Friday, April 22, 2005

Film Fest fun is over. . . till next year

The time of year, when I put off everything to see films galore, is, alas, over. But for some great memories, enhanced by Film Fest event photos of the really fun afterfilm parties such as at the Suburban World where Valet, Thunder in the Valley, Ben Weaver and Donna Simpson and many other great local musicians had great shows, and there were great guest DJ's (see photo of Dave Campbell) such as Ross Raihala, and whoever DJ'ed during the dubbed Solaris, rocked.

I broke my record and saw at least 20 films most of which I liked or loved this year. The best one was easily Machuca (which made best of the fest), about adolescents in Chile during the Salvador Allende coupe and assassination. Kids from the classist middle class and the poor class native Chileans become friends but their families and politics challenge their burgeoning friendships and love -- to depict this story via children was the best vehicle, and shatteringly heartbreaking to the core. Things haven't changed in many parts of the world. Including where I grew up.

Another favorite which also made best of the fest, was Monsterthursday from Norway. This was a poignant film with great character development about a guy whose best friend stole his girl, got her pregnant and married her, only to ditch her for most of the following months to surf. The old boyfriend looks after her, still in love, tries to impress and win her back by learning surfing, only for the husband to return just when he'd nearly got the girl back. . . the bereft jilted guy charges into death, going out to surf in a "monster wave" during a lightning storm, not knowing the girl loved him, and his best friend would have stepped aside. A quiet, sad film that involved beautiful moments of endeavor, aspiration, humor . . . somehow this wasn't the soap opera it sounds, just very beautiful seacoast film about regular people and the quandries and ironies of life.

Dog Nail Clipper was truly one of the best and deserved it's ranking as one of the best of the fest, about a war victim shot in the head and suffering amnesia and trying to find work, but not very capable. I can't describe the beauty and sorrow of this film about someone who simply wanted a dog to care for and get along in the world but mostly turned against (even by the dog) for his injury related ineptitude.

Popular Music from Vittula was a great film about youth growing up in a isolated country that, "isn't Sweden and isn't Finland, either," discovering rock and roll music and wanting to and becoming musicians in spite of the strict religious upbringing of their parents. Very magical, strange, at times featuring magic realism, and great cinematography.

Czech Dream, another "Best of Fest" deservedly, as another look at the consequences of joining the EU -- a prank pulled by film students creating a tremendous ad campaign for a nonexistent "Hypermarket," to see how gullible consumers can be to advertising of a dream that is not reality. This seemed to cause a significant awareness to the promises of the EU perhaps being "hype." Very hysterical, it was "hyperfamiliar," to our own society which they fear becoming.

Many of the films which I loved may or may not become available. I'd keep an eye out at favorite video stores such as Box Office Video and Cinema Revolution.

Childstar (Canada), Genesis (French film about the beginnings of, well, everything. Lots of cool philosophy and time-lapse photography and humor, especially during the evolution parts), Kings and Queen (France, and I thought the projection was fine including the two breaks we were warned about due to the format of the film), Honeybaby (about a washed up rock star, kind of a Euripedes/Antigone tale that was cheesy as hades, I almost walked out 3 times, but like a bad soap it kept me drawn in and was pretty charming at times), the Irish films "Omagh," (another great film about IRA bombings such as Bloody Sunday, horrible to see, but important to know), the charming, "Boys and Girl from County Clare," Viva Ladjerie (Algerian), Visions of Europe (25 shorts about problems of emigrants to various countries of the EU, including the last film made by Theo Van Gogh), the Fifth Reaction (Iranian, uh, chick flick, car chase adventure film about rebellious woman trying to keep her children from being taken by her father-in-law after her husband's death, with the help of her women friends. I couldn't help but see elements of Bollywood and Sex in the City (conversations in the restaurant and by phone especially) and it was fun and funny. Quite a trip.

Favorite moments, aside from films included: hanging out at the new Riverview Wine Bar, seeing one of my very favorite directors of all time, Wim Wenders enjoying outdoor patio of the Riv and later seeing his new film made in 12 days, "Land of Plenty," a commentary of post-9-11 America (of course I approached him afterward, after significant trepidation, to interview him for hopefully an article . . . he replied he was being interviewed already by his friend Jim Walsh (a long-term favorite writer) so in that case I was like "okay." Disappointed, but pleased to meet him. He's a film god in my book. "Well, I just want to say to you that I have loved your films for the past 15 years." I felt silly and gratified at the same time to shake his hand. His films while slow are deep and have wry humor --"Until the End of the World" is a favorite, "Wings of Desire," and sequel, "Far Away, So Close," another favorite with Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz, "An American Friend," and more. . . that experience (as well as future ones I was yet unaware of) simply made the film fest for me. That was considered by my self to be an apex of my life.

But there was more. The afterparty of phenomenal film, "A Toute de Suite" with the present French director Benoit Jacquot, during which I was excited to hear there will be another Sur Seine likely this Fall (French and Twin Cities Jazz exchange festival that was a blast last year). A bunch of us were hanging out late at the Riverview Wine Bar, and this guy I never met, asked the group to guess his middle name. I said, "Adam," -- uh, wrong middle name, but this was Adam Secular, assistant director of MN Film Arts. Wow, that was weird but cool.

Hearing great music at the Suburban World Theater with classic cheesy films on the big screen, drinking free or cheap booze was elating. Finally the perfect and often neglected intersect of film and music lovers was honored, and in great form.

Seeing films first, and being able to brag about and promote them to our friends is fun. I recommend so highly:

Kung Fu Hustle (kick ass fun, Kill Bill doesn't hold a candle to the high hilarity and great cinematic and musical references. . . Just GO!)
Clean (a French film featuring phenomenal Hong Kong film actress Maggie Cheung, who kicks heroin habit after Australian husband performed by former Birthday Party band member o'd's and tries to recover kid and rock music career)
Fearless Freaks docu on Flaming Lips (fantastic!). Also great scene of Steve shooting heroin and filming of a "psychotic santa" for their feature film, "Christmas on Mars." and numerous other great stuff, I loved this film and its coming back in May.
A Girl From Monday, a new film from director, Hal Hartley, who I hear you either "love or hate." I'd be in the former category. This one is about consumerism ruling the world, and the commodification of everything including sex (which ups your consumer rating). But a newcomer from another planet is innocent to this system. It was really funny and apt, particularly in our Clear Channel and mass-consumer motivated society.

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