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LOL the Movie Soundtrack

As I said earlier, I really loved the movie LOL, and I got one of the free copies of the soundtrack at the IFFBoston screening. I’m really digging it, though I’m also perplexed by it, does anyone else out there have a copy? It is all written and recorded by Kevin Bewersdorf, who plays a musician in the film and performs much of the music in the film. It’s all electronic and has a sort of Clockwork Orange feel in some places, and I like the sound, but the lyrics in some places are outright ridiculous, and I don’t know if they’re supposed to be that way. How do you take seriously a song that has a lyric like “The chill of winter/is nothing compared/to watching your lover/be murdered in spring”? That has to be intentionally funny, right? It’s so Spinal Tap. I like the sound of the song though. The scene where he performs it in the film reminds me of a scene in Caveh Zahedi’s A Little Stiff, where he’s trying to impress a girl and shows her one of his films–a completely depressing and dour and graphically violent short animated film–and it falls flat, she’s kind of like “Um, great…” It’s totally the wrong film to show in that moment, and shows he’s a little out of touch when it comes to connecting with people. The character in LOL is supposed to have that same character trait–he relies too much on technology and allows it to screw up his real-life connections to other people–so I’m wondering if this is all intentional. Perhaps I will contact the filmmakers and ask.

Marie Antoinette Trailer…

looks utterly ridiculous. How can you not laugh at Jason Schwartzman as a French fop? Not to mention perky cheerleader Kirsten Dunst as a fucking French queen. Ridiculous. Let’s hope it’s meant to be funny.

IFFBoston Roundup

Well I ended up skipping Walking to Werner last night, figuring it might be brought back at some point while a Jeanne Dielman screening is too rare to pass up. So let’s hope Walking to Werner comes back. And if anyone else out there saw it, please let me know what you thought. It seemed to have the potential to be ridiculously self-indulgent and irritating (and probably full of shakycam) so maybe I didn’t miss much.

As for the rest of the screenings–I’d still say LOL was the best in the festival, and among the others I saw, In Between Days was a runner-up. It did make me a little nauseous with the shakycam, but I loved the simple storyline of a teenage Korean girl’s quasi-unrequited crush on her male best friend, as well as getting a peek into the world of first-generation Korean immigrants moving about in their own subculture in America. Barely a word of English in the film, and it takes some time to even realize where they are.

Another favorite was Arctic Son, a documentary about a man living in tough terrain in the Yukon who brings his teenage son to live with him in an attempt to get him off drugs and alcohol and out of trouble. The boy is also an artist, and he shows us his book of drawings, most of which feature women suffering, he says, “because women go through a lot of pain in their lives. A lot more than men.” One is of his female friend who killed herself, another is of his mother, who raised him by herself after her husband, his father, left. “I’m really angry at him for not being there,” he says. While this issue is never discussed between the two–indeed, nothing intimate is ever discussed, it’s mostly lots of hard work and small talk–over the course of the film a bond develops between this stoic, unaffectionate man and his wayward son.

One of the most hyped films in the festival was Guatemalan Handshake, which sold out most likely on its advanced press comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite (a film I hated). But I went, and while the film has some superficial similarities–rural setting, a cast of weirdos who do inexplicable things, etc–it’s really not very similar. It’s not a comedy first of all. And the storyline doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I read an interview with the filmmaker who said he was worried it made no sense and people wouldn’t get it, and I think that’s a reasonable concern, because what he says it’s ‘about’ wasn’t really what I got out of it, but I think people will like it anyway. These days your film doesn’t have to make sense for people to like it. In fact that might be a benefit. Quirky and amusing is good enough.

I also caught The Legend of Lucy Keyes which is representative of everything that’s wrong with the term “independent film.” It has stars (Julie Delpy and Justin Theroux) and a completely conventional ghost-story plot, and the director said afterward that the film was just bought by Lifetime. The film is moderately interesting (apparently the people sitting behind me were involved in the making of the film and were pointing out their names in the credits–one a hairstylist, the other a videographer–and when the film was over they said “well, it wasn’t that bad.”) but more interesting is the story of its making. It was shot on high-definition video using one of those cameras that has a hard drive–not a single tape was used in the making of the film. And it looks like film, doesn’t look like video at all. The future is here, baby.

And finally, I went to the podcasting panel, mostly to see the makers of the Four-Eyed Monsters podcasts, which I have been following and I really like. Gerald Peary was in the audience and is apparently a big fan as well. You should check them out if you get a chance–they have six podcasts up, and showed us a sneak preview of episode 7. I was so inspired. Now I want to get a video camera and start podcasting myself.

