Day 2: September 5

Family reunion day at the fest - the day you run into a whole tonne of people that you see once a year in darkened rooms. Quite odd, when you think about it...

This is the first "real" day of the fest, with public screenings gearing up to speed (the first doesn't bow 'till around 4pm, but by then I'd already seen 4 films).

It was easy to tell the demographic on hand for Bernard Shakey's (aka. Neil Young's) latest opus: Flannel shirts everywhere. When the "King of Kenora Dinner Jackets" himself entered the building, replete in a rumpled red plaid number and grizzled beard, the crowd was certainly pleased. Many seemed to have attended last night's big concert, so this was a great way to get up-and-closer to him.

I had, for some reason, expected him to sound as bumbling as he sometimes does in interviews. I think, though, that he was genuinely pleased to be showing this little experimental flick on the giant (and dying) screen at Uptown 1, and taken aback by the effusive reception in this hallowed theater.

When local boy Vincenzo Natali took the MM stage a couple minutes after Neil vacated, he dedicated his film to the Uptown.

Really nice to see the love for the old girl pouring forth now. Too bad it couldn't have been saved some how. Condos just won't have the same spirit, methinks.

Lost in Translation
Directed by: Sophia Coppola

    

Damn these Coppola kids, they're making better movies than their daddy these days. Bill Murray is, well, awesome. Rushmore good. This tale of loneliness and the idiosyncracies of culture (both American and Japanese) plays as a sort of sweet version of Lolita, two broken hearts looking to each other to heal one another. It's a nuanced film with lovely performances.

Japan, land of sushi and used school-girl panty vending machines, is photographed with an eye for the absurd. The dinosaurs come back to life on giant LCD screens hugging a building, while geishas in uncomfortable shoes serve fantastically expensive rice wines. The whole tale is told with a dreamy, jet-lagged feel, that part wonder, part nasueous feeling brought about by significant travel. Jet lag as a metaphor for love, a delicious combination. Simply a must-see film.
Grade: A

Mayor of Sunset Strip
Directed by: George Hickenlooper

    

I ran into somebody at the festival today, a gawky looking, snaggle-toothed guy with a digital camera who came up to me because I had a badge hanging on my chest. Craning his neck, he asked me if I had seen any celebrities, if anyone around us was famous. I just looked at him, incredulous, disgusted - here's a guy who wants photos of famous people, even if he doesn't know who they are, just so he can say he was there capturing some reflected glory.

While this tale of one of the most prominent groupies/radio personalities in the known universe isn't quite so pathetic (Rodney at least knew which celebrities to glom onto) there's still a real sense of sadness in the film. Forget the tough childhood and rough adolescence, it's a tale of hedonism and lust in a guy that probably just wants a hug or two. Hickenlooper continues to impress, and the film never feels stagey or forced. Wisely switching from film to DV when the setting demands a more subtle camera situation, it's a mature documentary from a veteran of the form.
Grade: A-

Go Further
Directed by: Ron Mann

    

A boring, watered down look at a cross country trek by Woody Harrelson and friends as they decry the raping and pillaging of the environment. A Hemp-powered bus (peopled by pot-powered plebes who are newly committed raw vegans) takes them on their journey. Not quite the merry pranksters, this group of sycophants, stoners, and personal assistants hardly makes a strong impression. Still, the message, underneath the hypocrisy and trappings of West coast stoner culture, is a good one. Best scene: Harrelson's brother wranging on the members of the team for smoking cigarettes. Their answer? Smoke a big fatty spliff. Go further? Nah, go figure...
Grade: C-

SuperTex
Directed by: Jan Schütte

    

Young man in conflict with his father over their textile business. His dad's a holocaust survivor, building the company up from scratch. He's a business school educated "Jew in a Porsche" with new ideas about how selling off the business will prove to be profitable. A competent if maudlin family pic, it's hardly worth seeing, but does have some moments of sweetness and exoticism. Plus, I like the car.
Grade: C/C-

Greendale
Directed by: Bernard Shakey

    

Neil Young's latest album is part diatribe, part folk tale. He grabbed a super-8 camera and shot a bunch of flannel-wearing Youngalikes as they lipsynched to the libretto. It's strangely compelling, particularly on the Uptown screen where the grain was the size of a Volkswagon (say, the Jetta, as opposed to the Campervan or something). Certainly never bad to hear his latest music through the lovely soundsystem and let the film wash over you. It's a tale of political uprising and media infiltration, all basted in the politics of post-9/11. Recommended.
Grade: A-/B+

Cypher
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali

    

A bit too clever and precious for it's own good, it's a fairly decent yet predictable near-future thriller. Slick and sophisticated, it certainly doesn't look overly cheap, but the plot holds it back. Still, higher-than-normal marks because it was screened as a MM film, and did what any MM film should do - keep me awake 'till the end. This one actually gave me a second wind, so it scores higher for that reason alone. Not seeing it after 5 other movies? Well, maybe give it a rent. Plus, of course, Lucy Liu is yummy.
Grade: B+