Saturday, April 17, 2010

MSPIFF 2010: Day 1

35 Shots of Rum - Highly Recommended
Feeling lukewarm about many of the first offerings at MSPIFF, I decided I would take advantage of the opportunity to see 35 Shots of Rum a second time. After loading up on Surly beer at Pracna with friends (cheers to everyone that showed up), I busted my way into a packed house. Despite the fact that it played in Minneapolis a little over a month ago at the Walker and is coming out on DVD next week and is largely last year's news, 35 Shots had no problem selling out. I had the opportunity to see 35 Shots last fall on a random trip to NYC, arriving on its last day at the Film Forum, and it was one of the best films I saw last year. A second viewing did nothing to tarnish those feelings, and instead reaffirmed every assertion that was was growing vague in my mind. 35 Shots is a masterpiece from the heart that skirts around the edges of social politics with subconscious sublimity. The narrative is driven by a visual osmosis, slowly and subtle revealing truths and discoveries about the transcendental characters. At the center of the film is the relationship between a young adult daughter and her single father—both at junctures in their lives. Claire Denis cites Late Spring in this dedication to her mother and grandfather, but I still see more Hong Sang-soo (albeit a more gentle Hong) than Yasujiro Ozu in 35 Shots of Rum. Beautifully edited and scored, 35 Shots is a must see on the big screen. Here's hoping we don't have to wait until next year to see Denis new film, White Material, in the Twin Cities.
Screens again today, Saturday, April 17 at 3:15

The Forbidden Door - Not Recommended
Just enough time for another Surly, and I was back in the theater for the first of MSPIFF's 'late night' series—four films from the edgier parts of the film world. I had read reviews of The Forbidden Door on Twitch (one positive and one not so positive) and was excited to make a determination of my own about this Indonesian thriller. All I have to say is: these are the risks you take at film festivals. The Forbidden Door is a mess. I originally thought that the beer had effected my deductive logic, but finally realized that logic was on the back burner for most of the film. Completely disjointed, The Forbidden Door feels like it was made by an ADD Eli Roth (and I'm pretty sure Eli Roth is already ADD, so that would be double ADD.) The story focuses on a successful artist, Gambir, who makes highly sought after sculptures of pregnant women. Gambir, however, has a few skeletons in his closet, not the least of which is his impotency and inability to get his beautiful wife pregnant, an irony that would make Freud stroke his beard. Random mysteries and random resolutions are propped up by overwrought genre stereotypes of the emasculated man and the abused child. The components of a good blood-squirting thriller are there, but the lack of overall focus renders this film as ineffective as Gambir. At the introduction, the programmer admitted that finding The Forbidden Door was a hard fought battle, working for two months to simply find a contact. The hard work it took to get this film to the festival is not lost on me, and I wish there was more of a pay off. Joko Anwar has generated a fair amount of low-level cyberspace buzz among horror fans, and although he probably has a genre masterpiece somewhere in him, The Forbidden Door is not it. Which is unfortunate, because I love that poster.
Screens again Wednesday, April 21 at 9:20

No comments: