My first stop was at the Chamber of Commerce, where my weekend pass was ready to be picked up. A charming volunteer set me up with the pass, a holder for it on a Fry's lanyard, and a program.
I had mostly come to see The Last Woman on Earth which johnnyeponymous had hyped at BASFA, and in which he had a small role. So I looked that up, and the next showing was at 1 pm in the Cinelux Theaters. I looked at the map and decided to walk there, and have lunch, and then see the block of films (LWOE was the last in the block).
Here's the map:
#1 is the Chamber of Commerce
#3 is Cinelux
#2 is the playhouse
After walking several blocks past Dunne and not reaching Tennant, it was clear that while the map was to scale up to Dunne, the rest was not. So I walked back to 3rd Street, had lunch at a bagel place, and then got in my car and drove the 3-4 miles it really was to #3.
Cinelux Theaters is a nice new plush multi-screen cinema, and it was very generous of them to donate Theater #7 for the festival for the weekend. They bumped The Prestige which I thought was a fitting piece of magic.
What I saw:
Raiders of the Lost Tickets
I didn't catch the real name, this was a hokey 2-person short, shot in the Rosecrucian Museum (one of the sponsors) where the explorers find a cache of film festival passes in an Egyptian tomb, the lights go out, they run screaming and forget the tickets. Shot in B&W, poorly acted, stupidly written, it was played at the start of every set of films. Arghhhh!
Plight of the Windie:Birds of Mystery
Three minutes of one of the funniest spoofs of nature programs I have ever seen. The "Windie" (rhymes with "why me") is one of those rubber band wind-up birds you can buy in the mall kiosks or Chinatown. The film delves into the bird's feeding, mating and migration habits, as explained by owners of the birds (who all wear a glove on the hand the bird is perched on - like falconers) and a park ranger/naturalist type. Excellent production values, shot in color with a large cast. Well edited, and kudos for great audio and good use of outdoor natural lighting.
Cuando la Luna Este Llena (When the Moon Is Full) is either in B&W or shot on really cheap color film. It is the story of an illegal from Ecuador in NYC who is a grill monkey in a breakfast joint. He has the hots for an Anglo woman customer whom he asks out, she replies in poor Spanish with the film's title. Which is where they made their first mistake. It should have been "Azure" not "llena" because it would have been once in a blue moon, not full moon, that she meant. There is a lot of fine Flamenco guitar music throughout, and at the end of the movie the film makers spring on us that the plot is being controlled by the character who is singing and playing guitar. Good acting, inconsistant photography, the plot jumps around a bit, the ending makes no sense but then neither does the middle. Excellent music.
"A man believes he is too ugly to be loved by a beautiful woman" is the program description. The man is right. He's also stupid, has a funny accent, and beats off to his teddy bear. He gets the girl, but in real life he would have gotten arrested. He's that ugly. Poorly shot, written, acted and not worthy of this festival.
And Now A Word From Our Sponsors
This movie has everything. Sexy woman wearing only a man's shirt, in bed with sexy man. They are about to Do It when she insists on a condom, His one rubber has turned to dust in its long-unopened wrapper, so he goes to the store to buy more, where he is chased by and in one case tackled by those ubiquitous sample-giver people. There are ads all through the flick where other movies have transitions, and the woman turns out to be a shill for the condom company. Hilarious, well acted, decent production values, editing could have been smoother, writing could have been more Madison Avenue. All in all a fun film.
A dull, nerdy database programmer shows up for an interview which turns out to be a CIA psychological profile test. He shares the waiting room with a psycho killer (who also happens to look like a nerdy database programmer, only a little more handsome). The CIA tells our man he is a K-7. Natural born killer with no conscience. He of course isn't -- it's the other guy, but try telling a bureaucrat she's made a mistake. Super production values, well-acted, good writing, very well done. The designer of the piano wire garrote was given a well-deserved credit.
The Last Woman On Earth
A woman shows up for work in a very familiar-looking Silicon Valley parking lot. I'll bet a penny the location was the Computer History Museum. Hers is the only car in the lot. No one is in the office, though the clock says it's 9 am. She sits at her desk. There is no Internet access. She comes to the conclusion that overnight the holocaust has come, and she is the last woman on earth. And she starts acting out. I won't spoil the ending, but will will say it was a timely flick to be shown when it was. Well shot, good writing, fine acting by the woman, and johnnyeponymous' leer in his 20 seconds of face time at the end is priceless. My only complaint is she was over-dressed.
The next thing I went to was the Women's Panel in the community theater. I arrived about half an hour into the panel, and what made it interesting also made me wish I'd gone to the movies at the Grange instead for that time slot. It was a panel of women film makers. But they talked just like a panel of men film makers. Which means we have reached something resembling equality.
I won't review all the films I saw in the next 2 sets, just my faves:
A Cigar At The Beach
Highly-hyped invited film. A married man with step son and a child on the way escapes them for a little while by lighting a cigar and walking to the beach, where he has some vivid day dreams. One involves two young sexy Oriental women in bikinis. Another has him on the crew of a freighter, playing cards with the other seamen. Good photography, inconsistant editing, so-so acting and writing. Great idea, not taken far enough. No nudity. You call that a fantasy?
A man walking his dog loses the leash, the dog runs, he follows, several blocks away we find the dog is running to meet his brother, being led by the man's ex. Awkward chat. She obviously dumped him for another guy, she tells him it didn't work out. He takes his dog and walks away. When he is just out of sight she drops her dog's leash... Very romantic. Well written, acted, shot, good audio, great casting of both humans and dogs.
Binta Y LA Gran Idea
Binta and the Grand Idea. This is a professional film, and as such probably should not have been in this festival, but I'm glad it was. The story of a young girl in Senegal whose parents send her to the village school, though dad is a poor fisherman. Her cousin's father will not let her cousin go to school, he has some old-fashioned ideas about barefoot and pregnant. Dad has a big idea, it has nothing to do with the school theme, but we don't know that till the end. Three things are going on in the film. The school is doing a play about a father who won't let his daughter go to school. It's part of a UNICEF project to promote education and literacy for women in Senegal. In real life the cousin is having the same situation the play describes. And dad is taking his letter, which Binta wrote from his dictation (he can't read/write) to higher and higher authorities. He gets to the governor, who agrees to his suggestion. The Grand Idea is Dad will adopt a child from the First World to raise as his own, so people of the First World will understand the meaning of family and community and being one with nature. The film is a UNICEF production, superb all the way through.
The festival was good on many levels. Lots of entries, lots of venues, well organized for a local event in only its 3rd year. I only have two complaints. One is they tended to put the same genre in a block. I went to one block which was all "drama" and it was downright oppressive. The other is the program was organized by venue, rather than by time. It was hard to tell what was happening now.
Worth the drive, worth the price ($10 per film block, $50 for weekend film pass $75 all films/events pass)
Best credit line I saw:
"No animals' feelings were hurt in the making of this film"