Sunday, April 27, 2008

IFFB: scenes from day 4

Post-screening Q&A with director Rob Moss.

An eye-opening investigation into the process, reasons, and apparent results, intentional and unintentional, of government secrecy and classification and how they are used to wield and keep power and control.

Post-screening Q&A with director Lance Hammer.

A pretty, super-sad, somber film. Any random 2 minutes of this movie would make me feel lonely. I got into the theater after the film had started and the room was packed. I ended up standing up at the back of the room for the duration of the screening. Reminded me in mood and atmosphere of a previous year's IFFB offering, IN BETWEEN DAYS.

Can you spot the talented and beautiful actress...?

Okay... here's a hint...

Director Chris Eigeman and star Famke Janssen take questions after TURN THE RIVER. Drawing another comparison to past IFFB flicks, for me, resonated with HALF NELSON. Kailee is a career card and pool shark attempting to build a stake big enough to enable her to start a new life with her son Gully. One problem, her ex-husband (and his family) have legal custody of the boy, prohibiting her from seeing him, much less raising him. Famke delivers a magnificent performance as the flawed, loving, tough-as-nails hustler and mother.

Hafta remember to look up the band/musicians who scored the film as I really dug the unexpected but very fitting music. I think the director called them a subset of the band, The Nationals. In response to a question resembling, "What did the ending mean?" he said that the finish was ambiguous, but intended as added, or extra, "meat on the bone." I won't go into the details of that, but will say that the idea of it is *JUST* the kind of thing I love and often want to see in movies that don't think of or use it.

Yeah, okay. That last note is not gonna make sense to anyone but me. =)

Something to remember: The woman sitting behind me presented a very sharp analysis of the character and story and owned up to always wanting to see a story where the woman "gets away with something."


Caught the midnight show. A ton of seedy HK underbelly fun, delivered by the triple threat directorial combo of Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnnie To. An unlikely heist, three down-on-their-luck average guys, one bad bad cop, some wacky turns and connections, absurd coincidence, and just a hint of the supernatural. Altogether make for a damn entertaining ride. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, April 26, 2008

IFFB: see the films, directors, and stars!

This weekend the IFFB's got screenings at the Somerville, Brattle, and Coolidge Corner theaters with the films' talented directors and actresses attending and speaking. Check out the details at the IFFB blog.

*Dozens* of screenings of kickass narratives, documentaries, and shorts remain, running thru Tuesday night. See trailers on the IFFB home page and click to check out listings and buy tix online.

If a show is marked as sold out online, there may still be tix available at the box office, and a block of rush tickets are always held back for sale 10 minutes before showtime. MAN, I saw SECOND SKIN last night and it was moved last-minute from one of the four side theaters to the main auditorium, theater one, and unfortunately, ticketing couldn't make up the seating difference. Really too bad, cuz the film was a ton of fun—a very entertaining and even-handed (at least to me) series of profiles of MMORPGamers online and in the so-called real world. You might've heard an interview w the filmmakers on NPR this week. Good crack.

My "plan," in analog form...

Here it is in digital. =)

Really, do check out the listings. There are some movies here that you might not see otherwise, some fun and intriguing documentaries, including THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE (about the construction of the first "green" building in South Boston), WE ARE WIZARDS (about the phenomenon of Harry Potter fandom), DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH (a profile of outspoken and freakishly talented writer Harlan Ellison), NERDCORE RISING (a sampling of the nerdcore hip-hop movement), CRAWFORD (about what happens to this little Texas town when a certain part-time resident starts bringing his work home w him)... and *MORE*

(I only rattled off the ones from the top of my noggin—it really is all good)!

IFFB's "After Dark" selections (all of which I'm planning to hit =):

HK action and drama by three—count 'em, three—directors in one movie! TRIANGLE! Midnight tonight at Coolidge Corner.

The movie that dares to say, "YES! Blood for oil!" Cuz gas is expensive, but blood is cheap! BLOOD CAR! Blood, boobs, and bullets all feature prominently in this could've-been cautionary tale of the near future disguised as an uneven, but at times, rudely hilarious B-movie. =) Midnight tonight at the Brattle.

