I've always wanted to really get into a film festival, although I never really tried DC's after go at went rather badly freshmen year. It's been terrific so far, with the overall quality of films being fairly good. I'm going to put up my reviews in the cut below. Summaries will not be included because I'm a slacker. They are available at: www.sarasotafilmfestival.com
The first day of films I went to was the festival of shorts. $5 bought admission to the whole days worth of films, so while I was out and about town for part of the day, I also took the opportunity to see more than just the best sounding ones, cause hey. It's free.
Included by the reviews are my ratings of the movies, they have us vote so I thought I'd pass them on. Different numbers in perens are adjusted ratings after further thought, or half ratings.
Shorts Package #9
These are humour or satire, except for Semmelweis, which didn't fit at all.
Hungry people in a house occupied by a Nazi commander and his cat, who gets more food than the people. Guess how it's gonna end. It was 12 minutes, stuff happens, but the obvious payoff wasn't nearly enough to sustain it.
Famous Last Words: 5 (4.5)
This sketch length movie was just that, a rather funny take on a famous line from the revolution. The quality wasn't great and obviously came from a digital camera not working at the highest resolution, but it didn't really matter. Director was fairly cool, Tom Blake, apparently he's worked with the upright citizens brigade, I may check out his other stuff. I only knock down to 4.5 cause ultimately it's just a sketch, guess I'm elitist on my cinema.
A satirical Ken Burns style documentary on the fictional sport of pillowfighting. Had a lot of funny moments, and good parody of sports documentaries/Ken Burn documentaries. Fairly amusing premise as well. But it ultimately bog downed. Even though each bit had jokes and many were good, I don't think the idea could really sustain 23 minutes.
Documentary about the Hungarian doctor who figured out in the 1860s that Child Birth Fever was caused by doctors not washing their hands before dealing with the patients. Even if they just came from dealing with cadavers. Felt like a school film, yeah, sucks this guy was ignored and ultimately went to the looney bin, but I never really cared.
Legalized America: 4
This was twenty four minutes, which felt right, unlike Pillowfighter. Basically a satirical look on what America would be like if all drugs were legalized. Not an up with drugs message at all, but it wasn't too heavy handed and did satirize/comment on a good number of current social trends. But ultimately not quite insightful enough to be great commentary or funny enough to be great satire. Still, a nice job, would have been very easy to make something that was just half baked, or heavy handed and entirely lacking in objectivity.
Bravo!Fact Candadian Showcase
These were commissioned for Canadian television and are shown in the gaps between programs, Comedy Central does a similar thing but only does parodies. Average time, 5 minutes.
Toothpaste: 3 (2.5)
Cute singing marital strife about a tooth paste cap. Fairly well done, but, eh. Didn't really do anything for more.
Horses Never Lie: 4 (3.5)
Maybe I'm being overly generous with a four, I'm hardly a dance afficiendado, but this did look rather neat. Single female dancer, most of the time dancing in a barn/animal showhouse type structure with a dirt floor. Pretty neat.
Peep Show: 4
This was fairly wacky/absurdist and cute. If the name sounds interesting to you, might be worth checking out the synopsis and hunting it down. Nothing all that deep but enjoyable nonetheless.
Eve2: The temptation: 3 (3.5)
Interesting dance on the whole temptation and expulsion from paradise. Fairly surreal. I liked watching it, but don't think I'd go to any effort to see it again.
Frankenstein: Do You Dream: 5*
I loved this short. Apparently it came from a musical version of Frankenstein and is about the creation scene specifically. It is well produced and has cinematography that I enjoyed, much more of what movie musicals should be as compared to Chicago. I'm now tempted to see the musical, though I doubt it will be this good or well acted.
The Audition: 4 (3.5)
It's an out of work actor in the 'audition of his life.' And there's a twist. Big whoop. Twists are really starting to bore me. This was well put together and acted but ultimately forgetable.
Shorts Package #5
Think these worked with AFI, production values were high, they were around ten minutes.
Bartime: 4 (3)
Morality tale with a bit of a twist. See above about twists. OK, well acted some tense bits. But I never really cared.
Gunslingers: 3 (2.25)
While the production values were good and the acting was alright, this did little for me. Basically a quick series of gun fights, with motivations established. Mild twist, see above, is all that keeps it from being completely bland. Acording to the poster Quentin Terrentino was impressed, don't see why. The pithy sayings were rather lame, mostly variations on retirement (in reference to retiring gunslinger protaganist) being used as a reference for death.
