My thoughts from Film Club 3.0’s Lost Weekend XI film festival hosted at the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, Virginia. A quick note about ratings: a 10 is a movie that may have changed my life a little bit, a 5 is a movie that I watched and enjoyed, but likely won’t prompt me to recommend it to everyone around me, a 1 isn’t necessarily a “bad film”, but something that I just didn’t enjoy. The movies that I gave low scores to are better than the ones I made (which were none).
The Biggest Little Farm 8 / 10
Good story about the cycles of life, stewardship, and sustainable farming practices.
Diamantino 4 / 10
Weird story about an intellectually disabled soccer player with crooked sisters and a racist right wing conspiracy in Portugal.
Us ? / 10
Jordon Peele’s second feature length horror movie. In fact, the only movie for the entire weekend that I knew what it was about and was looking forward to seeing. The introductory scene with the beach? Fantastic. Lightning over the ocean and the rain starting just as our protagonist steps into the house of mirrors? Beautiful. The middle third with the terrorized family? I’ve seen that so many times before. Last third, fell asleep, so can’t give a proper review. The sleep was due to a long day and the movie screening starting near midnight. Probably was a terrific movie, but I missed a lot of it.
Little Woods 8 / 10
Believable movie, staring Tessa Thompson, about people having to deal with problems that people in the richest country on the planet shouldn’t have to. The scene with the Canadian receptionist and the scene with the sister telling her baby’s daddy about her decision? Heart breaking.
Island of Hungry Ghosts 3 / 10
Movie about the Christmas Island crab migration, mental health, asylum seekers, and Chinese spirituality. Had so many elements that I liked, but it didn’t fit together. Had way too many lengthy art house cuts that was unclear if it was supposed to be just cool footage or meaningful. Male asylum seeker talking about his mom was rough to watch, very emotional.
Bisbee ‘17 7 / 10
Good story about labor versus greedy mine owners. Well done, perfect balance of personal stories of the actors in the re enactment vs the story itself.
One Cut of the Dead 9 / 10
First third is corny zombie film about the making of a zombie film. Then gets even more meta and funny. One of the absolute high lights of the festival.
Woman at War 7 / 10
Film about a female eco-terrorist. The story was coherent. I understood the motivations of the protagonist. I thought that the choices of how the movie’s music was done was novel and funny.
Keep the Change 7 / 10
Romantic comedy staring actors who are all autistic, playing autistic characters. Expected a one trick conceptual like The Tribe, but got something with more substance. The final scene on the bus stabbed me in the heart, it was subtle but powerful.
Department Q or The Purity of Vengeance or Journal 64 (not sure which title is the right one) 7 / 10
Good story about two police officers on the trail of a series of disappearances. The discovery of the mummified bodies in a closed off room was pretty scary. Explored real historical issues of eugenics, and also dealt with the difference between legal justice and social justice.
The Wind 8 / 10
Western horror movie that I sponsored. Might have been about demons, maybe mental health. Very much enjoyed this one.
Animation Short Block 7 / 10
The Burden was an animated short that seemed to be a prayer for death. Singing fish in a hotel lamenting very specific issues with there life was disturbing. The Magnificent Cake also disturbing. Felt characters with beady eyes were weird. Most of the characters met with foul ends, including slaves. Terrific picks for shorts.
Furie 8 / 10
Vietnamese mom’s daughter is kidnapped and has to kill a bunch of people to try to get her back. A old story of rescue and revenge, but well done. The female lead for an action movie in which the female lead is damaged, but not from rape or sexual abuse, was nice. The lead villain’s death was a fatality worthy of a Mortal Kombat game. Some parts were a bit needlessly dramatic, but that seems to be par for the course for much of Asian cinema.
Wrestle 9 / 10
Documentary about Huntsville Alabama kids on a poorly funded high school wrestling team. Interestingly, the title is probably metaphorical, as the movie does not go into much of the technicals of wrestling and spends the majority of its time featuring the struggles of the principal characters, not actually wrestling.
