Thursday, October 29, 2009

A SERIOUS MAN

After those cross-cutting moments of dread that roll-up on father and son at the end of A Serious Man, the dialogue that lingered with me the most was that which was spookily spoken by Barry Corbin in No Country For Old Men: "You can't stop what's coming." I suppose that flavor of throwing-up-your-arms inevitability is something that could be attributed to the Cinema de Coen as a whole, but after so much preventative hand-wringing by A Serious Man's protagonist, physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), it really stung to see him get thumped on the nose right before the curtains closed. Sure, on the surface, A Serious Man is advocating a "stop and smell the roses" philosophy but, like the endearing goofball antics of Burn After Reading, that's just the lubricant to get the larger ideas inside of you.

So, what does it all mean? (The movie, that is.) A Serious Man is the Coen's headiest film to date, and I'm not just saying that because it's been rattling around my noggin for days. There are many interpretive avenues to travel down: there's the one that obsesses over the use of Surrealistic Pillow; the Jewish one; the one about logic & probability. But, for me, it seems that the domestic issues of family and marriage that exist in A Serious Man have never been so vivid in a film of the Coens since Raising Arizona. The Gopniks are a two kids/two car family with the makings of a clan that might just live in the same subdivision as Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. Larry's son signed up for the Columbia record club, his daughter wants in the bathroom, and his wife wants a divorce. None of this is his fault, of course ("I didn't do anything", he repeats). But as Larry reprimands a Korean student of his by referencing the laws of action and consequence, we know that he's partly at fault for it all.

Thankfully, we're not back in the braindead Sam Mendes/Alan Ball suburban warfare territory here. No. As the Coens accentuated the close living quarters of H.I. and Edwina's trailer in Raising Arizona to reflect the good-Earth nature of those characters, so too here does the Gopniks's house reflect a protective nature that Larry steadfastly strives to provide. Sure, Larry can come off as a sheepish lion when he lets another man talk him out of his own house, or when he backs down from a neighbor who is planning to encroach onto his property, but Larry's motivations are his kids and his home. This is evident in the way he let's himself get pinballed around by his synagogue's three elusive rabbis for the endgame benefit of finding a pathway to stability for his family.

But the dark horse in this whole scenario is The Gopnik Family's relative, Uncle Arthur (bravely played by Richard Kind). Introduced to us early as a comedic foil - the reason Larry's daughter can't get in the bathroom is because Arthur is constantly inside, draining his sebaceous cyst - Arthur is, in many ways, at the heart of A Serious Man. In fact, he drives the climactic scene between him and Larry that takes place at an empty motel pool (drained, just like his cyst). Larry has been so consumed by the griping and gritting and grinding away of his own misfortunes, that he never took a breather to step back and gain perspective. Especially from the perspective of Arthur. Yes, Larry admires the fact that Arthur "never complains" but, in truth, Arthur is really a specimen that's at the the butt-end of life's most appealing physical qualities. He's hairy in gross places, flabby, has terrible posture, dumpy, and has an ugly face. Thus, he's an extreme outcast, envious of Larry's ability to create a family. But when Arthur confesses this to Larry point blank, it goes over his head. He's unawakened.

Of course, Larry may still be too distracted by the way his rival, Sy Abelman, has moved in on his wife. Like Arthur, Sy was not blessed with the most attractive of features, but he exudes a convincing spiritual confidence that makes up for it. Subconsciously, Larry admires him. It's not because Sy is able to catch the attention of his wife, so much, but that Sy is able to ride on such a calm wave of life. He walks and talks and maneuvers like he's figured it all out. Revealed in a dream, Sy is the ideal of "a serious man" in Larry's mind. Forget all that math and physics mumbo jumbo that Larry throws up on his classroom chalkboard like territorial gang graffiti, because Sy's already the owner to life's answers. He even slams Larry's head up against the chalkboard for good measure. Cuz, really, what's Schrodinger's cat gonna do for you once the doctor calls with bad news?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

JIGSAW'S CULTURAL REVOLUTION

Is it me, or does the Saw VI poster resemble that famous black & white portrait of Mao?


Eh... maybe it's just me...

Or... I know! It was that Etch-A-Sketch portrait of Mao that I was thinking of! (framed in RED dontchya know!!)


