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AIFF #9.3

Saturday 10 April 2010

Day 3 of the 9th Annual AIFF! Big day, long day. Hits, misses, and fouls:

For the Love of Movies: A critical documentary on film criticism since the start. History mixed with personal anecdotes, inside-baseball politics of film criticism, and a fine Q&A made this a really fun way to start the day.

Greenlit: What happens when you try to make a movie “green”, in an environmentally friendly manner? Apparently it goes really badly! The producers of The River Why tried to do the eco-thing during production, but as eco-friendly is apparently a foreign concept in Hollywood (spoiler: new reasons to hate James Cameron), it was a learning experience all around. Better luck on making the next production green, but this film was a hoot.

Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World: Oh my, what a strange and interesting life. Six kinds of artist who settled on tattooing as his mastercraft, Ed Hardy shows why tattoo is a legitimate visual art and not (only) the stuff of drunken escapades. The transitory nature of the work adds an extra touch of poignancy. Highly recommended.

Junkyard Dogs: Canonical short coming-of-age movie. Good work, but no new insight. I hope to see more by the director in the future.

Poi Dogs: This played right after Junkyard Dogs, and instead of the Scorsese-want-to-be edginess, it had a sweetness and transparency that made Poi Dogs a much more interesting and enjoyable film.

Miracle Fish: Pretty standard wish-fulfillment short feature about a bullied young boy who gets to make his tormentors (and everyone else) go away. The plot twist (not to be revealed here) and resolution felt forced. The miracle fish element turned into a throw-away that could have been better used.

Axioms of A Dishwasher: Now this was an interesting film. No dialogue by the on-screen actors, only by an off-screen narrator, and all in the form of rules that a good restaurant dishwasher must follow to be successful (“Make friends with no one during the first four days at a new job.”). Coupled with the stark (and sometimes turgid) imagery of the workings of the back-end of a commercial restaurant, it really clicked just right. Highly recommended.

Danse Macabre: I recall a movie from the 1970′s that used Saint-Saëns music “Danse Macabre” to good effect during a scene in which the diabolic plot was finally revealed. Sadly, this is not that film; this is a pretentious piece of pure dance art. Some of the cinematography is excellent, but with no story evident and imagery that is not compelling, only disturbing. Save the wear on your optic nerves for other works.

The Butterfly Circus: Can one overcome extreme challenge, even to the point of transforming oneself beyond one’s born limitations? That’s where this film takes the audience. The staging is Gilliamesque, and although I found the butterfly metaphor as subtle as a circus ringmaster’s bellow, it’s still a charming film. Recommended.

Your Lucky Day: The writer was clearly channeling Quentin Tarantino when he came up with this one. It’s the story of what should have been a very good day gone very, very bad. Very violent, but even though one could see the plot a mile off, it still kept me riveted. Highly recommended for the non-squeamish.

Calvin Marshall: Conventional wisdom is that one has to make movies, write books, stage plays, and sing songs about winners–the one-in-a-million who succeeds, often at long odds, and triumphs over adversity (vis. The Butterfly Circus, above). The creators of this stood that on its head and made a movie about the rest of us–the ones who don’t succeed wildly and conquer the world, the ones who try and fail, yet rise again and again to try to find our way. It’s not quite Field of Dreams meets Death of A Salesman, because the deep tragedy isn’t there, but maybe it’s more Don Quixote. Shot in Ashland and the surrounding area; look for it in theaters and on DVD later this year. Highly recommended, and not just because I’m Ashland-mad.

That’s day 3! Hope you all are having as much fun as us!

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