Friday, April 17, 2009


It's amazing with such a beautiful day that anyone would want to go sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers. But after spending the day cleaning out my gardens and putting in a new raised bed, I was ready for the Film Fest fun to begin! The Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival officially opened with Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer starring cool kids Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I like fanfare and parties, but the price tag was stiff and since I made the mistake of seeing The Happening, I've had enough of Zooey Deschanel to last me a lifetime. Friday was the first night of films, easing us all into the action with the first screening at 6:45pm and the last at 9:55pm. I chose happy mediums, seeing a film at 7:15 and 9:00.

First, let's talk Film Goats. Friday was the first ever MSPIFF Friday Film Goat Get Together and I want to offer a big thanks for all that showed up. (Stay tuned for next Friday's plan!) 72 degrees and perfect, we monopolized three outside tables with more chairs than would actually fit. Louis Lapat, director of Win or Lose: A Summer Camp Story, stopped by and chatted with us. I've heard nothing but incredibly positive things about his film, and, although I missed the screening, I'm hoping to have a chance to see it soon. Daniel and I got pulled away for a surprise interview that aired (somewhere?) and I shutter to think of my face on the television. I enjoyed talking to everyone about upcoming screenings and the hour and a half went by way too fast. Finishing my second beer and watching the line outside of St Anthony grow and grow, I was itchin' to get inside.

Here's what I ingested after the beer:

Just Another Love Story (2007) directed by Ole BornedalKnowing very little about this film or the director, I was mostly seduced by the provocative production still that showed up on the website. And I'm glad I was. The ironically named Just Another Love Story is an effective thriller from Denmark. The introduction offers us two scenes: 'love story number one' is Jonas laying dead on the pavement in the rain as a woman is crying by his side; 'love story number two' is Julia shooting her boyfriend in the chest. The particulars of these two snapshots are unclear and, yes, sets up the mystery. The mystery, however, gets left behind as we get introduced to the third love story between Jonas and Julia. The circumstances of of the film's plot are as contrived as 21 Grams but infinitely more engaging. Visually, the film earns nothing but very high marks. A car crash becomes a fascinating meditation on perception before it even happens. Dark and sardonic, Just Another Love Story's unexpected twists never feel as heavy handed as they should due to the clever pacing. Just Another Love Story was a great film to kick of the Festival with: smart, stylish, interesting and fun! It looks like it has been picked up for theatrical distribution by Koch Lorber, and if we don't see it in theaters 'round these parts, we will surely see it on DVD. Just Another Love Story screens again on Saturday, April 25 at 8:15pm. Recommended.

Getting Home (2007) directed by Zhang YangSo much promise, yet oh-so disappointing. Zhang Yang has made some impressive films, most notably Quitting. But Getting Home, his fifth featured, is a belabored melodrama that just won't stop. Liu promised Zhao that he would take his body back to his hometown when he died, but when Liu dies first, Zhao feels obligated to do the same. The journey acts as a road movie where Zhao, comically carrying his dead friend mostly on his back, meets all walks of life who either help or hinder him. The film just drones on with one encounter after the other, all saturated with the most false and predictable sentiments. Interesting themes of dislocation due to voluntary and forced migration (not to mention the surreal Chinese tradition of 'corpse walkers') get lost in the uneven and forced drama. Getting Home is part of the 2009 Global Lens series (screening at the the Film Fest instead of the Walker this year) and will eventually get a DVD release. Getting Home screens again on Saturday, April 25 at 8:30pm. Not Recommended.

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