Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taking Inventory as of October 8

I've had a very crowded film schedule over the past two weeks. Since September 28, I've seen 20 films and a play.

Dead Channels Film Festival

The feature programs were

From Inside - Animated; (2008) - Official Website
Let the Right One In - Swedish with subtitles; (2008)
Bad Biology; (2008) - Official Website
Reality Bleed-Through; (2008) - Official Website
Plague Town; (2008) - Official Website
Colossus: the Forbin Project; (1970)
Who is K.K. Downey; (2008) - Official Website
Puffball; (2007)
A Gothic Tale; (2008) - Official Website
The Disappeared; (2008) - Official Website
Epitaph - Korean with subtitles; (2007)
Cut-Throats Nine; (1972)
Golgotha; (2008) - Official Website
Retardead; (2008) - Official Website
There were three short films that proceeded some of the features.
Far Out; (2007)
Latchkey's Lament; (2007) - Official Website
Peekers; (2008)
Fantastic Short Films - Short film program
       Mr. Video; (2008)
       Augu; (2006)
       Foet; (2002)
       The Horribly Slow Murder with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon; (2008)
       Mina; (2008) - Official Website
       Ending the Eternal; (2008) - Official Website
       Dead Bones; (2008) - Official Website
Viscera & the Incubus - Short film program; all films are 2007 Viscera Film Festival Official Selections except A Visit From the Incubus.
       Out of Print
       I'm a Little Teapot
       It's My Birthday
       Wretched - Official Website
       When Sally Met Frank - Official Website
       The Cleaner - Official Website
       Snake Pit
       A Visit From the Incubus starring & directed by Anna Biller; (2001) - Official Website

All the aforementioned Dead Channel films were screened at the Big Roxie. The festival ends today but I had to travel out of town so I am missing the final night. All told, I saw 16 programs which means I made my $150 festival pass cost effective.

Im addition to the Dead Channel films, I saw two Godard films the night before the festival began and a Kurosawa film on Saturday of the festival.

At the PFA, I saw:

Masculine-Feminine directed by Jean-Luc Godard; French with subtitles; (1966)
A Woman is a Woman starring Anna Karina and Jean Paul Belmondo; directed by Jean-Luc Godard; French with subtitles; (1961)

At the Castro, I saw:

Kagemusha directed by Akira Kurosawa; Japanese with subtitles; (1980)
Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood; directed by Nicholas Ray; (1955)

In addition to these films, I saw Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll at American Conservatory Theater.


Regarding Dead Channels, I am ambivalent. I saw 16 of the 21 programs at this year's festival. I saw a 17th film Tokyo Gore Police at Hole in the Head in June. Of those 17 programs, I would recommend five of them. Far and away, the best was Let the Right One In which also played at the more prestigious Mill Valley Film Festival (final screening October 10).

I was also impressed with Who is K.K. Downey which had several laugh out loud moments. Tokyo Gore Police is worth a look for horror fans.

The two short film programs were outstanding. I notice that short films are typically of higher quality than feature lengths at most festivals. I think it is easier to maintain a plot and budget with the confines of the short film format. I particularly enjoyed Wretched, The Horribly Slow Murder with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon, Foet, The Cleaner and Brains.

An Honorable Mention goes to Retardead which was shot in San Francisco (I recognized several locations) for $15,000.

Another positive development is that there were only two films I considered walking out on. A Gothic Tale and Reality Bleed-Through should be avoided at all costs. Both films are amateurish, convoluted and derivative horror films. From Inside showed more skill but was self-indulgent at 71 minutes. Based on a graphic novel, I think From Inside could have been serialized into four or five 10 minute short films which would have made its bleak, post-apocalyptic plot more palatable. Maybe some festival programmer can run with that idea. Have a serialized set of short films play at a festival before different (even random) feature films. Maybe word of mouth would get people to buy a ticket to see the short film.

The rest of the films were mediocre. They met my (rather low) expectations but I can't believe any self-respecting horror film afficianado would get very excited about these films and I am far from being a "fantastic film" buff.

Maybe I hold Dead Channels (along with SF Indiefest's various festivals) to a higher standard because I typically purchase festival passes. However, I purchase passes to Noir City and the SF Silent Film Festival and feel more satisfied by those festivals. Of course, a casual inspection of my film viewing shows I have a bias towards older films.

Regardless, nothing Dead Channels did this year would dissuade me from purchasing another festival pass next year. I thought attendance was off this year. Last year, Dead Channels' opening night was at the Castro Theater. This year, it was at the Vortex Room. Many of the screenings were lightly attended. None of the 16 programs I went to came close to being sold out.

As I cravenly joked with a co-worker, what I'm seeing on Wall Street and the fast declining value of my stock portfolio is scarier than anything I saw at Dead Channels.

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