And then, of course...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CAMEROONED IN HOLLYWOOD

According to one of those New York magazines with "New York" in the title, Rambo II writer James Cameron, said the following to Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of True Lies:

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"Do you want Paul Verhoeven to finish this motherfucker?"
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Now, it's unclear whether Cameron said "motherfucker" in reference to the movie, True Lies, or if he was actually calling Schwarzenegger a "motherfucker".

If it's the former, then, yes please Mr. Cameron, I would very much like to rewind history and have Paul Verhoeven finish (or just start over) True Lies.

While you're at it, would you mind handing over the Avatar project as well? Cool. Now go out diving somewhere with your camera and leave us alone.

Bye.

Monday, October 19, 2009

TOERIFC # 10 : KISS ME, STUPID (1964)

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of TOERIFC by clicking on over to Tom Sutpen's blog Illusions Travel By Streetcar, for a discussion of Billy Wilder's controversial Kiss Me, Stupid.

You knoooow, this TOERIFC thing we do is really like putting on a day long master's class in cinema for free. It's like your college film courses to the 9th power. So, if you want to learn about movies and don't have the tuition for NYU, or wherever, you really have no excuse, because we are offering it up for free. You're welcome.


(Above banner by Greg @ Cinema Styles)



Saturday, October 17, 2009

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Not just for his short stature and elvish voice has Spike Jonze always been a filmmaker who deems it necessary to keep an artistic eye on that chamber of life that contains childhood, youth, and adolescence. Remember the look on that girl's face in the back of the car at the end of Wax's "California" video? How about those teenage bull riders in Jonze's short documentary Amarillo by Morning? There's also the touching posthumous video for Notorious B.I.G.'s "Sky's the Limit", the skater kids in Sonic Youth's "100%", the high school gymnastics competition of "Elektrobank", and the throwback letter sweaters in "Buddy Holly". Even Jonze's intermittent work with Jackass evinced an interest in a specific type of manchild that is still too devilish to grow up. So now, at a point in his career that seemed to be at its calmest, Spike Jonze resurfaces with his finest testament to date, a film that critic Kent Jones has described in the most perfect way as "childhood in motion".

At the midpoint of Where The Wild Things Are, there's a moment where average-kid-turned-imaginary-ruler Max (Max Records) sketches blueprints in the sand of an improbable kingdom that he and his monster friends will build and live in together. The unbridled imagination pouring out of Max's mouth as his hands try to keep time with his head during a tutorial for the beasts, made me think of what the production brainstorming sessions must have been like on the set of Being John Malkovich. Writing about a giant Emily Dickenson puppet, a portal into John Malkovich's head, and a 1/2 floor office with short ceilings, is much easier than actually pulling it off for the camera. But such is the ambition of Jonze, a cinematic wish granter whose own fantastic ideas stand responsible for churning out the total uniqueness of his art.

There is much to love about the bulk section of Where The Wild Things Are that takes place out of reality, on the island where Max and his subconscious "wild things" work things out, but of particular note should be the sequences with Max at home and at school that take place beforehand. Frankly, I can't recall a better on screen summation of rambunctious, rambling childhood than WTWTA's first fifteen minutes. Max builds an igloo, gets in a snowball fight, jumps on the bed, tackles his dog, cries tears down his cheeks, talks to a fence, builds a bedroom rocket ship over some bedroom lava, does "The Robot", picks at his mom's pantyhose, yells at his sister, and runs. Of course, all of this is given emotional heft due to the prudence and careful direction of Jonze. Watch the transition that is made from classroom to car when Max's teacher talks about the sun dying out. As his teacher's lecture trails off, the lingering words follow Max into the passenger seat of his mother's car and place a gaze of awestruck fixation on his face, a look that only comes from the fascination of a young discovering mind.

As soon as you can accept that the monsters or "wild things" represent the individual characteristics that make up the prepubescent milkshake that is Max, images of the kid with giant furry puppets start to emit a much grander significance. To watch Max speak up and out to the monsters as they surround him, or to see him leading a charge of all through the woods, is akin to a child's self-discovery of his or her own vulnerabilities and strengths. During a daytime nap, the monsters dogpile each other and form a mountain of mumbling, snoozing bellies, paws, and snouts over Max. Underneath this protective mound, Max huddles, bonding with the most independent and mature of the beasts, KW. The way KW stands apart from the group (she arrives late it greeting Max) as the most aware and accepting of Max's true nature, reveals her to be the stand-in for Max's real life mother.

