Manhattan Film Festival

The 10 finalist films from around the world get shown all over the country. Did your college do a showing? If not, why not? It was offered. And the audience votes, the votes are tallied, sent back to Manhattan, and the winner named.  Here’s my take:

Watching (UK): Stellar! If it wasn’t a short, you’d think you paid admission just for this flick. Completely worth it. A sense of urgency, challenge, and redemption. It was tough not to vote for this one. I’m betting it got most of the votes, though. If it wins, I’ll consider it deserving. This was a complete storyline as a short. I’d love to own the DVD.

Underground (Mexico) and Party (Croatia): I know they each made a point, and I know these are shorts, but I need more than this. You’ve got to sew it up in the end, and make the point explicit, if you want your point to stick. Just my take.

Madagascar (France): Incredible blend of every conceivable kind of animation (right down to the credits). Really wowed the audience.

The Pool (Ireland): Was kind of a Shyamalan flick. I liked it. It won’t likely win, because US audiences don’t dig that, for the most part. But I still really liked it. Reminds me of the kind of stories I used to publish a lot of, when I ran a magazine. Spooky and unexplained in the end.

Push Bike (Australia): Hot. Someone will criticize me for saying it, but it was, and anyone who watched it knew it – people are stupid about sex, so I don’t really care what they think. It was hot. It was also deeply scary and unnerving. I think most people are idiots, sex aside, and filmgoers are a subsection of most people. It’s just what I think. And so a number of people laughed when this poor woman lost her clothes and had to flee in the night with nothing but a shower curtain, trying to make it safely home. One or two kept laughing as she was pursued by little thugs. People are idiots. They’d laugh at the Central Park jogger if  you gave them a comfortable chair and a full belly to see it over. Anyway good flick, spoiled by a bunch of mooks in the audience.

A Little Inconvenience (Canada): Not my cup of tea. Sort of Alice in Wonderland cute. Got a lot of laughs from the audience. I’m a hard sell on comedy. Just wasn’t my thing. The point, in the end, was interesting but didn’t grab me as particularly profound.

Echo (Poland): My vote went to this one. I wanted to strangle the guy in the back of the theatre who laughed at the immense, immense pain and suffering, because he’s never seen grief before. He was a complete, fucking asshole. But that’s why I voted for this one. It was realistic and gritty right up to the end and, in the end, gave us such a dose of genuine anguish that I’d refer to this film if anyone asked me to show them what grief looks like as a short order.

12 Years (Germany): This was funny. I smirked most of the way through it. I don’t think gore is funny, so I pretty much lost interest at the punch line, which almost had the audience standing. Suffering is never cute to me, no matter what, so no attempt at comedy in that vein is going to do it for me. But the situation leading up to it was funny.

War (Italy): Absorbing, right up until you get the US soldier intervening in a local affair. They were boy scouts of course, where these days they’d just shoot all the civilians, rape some of them, plant some AK’s and call them insurgents, and their bosses back on base would support it right up the chain. This one failed for me, because of the timing. Prior to Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, I might have felt differently about it. The part that didn’t involve US soliders was pretty engrossing.

One thing the festival reminds us is that these are the kinds of films you’re NOT getting to see in your local area, in most cases. Albeit, they’re shorts. But they make the point, nonetheless. [see finalists] It just kills me that films like film  photo are probably not going to show here.

In the end, I’d much rather see and vote for these things without the audience. The people who don’t realize that art is not about what you have to say – it’s about shutting up, and listening to what the art has to say. Movie talkers. In another place and time, they’d be jailed and sent to filmgoing reeducation camps. Worse are the sillies. The tittering fools who have but one response to any stimulus, such is their shallowness. There’s never a serious moment they don’t ruin by finding some quirk amusing. Rape, torture, incest – they like it all. If I was creating a cultural definition of ‘insane’, I’d put these guys up as the poster children for it. But what are you going to do. Until we get it all going on Netflix and Youtube, and get to vote securely from home, I’ve got to go out and endure the bumpkinism, kidultness, and general idiocy. It beats never seeing this stuff, though. If I can endure the mundane savants that came to opening night of LOTR, and their kids, I can endure some of the dumbasses that show up at the museum and talk over films, and cackle for all of us during the intense parts.

I’m planning to see Kwaidan, next. Yep, the Kobayashi flick. Good Lord, what kind of audience will be at that one? I can just hear the howls when someone loses an arm. God, what perpetual infantiles.

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