Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Film Festival Round-up (pt 2)
Life During Wartime was the next movie on the calendar. This was - hands-down - the best film I saw in this year's festival. Todd Solondz's sequel/variation of his 1998 jaw-dropping classic, Happiness, reintroduced us to the three sisters central to the original story - in a post-September 11, suburban United States. I don't know how Solondz manages to venture into such dark territories while still managing to provoke laughter from audiences. There are many cringeworthy moments, such as the 'have-it-all' mother (who, in Happiness, had her world turned upside down after discovering her psychiatrist husband was a paedophile) arriving home from a first date, filled with excitement and hope for a future with her new beau, discussing how it went with her own young son, telling him - with barely-contained enthusiasm - that he had made her "wet". Thankfully, the boy didn't yet realise what this meant and, upon finishing her rapturous spiel about the date, he asked "Are you still wet, Mom?" And there was also the discussion with the same son after he asks "Mom, what is a paedophile?" Priceless. But don't let what I've given away put you off. This film maker is hardly condoning such perversions. Alternatively, he has somehow carved a path through all the hysteria, and found an avenue for comedy there. Solondz displays an amazing understanding of dysfunction - in all its flavours - and the lives of the lonely and misunderstood (or just plain sociopathic) deftly - with humour, empathy and maturity - without making value judgments. Isn't this the role of storytellers anyway? He is known as a controversial film maker - no doubt because of elements of his subject matter - but one who should be taken much more seriously, in my opinion.
Lemmy was next - a documentary about (and starring) Lemmy, the enigmatic lead singer/bass guitarist of legendary punk/metal band Motorhead. He is a fascinating subject and character and seemingly all-round nice guy. There were good interviewees reflecting on their experiences with him (thankfully Bono wasn't in attendance this time!). The music was also great and I was riveted throughout. However, there was a 'cobbled-together' feel to this film and it was a bit long. About 25 minutes before the end, it seemed to be winding down to a conclusion, but instead jolted us right back in again.
The Runaways was one of the most disappointing films this year - and probably the worst I saw. I had been pumped to see this docu-drama about Joan Jett's '70s glam/punk rock girl band, but for all the attitude the music had, the film focused almost entirely on the exploitation of the girls by manager, Kim Fowley. Admittedly, I hadn't initially realised that the film was based on singer, Cherie Currie's autobiography, which I haven't read. Also, the music - as I remembered it - was much crappier than this sounded and that was a big part of its charm. Basically, the film seemed to be going more for the glamour and melodrama than anything else and was quite carelessly gratuitous in places. I got the feeling that the huge, enraptured audience were more interested in the fact that Kirsten Stewart (as Jett) and Dakota Fanning (as Currie) were the stars - and particularly the scene or two where they kissed and fondled one another.
Four more films left - for pt 3...... coming soon.