Tuesday, September 06, 2005

TFF, Days 3 & 4: Festival of the Bs (and, When the Parents Are Away...)

The festival is officially over, although we'll get to watch two more films at the After-the-Fest fest tonight. As you may be able to tell from a lack of entry yesterday, things were pretty hectic ovr the past couple days. In full, my favorite film remains the Singaporean film Be with Me. That said, there were still plenty of fun thigns to see. Here's a recap of what I saw, in the order that I saw them:
  • I saw another of the Eugene Green films, but my second experience wasn't as good as the first. Green's style, which I liked for the highly entertaining modern-day fairy tale Le monde vivant I found far less effective with his most recent film, Le pont des arts. I wondered after seeing the first film whether his style would work with a more urban setting and a more "realistic" narrative; ironically, I found it less effective than the parable. Then again, I could be wrong: many other people I respected loved it.
  • Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (snarkily called by some passholders Bareback Mounting)was a really beautiful adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story, although I found it a bit long. Then again, Proulx's economy of words is hard to dictate in film. Gorgeously shot by Rodrigo Prieto, the film is a love story between two cowboys and the Alberta mountainside that stands in for Wyoming. (If you're a South Park fan, you may be amused if I tell you that everyone here was saying, "But there was no pudding!") I could never really get over the fact that Jake Gyllenhal looked like the budding movie-star that he is; Heath Ledger, however, is completely unrecognizable in the role and deserves some recognition for it. And oh yeah: the sex is violent, just like in the story.
  • My good friend Pam Chandran told us we had to see Spirit of the Beehive yesterday morning, an allegorical film by Spanish director Victor Erice from the 60s. My manager asked me to tell her what it meant afterward. I said, "You know, I think this is the 4th Spanish civil-war oriented allegorical film that I've seen and I always think they're so beautiful and so deeply allegorical that I never get it." We may think twice now about taking Pam's advice, even if she was my rush chair.
  • Labor Day Picnic followed. Mmmmm, steak. Mmmmm, ice cream.
  • But I didn't stay long because I was running up for a gondola ride to the Chuck Jones Theatre to see two films in a row. The first was the other silent film at the festival Anthony Asquith's A Cottage on Dartmoor. An interesting little thriller that involved an attempted murder a la Sweeney Todd (sans meat pies), the real stunner was the amazing piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne (who occasionally accompanied his own piano with flute and/or plucking the inside of the piano). Really, a great experience.
  • Contributing to my "festival of the bees," I stayed up at the Chuck for Bee Season, the new film by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, the guys behind Suture and The Deep End. Some of my students may know that I loooooove The Deep End, so I was really excited to see this. I liked it, but I'll have to sit on it for a while. It was not as tightly structured as their other films, but perhaps this is because it's an adaptation. The acting is really quite good, though, particularly Flora Cross as the young girl. I have no idea how they're going to market this one, though; hopefully it'll still find an audience.
  • I ran down to see the Palestinean film Paradise Now, though I only was able to catch the last half hour or so. I will have to check this out when it gets released (which it apparently will). It seemed both powerful (as you would expect a film about suicide bombers to be) and gorgeously shot.
  • Finally, our theater closed with a documentary called Sisters in Law, about Muslim women in Cameroon fighting for their own justice. It's always fun to see a doc sans voice-over, in my opinion, and most people really enjoyed it. Must remember to tell Pat Aufderheide about this one for the Center for Social Media.
Missed at the festival, though I wanted to see them: Everything Is Illuminated, Hidden, Capote, Three Times, Live and Become, all the Mickey Rooney films and (ironically, the only Latin American oriented feature) The Lost City. Nonetheless, a good year.

The trend through most of the films I did see, however, was "the word." In many of these films, the main argument revolved around the use and power of the word: Bee Season, Sisters in Law, Be with Me, both of the Green films, and even A Cottage on Dartmoor, where a missed note provides a misunderstanding that nearly leads to murder, all had this in common.

Up tonight: Conversations with Other Women and Fateless, though we may only see one of these.

The more amazing thing, however: we called Linda this morning to see how she and Xan were doing and discovered that, in the few days we've been away, our little boy has hit a milestone: his first tooth, which emerged yesterday with little fanfare and a lot of drool. We can't wait to see it... although let's just say that Angela is looking to the first meal back with just a little trepidation.

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