[SIFF week three]

* Lars von Trier’s new film The Boss of It All… is an office comedy. I know. The trailer is basically the best thing ever… “from the director of [many seriously depressing films] comes an office comedy”. I thought it was very funny, but it being von Trier it is pretty wanky in regards to many things, including comic film, the stage, & corporate culture. I will probably wind up buying it, though, because Jens Albinus is brilliant in the role of the actor chosen to play “the boss of it all”.

* Far and away the most awesome SIFF experience was the world premiere of Blood on the Flat Track: Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls. Basically the entire league was at the movie, all dressed up and excited beyond belief. I have never been to a screening with that kind of energy before. It blew Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings midnights out of the water, for serious and true. Objectively, it would have been a stronger documentary if it had included some outside voices, but who cares? It’s derby! It’s awesome! It was clearly a labor of love, as is the entire derby culture. For. The. Win.

* Press around Confession of Pain has made a lot of the connections to Infernal Affairs, but sadly, it isn’t as good. I was in it for Tony Leung & Takeshi Kaneshiro, and they were both worth the watching. It’s definitely not the sort of role I am used to seeing Leung in, and that was awesome. It was a fine story & good cinematography, and of course the cast was great, but the story didn’t zing with me like IA’s did.

* My last film was probably the best, The Bubble, a queer-themed film set in Tel Aviv. It starred the charismatic Ohad Knoller (who played Yossi in the heartbreaking Yossi & Jagger) & was excellent all-round except I look forward to the day when Fox makes a queer film where no one dies. Though at least in his films, people die because of politics & war rather than their sexuality, which is a nice change.

…and, that’s it for this year! Coming soon — three free previews, and a whole whack of titles from Netflix. Rock on.

[Still more SIFF]

* Antônia, a Brazilian film about the rise of a four-girl hip-hop group. It’s not as much a making-of-the-band as a straight-ahead drama, and the music is awesome.

* Hula Girls was one of my favorites of the festival, which shouldn’t be a surprise, as it’s your standard “underdog group moves towards successful performance” story, and I am a sucker for that. A group of Japanese girls learn hula dancing for the Hawaiian-themed tourist center to save their town economy. It may not be original, but it is utterly charming. On a technical level, it looked very much like it had been filmed in the 60s, which was a nice touch.

* The Big Combo and The Damned Don’t Cry made up the noir double feature, and both were well-worth seeing with a full house. Good times.

[SIFF week two-and-a-half]

* Dasepo Naughty Girls was just ridiculously fun. A South Korean film based on a web comic, it is totally crazy and colorful, a musical which makes not a whole lot of sense but is a blast just the same. I was totally charmed.

* Red Without Blue might be my favorite of the festival so far. It’s a documentary about a set of identical twins, where one is transgender (MTF) and the other is gay. It’s a beautiful film, and though it doesn’t push some issues as much as it perhaps should (I suspect this is because the filmmakers knew some of the family before filming), it’s a moving look at the family. Initially intended to be just a look back at their past, it evolved into the story of the family now, moving towards Clair’s decision regarding surgery. The changes in the views of the parents I found particularly moving. Two of the directors were present at the screening, which was lovely, because we were able to get an update on the subjects of the film.

* And finally, Spider Lilies, a Tawainese film about memory and loss, and, oh yes, tattoos & lesbians. I didn’t love it like I wanted to — it was always on the edge of touching me and never quite making it — but I absolutely adored that it was a film featuring gay characters moving towards a relationship, that was not at all about being gay. It could have been very nearly the same story featuring a straight couple. There were no coming out stories, none of the tropes associated with American queer film. There was guilt surrounding a sexual experience, but I never had the impression that it was because she was gay. It was because it meant that the character was not with her family at the time of a tragedy, and she would have felt the same effect if she had been with a boy. (Also, now I really want a tattoo.)

[SIFF Week Two]

* Death at a Funeral is a tightly-written, beautifully acted farce. Good comedy is hard to do well & generally painfully underrated. I went to this one largely because the cast included Alan Tudyk & Peter Dinklage, and both were marvelous.

* Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle was a package of experimental short films reworking found audio, video, and/or dialogue. My favorite concept was “For a Blonde… For a Brunette… For Someone… For Her… For You…” which was a karaoke-style short, with the audience playing a role. It was a really cool idea, but I wish that they had chosen a scene with dialogue that was easier to pick up on the fly, though. I also enjoyed “Sunbeam Hunter”, which used images from Boy Scout handbooks. I did NOT enjoy “Asmahan”, because I didn’t get it at all, being unfamiliar with the source. I was not alone here; the entire audience seemed to be slowly revolting. Anarchy of stifled giggles! This being SIFF, there were two directors in attendence, but of course they were directors of films far too experimental for me.

* No Regret was a Korean film about an orphan & his developing relationship with a well-off businessman. I am not terribly interested in American queer film, but other countries can provide a different perspective, and this was no exception. It went a bit weird for me at the end, but I’m thinking it’s a first feature sort of error, and am willing to forgive it.

* The Cloud is a teen romance – slash – nuclear accident film. It reminded me on some level of Wristcutters, for sticking a genre in a particularly unusual setting, though I didn’t love it as much. It was pretty awesome, though. I felt like it got a little long towards the end, but I don’t know what I would cut. Really fantastic cast, and possibly my favorite of the festival so far. The IMDb boards hate it because the love story isn’t in the book. Which says to me that the book is a completely different story, and wow, I so do not care. Seriously, people. Whatever.

* Black Sheep had a sold-out midnight screening. Awesome. It’s genetic modification gone wrong! Killer sheep! At the preview they said it was in the tradition of Peter Jackson, and that is absolutely true, a gore-fest of a black comedy that knows exactly what sort of film it is. Great fun.

[Manufactured Landscapes][Battle of Wits]

Sunday was Manufactured Landscapes, mostly because I had seen a trailer for it at the SIFF preview. It follows photographer Edward Burtynsky on a trip to China, where he takes large-scale photos of the effects of manufacturing. It’s alternately beautiful and depressing, showing both how we’ve taken from the earth and the waste we generate, in addition to the working conditions of the people who deal with all of these things.

It’s not didactic, which I appreciated. It doesn’t have to be.

Also Sunday I suddenly added five more movies to my schedule. The first new one was yesterday, Battle of Wits. It was uneven, with bits of pure cheese and terrible effects, but when it was good (the look & feel, which was surprisingly rough & textured for a story based on a comic, and of course everything Andy Lau did) it was awesome.