Sunday, April 25, 2010

San Francisco International Film Festival 53 (SFIFF53) - Sci-Fi and Slashers

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival screens April 22–May 6 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the historic Castro Theatre, the Landmark Clay and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. For tickets and information, go to or call 925-866-9559.

The San Francisco International Film Festival continues to present a late-night sidebar on Fridays and Saturdays. (Though this year, there is some expansion into the midweek!) So far, the screenings have been a mixed bag.

CARGO (dirs. Ivan Engler, Ralph Etter, Switzerland, 2009, 107 minutes) takes place in the 23rd century, where the earth is inhabitable and satellites house future colonies in search of a new planet. That is the setting, which lends itself to an original screenplay and story that I can not recall actually seeing before. However, what begins as an homage of sorts to any number of films, ends up being derivative. The look is fabulous! Though it owes it to BLADERUNNER and ALIEN. The first plot device of waking up from 'hibernation' and realizing "we aren't alone on this ship!" is very ALIEN. It then proceeds into the MATRIX as their end target might not be what they thought to begin with. There are too many subplots linking these and other references together to maintain an emotional involvement with their dilemmas. Oh, not to mention a sort of "out of the blue" romance that blossoms in the midst of all the stress. Though it was not difficult to watch, it was fairly unsatisfactory by the end.

The second of The Late Show Series was THE VIOLENT KIND (dirs. The Butcher Brothers (aka Michael Altieri and Phil Flores), USA, 2009, 95 minutes), which proved to be more successful, though moderately so. The Butcher Brothers are from the San Francisco Bay Area, so the screening was filled with cast, crew and fans and received quite warmly. I loved their earlier film, THE HAMILTONS, which screened at the Another Hole In The Head in 2006, so I was really looking forward to this! The directors do have an eye for an attractive cast, which is always appreciative and a great big step in getting an audience involved, regardless of how ignorant the characters may begin to behave. In this supernatural grindhouse flick, the protagonists' denial of what is really happening gets to be a bit frustrating. However, visually the film never really pauses. Though the subplots of romances and rivals gets in the way of the "Us vs. The Demons", the directors are able to keep the pacing at a point that these episodes pass, almost as relief from the gruesome blood letting that frames it. The cast is exceptional on all counts, though Christina Prousalis as the "younger sister", is saddled with the most ignorant and needy of the characters. However, you just gotta have someone screams "I won't let you go!"

Maxxxxx saysre CARGO: "Is it bedtime?"
re THE VIOLENT KIND: "Such a cranky bird!"

You can contact Maxxxxx or myself here: JayCBird@AOL.COM

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