Film Club 3.0’s Lost Weekend 5’s line up. Most of these films I went into knowing very little, if anything about them. That was intentional.

Thursday, September 24

99 HOMES

The Lost Weekend is off to a good start with this one. If you like Training Day, its a white collar version of that plot. Michael Shannon, who plays the antagonist of the movie, really makes this shine. The movie is about a guy who loses his family’s house for non-payment to “the bank”. He then winds up entangled with the very real estate broker who was involved with his eviction AKA “the bad guy”. The two things that really make this antagonist great is:

  1. He’s right. The arguments he makes about how everyone that loses their house has their own sob story.
  2. He corrupts. The protagonist becomes more and more polluted by proximity.

I really recommend this one. I enjoyed it all the way through.

Friday, September 25

THE WINDING STREAM
Just prior to the movie, I overheard someone saying that it was about “the Carter-Cash story”, but I had heard “card or cash story”, so I thought this was another film that involved a historical moment in money, like 99 Homes, thinking that the “stream” in the title was like “revenue stream”. It’s actually about the Carter Family and where it intersects with Johnny Cash. It’s well done, has a pretty tight execution of the stories shared. If you have interest in music in this country, it’s certainly a good watch.

1001 GRAMS
A romantic comedy involving bittersweet themes of loss as well. The setting for the film involves the metric system (if you want to make a foreign film more foreign to Americans, just add the metric system) which appeals to the nerdiness in me. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it’s not a very thought provoking film. If I had one complaint, there is a sort of side story involving the protagonist’s long lost uncle that seems tacked on and unexplored. It’s a very pleasant film.

QUEEN OF EARTH
This is the first film of the festival that I I didn’t really enjoy. Elizabeth Moss gives this movie every bit of it’s positives though. The first third of the movie is two young women being catty to each other, which alienates me from any sort of emotional attachment or involvement with them, and they’re the main characters. By the second third of the movie I realize that this is a movie about mental illness and Elizabeth Moss’s character is going crazy. There is a scene in which she goes outside in the middle of the night, finds a young man passed out in the woods, brings him inside, gives him something to drink, tells him that she could murder him and no one would ever know, and then the scene is over. The audience might see that guy again briefly during a party, but by that late state of the movie we’re not sure how much of it is real or not. That scene may serve as part of the turning part of the film, but it seems strange. Late in the movie there is a scene in which her character gives a lengthy, aggressive monologue against her friend’s boyfriend (or friends with benefits, their relationship isn’t clear) with a long shot in which she doesn’t blink. It’s a scene that as far as acting goes puts it in the same category as Jack Nicholson’s unblinking execution of the staircase scene in The Shining. Jack still wins because Ms. Moss didn’t have a baseball bat swinging in her face during the scene.

I found the film uncomfortable to watch at times, which I believe is what the director intended, but because I could find no emotional attachment to the characters, I didn’t care for the movie.

MANHATTAN SHORT
This was a collection of short films. Some were boring, some were really good. Dad In Mum (France) was my favorite, it was really funny. Shok was a close second, just for being brutal. Two films have a bit of controversy around them. Sundown (an entry from Turkey) has had all of it’s votes disqualified after the festival was alerted that it is a nearly shot for shot remake of a famous scene from the TV show Buffy. El Camino Solo also seems to take it’s story from a reddit post.

MERU
A mountain climbing story/documentary. I liked it, it was pretty tense.

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
This one was a favorite of the festival for me. It’s a high school kid story, so it, I believe intentionally, has some some of the tropes from the genre, but does the movie fairly intelligently. It really does kick off with the obligatory review of the different social groups in high school, but after that meanders to and from the different pieces that you’d expect from such a high school story.

The plot revolves around a girl who has leukemia, and the relationship between the narrator and her, and his friend Earl. It’s pretty well all in the title. It’s emotionally difficult at times. I’d recommend this one.

TURBO KID
In the apocalypse a kid makes a new friend, finds some cool gear, fights bad guys. I nearly fell asleep. It wasn’t enough of something, I’d pass on it.

