Monday, April 28, 2008

The Kids are Not Alright

Day 3, Part 1 - International Competition 5

Second set of films and another fun group of shorts about abandonment, violence, sexual confusion, and really really unhappy kids.

The programmers once again put the best film up front, though Sonia Larue's Rosalie s'en va (France) may have benefited (for me) by not having French subtitles. The sound was a little bass heavy, and I had a hard time understanding a lot of the screaming and yelling between Rosalie and her parents, so any possible false dialog was lost on this guy. Fortunately, Larue's soft cinematography and brilliantly framed shots more than made up for this. The beautiful Julie Henry (pictured left) gives a tour de force performance (if such a thing is possible in a short), raging against her domestic situation and eventually leaving home with her sister. I was very unhappy when this one ended, as I had somehow forgotten it was a short film fest and was ready for 90 minutes with these characters. If you click on the link above you can check some of it out.

While Rosalie nicely condensed a full story into 13 minutes, that is nothing compared to the (technically) superb Diente por ojo (literally Tooth for Eye, as in Hammurabi's Code of "eye for an eye") which somehow incorporates four separate stories and at least a dozen speaking parts. I say technically because with the goings on in writer/director Eivind Holmboe's (Spain) head - to wit: conflicted homeless burglars, hit and run teeny boppers, a broken marriage, a kinky sex pairing, and a cross-generational sex pairing - it's hard to have any idea what he is trying to say. Much like this dude, it is hard to get past all the troubled and sad lives to any kind of statement other than something like "the world is profound and interconnected." Even the title makes little sense. We hear a preacher repeat Ghandi's quote that "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" during one scene, but none of the acts in the movie are done as revenge or restoration; they are just accidents. A less charitable interpretation would be that Holmboe wants us to think all of the people deserve what they got, in which case he is a scary guy. And if this weren't enough, the most important visual metaphor is a business man using the same toothbrush as the homeless man. Ugh. The visual chops are there (the guy's a whiz) but Holmboe needs to find his own Guillermo Arriaga.

The rest of IC5 was uneven, with the highlight being Teemu Nikki's short (Finland) of two middle-aged guys experimenting like they were freshman at Smith. Called Kaveri (A True Pal), it is a bit on the explicit side, but it is a lot of fun trying to watch these guys get it on while one of the wives goes to the store for sugar. I would recommend, however, that any fans of Bach's Ave Maria avoid it; you'll never hear the song the same way again.

Kaveri was actually only one of two shorts today about a gay-curious guy, but in the case of Zucht, the guy is about 13 years old and is interested in his putative girlfriend's dad. I guess it's not quite as creepy if you invert the NAMBLA playbook (the dad is clueless), but even this cosmopolitan critic was hoping for a quick end. I'm pretty sure that link has the whole movie, but I'm not watching it again.

Silvana Aguirre Zegarra's Ela (UK) was a (and I mean this in a nice way) touching film about the cutest little girl in the world who loses her brother. The cinematography was a highlight, but this was one of those evocative shorts where nothing is really going on and you just sort of watch people walk around in their deep thoughts. Here's a clip. Youtube doesn't do justice to the film's strengths, but I just want to prove I'm not lying about the whole cutest girl in the world thing.

Finally, there was La drumul mare (Life's Hard). This somehow won the audience prize at the Rotterdamn Film Festival, and it confirms my belief that people are shallow and stupid, even those who go to film festivals. Oh, Gabriel Sirbu, why did you not just write a short story (incidentally, I'm stunned by the number of people that go into making these shorts!)? This is a very very good and funny story about a burglar and a spoiled yuppie girl who spend a half hour driving around the city, each getting to appreciate the other one more, but the direction is just point and shoot. There is little if anything to suggest that Sirbu appreciates the visual aspects of the medium. Here is a clip from Youtube called "Furt la dumal mare." It has nothing to do with the film, but I liked it.

Note: I've actually just got back from IC3 and it was awesome, so I'll try to get that up soon. Definitely the best program so far! Of course, I have two more blocks scheduled for the afternoon (and something about a thesis?) but by tomorrow night we should be 5/8 of the way through! Man, IC3 was good. Can't wait to get to it.

No comments: