Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


My SIFF 2007 experience

We got a late start on the SIFF this year but I made an effort to get out there and catch a few movies in the last couple of weeks of the festival. Apparently, I also managed to miss all the GOOD movies. Of the award winners I only saw the Jury pick for Best Documentary (Out of Time, directed by Harald Friedl (Austria)).

My thoughts on my picks for this festival:

WHITE PALMS: Ultimately, while I was entertained by this film (and certainly didn't mind watching actual gymnasts strut their stuff for a while) it didn't have enough to stick with me for even two weeks afterward. I had to remind myself that I saw this film when I went to start this write-up. Not a good sign, really.

ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES: In retrospect, it was suitable as a g-rated film I could watch with Kate but that's about it. It wasn't quite a thrilling action-adventure, wasn't quite campy (despite some of the anachronisms and dated attitudes). I wouldn't recommend anyone go out of their way to catch it.

RETRIBUTION: Billed as "a supreme psycho-thriller" I think "thriller" is overstating by quite a lot. I found the plot muddled, the pacing terrible and the resolution worse, especially one of the final scenes that seemed to be tacked on as if they found some additional money in their effects budget. A disappointment even though it stars the excellent Kôji Yakusho.

TEKKONKINKREET: Anime. Aimed at adults this is no Miyazaki film. We took Kate with us to see this one (as we have fairly permissive standards and it was flagged as suitable for teens) and while not inappropriate it wasn't all that enjoyable for her. Like Princess Mononoke, the end gets all weird and dark and psychedelic. Enjoyable enough but I felt it was pretty inferior to the qulity of anime films offered at SIFF in years past (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle certainly).

IT DOESN'T HURT: I liked this film for the most part, even when the characters were acting in ways that the movie provided no context for. The actors were really good and engaging even when the screenplay let them down a bit. Being a Russian film it is infused with sadness and loss but it's about the most light-hearted sadness and loss infused Russian film I can recall seeing. Not exceptional but okay.

OUT OF TIME: The best of the matinees I caught this year, hands down. After last year's spate of downer (though excellent) documentaries I tried to confine myself to less dreary films. The story of four shops catering to "old school" clientèle and getting crushed. An old school butcher shop, a leather working shop, a high-end button shop, and a turn of the century drug store are all followed and eventually close (or continue to teeter on the very brink). The owner of the drug store in particular was quite engaging, roaming his empty store and exhorting non-existent customers to come buy the last of his ancient soap stock ("Can't get this anymore, this is the last bar!") in between stories of how he was a Russian prisoner of war. I was glad to see this won the Jury prize in its category.

STEALTH: Another film packed with excellent actors but a screenplay that holds them back. Written, directed by and starring Lionel Baier, this is a semi-autobiographical comedy about a young, gay Swiss man who becomes obsessed with his newly-discovered Polish ancestry. I chuckled at several points and found the main characters (the brother and sister) compelling but other times I was left wondering what kind of idiots made incomprehensible decisions and why. Close to being "pretty good" it ends up in retrospect as merely adequate.

YELLA: It turns out I would have much rather seen a story that was about Yella and Philipp roaming the countryside and working their business dealings than what the movie actually ended up being about. Interestingly, IMDB's description of the movie is "A woman's near-death experience causes her to relive another person's final moments in life," which is very different than how SIFF promoted it. Had I been thinking of the IMDB tag when I went to see it, I might have enjoyed it more. As it happened, I found the story veered to either confused or predictable with far too little time at any enjoyable in between places. Excellent cast, though.

BLOOD ON THE FLAT TRACK: THE RISE OF THE RAT CITY ROLLERGIRLS: We were on hand for the world premier of this one. Saw a few people we knew in the crowd as well (including the back of one Mr. Mona's head). This was probably my favorite film of the festival. It helped that we were there with the Rollergirls themselves in attendance (dressed to the nines, befitting their VIP status) and the theater occasionally erupted with cheers and applause from various fans and friends of the teams and factions. I laughed my ass off in several parts. Holy crap, Basket Casey stole the show! Loved it, just loved it. We were at the Bumberbout last year, which was included in the film, so that also heightened our enjoyment. Took Kate to this one (and she saw the mom of one of her school friends while we waited in line) and will be taking her to next weekend's Big Gay Bout as well. Unlike Miss Fortune and Hot Flash, Kate and I will not be the next mother-daughter derby pair as we both agree we're pussies who don't want to get hurt.

SCARAMOUCHE: Unlike Ali Baba, Scaramouche was unqualified awesome! Twists, turns, smartass scoundrels and sassy sirens, swashbuckling excitement and laughs, lots of laughs. Loved this archival presentation and was very happy that we got to see it. After two satisfying films in a row I was feeling a little better about the SIFF overall at this point, too.

LITTLE BOOK OF REVENGE: Our last film of SIFF 2007. With a title like this, I had to see it. A black comedy from Quebec, this one actually lived up to its press (There was actual comedy! Yay!) and we laughed a bunch. The character actors were all excellent and the pacing and screenplay seemed particularly good after slogging through some of our earlier choices. The director was on hand for a Q&A but we couldn't stay for it. A satisfying end to our festival experience, we gave this one a thumbs up.

Labels: , ,


for this post

Leave a Reply