I was just in at the Park Lane, preparing to line-up for rush tickets to the nameless shorts presentation that included Chasing Wild Horses and The Book Lady, but the lineup was long and I felt my chances of getting in very slim... leaving me right up front if there at all. It's my own damn faulty time management skills. I'm happy to note those films are getting a seriously solid response, and hope to catch them another time.
But I need to rewind and review. I finally caught Jason Eisener's Treevenge at the midnight showing Thursday night. The crowd was so into it, and it was easy to see why. Every shot is primed to entertain, and the story, about vengeful Christmas trees that speak in a Jawa patois, is pure genius. Not for the squeamish, as the biggest dramatic moment/laugh comes from the crushing of a baby head.
It occurred to me afterward, maybe Eisener has really made a subtle environmental message movie in his bloody exploitation flick. You know, the vindication of the trees, seen by our consumer culture as just an economic resource, and at Christmas, a disposable ornament for our joy. Perhaps what Eisener is really saying when he has one of his characters lube a tree trunk up for god-knows-what perversion, he's saying, if we fuck the environment, we can expect the environment to fuck us. I noticed later, during the bloody rampage, that there was a man being raped by a tree. And when the tree kills the baby, the message is clearly: If we abuse trees, our children have no future.
Think about it. This is deep, man.
Choke is a charming, foul-mouthed little comedy starring Sam Rockwell as a lifelong skeeze, scammer and sex addict, who probably can lay the blame on much of his bad behavior with his mother, Angelica Huston, who is wildly delusional and in a care facility. There he meets a doctor, the no-longer-Scots-sounding Kelly MacDonald. Some of the best scenes in the picture, adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel, come when Rockwell's Victor is working at a Pioneer Village where he's obliged to stay in period throughout, but can't quite manage it. Directed and adapted by David Mamet regular Clark Gregg, who plays a supporting role in the film, it has none of the visual delight of that other Palahniuk adaptation, Fight Club, but the script is full of the author's typical dark humour and social fascination.
Friday night I was at the 10x10 video premiere at the Marquee: 10 bands with 10 directors and a very short time in which to shoot. They were all pretty great, but special props to John Hillis's lovely video for that super-catchy Christina Martin track, and Andrew Stretch's In-Flight Safety clip, which was weird and brilliant. Also big props to super-8 and video wizard Norwood Cheek, who supervised the whole process as well as shooting interstitial docs of local names in music and film and culture, including Stephen Cooke, Charles Austin, Yo Rodeo and Mike Campbell. I wonder where he found the time.
I caught up with Cubers producer Walter Forsyth at the party. He was telling me about hosting those Rubik's Cube masters last weekend when the film premiered, and how one of them was saying there are actually Rubik's parties. You show up dressed in the 6 colours of the cube, and spend the night trying to exchange items of clothing so to "solve" your cube, to be dressed in all one colour. I love that idea.
I'm planning to close out my festival experience with Died Young, Stayed Pretty in a little over an hour (see Sue's comments on it below). Tonight, I might drop by the Summerhood closing screening, just to hear the audience response. I know people are going to flip for it. Then the party... and beyond that, I am sleeping for a week.
Thanks to all the AFF staff for making this another stellar week in my professional life, especially Pam Todd and Cristin Fraser in the media centre, and Jan Miller and Lia Rinaldo for their time.
I hope you had fun. I did.