Saturday, September 26

Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET
The only feature length animated in the line up, and it’s a good one. Story features around a guy who is being released from house arrest by a corrupt government and shares pseudo-spiritual lessons with people during gently psychedelic animations. I have to admit, the first scene was a bad start because I hated the girl who would be a primary character, but everyone warms up to her later. I cried at the end, and probably a few places in the middle. It’s really good.

THE KEEPING ROOM
This one I’d probably tie for my favorite of the whole festival. It has been marketed as a “feminist western”, but I’d disagree with that if we’re going to agree that feminism is the same as gender equality. If you think that feminism in a movie means that the main characters are female and they’re the good guys and the males are the bad guys, then I’d ask you to reevaluate what you think feminism is. But that’s the case in this movie, it’s based during the American Civil War in the South. All the men have gone off to fight for the Confederacy and we find two young women and their slave on their family’s plantation doing what they can. A raccoon bite puts one in a bad way, and while looking for medicine one of the women catches the eye of Union scouts who are murders and rapists. They track the woman back to the farm house and Bad Things happen. The film has more bad things than good things happen, so it’s a difficult watch, but it is very good movie.

If you want a movie that does gender equality see Mad Max: Fury Road or Edge of Tomorrow.

FINDERS KEEPERS
One of the few movies that I had actually seen the trailer for before going in. In looked stupid. The trailer made it look like a documentary about a couple of hillbillies arguing over a human foot. To be fair, the movie is pretty much that, but, wow, it was good. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, it’s inspiring, then back to funny. Check this one out.

MOJAVE
The other movie that ties with The Keeping Room for favorite movie. One of my favorite movies of all time is No Country for Old Men. Cormac McCarthy’s story is brutal and nihilistic and every time I watch the movie I feel like I see something else for the first time. This movie is a spiritual cousin of No Country. It features the desert, purposeless but deliberate violence, and a madness that speaks unarguable truth. I like to use the term “high brow” to describe some of the dialog in this film. It’s a dark movie, and I’d recommend it.

PHOENIX
A curious film. The premise of the film is that a women, presumed dead, is disfigured in a German concentration camp and returned to her home city. During her rehabilitation, which leaves her face noticeably different from her original face, goes looking for her long lost husband. When she finds him, he recruits her to pretend to be his dead wife in an effort to collect inheritance. She agrees to this in an attempt to re-measure his character after having some shade cast on his character by a friend of hers.

The movie movies a bit slower than I’d like, but it does a good job of bringing the audience along with the protagonist while she waffles back and forth on deciding if her husband is true blue or a ne’er-do-well. However, the final scene is an absolute mic-drop for the main character and I’m not sure if there is a more powerful single scene in any of the movies the whole weekend.

COOTIES
I’d seen the trailer for this one, so I knew what I was getting into. Kids at a school eat contaminated chicken nuggets and turn into zombies, the adults at the school then have to save themselves. I understand why this movie, much like Turbo Kid, is screened around midnight when emotional (or attention span) investment is not needed. It’s okay.

Sunday, September 27

AMY
A documentary about Amy Winehouse. I remember that when she came into the American media mainstream she was already pretty far along the drug addiction path that I can recall thinking quite condescendingly about her. After watching the documentary (and being a bit older) I feel apologetic about that. She was a talented artist, had some set backs in life, and was not well supported by many of those around her. The documentary is pretty even handed, but there are some people around her that seemed to leech off of her fame and when it became more than she could have handled they were the ones that should have supported her in stepping away, but they didn’t. If you like music documentaries, this is a good one.

A HARD DAY
A Korean police adventure film. I liked it, it got pretty creative for the genre. Worth watching.

PEOPLE PLACES THINGS
A solid, but unremarkable romantic comedy starring Jermaine Clement, who is always good. What will keep this as an indy film is that the ending for it is pretty realistic and doesn’t wrap up in a nice pretty package.

THE END OF THE TOUR
I had no idea who David Foster Wallace was before this movie. He is an author best known for his book Infinite Jest, which is apparently amazing. If I was better read, I might know about this one, but right now it’s on my hold list at the library. The film is about several days of interviews between him and a Rolling Stone journalist. By the nature of the story it is a “buddy film”, but there is a near constant tension between the two as Wallace is portrayed as a sometimes intimidating, sometimes unpleasant person. Although a bit on the long side, this was a great film to end the festival on.