Friday, July 22, 2005

Almost halfway

It's just after 11.00pm and I just got back from Late Bloomer. I bet there'll be a few people doing searches for world's end girlfriend when they get home. They did the freakily sublime soundtrack. This is a bit of an outsider debut for Shibata Go, who was a guest of the festival and who stayed after the screening for a Q&A, assisted by a translator. It was the story of a handicapped guy in a wheelchair who turned mean when his crush on his cute new college girl caregiver turned sour - firstly killing his other (male) caregiver (who was started to cosy up to his colleague), and then going on to knife total strangers in the street. It was shot in grainy black and white digital and was edited with mad genius, sometimes with sudden explosive frenzies of chopped up images echoed by mad rushes of distorted electronic music, courtesy of the aforementioned soundtrack artists. This has been one of the highlights. What a shame the audience wasn't bigger.

I can't say the same for the film I saw last night - Pin Boy. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was no good - for what it was, it was quite lovely. It's just that what it was wasn't really very much! A quiet, sparse story teamed with some authentic characters with little dialogue and long long shots. A young man from the sticks who has moved to the city to stay with his cousin and work as a "pin boy" in a blowling alley. SOD slept through it and really I could have missed this one. Still, as I say, I didn't really dislike it, it just didn't move me much.

Wednesday night was 3-Iron, a Korean film about a young guy who broke into people's houses while they were on holiday, ate their food, watched their TVs and generally made himself at home for a day or two and... washed their clothes, tidied up and fixed broken appliances. One of the houses isn't empty though and he meets a young battered wife of a rich bastard of a husband... and we have a quirky little love story. I enjoyed the quiet humour of this film and the minimal use of dialogue. Nice.

Today I went to see Mysterious Skin. I feel uncomfortable about this film. I guess it's thhe one that David Lane (Society for the Promotion of Community Standards) should have gone for if he had any brains. 9 Songs may have included explicit sex, but it was straightforward sex between consenting adults, unlike Mysterious Skin which included descriptions of a paedophile instructing an 8-year-old to fist him. I get what the filmmaker is trying to say. There are two kids, each sexually abused at the age of 8 by their Little League coach. One is a sensitive little guy who is emotionally scarred by the event, the other is a sexually precocious little boy who is already finding something attractive about grown-up men and who looks back with a strange fondness towards the man who abused him. He sees the summer of his abuse as a defining time in his life, and in a positive way. The other boy blanks out his experience and concludes from the bits he can recall that he was abducted by aliens. The film culminates in his realisation of the truth. So, different people are affected differently by their childhood experiences. But what bothers me by this film is that when a paedophile sees it they may feel somehow vindicated by it - that maybe their victims really enjoy it and that an 8-year-old can participate willingly and enjoy the experience. I don't know the statistics, but I can't imagine that very many 8-year-old molestation victims would fit into this category. I dunno, I have to think about that one some more. It was a good film, and having had conversations in the past with gay guys, I know that they came to the realisation of their sexuality early, and also had sexual feelings really early, but I just feel uncomfortable about the message that the film could be giving to sexual predators.

Well, that's me for now. I'm off to four films tomorrow. Still nine days to go!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Six days in...

Well, it was the sixth day of the Film Festival today and I only managed one film, although I had planned for three. I missed the Uruguyan sock factory movie, Whisky, and that's a damned shame. And I was meant to see Claire Denis' L'intrus (The Intruder), but after sitting through ninety minutes of very repetitive found footage going under the name of World Mirror Cinema, I just flagged. What I had thought was going to be captivating cutting edge cinema turned out to be a sadly miscontrued effort at reconstruction with a thematic approach. I was pretty bummed and ended up sleeping through long spells. It was just not worth the effort of trying to stay awake (although embarassingly I woke myself twice with the sound of my own snoring).

