Monday, April 23, 2007

Atlanta Film Festival - Day 3, Day 4

The Atlanta Film Festival continues at its 'official venue', the Landmark Midtown Art Cinemas. Some, if not most, of the house management problems are being resolved. Thank GAWD!! There continue to be some projectionist errors, however those seem to be clearing up too. Now, if the distributors can keep up!! (See Day 4 below.)

Day 3: 2 Features and 6 short subjects. I'll leave the shorts to the end, and proceed in preferential order.

"Away From Her" (dir. Sarah Polley, Canada, 2006, 110 mins.) A Julie Christie performance has become a rare and beautiful treat. What might have treacherously tread the fine line of a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" special, is redeemed by an unsentimental screenplay adaptation (by Sara Polley of Alice Munro's "The Bear Came Over the Mountain") and the two remarkably restrained, experienced and wonderful performances by Ms. Christie and Gordon Pinsent, who plays her husband. (His voice alone would have been enough!) The story goes beyond a couple dealing with alzheimer's. (She is the one who is stricken.) It moves into what is memory and where does love exist - in the memories shared? Or what is being experienced now? And how can you express that? I can't say enough about Julie Christie in this. Her ability to reveal an emotional history, as well as her emotional future, in a SINGLE LINE is amazing! Olympia Dukakis is also in the cast, and brings her acerbic wit fully intact, which only completes this unsentimental, yet emotionally deep drama. The Executive Director of the Festival introduced it as a prime Oscar contender. Hopefully, Lionsgate will be able to give it a good push, as the adapted screenplay is beautifully enacted by the long overdue, Ms. Christie!

"PEZheads - The Movie" (dir. Chris Marshall, US, 2006, 75 mins.) What starts off as a fascinating look into another obsession, this time PEZ candy dispenser collectors, quickly diminishes itself as... well, how much can you say about PEZ candy dispensers? The structure of this short, yet still too long documentary, is a bit off as the history and manufacturing of the actual pieces could have been placed earlier, so that we can see what makes some of these rare pieces so valuable to the collectors. Instead, there are innumerable interviews with collectors, proudly displaying hundreds, if not thousands of PEZ dispensers, which diminishes why the casual viewer's appreciation for the 'rare' pieces. There is no real dramatic through line either. There is some arc having to deal with the PEZheads finding each other at conventions, yet, by that point, I sort of didn't care anymore. Cool idea, but needed to be more concise or needs a 'hook'.

Before going into the short subjects of the day, a note about Day 4. Due to some physical needs, as well as roommate obligations, the only screening I was guaranteed to make was personally highly anticipated "Taxidermia", by the director of "Hukkle"! The. Print. Didn't. Arrive. The SCREENING WAS CANCELLED!!!! There. With that out of my system, I continue into the short subjects, in preferential order.

"Paperboat" (Dir. Daphne Lambrinou, USA, Greece, 18 min) A charming, yet bittersweet tale about choosing a future and closing the door on a past love. Quite delicately done.

"True Colours" (Dir. Barney Elliott, United Kingdom, 11 min) A tense and nearly brutal examination of living with a 'ticking time bomb' of a father and husband. The tension as more extreme in these short 11 minutes than some of the full length features.

"Lost Crossing" (Dir. Eric Blue, USA, 29 min) Locally produced and featuring an nearly amazing performance by Melissa Suzanne McBride, the short has a small flaw in the screenplay and what the 'protagonist' (Carrie-Rose Menocal) is asked to do. Though McBride's performance is filled with rage and danger, it is artificially invoked by a plot device involving the teenage runaway that she has hooked up with. Once I allowed 'that moment' to pass, I was able to continue to appreciate Ms. McBride's ferocious performance! However, the screenplay just doesn't logically justify it.

"VARTAN LLP" (Dir. Myles Price, USA, 18 min.) Though the performances are strong, the script involving a modern 'Scrooge' and his reviewing a life of loss, was a bit lost in the making.

"AT THE END OF THE DAY" (Dir. Dionisio Ceballos, USA, Mexico, 17 min.) Eh. An 'After School Special' quality script, poorly performed.

"DAY TRIP" (Dir. Tracy Martin, USA, 9 min.) This was either a religious nightmare, which would elevate it in my view, or a retelling of the Isaiah and Isaac story of sacrifice. Either way, it is a Sunday School tale, and not my cup of tea.

Maxxxxx says
re "Away From Her": "I love you!"
re "PEZheads - The Movie": "Is it bedtime?"


Anonymous said...

what did you think of carrie-rose's acting? i thought melissa was incredible. she took carrie to places she had never been.


Jay, aka The Angry Little Man said...

I think Carrie-Rose did a very, very good job considering what the screenplay asked of her (hiding the drugs seemed out of character), and that she held her own while performing across from a truly incredible and nearly dangerous performance from Melissa.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the observation- I thought she held her own too