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Film Festival Day 2, 27/07/2013

While I saw one or two people I knew yesterday (hi Nick Cole!), today was a veritable cornucopia of bumping-intos, with Fraser and Freya popping up before lunchtime, and Gemma turning up at the Paramount. Maybe I should go into town more often?

Film #5: Animation For Kids

The inevitable parson’s egg. The first one, Paper Touch was the (admittedly impressive) origami version of the dread “free jazz and paint on film” that plagues these sort of showcases – the absence of narrative seemed to leave the audience restless. But there were some good ones – I particularly liked Hannah and the Moon (which was told in text appearing on the screen that was integrated with the images in a very picture-book sort of way — here’s a trailer), and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore (which I felt had a bunch of well-communicated messages about how books “live” by being read, how we’re coloured by what we read, and how authors live on in their words).

There were some other ones that were worth a watch – and Snack Attack, for example. I’d watched Shave It before – wonderfully colourful and animated, but I’m not sure I agree with it. And the problem that I had with Big Mouth was… well,

Just because you’ve made it rhyme,
Doesn’t mean you’ve made it good.
Swing’s the thing, or half the time
The lyrics can’t be understood.

I was going to take some of my nibblings with me, but I’m pretty sure that they’re going to enjoy Toons for Tots more.

Film #6: La Jaula de Oro

Crickey. People viciously preying on other people, people throwing fruit to strangers passing on top of a train. Celebrations and dancing.  Violence, sudden and final, coming out of nowhere and snatching people we’ve grown fond of. And for those who finally make it to the end of their journey, who leave behind everything they know in South America and arrive in the promised land of the States; is it worth it?

A powerful film, but I’m not sure I’d want to see it again.

Film #7: Like Someone In Love

One downside to the tempo of modern popular movies is that any time the tempo slows down, and we’re seeing anything that would normally be cut out (waiting at an intersection in a car, for example), we’ve been primed for something horrible to happen – a truck to side-swipe someone, a car bomb to go off, something like that. I suppose that one upside is that it can make some slower films surprisingly tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Which then makes it all the more shocking when something actually does happen.

When you are lying to your boyfriend about where you are, that’s a problem; when he gets you to go to the bathroom, and tells you to count the number of tiles on the floor, so he can come by later and confirm your story, then it’s a little bit more than a problem. And when he says to the man that he thinks is your grandfather that he wants to marry you because then you’ll have to tell him the truth… and the man is someone your boss sent you to sleep with (though that doesn’t seem to be what your faux-grandfather has in mind), well, the place where all you had was “a problem” is a distant blip on the horizon.

It’s mostly a low-key sort of movie, happy for minor characters to break into monologues, and there’s a bunch of subtext about the Japanese character, and the weird role that women have there now. Overall, I quite liked it.

Film #8: Gebo and the Shadow

Slow, slow, slow, and the sort of thing that The Critic sang about. The husband lies to the wife about their son to keep her happy, but she’s miserable. The wife berates that husband for not bringing her more news of their son. Their son is the sort of puddle-shallow sociopath who is convinced that their lack of impulse control makes them deep. And all of them sigh deeply, and complain about how much they suffer in silence.

Now, you shouldn’t necessarily take all that to mean that I didn’t think it was well done – it was deliberately in a very mannered fashion, patterned after the play that it was taken from. But I’m not sure I enjoyed it, per se.

Film #9: The Source Family

So former WWII marine who robbed banks to open up restaurants, and went to jail for killing his lover’s husband with judo, ends up having a spiritual awakening, opens up a vegetarian restaurant which becomes an L.A. Hotspot, changes his name to Father Yod and starts up a religious movement and a commune. They change their names legally to things like “Magus The Aquarian” (“The” being his legal middle name) and “Sunflower”, “Isis”, “Octavian”… and they start recording psychedelic rock albums, and playing at high-school campuses to recruit. Oh, and the leader decides he can have thirteen wives, and also that he’s actually God.

They interview many of the former members of the Source Family, and talk about the good that people got out of the movement, as well as the bad. In truth, many of the initial tenets seem very positive, with a strong emphasis on service; but even then, there were problematic bits. And it was interesting that they showed a number of black people in the communes, but not appeared in the interviews. On the other hand, Father Yod didn’t poison his followers, or get them to kill anyone; people appeared to be able to leave, and while most of them said that they wouldn’t do it again, they also said that they valued that time in their lives.

It was nice to get a glimpse inside a cult that drifted apart, rather than imploded – if only because that meant that the other weirdness wasn’t overshadowed by a single climatic event.

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