Monday, February 12, 2007

SF IndieFest 2007 - Day 4

For various reasons, today at the SF IndieFest, I saw only a single program. Though there was a second program that I'd already screened at the IndieFest press preview, so I will include that here.

"Ten Canoes" (dirs. Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr, Australia, 2006, 90 mins.) First, let me say that this was nearly a religious experience for me. The WIDE SCREEN (I LOVE THAT!) cinematography by Ian Jones reaches breathtaking extremes and is creatively used to tell the four levels of stories, within stories. The script's structure by Rolf de Heer was reminiscent of "The Sargossian Manuscript", though not as mind bending. We begin in the present outback of Australia, as a narrator tells us that we are about to hear an ancient story. The film then goes to black-and-white as the ancient story unfolds, regarding a young man who covets his older brother's wives. The older brother then begins to tell the young man a legend from long ago, which is enacted in full color, though it has a golden hue about it. Within THAT story, the characters begin to tell stories about what has happened to a missing woman of the tribe, at which point the screen takes on silver chromatic tones. This was sort of an important little stylistic choice as the stories would cross paths more than once. The performances are all in aboriginal tongues, and the film is subtitled. In fact, the performers are all members of an existing tribe from the Northern Territory, so the settings and rituals are presumably quite authentic. The near alien nature of the characters and their behavior and rituals quite unexpectedly took me out of myself. It wasn't until a 'death dance and funeral ritual' that I realized how far into it I had gone. The funeral ritual was a near psychedelic spiritual experience! The movement and sound were of such authentic antiquity that something deep inside actually felt transported to a very primitive place. It was a stunning moment. After that climax, the screenplay nearly brilliantly brings us back into the present with some ribald humor within the second layer story, before the narrator gently guides us back to the present. I simply loved this film and unhesitatingly recommend it and will search it out for my 'permanent collection'!

"Green Mind, Metal Bats (Seishun Kinzoku Batto)" (dir. Kumakiri Kazuyoshi, Japan, 2006, 96 mins.) I screened this as part of the IndieFest press preview a few weeks ago, but decided to 'hold the recap-review' until it popped up in the context of the festival itself. The plot involves a pair of baseball players. One is a batter who is struck in the head with a baseball and goes a bit psychotic and becomes involved with a baseball obsessed alcoholic woman who will lead him unto a violent path. The pitcher responsible for the pitch to the head, is now a policeman with a bad arm. Criminals and police - guess there's going to be a crossroads, huh? As predictable as the plot outline is, the performance by Maki Sakai as the raging alcoholic has some priceless moments! However, the two lead men sort of bored me as their inevitable return to each other never really had much tension. Also, the film felt like it was trying too hard to be 'quirky'. I can't give specific examples, except that the random violence was just so... random. At times, quite funny, but for the most part the plot didn't seem to have an honest motivation, as much as a series of near-gags. I had the chance to see it again tonight, however I passed, especially after having had the experience of "Ten Canoes"!

Maxxxxx re "Ten Canoes": "Woooooo!" followed by indistinguishable clicks, chirps and tweets.
re "Green Minds, Metal Bats": "What'cha doin'?"

1 comment:

Brian said...

Thanks, jay. This review made SURE I didn't miss Ten Canoes and I really loved it. I brought along five other people who wouldn't have gone otherwise (a couple of them having experience living in Australia) and they all enjoyed it as well.