Shorts Package #7
This was the other shorts backage I particularly wanted to see, first one is four minutes, rest run closer to twenty. I'd say this was the best overall package of the lot. Shame they didn't show Blind Carbon Copy about programmers actually having to talk rather than communicate via network, could have been cute or lame, but given the overall quality of this set, might have been good.
Good Luck Mr. Gorsky! (Norweigen, animated) 3 (2.5)
Comedy involving Neil Armstrong. Funny punchline but the rest was eh, would have been entirely regrettable without funny punchline. Maybe I'm shallow but I don't really want to see ugly animated characters, particularly if they don't have reedeming characteristics.
UK of A: 4
Fairly funny film on UK/US interaction (but you may have guessed that). Nothing deep, but reasonable well written. There was a twist at the end, see above, that actually didn't make a whole lot of sense. I kinda felt the director wanted to add a twist, but didn't really have a good reason for it. Director was actually there, answered a few questions, talkative guy from Brooklyn, probably a fairly interesting guy, but I didn't get a feel for the ending from what he said.
Nice well done film about relatively young teens and romance. Real and likable characters. Mostly dealt with arctypes, but didn't add too much to them which is why I'd hestitate to call it truly great. Ending was completely predictable but could have had two variations, I was pleased with the one they went with. Bit of a subplot with seeing Virgin Mary, which felt a little heavy handed and ties in with my arctype comment. Regardless, I rather liked it, nice little picture.
When The Sea Turns to Lemonade: 5
A fairly surreal story about two neighbors who each have interesting traits. The origin of the title is rather wacky and quite appropriate. This hadn't sounded too appealing to me, but I really liked it. The characters were interesting and it was appropriately gentle with them. The length 24 minutes was just about right. Director was also there, had a few interesting things to say, though less outgoing then the UK of A guy, who was quite talkative.
Full length movies: Saw the first Sunday night, second tonight. Both with parents. Rest of what I see will be movies, though it'll tend to just be me, or me and Mom. Dad wants to 'enjoy the outside weather' or something. ;P
Manfast: 4 (3)
Instisummary: Four women abstain from contact with menfor hundred days as part of grad student project. This movie had a real cable feel. I wanted to like it more but ultimately didn't.
The characters weren't all that interesting or sympathetic. And I don't mind the females being smarter than the males, only trouble is, the females didn't feel all that smart. I know smart females, and it's easy to tell the difference between a character who is supposed to be smart and can throw around jargon, and one that generally acts in an intelligent manner. Course I don't need characters to be really intelligent, that's just the easiest way to get me to care, sadly none of the other ways were exploited either.
I think the writer was fairly intelligent, she uses some romantic comedy conventions, but removes much of the contrivance and stupidity. However, she doesn't put in a reason to care. Near as I can tell, the only theme was, good things may happen if you don't center your life around men and drunken wacky parties. Big surprise.
I never really had any reason to care. The film didn't taken the conflict too seriously, and without really clever scenes or characters I empathized with, I never got into it. Moreover, I never got a feel for the Zine the four women put out, articles flashed on screen, but I got the impression that it was actually important or compelling. I gave it a four because the writer had good intentions and was trying to be original, and not just by adding a twist. However, it wasn't really successful. Good luck to her future endevours.
I Capture the Castle: 5 (6) Earlier 5* was in reference to this film, after seeing it, I will be far more conservative with my fives, it blew everything else out of the water. I'm willing to let Sea Turns to Lemonade keep it's five, although I did enjoy this film a hell of a lot more. Shame the director wasn't here.
OK, see this movie. I'm not going to throw in a lot of quotes, but it's the most romantic movie I've ever scene, hands down. I loved the characters, all the major ones were interesting, just a bit flawed, and fairly smart. This film starts as a fairy tale with the family in the castle but goes on to be something much more (Although the castle sticks around, which was so cool!). The movie is beautiful, enormously clever, and while the charcters/setting aren't quite real, they all seem true.
Really, I'm far better at critizing than praising, so I'll simply say again, see this movie! Unless you are fundamentally opposed to the idea of romantic love, in which case I'll buy you a beer.
And for those of you who didn't read the reviews, one quick comment. See 'I Captured the Castle.'