Though not a theme which dominates on first glance, Max's coping with the separation of his mother and father, and, therefore, the lack of his father's attention in general, is revealed as Where The Wild Things Are's red, beating core. In an early scene, we see Max peering around the corner of the hallway onto his mom enjoying herself with a new boyfriend. Later, as he hides behind a branch, that same intimidated stare returns to Max's eyes as he watches KW and Carol fight over, what feels like, the rubble of old romance. But Max's anxieties, and Jonze's brilliant visual recreation of them, hit their peak in a scene where KW shelters Max from a raging Carol by hiding him in her stomach. The in utero allusions are clear, and it's quite striking to look at a knee-to-chest Max cocking an eye towards the muffled bickering outside between the two larger figures. If Max doesn't blame himself (his conception, his birth, his existence) for the absence of his father, then the possibility of it is definitely something he ponders.

But the loveliest set-up Jonze produces is the miniature stick & clay scenery that Carol shares with Max out in a private, solitary cave of his. The tinker toy landscape - a bite size model version of a monster utopia that Carol dreams about for he and his friends - recalls every child's toy train set, doll house, race car track, or playset that satisfies that under sixteen universal urge to live in a idealized alternate world where every possibility is controlled by you. When Max sticks his head through a hole in the middle of Carol's creation and catches an eye-level view of this matchstick wonderworld, it's the perfect embodiment of childhood imagination within its own physical limitations. I suppose you could say that the making of Where The Wild Things Are was exactly that for Spike Jonze, or, maybe there really is more than mere coincidence to the director's boyish features and voice after all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

STREAM-OF-CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION: THE INVENTION OF LYING


The above still promises so much more than the movie ever delivers.

[NOTE: This is where the blogger gives himself a strict 10 minutes to rattle off whatever about a movie he just saw that he doesn't feel deserves a thoughtful edited review but still feels the need to feed the animals anyway. Quality is of no concern.]
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I hate this movie. I hated this movie. How can I have end up hating something so much that contained so many people I liked? Maybe it was an elaborate prank for Ricky Gervais to come to the states and make a terrible movie here with a bunch of famous comedians the way a bunch of famous comedians took his great BBC show and made it into some crap sitcom on Thursday nights. But The Invention of Lying is so mean and smarmy and meeeeeh and nasty and terribly made that I think Gervais may have spent the last of any Hollywood capital that he had. Heck, he's good at directing half hour TV shows, but he's abysmal at making a feature length film. Another example of why the two forms differ quite a bit. So, what's this all about anyways? I ran into a buddy at teh gym that told me The Invention of Lying was "anti-religious", so I had that in my head as I went into the theater. Well, it definitely is. Maybe more accurately anti-Christian than religion as a whole. I mean, two Pizza Hut boxes are stand ins for the Ten Commandment tablets. And look, I'm a non-believer, a former Catholic that just doesn't buy it anymore, but I still don't care for snoots running around acting like they are smarter than the lads behind them just because that lad believes he's going to heaven. There's a way to be critical and comedic about religion and still be not such a prick. So, is The Invention of Lying arguing that our society would function better if we all indeed spoke our minds and never uttered a falsehood? Because, in the end, even though lying is bad and religion is lying and everyone else in the world except Ricky Gervais and his kid are dimwits, well, he still ends up as the king of the hill with the hot housewife making him supper in a mansion with tons of money. So, he gets his egotistical superiority and the babe with the toned calves. He even makes her serve him while she's about to burst with a baby. What a punk. But seriously, the sweetest moments this movie contains are based on the reality of bending the truth to either spare someone's feelings or prop them up. But, if as were led to believe in the end, that that's all bullshit, then what the fuck?!?! Is this then the most cyncical, misanthropic, spiteful film to ever hit the megaplexes?? Ricky Gervais... what the hell are you doing?? My guess is that the message is mixed and comes out with a bitter face because, well, comics are bitter, but also because this is a half idea that got the money to be made into a movie. It's really annoying too. The hole gag/hook of the film starts to grate about 10 minutes in and when Garner and Gervais are at a dinner table and the cute Martin Starr walks up and even HE is irritating, well, it's time to leave. Of course, I didn't leave, because I never leave. I don't give up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

REVANCHE

There is old world rhyme and beauty in the way director Gotz Spielman gives his protagonist, Alex (Johannes Krisch), active transformation as we see him - in one of Revanche's final shots - gather up apples off the ground and place them in a basket. This action is contrasted by the multiple shots that precede it of Alex sawing and chopping wood for his grandfather. These dead trees move from pile to pile, shrinking in size and significance as their existence whittles down from logs to stumps to shards. But, in the end, it is the fruit of a tree that Alex is manually lifting up to eat and extend life. This kind of old school natural symbolism may wrinkle the noses of those who can't separate the fibers of morality fables from the flames of religious preaching, but that would simply reveal them to be pathetic movie viewers.

