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Journal memfree's Journal: film fest weekend 1

Been a long while since I've written about movies (been too busy), but if I don't write notes for these, festival filcks, I'll never get around to it (just as I never got around to praising "Spider").

Biggest disappointment of the weekend:
I missed ALL showings of "Beyond Re-Animator" because a) I got a late-start on Friday, b) felt like it'd come out on video soon enough, and c) other movies seemed more likely to vanish if I didn't seem them. I can't describe the frustration I then felt on Saturday when I discovered that Jeffrey Combs, actor of the Herbert West role, was THERE!!! I would have loved to hear him speak and snap a quick photo, but noooo, I was too busy watching Iranian movies. I asked a couple hard-core Re-Animator fans how the 3rd installment rated and they loved it -- said it was way better than #2.

Anyway... The scale is 0-5. Only 'English' titles listed -- not real titles. If marked with "*", film had a guest speaker. The links will only matter to folks in or near Philadelphia, as they are for this year's annual Film Fest. At some point, I should probably post pics of the 'Horror' directors somewhere.

1) War - (link is more hostile than the film deserves) Russian take on an Action Hero movie. Here, the Good Guys don't go in guns blazing, they deal, feel disaffected, and deal with bureaucracy. When violence does occur, no one looks Heroic. Graphic violence. 4.0

2) Blessing Bell - Silent Hero gets tangled into an improbable series of events. While some things bring him to action, he stays mostly disconnected from the world. The film holds sadness, disillusionment and bitterness, but there are also small moments of love, and morality. Well worth the watch. 3.0

3) My Life as McDull - Animated tale of adult reflection on growing up in Hong Kong and cycling from hope to disappointment before reaching a more adult perspective. Should have been better than it was. For those who care about animation, it ranks about 3.0, but comared to all film, its only a 1.5.

4) Every Day God Kisses Us on the Mouth - A killer is released from prison with the warning to stop drinking lest he end up back in the same straights. Too soon, he's drinking and gambling -- with the misfortune of 'winning' against a gypsy whose wife curses the ex-con. Gobs of beautiful symbolism. Distinct sense of place (Romania), and culture. Film's ending felt arbitrary -- as if perhaps the crew had gone past their deadline, so that's all there was. Digital quality distracted. This could have been a 4.0, but technical problems scale its rating back to 2.5.

5) West Bank Brooklyn* - While the writer/director is a Palestinian American, the cast is not. Given that the majority of the film is a recitation of issues the writer felt important to announce about his cultural identity, I expect it would have helped if each actor had an intimate understanding of their character. As it was, it falls flat. *A cast member did a Q&A afterwards. 1.0

6) Day of the Beast* - Black comedy from Alex De La Iglesia that brings sarcastic fun starting with the inital scene that finds our Hero, a devoted Priest/Theologian with a senior Priest. He announces to the elder that he's cracked the 'code' within The Apocalypse of St. John, and now must do as much evil as possible. A tiny bit of 'horror-film action' towards the end. *Before the show, the director spoke. He was fun, foul-mouthed and amusing -- dressed in Misifts t-shirt and going coping with heavy jet lag from his flight from Spain. Score for comparing within it's genre: 4.0. Overall, 3.0

7) Stone Reader* - Documentary. Yuppie tries to impress us with his love of books, particularly one that is out of print, hard to read (even by the standards of his ultra-literate friends), and unknown to most everyone. If you like reading even a little, you'll identify with this movie's passion. *Director said that the book would be republished because of the film generated by this film. 3.5

8) Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance - Extremely violent and graphic tragedy. It has the pathos of Shakespeare and various Greek classics, but the ethos is far more bitter than found in most High Literature. A must-see for those who can handle the too-realistic brutality. 4.0

9) Women's Prison - While we know this film was banned in its native Iran, the question is whether the ban was for the way it depicts Iran's treatment of female prisoners, or if Iran was simply embarrassed to show a film this disjointed. The characters are flat cut-outs, who are shown doing a few different things over the span of decades and the only pay-off is to make the Heroine seem somewhat saintly. Yawn. The only interesting bits were simple, cultural things that could not help but get woven in. 2.0

10) Ten - Despite a low budget, talking-head approach, this is an interesting, insightful movie. Through a dash-mounted camera, we witness one woman driving her son, sister, and some other people around Tehran over the course of ... oh, more than a month. There are 10 segments, but some are repeats of the same people. The characters become amazingly well developed despite the limited view. 3.0

11) Eternal Blood* - Fun Chilean horror/vampire flick. Very moody/ambient. It might have limited appeal outside the Goth/"Vampire: the Masquerade"-playing crowds but I'm hoping a wider range of people enjoy it. The director says Fangoria has guaranteed it to come out on DVD in the near future. *Director says the Goth scene is still pretty big in Chile, and talked about how he met Masquerade players after a couple 'stalked' him at a club. He says he did play a little -- but not that much because filming takes up most his time. Within genre: 3.5 Overall, 2.5.

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  • I met Jeffrey Combs about, hmm...., 15 years or so ago. Geez am I that old? I was working at a mall, and there he was. I didn't know his name or anything, but I recognized him and asked him what it was like being a cult star.

    He told me that it was pretty strange because he just was an actor that got sucked into the whole thing by this pre-installed H.P. Lovecraft fanbase. I told him I had a friend who was a big fan (which was true), and would he mind signing something for him. Nice guy.

    I have an equally

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