By the end of Day 5, I have seen 21 films. Three more days to go!
High-energy, smoothly funny, and witty, this crime flick from the Netherlands quickly became one of my favorites from the festival. It’s a dark joy from beginning to end, packed with fun characters and great dialogue. The plot operates like a Rube Goldberg device. The film also gets major bonus points for containing interesting female characters; watch in particular for a scene between two hitwomen, who offhandedly discuss the dearth of good female roles in genre films. It’s likely that I will buy a copy of Black Out somehow, and force it upon everyone I know. You have been warned.
DOM – A RUSSIAN FAMILY
This is undeniably a well-crafted film that I just couldn’t get into for some reason. Dom is mostly a kitchen sink drama set in rural Russia, wherein a long-lost brother, a member of the Russian mob, comes home to a family reunion. The film is beautifully shot and well-acted, but I had a very hard time tracking the dozens of characters. I don’t know if that is the fault of the film or my personal exhaustion, so your mileage may vary. I will grant that whatever the film was doing, it all built up to a humdinger of a climax.
This is mostly a somewhat decent crime drama that fumbles its use of its most interesting aspects. Unit 7 is set in Seville, Spain, in the five years leading up to the 1992 World Expo. The police have been tasked with clearing out the drug trade by the time the Expo rolls around. That’s a great setting… but the film never uses it. One of the characters is diabetic… but the film never uses it, and flubs how insulin actually works. On top of that, the film never actually comes to a conclusion; instead, it just kind of stops. Outside of these flaws, it’s an okay slice-of-life cop drama about lawmakers gone dirty, but that’s a movie we’ve seen better elsewhere.
This character study, about a lonely crime scene photographer, creeps me right the fuck out. It’s a great character study, often darkly funny, but I can’t quite tell if the film is trying to forgive men for treating women like things that can be possessed. The film lives inside the head of this man, who often fantasizes about taking control of his life in violent ways; I can’t tell (and the character can’t tell) if this is madness or just a normal thing people do. Perhaps I need to digest it more. However, I can say with some certainty that the end credits are the coolest end credits I have seen in recent memory.
I managed to attend the Fantastic Feud last night, which was a chaotic, fabulous mess, as always. The Feud always pits Team America (five American filmmakers or critics) against Team International (five non-American filmmakers or critics); in a stunning turn of events, Team International won after a dead heat. During all this, comedian Doug Benson (on Team America) was taking bong hits onstage between questions, and actress Barbara Crampton was throwing answers from the audience, and Drafthouse owner Tim League was bribing the entire audience with free beer, and critic Scott Weinberg became the angriest stoner I’ve ever seen. Chaos reigns, indeed.
I’ve noticed over the last couple days that I’ve become a magnet for random hugs from drunken, male, foreign filmmakers. On day 4, I was attracting hugs from drunken Argentinians. Yesterday, it was drunken Norwegians and drunken Australians. Now I feel that I have to cozy up to African, Canadian, and Asian filmmakers so I can collect all the continents by the end of the festival.
I took a break during the day yesterday to have a drink at the Highball with Wendy and Jess. I learned that the Highball has glorious onion rings that are the size of donuts.
I was chatting with a well-versed film fan named Cody for about an hour yesterday, and then discovered with some dismay that I was old enough to be his mother. Oy gevalt.