Thursday, April 17, 2008

Atlanta Film Festival 2008 - Day 7

The Atlanta Film Festival 2008 continues it's 9 day stay at the Landmark Midtown 8. For today (April 16, 2008, for those of you who want to keep track), I only had four features on the bill. (No short subjects today, which are starting to bog me down a bit, which I never thought I'd hear myself think!) ['BAMA GIRL was via a pre-festival screener DVD.]

THE SKYJACKER (dir. Jeff Pickett, US, 2007, 72 mins.) This quirky little film about a skyjacker, loosely inspired by the D.B. Cooper "legend" really should not work, but it almost did for me. Everything about it runs against expectations for a "airplane hijack movie". It is exceptionally underplayed and under produced, but that seems to benefit the story. Though we do not really learn anything about the characters beyond their roles as "skyjacker" and "flight attendant", it is a nearly clinical observation of how these two characters interact during this event. Lizzy Davis plays the stewardess in a minimalist performance. She displays the steely nerves that one hopes to have in such a situation. Jeff Pickett directs himself as the skyjacker, and is not quite as effective as he doesn't go beyond being a cipher - which might be the point? He sets the film in the '70's apparently, as there is smoking allowed on the plane. However, the rest of the production design does not pinpoint the era as specifically as it could. Pickett also runs into the "Lifeboat" problem: Ninety percent of the film takes place within the cabin of the plane. In fact, it rarely leaves the row he is seated in, and when it does, it is almost painfully obvious. The edits are a bit clunky on that count. The only other reservation I had was with the soundtrack. The music score by Smoota, Smog attempts ambience, but becomes more annoying.

TEAM PICTURE (dir. Kentucker Audley, US, 2007, 62 mins.) Here is another quirky little film that I should not have liked, but I sort of did. It takes "mumblecore" to a minimalist extreme, that is nearly void of decision, yet in that void there is almost a meditative quality to director Audley's character. Audley directs himself as a musician who has absolutely no focus in his life. In fact, even his music lacks tone or poetry. I should really HATE this character, but as the time moves on, his litany of "I don't know" becomes something of a deep well in which I started staring into in search of SOMETHING! And there is something down there, behind his eyes. It is an exceptional performance in that it rests on his energy as a being and not on any of his actions, as he takes NO action through out the film. The supporting cast express frustration, yet seem to become caught up in the zen-like aura that Audley exudes. Perhaps the most significant choice Audley makes is that the running time of only an hour is JUST ENOUGH! I don't know if I'd ever see this again, but I am glad that I did not miss it.

This was preceded by a short, ANA'S TIME (dir. Alice Cox, US, 2008, 26 mins.) Unfortunately, what I was dreading about TEAM PICTURE, occurs in ANA'S TIME. Though less than a half hour, I found it to be near wallowing in self absorbed and incommunicable angst, which may have been its point.

'BAMA GIRL (dir. Rachel Goslins, US, 2007, 72 mins.) One could consider this a documentary version of MEAN GIRLS. It documents a young black woman's campaign to become the 2005 Homecoming Queen at the University of Alabama. What it unearths is the political landscape within the Greek system and the University as a whole. Though the concentration would seem to be about racial politics, it actually goes broader and deeper than that. The system appears to be controlled by an elitist clique, referred to as "The Machine", which discriminates against anyone outside of this secret group. It is implied that this is the seed from which an unbreakable ruling class is born and bred. Though I appreciated the point the film was making, by the end, it was only feeding my cynicism. I had hoped for some resolution for change in the future.

MONSTER CAMP (dir. Cukken Hoback, US, 2007, 79 mins.) The best comedy I have seen at the festival this year is this documentary about LARPers (Live Action Role Players) who gather once a month for a weekend of NERO, a live action fantasy game. This group of people (this was NERO Seattle) will spend 48 hours living and breathing as wizards, knights and monsters. Perhaps it is best described as a competitive Dragon*Con. Anyway, the amount of time, energy and commitment that the players give to the game (it has a 200 PAGE Rule Book!) is intriguing to watch. The personalities that are attracted to such gaming pretty much fall into the geeky stereotype that you would imagine. If they are not out in the field, they are home, on line playing WOW, etc. Mind you, I don't know if I could spend a weekend with them, but an eighty minute documentary was just enough!

Maxxxxx says
re MONSTER CAMP: "Wooooo!"

1 comment:

JimmyD said...

You miss your Magic days, don't you?