Sunday, May 01, 2011

IFFBoston 2011: what I've seen so far...

Some rambling reviews of the first few films I've seen at IFFB 2011.

day 1.
SEE IT! As the opening night film, a total joy to watch. I was originally a little skeptical of the ability of its subject to draw me in, but the film proved my doubts foolish. It's not the story of a red furry monster, but the story of Kevin Clash, a boy who discovered a passion for the craft of puppetry and the happiness it could bring to children. The story is told pretty much from beginning to end with some remarkable footage, images, interviews, and artifacts from all parts of Kevin's journey. It's also partly a "craft" documentary, one that introduces you to an art that most aren't so familiar with, gives you a survey of its landscape, and teaches you or visits with its masters, and perhaps its old man on the mountain (Jim Henson).

day 2.

day 3.
IFFB | vimeo | site
It's a great, intimate little picture, and it deserves some love. It's a beautiful little film about some very un-beautiful behavior. Young couple Sebastian and Genevieve leave Brooklyn for a sublet with farmland in West Virginia when he decides to undertake a writing assignment on the firsthand experience of sustainable living. Soon after they arrive, local sprite with a gift for chat, Robyn, visits, and soon becomes the couple's regular and mostly welcome third wheel. When the couple's relationship hits a bump or three, Genny begins to wonder about just why Robyn's spending so much time with them. Atmosphere and vibe-wise, the film's projection of Genny's growing unease and suspicions, set against the alternately bright-and-lush and dark-and-unknowable green of nature, reminded me uncannily of ANTI-CHRIST. Which really goes to show just how well done GREEN is.

IFFB | youTube
SEE IT! Such a great execution of a wonderful idea: trolls are real, and—of course–they live in Norway! It's framed in a BLAIR WITCH way, with a trio of college filmmakers choosing to track down an elusive subject, in this case, an alleged bear poacher. They follow news reports of dead bears, unclaimed as licensed hunters' kills, and associated with all manner of violence against tourists and livestock. When they finally catch up to the accused poacher, they discover that the man lets himself be branded as one because the lie is preferable to the truth: he's hunting trolls. TROLLS!!! It's a lot of handheld running thru the wild, but not nearly as tiresome as BLAIR's, and the payoff in actual recorded troll encounters is SO worth it. Q&A w the director revealed that the man who plays the hunter is actually one of Norway's premier comedians with a gift for social commentary and sarcasm. The man reins that side of him in quite remarkably in creating the stoic keeper of troll secrets. The film DOES have a distributor in the U.S. and will be on screens in early June, probably at the Kendall on June 17. SEE IT!

day 4.
I was running late getting to this, so I missed about 20-25 minutes of it. Foo.

"We're Leaving" (The first film, I missed this completely.)

"After You Left" (I only caught the second half of this.)

"Little Horses"

"Chainsaw Found Jesus"

A music video of paper cutout animated re-creations of scenes from the STAR WARS trilogy to a sweet original(?) song entitled "Tatooine." I can't not love it =)

LOVE IT. A neo-La Jetee.

"Ich Bin's Helmut"
LOVE IT. Helmut's wife has prepared a huge non-celebration in honor of his 60th birthday. However, she's miscounted. It's actually his 57th. Helmut looks back on his friends, family, and the passions and accomplishments of his life, and they appear before him. A lovely bit of this-is-your-life whimsy involving an amazing single continuous shot and clever stage and set craft.

IFFB | trailerAddict
Mostly dig it, but can't recommend it to everyone. If you're in the mood for a slow story that's more about an existentialist character portrait of a good-natured natural salesman, give it a view. I really like the wonderful lead, playing a gifted car salesman whose greatest joys, next to the pursuit of the sale, are his daughter and grandson. His daughter would like him to retire to spend more time living rather then selling, but he gently refuses, time after time, even now, as the prolonged "temporary" shutdown of the local paper mill threatens to destroy the community's economy, and effectively eliminating his potential customers. And what will he do when things go from bad to worst? It's a downer of a tale, but very well told. I was hoping for something a bit more... IKIRU, I guess, but, alas, not here. There is some really crisp imagery (the relentless snow of the area sets up some simple, beautiful shots thru showroom windows) that makes the slow pace worth it at times.

LOVE IT. You know, I like a good puzzle box of a film, and this is one of those. It's like Miranda July doing DONNIE DARKO, so, a puzzle box with much whimsy, wonkiness, and askew glances. =) Given the director's post-show Q&A, a puzzle box may not have been her plan, but it's how I read it. A young couple choose to adopt an injured cat. They have a month before they can actually pick him up from the shelter where he's recuperating. When they mark that day on a calendar, they talk themselves into a realization that Everything Will Change once they bring that cat home. They'll share a new kind of responsibility, and of course, the flip side of that, a new lack of freedom. This inspires them to make some radical changes, as if the day the cat arrives is the day they'll both die. These radical changes lead them down paths they never would have considered taking before, but ones that may reveal truths that even they didn't know about themselves. Can this one seemingly random event, the adoption of a cat, alter the course of the future and completely change their lives? Wacky fun ensues.

Allright, before I forget this stuff, I've gotta get down some *SPOILERY* thoughts. Skip to the next movie if you'd rather not know. *Okay, I ended up writing a lot more than I thought, and may write still more, so I'm just gonna put it all in a next post.

I've also seen BELLFLOWER, STAKELAND, and ON THE ICE, but hafta cut this post short here to head out for LITTLEROCK soon, and later, 13 ASSASSINS.

Keep on keepin on~

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