Overall the festival was a lot of fun–makes me want to be a filmmmaker and just travel around to festivals and party and meet new friends and make connections. I think that is my next goal in life. Better get cracking on that screenplay…

IFFBoston: LOL

How could anyone in our generation not go to see a movie called LOL? If you can, try to see it at IFFBoston Sunday, the last screening of the film. So far it’s the best I’ve seen. It’s an entirely improvised film about relationships–between people, and between people and social technologies–that was made for $3000. That means lots of IM, email, cell phones, etc. The film has little plot other than following the development or degeneration of a few friends and their relationships, and how technology is an integral part of that, both bringing them together and keeping them apart. You might say that the organizing device in the film is a musical project one of the characters is putting together–making short videos of people making random noises with their mouths, which he then edits together to make music out of just their sounds. Watching the film I felt it had a very Andrew Bujalski feel, and then *poof* one of these video heads making noises is Bujalski. Turns out the filmmakers, who live in Chicago, sent out a bunch of emails to people asking for videos of themselves making noises, and Bujalksi sent one in. So did several other indie filmmakers. It’s like a who’s who of indie festival darlings. At the screenings they are giving out free copies of the soundtrack as well, which was actually made by the actor in the film, who is in fact the musician he is playing in the film. So as you can see, like Bujalski, the filmmakers keep their characters close to the actors’ actual performances, which makes for excellent performances, because there’s not much performance going on at all.

Today I’m off to see In Between Days and Guatemalan Handshake, more soon…

A Plea To Filmmakers:

Please stop with the excessively shaky camerawork. It’s unnecessary and vomit-inducing. Please learn to handle your camera more carefully. I’d like to tell you what I thought of Chalk, which I tried to watch at IFFBoston tonight, but I had to leave after about a half hour for fear of vomiting. And I was so nauseous I couldn’t go to any other screenings either. So please stop torturing your audience. Thanks.

IFFBoston Opening Night: Half Nelson

Let’s get this out of the way first: Ryan Gosling is sexy. Sexy in that smooooth, cocky, I – know – he’s – working – me – but – it’s – so – much – fun – falling – under – his – spell kind of way, the way we girls kick ourselves afterward for being attracted to. I kicked myself for it while watching the movie, in fact. It’s all in the way they look at you. A guy who’s not afraid to look you dead in the eye, and hold your gaze, subtly predatory yet at the same time slightly elusive, luring you in rather than pouncing. It is even literalized in his body movement in one scene where he’s talking to a girl while peeking from around the corner.

That’s the main impression I came away with after watching Half Nelson, anyway. It’s not really the point of the film, and in fact I wonder if it might have detracted a bit from the film, which is about a drug-addicted high school teacher and the friendship he strikes up with one of his students who discovers his secret. After awhile his shtick got a little annoying, and felt instead like he was hamming it up for the camera. But it is also all a part of the inappropriateness of his character–his highly sexually-charged persona, like his drug addiction, is something we don’t expect, nor want to think about, in our teachers. In fact, thinking of them having personal lives at all usually brings a grimace to the face of any high school student. Maybe college too. The Village Voice says the film “pays fond tribute to, even as it slyly subverts, the inspirational classroom fable,” and I suppose that’s true, though a film that plays with genre conventions really only accomplishes a stretching of those conventions–it doesn’t ever break them. The genre just folds them in and they become new conventions. Overall it’s a strange beast–an “edgier” Lean On Me, where the teacher is as flawed as his students and no one is really saved in the end. In the obligatory inspirational teacher’s speech near the end, he preaches against Western black-and-white values that refuse to acknowledge that a tree can be “both crooked AND straight, a person both right AND wrong…” making sure you get the point the filmmakers are trying to get across.

But Gosling’s performance is the real reason to see this movie–there are shades of greatness, and once he learns to control the hamminess I think he’ll be one of the truly great actors of his generation. Newcomer Shareeka Epps likewise delivers a wonderfully subtle performance–so subtle that I thought it might just be the effect of shyness or nervousness in a young, new actor, but when I saw her gregariousness at the Q&A afterward I realized that was some serious acting going on there.

Tonight it’s more of the same themes as I’m off to see the public high school satire Chalk and then the morally-ambiguous drug-addict drama Cocaine Angel. More soon…

IFFBoston Opening Night Tonight

You’ve probably seen the posters all over town. I’ll be covering opening night tonight, where they’re screening Sundance fave Half Nelson, and hopefully will see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time. The festival is looking good this year, and they expanded it to six days to accomodate the demand. Last year pretty much every show was sold out, and some are already sold out this year. More soon…

My Herzog Thesis Now Available

I finally got around to shaping it up and posting it here. Werner Herzog and the Documentary Film. I was such a precocious little bitch.

IFFBoston Coverage Coming Soon

The festival is next week, April 19-24, and I’ll be blogging it again this year…stay tuned…

You Get No Special Points For Honesty

That is a theme I am dealing with lately and then I came across this quote from Caveh Zahedi:

“I had hoped that being completely honest would bring us closer together. But I had seriously miscalculated.”