Revanche's slowly unraveling drama about humanity in the face of easy and accessible vengeance sitting on a tee, is powerful in the way it lingers with you for the remainder of the day. Blogger friend Daniel Getahun often writes of "taking it [a movie] home with you", a label that helps draw that line between emotional art and entertainment. It wouldn't be silly to compare the series of events - and the significance of them - which take place over Revanche's two hours to that of a flower bud blossoming wide. For a movie that announces itself (and a verbally dirty noun) in bold lettering and quickly moves to semi-degrading images in a brothel, one starts to worry that the rest of Revanche is going to dwell in the Euro-scuzz worlds of Lilya-4-Ever or Hardcore. But patience pays off as the sex house becomes nothing more than temporary residence for a film that eventually transcends all settings.

Sometimes watching a movie can assist you in quickly moving another movie that was hanging around in your subconscious limbo to its rightful resting place. This is what taking in Revanche did for me over my indecision about Lars Von Trier's Antichrist. Seen in the middle of a twenty-eight film viewing hurricane, I initially left the screening of Antichrist sure that I despised it, but unable to shake its lingering impact on me. Since both films tackle the emotions of resolution (albeit it very disparate ways), it was quite easy for me to leave the screening of Revanche knowing, for certain, that Antichrist is garbage. Provocative and well shot garbage, but garbage nonetheless. That's definitely not to imply that a vengeance film which travels down a separate path than Revanche does is worthless. Not at all. For instance, I find the anger in The Brave One and Dead Man's Shoes to be quite convincing as a nod towards something harrowing about humanity. Lars Von Trier, on the other, still needs to discover the "H" word before commenting on it.

Thematically, Revanche reminded me of Terry George's underrated Reservation Road, where the loss of a son happens at the hands of a hit-and-run fluke. While the journey that Joaquin Phoenix's character takes isn't handled with nearly as much grace as Alex's is in Revanche, there is ultimately an immense swallowing of wrath that propels both films towards profundity. Again, referring back to old-school structure, Revanche's visually poetic storytelling could be seen as a throwback to the man vs. man dilemmas expressed in early cinema. Like lyrics in a song, great dialogue can really enhance the glow of a film, but no verbiage can ever communicate more concretely than the richest of compositions. Take the shots of Alex and Robert (a policeman) separately staring at photographs of Tamara (Alex's girlfriend). Their compassion towards the subject in the photo originates from different places and arrives out of different circumstances, but the wealth of emotion between their eyelines/bodies and a piece of paper is something that only a well-guided camera could capture.

Finally, in one last lunge to laud this film, I wanted to voice my disagreement with reviewers who have been labeling Revanche a thriller. It's not that I dislike thrillers or even get ruffled over another's categorization of a film, it's simply that I see this movie as something larger than a genre piece. Generally, thrillers that dribble out information in order to make you feel like you're solving a puzzle, do so in order to give the viewer a secondary buzz to the actual experience of watching a film, but Revanche's reveals are in place for the evolution of the characters' resolve, not the audience's enjoyment. Yeah, it's a small quibble, but one I felt was worth getting out. Dissecting small details matter when you're discussing one of the year's best films.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

ASS KISSING: "NO TIME, NO HOPE" - TIMES NEW VIKING

This isn't a video I really care for, just a band I really love and wished more people loved them too.

Maybe it's because we're in an era where the well-produced/well-recorded album (Fleet Foxes, Veckatimest, Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart, Bitte Orca) takes top critical billing, but, for whatever reason, with every passing year Times New Viking put out another album and none too many people ever seem interested.

