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Film Festival Day 8, 01/08/2014

I have a horrible feeling that I sat next to someone I’ve met at Life After Beth, and completely failed to say, “Hello” or anything.  I did’t realize until a while after I’d sat down, and then it felt weird to swivel in my seat and try to stare at the person to confirm if I knew them.  And my special talent for names (i.e. my inability to remember them) meant that I couldn’t think of a good way to broach the subject.  So I hope that either I was mistaken, or that they didn’t recognize me either.

See, this sort of thing doesn’t happen if you stay safely home and never venture out.

* * *

My grandfather started wandering off a while ago; he’s faded a lot since that first started.  I sometimes think about what it will be like for me at his age.

The short, Home, was manipulative, and I didn’t like some of the sound mixing of the taxi driver. But because of its subject matter (mother with dementia leaves nursing home to try to return hat to daughter), it was effectively manipulative for me.

Similarly, Alive Inside did not tell us about the people that music therapy didn’t help, and while it referred to studies that show that it helps, they were only mentioned, rather than explained. But that wasn’t really the film’s intention – it wanted to show you the successes, and celebrate them, and encourage engagement. Not just engagement of the elderly with the world, you understand; engagement of the world with the elderly.

And the response to the snippet of the film posted on YouTube, on Reddit and elsewhere, was very touching.

Besides, I have to support any film that uses Fair Use so vigorously when presenting a film about music that touches people.

They mentioned the website – I link to it here in case it helps someone.

* * *

DNA Dreams was interesting, in the context of watching Mothers.  I can easily believe that wanting “the best baby a couple can have” has a lot more resonance in a country where there is a governmental policy for a single child per couple. I’ve got mixed feelings about embryo selection — I’m reminded of the film on urban planning from last year, The Human Scale, where they pointed out that you build for what you measure. In that context, it was pointing out that cities got designed for cars when they measured traffic flow, and not pedestrian flow; I suspect that testing for IQ-related traits may similarly miss important things that are not being measured.

I don’t think I’m a Luddite, nor dismissive of the idea of choosing to try to improve a child’s potential life. And I think that a lot of the science is very cool. But there’s something that causes me some disquiet about the idea of selecting between potential people.  But there’s plenty of neat possible uses of this research outside of that.

The filmmakers seemed less enthused than those they interviewed; given the balance of power, that would tend to put me on the side of those interviewed.  Put me down as deeply ambivalent.

* * *

Force Majure is about a man who fails his family, and then fails himself by trying to lie about it.  It also has comic elements, though it was not a comedy per se.  I find myself conflicted, since it was well made, and everyone was good; it took a very sardonically Scandinavian take on something that could be overly melodramatic.  But it is a hard question — who knows how you’d react in the split second of a crisis? Though in all honesty, I suspect I’d just be indecisive, rather than dramatically acting one way or another.

It was a good film that I liked, but didn’t warm to, and I don’t know why.

* * *

Diplomacy was the film that we had a lot of trouble with tickets over, but I’m really glad that we got to go to it.  There was a lot of tension, which was weird, given that we know how the story ends — Paris was not destroyed, so the diplomat must convince the general.  But when you’re watching, you’re drawn into the argument, and both of them are compelling.

And in the end… who you empathize with is interesting.

You can tell that it was originally a play, but that just gives scope for the actors to do their thing well.  I wonder how much of the story is actually factual; a bit of reading may be necessary.

I liked it.

* * *

My initial inclination is to describe The Double as Kafka-esque, but given what it’s based on, Dostoevsky-esque might be more appropriate.  And I’d be willing to put money on the fact that most reviews will mention Terry Gilliam’s Brazil at some point, or possibly Michel Gondry’s work — the same dream-logic sensibility is at play, though it feels more utilitarian, less fantastic.

I almost wish that I could have turned subtitles on, since the dialogue rattles on a rapid pace, and I didn’t always catch everything that was said.  It was pleasingly written; hardly ever surprising, but the point was how we got there.  It was very good at using the things that it set up, and I enjoyed the slightly stylised mood, once I got used to it.

The main female character was almost as much of a cipher as the boss, but that’s hardly something that this film is unique in doing.  On the whole, I enjoyed it.

* * *

I’ve seen the main actress in Life After Beth, Aubrey Plaza in a few things (Parks & Recreation, Scott Pilgrim), and she often seems to play a similar sort of character – head tilted down, sullenly staring at the world with heavy eyelids.  Though to be fair, the same can be said for John C. Riley’s hapless bumbler (also in the film), or a few of the other actors that made an appearance.

I enjoyed it.  It reminded me of Groundhog Day, but with zombies instead of a time loop – both in the whole theme of second chances, and because the film-makers realised that they didn’t have to explain why the situation is the way it is. (I’ve read that the time-loop in Groundhog Day was going to be explained as the result of a voodoo curse; when I read that, I realised that I had not even thought to question why it was happening when I watched it, and was super-glad that they hadn’t gone with that.)  There are zombies, here’s what they like and how they act, and then we watch people deal with that.

The film didn’t take itself too seriously, but it let the characters take themselves seriously, and I liked that.  It was fun to watch.

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