Film Festival Day One/Two

Film Festival Day One/Two
Your trusty blogging bastard has been given a press pass to the Santa Barbara Film Festival, which opened Friday night (the night I went to review the Chekhov play).
First of all, you can read my article on Flying A Studios that constitutes my coverage of the fest for this ish.
Then, bear with me as over the next week I give a few comments on the films I wind up seeing (I’m not doing the fest non-stop–I have other things to attend to, other writing assignments and such, but I’ve got at least one film per day).

RIVERS AND TIDES
Being the documentary on environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, a big favorite of my friend Phil, who introduced me to his work. As Goldsworthy says in the film, his job is “to make all the effort look effortless.” His sentinel-like cones of slate, his pools of leaves, his serpentine motif running through a majority of his work, all look beautiful in the photos, but the documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer adds the dimension of time, which Goldsworthy’s work is very much about. Seeing the pieces change over time as nature reclaims its materials is a major element. Goldsworthy has the patience of a monk (or a clay animator) and much suspense occurs watching him nearly finish a piece only to have the bloody thing fall apart. Good soundtrack by Fred Frith, working with what looked like a Swedish or Eastern European ensemble (credits went very quick).

SWEET SIXTEEN
Ken Loach’s new film is a big, steaming chunk of Scottish depression, in which a 15-year-old tries desperately to improve his lot, only to have the fate of his class and social standing grind him down again. Many in the British press don’t like Loach, seeing him as a melodramatic ol’ Red lefty, but for American filmgoers not used to seeing realism on screen (or, if you live in Santa Barbara, outside in the streets), this must have seemed like the grittiest, grimiest, most despairing portrayal of being young, ambitious, and downwardly mobile they’ve ever seen (8 Mile is a completely safe and moral film and doesn’t count). The two people next to me were particularly troubled and particularly clueless to the essentials to the plot. “Is that a knife?” she said when a knife appeared. Or they tried to second-guess the film using their limited knowledge of mainstream film. Also of bemusement was the woman’s need to put her head between her knees anytime the film approached violence of any sort (yes, there’s a stabbing, but even the Hayes Code would have let it pass). She didn’t have her table in its upright locked position, but it’ll do.
Despite all this, the film itself was pretty good–I didn’t enjoy it as much as “Bread and Roses”–and the young lead bore a passing resemblance to another Loach hero, David Bradley in Kes. Added benefit: sensitive American moviegoers discovered the myriad uses of the word “fuck” and “cunt,” which you haven’t heard properly till it’s come out of the mouth of a pizza delivery boy missing his two front teeth. Watch as the swear words above result in many more hits to this site.

THE EYE
The Pang Brothers (or should that be The Brothers Pang?) nearly deliver the goods in this Hong Kong/Thailand horror tail, indebted heavily to The Sixth Sense, Ka

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