Film Festival Weekend 2

Babies

An easy to watch, slice of life documentary following the first year or so of 4 babies in different places around the world: Mongolia, Namibia, Toyko and San Francisco. It kind of reminded me of anothe French doco from a couple of years ago Avoir et Etre which just followed some kids through a year at school. The documentarians are expert at staying out of the way, not affecting what’s happening with their subjects but getting incredibly close all the same.

It was really a study in cultural differences. Like the Namibian kid who had a bone to chew on comapared to the fancy toys the American baby had. Or the incredulous laughter in the audience when the Mongolian baby’s swaddling blanket was tied with string so it wouldn’t come open. I felt bad about really judging anyone though, it’s so not my place. Except for when the white, upper middle class ‘Friscan father and baby were at a baby sing along class and they were doing a Native American chant. Seriously, cultural appropriation much?

My favourite moments were: Mongolian baby is taking a bath in a tub by a window when a goat comes to have a drink from the tub. Excellent WTF? expression from baby. Emo drama when Japanese baby can’t get ring to stay on stick, throwing herself backwards on the ground and wailing. Then she sat up, was going to read a book, took one look and then throws it away, wailing and throws herself back down.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The radiant child

I love documentaries about artists, they’re so inspirational. Most of what I knew about Basquiat I knew from the old movie and from some mentions in the Keith Haring doco a couple of years back. I know a lot more now. It was a good, if fawning, depiction of his career and his life, with some thought put into how he died and why. Lots of great interviews with people who knew him and lots of shots of his art and his influences. I liked it a lot but I came out feeling a bit sad and introspective.

The Room

How to describe The Room? It was an excellent viewing experience, with funny things being called out, lots of laughter, spoons to throw at the screen and a football that was tossed around while it happened on screen. The movie itself? I gotta say, it’s not the best worst movie I’ve seen. Lee pointed out that unlike Birdemic the production values (particularly lighting, camera work and sound) were generally pretty good in The Room.

The script and acting are bad, but since it’s a romantic drama there’s no terrible make up or badly animated monsters, there’s no ridiculous Mega Shark eating an aeroplane and I found that I missed those things. My theory is that awful/awesome movies are better if they’re genre.

There is lots to love about The Room though. My favourite character, Denny, makes no sense at all. There are such great lines as ‘you’re tearing me apart’ and ‘so, how’s your sex life?’ I’m gonna show it at a movie night I think, so we can try it again with our friends.

An excellent viewing guide to The Room.

A little mash up of all the ‘oh hai’s and ‘hey Denny’s (worth watching right til the end, trust me.)

Howl

Another inspiring movie about a creative person. This was a kind of almost-documentary biopic about Allen Ginsberg, centred around the court case about whether his poem Howl is obscene. Cross cutting between Allen (played by James Franco) reading Howl at a Beat cafe, animation of the poem, Allen, older, recording an interview and the court case. Apparently the movie script is taken in large part from the actual court records and interviews, so I feel like it was accurate.

As someone who has studied 20th Century American literature, and therefore, Howl itself, I loved the movie. Not sure how much you’d understand otherwise, since both Svend and Stacey mentioned specifically that they hadn’t read it.

Anyway, I came away inspired.

Teenage Paparazzo

A weird circular, meta kind of documentary. Adrian Grenier, who is famous for playing someone famous on TV, investigates the paparazzi phemomenon in the process he tries out being a pap and also elevates the subject of his documentary, a teenage pap, to semi-celebrity status. I really enjoyed it.

Basically, Adrian notices this kid in amongst the regular paparazzi and asks him what he’s doing. Austin, 13, is a paparazzo just like the others. He has tip offs, a really flash camera, he’s sold pictures for a thousand dollars a pop. Through him Adrian explores what it means to be famous, whether the paparazzi have a right to be doing what they’re doing and what the implications of it all are.

It’s a very entertaining doco and peppered with interviews with celebs (Matt Damon, Paris Hilton, Linsday Lohan, Whoopi Goldberg, etc), plus it made you examine the way you relate to celebrities and Adrian himself was very open and honest about what he was doing and what he learned.

After the screening he did a Q&A and some interesting stuff came out of that too, although it bugged me that two people asked much the same question (how do you like NZ?). Adrian seemed very down to Earth, soft spoken and polite.

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One thought on “Film Festival Weekend 2

  1. I reckon that ‘The Room’ is the Plan 9 from Outer Space of ’90s Indie Movies. Pleased you liked it!

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