Or, maybe I'm just a sucker for scuzz-rock trios that appreciate melody. Believe it or not, the below song is probably their most "produced" recording:


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

ON "old" DVD : FEAR X (2003)

You can pass by a movie on the shelf in the video store a hundred times over, know that it's there, know its title, know its cover, but never once consider renting it as you go on to grab Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter, The Forgotten, Frogs, or Fright Night. Not only that, but you can have a preconceived dream about that innocent film. For example, I had the John Turturro movie Fear X pegged as some kind of indecent post-Se7en detective thriller. Maybe I also let the near vicinity of FearDotCom creep into my subconscious and add to the bad feelings. Or, maybe I didn't like the use of "X" in the title, a letter that left a bad taste in my mouth after people followed my generation around with it ad nauseam.

So in the weird way that things work themselves around to you, a week or so ago I caught a screening of the movie Bronson. Impressed by its beefy elegance (imagine Derek Jarman had he had an eye for violence), I searched out its maker and its maker's past work. I quickly realized I was late to the show. Turns out many people had long been impressed by the films of Nicolas Winding Refn, yet I'd never even heard his name prior to two weeks ago. And, what do you know... it turns out my notions concerning Fear X were all backwards. I suppose the movie does contain elements of a detective thriller, but it is much more of a tone poem rather than a linear narrative that satisfies with a final boxed-up conclusion. In fact, I view Fear X as some kind of small emotional powerhouse for our post-9/11 world.

Coming out in 2003, the undertones of paranoia and anxiety that carry Fear X's surface murder mystery story along, indirectly connect to feelings of aimless anger, obsession, frustration, and hopelessness that many Americans felt on and after that tragic day in 2001. John Turturro plays Harry Caine, a mall security guard whose pregnant wife gets murdered in some apparent criminal cross-fire. Lack of major evidence has left the case unsolved and the bad guy(s) is still roaming around. Harry uses his small-time surveillance skills and an newly empty house to start a crusade that may just as equally serve as a distraction to Harry's heart as it is a cause for justice. But as the digging progresses, the more the wormholes splinter off into every possible direction. Whether Harry ends up in a Kubrick-Resnais-Lynch bizarro world or right next door to the truth is up to each one of us.

Unlike mystery/thrillers that offer up a cliffhanger in place of a satisfying solution, Refn's game is to push you off the cliff into some sort of zero gravity space between conditioned expectations and hopeful logic. Fear X continues to communicate all the way through its credits, carrying you on to a final blank screen with an ominous Brian Eno score, while also inviting closer scrutiny with a blurry collage of cubed surveillance footage. As it so happens, the title to Nicholas Winding Refn's film isn't silly or off-putting at all. No, it's exactly on the mark for what this movie is, a beautiful depiction of an ugly and uncomfortable state that many of us enter into without knowledge of its origins or preparation for its power. How to bottle that and put a label on it, I have no idea if anyone can, but Refn's attempt at doing so is pretty damn admirable.

Monday, October 05, 2009

ZOMBIELAND

For a film that starts strong with introductory bookworm narration by Jesse Eisenberg and a slo-mo gush & smash title sequence to the sounds of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls", Zombieland becomes increasingly dull relentlessly fast. With a script as spare as a two-page outline, Zombieland's best moments appear to come from the impromptu performances and improvised dialogue of its fairly able cast. I generally adore Emma Stone, but her and Abigail Breslen essentially fill space here. The movie belongs to Eisenberg in the role of Columbus, a teeny nerd who continues to survive the zombie apocalypse by adhering to a strict list of rules. The fact that he wields a shotgun in tidy hoody, curly hair, and skinny pants gives Zombieland an aura of geek fantasy fulfillment to it. He's a virgin too.

Zombieland's globe-spanning poster and epic-sounding title hint at something much grander than this brief episode of four people who cross paths and make their way to California from Texas ultimately gives out. Sure, a movie with the words "zombie" and "land" in the title pretty much demands that you close down logic centers and open up a playful mind before taking a seat, but seeing a satellite's eye view of the world under a zombie plague would have been more big screen bonzai-rific than the measly four-pack of characters we were given. Yes, Zombieland's much buzzed-about cameo delivers, but a massive globe-trotting, ensemble zombie film would have been much more appetizing. Think Babel, but with zombies (also, pretend that Babel was good).

