November 21st, 2005

Can You Identify This Flag?

SLIFF Movies I Saw

I posted this on the filmforum a little bit ago, and I don't feel like re-typing, so just read it (I did delete some stuff from the original post at the filmforum). It's about the movies I saw at SLIFF this year.

Yes, as you no doubt read on the filmwire and here, the local shorts program had some projection trouble, and it was most unfortunate. NOT unfortunate, however, is that everyone gets one more chance to see these films on the big screen (some of which, including mine, may be seeing their last big-screen-exposure in St. Louis) in St. Louis. So come Tuesday night at 7:00PM to Winifred Moore Auditorium on Webster University's campus. It's free, open to the public, and will seat much more than the Tivoli small theatre was able to (I've a feeling many people were turned away--I KNOW at least SOME were).

Therefore, agreed with Tuckerbot on many of his points, including shorts programs in the bigger theatre, sound level monitoring, equipment once-over, and paper programs for the shorts programs. Though admittedly, some technical difficulties cannot be accounted for or prevented...

As for the festival's content, I was only able to go to four programs--local shorts,
Une Hirondelle a Fait Le Printemps, Brick, and Ai-Fak (The Judgment).

Une Hirondelle A Fait Le Printemps (translated as The Girl From Paris even though the more literal title is "A swallow brings the spring," which is a play on the popular saying "One swallow does not a spring make") was a decent French movie; the acting was superb and the cinematography was "breathtaking," so to speak. The movie's from 2001 but since it had never played in St. Louis, it was eligible for showin' at the SLIFF. A girl is sick of teaching internet classes and moves to the country to pursue her dream of being a farmer. The crotchety old farmer who sells a farm to her stays temporarily in residence at the farm after she takes control of it, but eventually she melts his tough exterior (or DOES she?). Some famous French actors are in it including Michel Serrault (the old man Adrien) who was also in the original La Cage Aux Folles on which the Nathan Lane-Robin Williams hit The Birdcage was based; Mathilde Seigner (the computer-teacher-turned-farmer girl Sandrine) was in the super-good French thriller Harry, Un Ami Qui Vous Veut Du Bien (With A Friend Like Harry...) from a few years ago; and Jean-Paul Roussillon (Adrien's friend Jean) has an extremely familiar and expressive (and awesome) face, but I can't place where I've seen him before. Anyway, it was a pretty good movie interpretation of the city mouse and the country mouse fable.

Brick rocked hardcore; it was my favorite feature I saw, I think. If you are whatsoever familiar with the novels (or films based on them) of Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man) or Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye) then I think you might love or at least appreciate it, too. It was much like those films (set in the hard-boiled streets and featuring the hard-boiled detectives of various west coast towns) only IT WAS SET IN A SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL (for those NOT familiar with those novelists or the films based on their works, it was sort of like a non-comedic, High-School-setting The Big Lebowski). Yes, all of the primary characters were High Schoolers, except there was a Vice Principal who was more or less the "policeman who strikes a deal with the much more savvy and insider Private Investigator." The kid from Third Rock From The Sun (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, almost unrecognizable from his Third Rock role) played the lead character, Lukas Haas (Mars Attacks!, Breakfast Of Champions, Witness) played the crippled "mob boss" villain guy, and Richard Roundtree (SHAFT!) played the Vice-Principal/"cop." I thought it was excellent--it surpassed all expectations I had upon reading the synopsis in the SLIFF program, and if it comes to a theatre near you like I think and hope it will, let's go see it.

Ai-Fak (The Judgment) was a Thai film and was also good. It was about a Buddhist monk who leaves the monastery and goes to care for his father's (very) young and (very) eccentric widow. Townspeople start talking and eventually the dude is shunned and starts into the heavy drinkin' and gettin' beat up alla the time. It's one of those extremely frustrating movies where you feel so badly for the main character (while a far cry thematically and content-wise, think Meet The Parents) but of course you can't do anything about it, and redemptive scenes as far as that's concerned are few and far between. However, therein lies its impact; you really feel for the guy and it is indeed nothing if not a powerful film.

So, all three well worth seeing, but
Brick being the super-must-see of them all.

And of course, the local shorts program rocked. Go see it (in all of its two-and-a-half-hour-long glory) Tuesday night. No excuses this time (it's free, at a more reasonable time, the last public local bigscreen screening for a lot of the films therein, and in a theatre that won't likely sell out).

Man SLIFF is so sweet, it boggles my mind that we have such an awesome resource in St. Louis. Some of the films shown there are quite literally impossible to see anywhere else (whether permanently, or at least for a long time, in many cases).
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In case you skipped that last entry cuz it was too long, and for what it's worth:
My movie, Pour Chaque «Non», was named best St. Louis Short Film.
So that's all the more reason for all of you (especially people that worked on it in some capacity) to come and see it tomorrow evening, ESPECIALLY especially if you haven't seen it yet, you slackers. Give a hoot, already! It's FREE (that's zero dollars--no "suggested donation," either). It's AT A REASONABLE TIME (7:00PM). It's CENTRALLY LOCATED (Winifred Moore Auditorium at 470 East Lockwood Avenue in Webster Groves). It's at ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO SEE MOVIES IN TOWN (no other theatre to my knowledge offers two armrests for EACH seat or the rock-back-and-forth-style chairs, and since I don't like Stadium Seating, it's even better for me). And it just won an AWARD. So you've been left without excuses. I'm gonna be pushy about this one to make up for all the modesty and half-hearted suggestion that goes on the remainder of the year.
Just come see it already.
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