki for more shorts and, oh, I don't know... I'll just follow my tickets.

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