Fabulous though, was much of my Sunday viewing. I started the day with the marvellous Decasia by Bill Morrison. He takes found footage, but not just any old stuff, it has to be decaying. It's amazing the forms this took - from milky opalescence to crackling edged eye-popping bacterial scourges. There were pulsating shimmering halos around dark black shadows. From the midst of the decay were the remnants of the original images, at times emerging from amorphous blobs, at others being swallowed up by melting milkyness. The old footage in itself was gratifyingly gorgeous - a whirling dervish spins into decay; two nuns stand with their backs to us like forboding black sentinels while little children run in a line (at an orphange?) while the film decay causes apocalyptic light effects; a kimono-clad Japanese woman merges in and out of intricate organic blobs; planes fly through a decaying sky dropping little parachutists. This was a gorgeous eye-fest and anyone who can only handle narrative should go along to film like this and think "art gallery" - this isn't a story, don;t expect a story, just love the images. Meditate upon the beauty. This is the stuff that feeds my soul.

My next film on Sunday was Little Sky. Had quite a cry at this one. Delicately shot social realism in Argentina. Harrowing but inevitable ending.

Oh, and then Campbell Walker's latest, Little Bits of Light. I understand people walking out - I heard a few behind me not too far into the film - as this is not fare for the everyday festival-goer. It's not an easy experience: it's not entertaining, it's discomforting, it makes you feel claustrophobic in its closeness to the characters. Just one couple, just one weekend, and we're up close and personal with them all the way. 9 Songs has the intimacy of a quiet afternoon tea next to this, and I'm not talking sex. Helen is depressed and Alex tries all he can to help her through the darkness of it all - the days are bad but the nights are hellish. Now, I've been in the place she finds herself, and I must commend Nia Robyn on her amazing portrayal of the depressed pysche. It was a rewarding and emotionally satisfying film and the soundtrack of the Mountain Goats went so well with the Taranaki landscape.

To top off the day I got along to League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse. Light relief it was, which is just what I was after since it had been a full-on day.

Monday was good too - The Future of Food - made by Gerry Garcia's wife, nonetheless. US patenting laws are totally scary. Anyone who saw The Corporation last year should get along to this. I sincerely hope this gets general release. People need to know about this shit. Then a bit of fun - - what I would call a Spinal Tap movie for the rave generation. Some great moments and a total pisstake of the Ibiza scene.

Got to try to make it to Tony Takitani in the morning. Let's see if I can get up early and get all my work done!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Le Pont des Arts

It's 11.30pm and I just got back from Les Pont des Arts. I'm glad I took my daughter Chloe to this rather than SOD as I'm not sure he would have enjoyed it at all. The final scene was a little on the metaphysical side and some of the acting was a little theatrically inclined. Anyway, I rather liked it. The only thing I found a bit pissy was the way the gay men were portrayed, but it was fairly integral to the story and also gave some light relief. I'm gonna have to go out and get some baroque music now. The main piece of music in the film was sublime - Monteverdi's Lamento della ninfa.

Spending all day at the movies

The Film Festival has started. I'm about to exhaust myself with a two-and-a-half week movie marathon. Fun. Thursday night was Gala Opening with then copius amounts of bubbly and beer. Movie was okay. Anime not really my thing.

Next day had 9 Songs on a hangover. Too many grotty old pervy men who didn't look like they belonged at a festival film. Managed to block their presence out for most of the film. The sex scenes to Michael Nyman's piano was by turns erotic and sweet. It was better than I expected. I had read a bit about it and knew it was essentially sex interspersed by rock gigs all the way through, but the sex marked points in the relationship until the end when she left. You could see the relationship faltering towards the end when they started getting into sex toys and domination. At the beginning all they needed was each other. Interesting film. I can see why some people don't like it, but my thinking is that sex is mostly portrayed in our cullture through pornography, and it was enlightening to see a mature film deal with it as pure subject matter instead of titillation. In the context of the film I didn't find the explicit portrayal of intercourse at all degrading or offputting. I wonder if the raincoat brigade got anything out of it?

Last night was the public opening with Hidden, a film that still has me thinking.

Today started with Cinevardaphoto, three films by Agnes Varda. Exquisite. Had moments of overwhelming sense of wonder and joy contemplating how much humans can express with their art. I know there will be films I will see during the festival that will have me crying tears for the other end of the spectrum of life as a human being. That's what the festival is all about.

Now off to Delamu, then tonight to Les Pont des Arts. Four films tommorrow!