It's a bit disconcerting when a film that runs only eighty minutes long must rely on recycling its own devices and jokes. The way the block letter "rules", that Columbus abides by, pop up on screen in real time is cute, as is Tallahassee's Twinkie obsession, but much like the fervor that is established in Zombieland's opening and credit sequences, these tropes wear thin quickly. I suppose this could all be a set up for numerous sequels that will unravel a wider, more interesting landscape and story much in the way REC 2 did with the way overrated REC, but that kind of TV serial planning really irritates me. If your film demands a sequel, then great, but make each one substantial, please. If you're just gonna trickle out your thoughts and plot and art, then please stay planted in TV land.

While at Fantastic Fest, last week, I noticed a sobering amount of audience members who were easily pleased by films that offered a snack size handful of clever punches, but very little in overall breadth. I like unique gags and useful gimmicks as much as the next guy and gal, but I can't help but wonder if our cinema is becoming more and more dominated by movies of compiled whoo-hoo, hand clapping moments instead of films that are of an accomplished whole. Perhaps this is line with the way music fans are trending toward the song download instead of the album. Maybe this is why TV is so popular again too. I don't know, but if Zombieland expected to knock me down with what it brought on Saturday night, then dude better get back to the weight room.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

FANTASTIC FEST : DAY 6 & 7

Having to go back to my "real" life and my "real" job, starting to(yester)day, the amount of movies I could take in slowed down majorly. However sad that might have been, it probably arrived right on time considering that I had started to show signs of detachment from the world (is that healthcare bill still alive???).

******Kaifeck Murder (Esther Gronenborn)

I hate to say it cuz I wanted to like it, but watching Kaifeck Murder was like watching a screener that had snuck its way through the festival programming road blocks. Now, no programmer is perfect (see whoever green lit The Human Centipede), but this was a pretty easy one to weed out. Kaifeck Murder's plot becomes convoluted not out of complicated predicaments but out of "huh???". Or, maybe it was because it was German. For all you TOERIFC alums, Franken from Black Book has a cameo... well, not the character, the actor.


******
Under the Mountain (Jonathan King)

This was disappointing. For anyone who saw King's Peter Jackson-esque (when Peter Jackson was still interesting) Black Sheep, a few years back, Under the Mountain is the director's follow-up to that. It sounds nice on paper: King wanted to make a tame adventure/horror flick that his kids could watch while still retaining the make-up and effects elements that made Black Sheep much more enjoyable than it had any right being. But then came the hard part of actually transferring said game plan to the screen. It doesn't work. King seems to be over thinking his instincts here. To me, he comes off as a director that works better on the run, in transit, off the cuff, not somebody who plans things out too much.


******
The Bare Breasted Countess (Jess Franco)

This was a retrospective screening - Venus in Furs, Succubus, and Eugenie also played, with Franco in attendance - that offered a rare chance to see a Jess Franco film on the big screen. I find Franco's films to be lovely to observe but difficult to penetrate. That latter problem, I think, comes from his films either being constructively sloppy or immensely personal. For instance, I have no idea what was happening in Succubus, but I admired the hell out of its visual audacity. The Bare Breasted Countess is incoherent, but, strangely, after it works on you for an hour or so, it reveals itself to be a filmed personal obsession that Franco had with the film's actress, Lina Romay (they are now married).

The Bare Breasted Countess is essentially a sex film disguised as a vampire film that makes no sense. Further, it's really Franco going exploratory with his camera on his muse/obsession/love in four extended sex scenes and a couple of solo romps. I won't deny that it gets tedious (selfishly made art generally does), but it's also revealing and touching. Franco and Ronay did a Q&A afterwards, and Ronay summed up the palpable on screen connection between the two by saying, "He took me to the moon with this movie, and I'm still there." Awwww.

Lastly, it was very heart-warming to see a frail, wheelchair bound Franco thank the audience for honoring him and then saying, "I feel free here [at the festival]".


******
Kenny Begins (Carl Astrand & Mats Lindberg)

This was like watching a Saturday Morning Cartoon translated into a live action film... in Swedish. Don't get me wrong, Kenny Begins had its charm and its laughs, but in line with the "Saturday Morning" vibe, the film comes off like an overlong episode instead of a full-grown movie. Harmless and idiotic (I mean that in the positive), Kenny Begins details the, er, beginning of Kenny Starfighter's ascension to being a police captain on a planet far, far away. The subtext may not be intended, but seeing this story of a delusional, oddly-shaped fellow in a space uniform made me think that this film probably hit home with many of the festival's attendees.