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SIFF 2012: Second Weekend

Posted by gck Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finally worked my first real usher shift, a fun weekend one at the Egyptian. The Invisible War was the film that let out at the beginning of my shift, a pretty harsh documentary about sexual assault in the military. The other films on my shift were Wonder Women! and The Eye of the Storm. I opted out of watching Wonder Women! because I didn’t want to get filmed out. It was fun seeing costumes and lots of little girls in attendance. Eye of the Storm was not on my film radar at all, but it was extremely well-attended (as were the other two). So far this SIFF, I have attended only one screening that sold out, proving once again that I have no idea what other people like. Film Count: 9. Volunteer vouchers: 8.

Paul Williams Still Alive
USA, 2011
Genre: Documentary
Watched: SIFF 2012, Uptown
Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5)

I blatantly ignored every SIFF film about a cultural icon that I didn’t recognize (in other words, all of them). But Alexis mentioned that she was really excited about this one. I watched the trailer, and I was sold. While I think people who grew up listening to Paul Williams’s music and remember him on television would get even more out of this documentary, it still has universal appeal. It works to have the director, Stephen Kessler, in the film to demonstrate the relationship between the filmmaker and his childhood idol, the delightfully cranky Paul Williams. But between all the comedy, there’s a genuine story about the transformation of a pop icon into a good husband and father with a happier life. Paul himself was supposed to attend both screenings, but unfortunately, his flight ended up leaving too early for him to attend mine. However, Stephen Kessler was there, and he gave a very entertaining Q&A.

Any Day Now
USA, 2012
Genre: Drama, Social Issues
Watched: SIFF 2012, Harvard Exit Upstairs
Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5)

This one proves once again that I have no idea what people like. I thought it would sell out one of the bigger screens. It’s an American film with recognizable actors, extremely well reviewed, touching story, good show times. But it was quite the opposite – the film ended up being switched to the small Harvard Exit upstairs theater, and there were even free tickets offered to the screening. It was a great movie, though, and I’m glad I watched it. It tells the story of a gay couple trying to adopt an abandoned child with Down Syndrome in the 1970s. While people in the audience were definitely interested in the prejudice against homosexuals and the portrayal of Down Syndrome, the director, Travis Fine, said in the Q&A that how he connected to the story wasn’t through these things. He saw the theme to be something universal, the pain of being forcefully separated from someone you love through circumstances beyond your control. Lots of great actors. Alan Cumming really steals the show, and apparently he’s quite a character in real life as well. The director said he was currently in a production of Macbeth playing all of the roles in the play. He originally wanted to play Lady Macbeth, but then he decided he might as well just be everyone.

King Curling
(also: Kong Curling)
Norway, 2011
Genre: Comedy
Watched: SIFF 2012, Egyptian
Rating: *** (out of 5)

One of the most hyped films of the festival that it had to be pretty freaking funny not to be a letdown. I mean, it’s pretty hard to live up to being branded the Norwegian Big Lebowski (but with curling). It’s was super quirky and the funny parts were funny, but there was too much of it where no one was laughing. Still worth watching, though, and I know there were others who found it funnier than I did. I did find it extremely amusing that they played the Klown trailer (video is NSFW, link is okay) as a preview before the movie.

Pakistan, 2011
Genre: Drama, Social Issues
Watched: SIFF 2012, Uptown
Rating: **** (out of 5)

This movie interested me because it was a strong film coming out of Pakistan, something that isn’t that common right now. It was long – almost 3 hours – but I didn’t get bored. Beautifully shot with really nice music that didn’t distract me in the way that some of the Bollywood music does. I thought the title song was beautiful and haunting, and it set the mood appropriately for the beginning. (The subtitle translation for “Bol” is “speak up”) It’s pretty clear from the description that the women are in for some rough treatment in this film, and that’s true. It’s nice to see the main character, Zainab, have a voice against her oppressive father instead of just being a silent victim. I did find it odd that at the end of the movie, the moral of the story seemed to be “don’t have more kids than you can afford” when to me, the honor killings and oppression of women were bigger issues.

Singapore, 2011
Genre: Documentary, Animation
Watched: SIFF 2012, Uptown
Rating: *** (out of 5)

An untraditional, animated documentary combining information from the life of Tatsumi Yoshihiro, the inventor of gekiga, a mature, adult type of Japanese animation, with stories from his works. It was well done and it certainly grabbed my attention, but it just wasn’t really my thing. I probably could have seen it coming. Japanese stuff can get really weird, and it’s weird in a disturbing way, not a quirky way. The stories are supposed to depict the darker side of human nature, I guess, but it isn’t something I can or want to personally identify with.


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