Bone-crunching mixed martial arts madness starring Donnie Yen—FLASH POINT! Caught this last night, and I thought it could've used some editing down, heavier on the skull-busting and lighter on the everything else, but the skull-busting is pretty frickin satisfying =) Midnight tonight at Somerville.

TIME CRIMES. A man accidentally travels into his recent past, setting off a series of encounters with f'd up ramifications. Plays Sunday at 10pm at Somerville.

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, April 24, 2008

IFFB 2008 opening night: TRANSSIBERIAN

Red carpet at Somerville Davis!

Director Brad Anderson and star Sir Ben Kingsley appeared after the screening for Q&A. Sir Ben stands kinda like a superhero...

What's next? Check out my clueless, naive, and ambitious plans...

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Caught A COLT IS MY PASSPORT last night w my sister and it was A W E S O M E ! So much frickin fun! A Japanese gangster noir with a lot of cowboy western style. Reminded me in mood and style of EXILED, Johnny To's recent (kickass!) gangster western.

The film is the first in a series playing at the Brattle thru Thursday, Nikkatsu Action & 60s Japan. The Nikkatsu studio films are travelling together and were assembled by this fellow Marc Walkow, who spoke briefly before the screening about where this film and the others in the series came from. Most of them have been seldom screened in or outside of Japan since they were first released in the 60s. After watching and loving COLT, I really don't understand why that is. None of the films are available on video, but the prints in this show are in excellent condition, and I'm hoping to catch the rest of them in the next few days. A pretty serious warm-up I guess, before tackling the Independent Film Festival of Boston, kicking off on Wednesday night.


The Brattle blurb follows...

A Colt Is My Passport
(1967) dir Takashi Nomura w/Jo Shishido, Jerry Fujio [84 min]

In Takashi Nomura's chilly noirish thriller, Shishido plays a hitman hired by a gang to whack a rival boss. He does the deed with a sniper rifle and, together with sidekick, makes his escape. But before they can board their getaway plane, they are snatched by thugs from the rival gang. They make a narrow escape and arrange passage out of the country, but deadly complications ensue, forcing Shishido to improvise yet another escape for himself and his partner, but before they can depart, they're forced into an explosive showdown with killers from the rival gang. The final showdown between a solitary Shishido and a bullet-proof car full of gangsters staged on a deserted beach at dawn, the howling wind sweeping sand across the ground, is as impressive as anything of the era in this neglected masterpiece. NOT ON VIDEO!

Shot in black and white. It's like watching a pulp detective novel. Broad strokes almost instantly describe familiar archetypes of characters and stories. And this has just about everything. Professional killer. Loyal brothers and partners. The girl with a past. Rival gang bosses. Thuggish lieutenants. Rival killers. And it's got an amazing score that jumps from classic western twangs to jazzy and loungey brushes on drums. And it SO works.

Also, a guitar ballad performed by the killer's young partner, brother Shun. He sings a little love song to calm his nerves while the two of them are holed up in a gangster hideout of a truckstop inn. The innkeeper's serving girl, Mina, invites them to hide in her room, where the police and thugs wouldn't think to search. The killer is concerned that Shun is too nervous and stressed being on the lam, so he reaches deftly behind him to pull down the guitar that just so happens to be propped up against the wall. It's a sweet "oh no you di-int" moment. =)

One of many. Another happens later, when the killer agrees to face his hunters, who turn out to be the gang boss who hired him, the boss's bodyguard, and the son of the gang boss he killed, now the leader. The two gang leaders have come to an understanding, but, as is typically the case in this all-too-common situation, to seal the deal, the head of the killer must be delivered. The night before their showdown, the killer spies on his enemies and learns that they will attempt to sucker him into attacking them in a bulletproof car. We see him assemble his answer when he first buys some stolen dynamite, and then... visits a clockmaker's shop! Every kid knows what's happening now, y'know? Get dynamite. Get clock. Lick back of clock. Affix to dynamite. Voila! Time bomb!