Fiddlin’ 7 / 10
Documentary about Virginia old time music and bluegrass and the Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Virginia. Had a performance by the principal players in the film Wayne Henderson and Presley Barker, which was a real highlight of the Lost Weekend film festival.
A Breath Away 7 / 10
If you asked a French filmmaker to take a French riff on The Mist, this is the movie you’d get. The movie goes into even less explanation of why there is a mysterious mist that will suffocate or poison people very quickly than The Mist did, which I like. There is a twist at the end of the movie, that I can say I felt coming, that really is a bitter stab in the heart on reflection on earlier events in the movie. The old couple in the movie? Rip my heart out. French do the misery of existence better than anyone else.
The Public 7 / 10
Emilio Estevez’s movie about public facilities and social obligation to each other. The screening followed a brief Q&A with Mr. Estevez and I enjoyed that, and appreciated that he took the time to promote his film in a place in Virginia that isn’t Fairfax or Richmond or some other big town.
Cutterhead 7 / 10
Claustrophobic movie about a woman documenting a crew that is digging an underground tunnel that does a lot with a little. The film constantly builds the sense of desperation of the characters following a disaster that traps them underground. Good acting, the scene where the protagonist is dealing with a rapid pressure change was top notch.
Family 3 / 10
Israeli family murder movie. I didn’t understand the motivations of the characters and a lot of the movie felt weird for the sake of being weird.
Wild Nights with Emily 6 / 10
A movie about Emily Dickinson’s romantic relationship with her sister-in-law Susan Gilbert. The movie argues that recidivist publishers and Emily Dickinson historians straight-washed (is that a term?) Emily’s relationship with Susan into a lifelong, but non-romantic, relationship. The movie did feel like a long episode of [Drunk History[(http://www.cc.com/shows/drunk-history) that took itself more seriously, but not that seriously. Entertaining and thought provoking movie.
In the Aisles 5 / 10
German movie about relationships in a Costco-style store. Moody, subtle, slow. So slow.
Swing Kids 8 / 10
Set during the Korean War in a USA POW camp. Terrific. Takes shots at the destructive hypocrisy of warring over ideologies that damage the people that the violence is supposed to liberate. Also, movie does a good job of freeing people through dance, only to suddenly and violently remind the characters and the audience that this is set in a war.
I Trapped The Devil 5 / 10
Cool premises about how a man boxes up a devil in a room in his basement. It doesn’t bother bogging down it’s plot as to why or how the devil has been captured. Movie ends in a way that seems appropriate. Has a few scenes that feel like they might supposed to be meaningful but come off as weird for the sake of being weird, so maybe I missed somethings?
Starfish 6 / 10
Weird and psychological movie. This one teetered for me between a score of five and a seven. The movie has nearly only a single actor on the screen for the whole run, which I appreciate the simplicity of that. The movie is beautiful. It has strange elements dripped all over it. The movie’s production is canon to the fictional movie that is being told, which is a fun element to add to the strangeness. However, it walks solidly on both sides of of the cerebral movie line. On one side of that line, the story uses subtle metaphor to explain a difficult concept. On the other side, if it’s using metaphor, it’s too subtle for me to understand what it is trying to tell me. The director did an audience Q&A following the screening that I, unfortunately, missed.
To Dust 8 / 10
Funny movie with a very strange, but understandable premise. A traditionalist Jewish man in New York’s wife dies. He is told by his rabbi and tradition that once the body has returned to dust, the soul will return to God. However in the meantime, that soul might be in agony. Touching, yet funny. Deals with morbidity and loss.
Afghan Cycles 6 / 10
Documentary about the womens’ cycling teams in Afghanistan. Does a good job of explaining the death of Afghan democracy and the rise of the mujahideen following the Soviet-Afghan War, which led to the oppression of an entire gender, which in turn, makes the womens’ cycling teams incredibly dangerous for the participants. To really round out the film, it has two interviews, one with a local religious leader that claims that women bicycling without proper attire (not for bicycling, the other kind) would lead to rape and one with a extremist who claimed bicycling diminished Islam and he advocated for machine gunning down people in the market. Those two interviews may have done a better job of laying down the social texture that explains why it is so dangerous for those women than the rest of the film.