Heh. It's not quite as cartoony as that (we see the killer construct the bomb, and it's pretty cool—I love "process" stuff in gangster/detective world), but you can almost see the lightbulb that goes on in the head of every member of the audience (and you can definitely feel and hear the reaction and enthusiasm from the crowd) when they cut to the killer shopping at the clock shop. Too frickin Fun! =)

Okay, so he can put together a bomb. How the heck is he gonna get this bomb in that car? You'll hafta watch the showdown to find out. Act one is a brilliant little one-vs-many gun battle in the "Reclamation Area," a barren dusty wasteland (the Nagasaki aftermath?). It's the perfect setting for dialing up the cowboy western feel. Act two is the final showdown with his enemies in the bulletproof car, and it does not disappoint.

When the movie was over, I felt like the little kid on the big wheel at the end of THE INCREDIBLES. =)

Early in the film, the killer is being given an outline of his target's habits by one of his employer's lieutenants. He's taken to follow the target's routine and the camera follows him to several possible vantage points where he might be able to execute him. When the killer decides to go for it in earnest, we're shown the the same routine, but the killer is nowhere to be seen. It's a pretty cool little bit that I really dig.


Check out the rest of the series at the Brattle if you can. I'm definitely gonna hit all the Nikkatsu flicks. And if you're not a Boston local, keep your eyes peeled for this series possibly traveling to your favorite indie/art house theater! I think that they travelled together before under the title "No Borders, No Limits," also the title of a book about Nikkatsu action cinema.

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mario on wine bottles and RC racer...

Keep on beepin on~

p.s. Don't you totally dig the "WTF?" security guard at the finish? =)

Monday, April 07, 2008

STAR WARS (Sweded)

Have you seen BE KIND REWIND? Familiar with STAR WARS (aka EPISODE 4: A NEW HOPE)? Then please, watch this. =)

*Love* the screaming T.I.E. figher! =)

Keep on Sweding on~

BSG last supper =)

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, April 05, 2008

PLANET B-BOY: dynamic, eye-opening, touching

site | trailer

Saw PLANET B-BOY last night at the Kendall. It's a do-not-miss joy of a documentary about the hip-hop phenomenon known as B-boying, more familiar to the U.S. layman as breakdancing. You might've thought that breakin' disappeared around the time of the sequel of the movie of the same name, but you would be wrong. It fell out of the Soul Train and eMpTyVee spotlights after a couple years, but continued to live on, evolve, and even thrive all over the world. So much so that in 1990, a world championship Battle Of The Year was begun. 15 years later, in 2005, B-boy teams from 19 different countries converge on Germany for the competition. The filmmakers follow the members of five teams, from France, Korea, Japan, and the U.S., all the top battling dancers of their homelands, all with their own unique style, characters, and personal stories.

Featuring some amazing footage of wild and dynamic dance performances and battles, both on stage and in the streets, this movie is a great hybrid of two great documentary formulas/structures: one, the origin and evolution of a craft; and two, the story of a best-in-the-world competition. In this way it "felt" like SCRATCH meets AIR GUITAR NATION, only, y'know, on a broken-down cardboard box on the sidewalk. As in SCRATCH (I look forward to a SCRATCH + PLANET double feature at the Brattle later this year =), there's a seminal (and amazingly improbable) spark that ignites the spread of this art from the streets of New York to points all across the globe. A remarkable little thing you'll hafta learn by watching the film. =)

Out of the five crews, you get familiar with a dozen or so individual performers, and a handful of very personal stories and challenges, and the film moves easily enough from electrifying performances (to some kickass musical mixes) to these intimate, frank, funny, and touching profiles, and back. I would've liked for MORE and EXTENDED footage of the performances, but no doubt including everything would have made for at least a five hour film, and the Battle Of The Year has got their own videos to market with all that material anyhow.

Yeah, I'll be looking online for those.

We were lucky to chance upon a screening with a Q&A by the film's producer afterward, and he revealed that they had over 400 hours of footage. We were also supposed to be treated to a demo by a local B-boy group, the Floorlords, but alas, the rainy weather put the kibosh on their planned outdoor performance.

If you need a little more enticement to motivate you over to the Kendall to see this, we were told that if the weather is not so unfriendly tonight (Saturday), they will plan again to put the show on. I'm guessing it'll be after the same showtime (7.30), but if you're motivated, try calling the theater to make sure.

The movie alone is more than worth the trip. Fun to sit in a movie audience and hear genuine gasps of wonder. It's a real electric charge of a flick—do not miss it!

Keep on battlin on~

p.s. FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is coming. =)