Monday, April 23, 2012

Independent Film Festival Boston 2012 Mini-Preview: I Wish, "It's Such a Beautiful Day", and Beyond the Black Rainbow

Here's what my schedule looks like for IFFBoston 2012:

Opening Night: Sleepwalk with Me (no choice is an easy choice!)
Thursday: Pelotero & The Imposter (I may go different directions with the first slot, like Polisse or Liberal Arts especially since I've seen a fair number of Dominican baseball stories)
Friday: BURN & Detropia (maybe V/H/S in the second slot if I'm Detroit-ed out)
Saturday: Time Zero, Gregory Crewsdon, Knuckleball!/Kid-Thing, 2 Days in New York/Think of Me, Booster, Beyond the Black Rainbow (aaaarrrrggghhh!!! I want to see both Knuckleball! and 2 Days with guests, but they are packed in tight, sure to be packed, and involve the Red Line co-operating. It may make more sense to just hit the smaller movies)
Sunday: Fairhaven/Downeast, Ai Weiwei/The Whirlpool, Girl Model/From Nothing, Something/Without, Keyhole (or, I have no idea what I'll do other than the Guy Maddin movie)
Monday: Your Sister's Sister, Headhunters (may go with The Revisionaries in the first slot if I'm out of work early enough)
Tuesday: Paul Williams: Still Alive, Rubberneck
Closing Night: The Queen of Versailles

I'll be honest - I'm going to make a lot of decisions about what to see while waiting in line at the Somerville Theatre, considering how little chance it seems like I've had to study and obsess over the schedule. And quite frankly, I'm kind of shocked that having seen these three movies doesn't buy me a whole lot of flexibility.

Beyond the Black Rainbow, for instance, plays pretty much unopposed late Saturday night, and I'm kind of surprised, digging through my Fantasia reviews, that I not only found it kind of middling, but I did so in late afternoon. Honestly, I remember it as being pretty freaking nifty, although such a dead-on re-creation of chilly 1970s sci-fi as to be kind of off-putting. If I had trouble dealing with that at 5pm, I'm not sure how I'd do at 11:30pm.

I also feel kind of bad that I would have found time for the animated shorts program if I hadn't seen "It's Such a Beautiful Day" a few weeks ago at the Coolidge. Sorry, other filmmakers, I'm sure your stuff is great, but that's the one that was getting me in the theater.

Unfortunately, Hertzfeldt himself won't be there; he'll be taking a well-deserved break after touring with the new short. Too bad, because he does a nice Q&A; it always surprises me when guys who do strange movies are that this open and friendly.


See? Despite the black humor on the one hand and crazy philosophizing on the other, that guy seems normal.

And, finally, I can recommend seeing I Wish whole-heartedly; it's a pretty excellent movie.

Kiseki (I Wish)

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 22 April 2012 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (Talk Cinema, 35mm)

I Wish wanders away from its main story on occasion, following side stories that in a lesser movie would seem like an attempt to disguise just how wispy its main story actually is. And while that maybe the case here, it more often serves to show just how rich the world Hirokazu Kore-eda has created around two separated young brothers is.

Those brothers are Koichi (Koki Maeda) and Ryonosuke (Oshiro Maeda), who have been separated since their parents' divorce. Koichi is eleven or twelve and lives in the relatively quiet port city of Kagoshima with his mother Nozomi (Nene Otsuka) and grandparents (Kirin Kiki and Isao Hashizume); Ryo is a couple years younger and lives in Fukuoko with his father Kenji (Joe Odagiri), who still dreams of being a rock star. Though the boys talk over the phone daily, their cities are on opposite sides of the island. A bullet train will soon connect them, and a tall tale going around Koichi's school about how wishes made at the point where the two trains pass may come true soon has Koichi plotting a trip to the line's midpoint in the hopes of miraculously reuniting his family.

That, at least, is the framework, but Kore-eda does not make a quest out of it except for relatively brief stretches. Instead, he has the audience watch the boys and the people around them, allowing the connections and reflections to sink in. Kor-eda is very careful not to allow either to have anybody in their circles of friends who could serve as any sort of substitute for the other: Though Koichi's friends are not quite so solemn as him, that are, like he is, often defined by the desire for an impossible relationship; the Fukuoko characters are younger and more energetic, with most involved in something creative, whether it be gardening or acting. By building these sets up in parallel, the film not only makes it clear that the brothers are each missing something, but lets the variations on a theme develop all the characters at once. It also implies two halves to human nature - one searching for connection even though it will often end poorly, and the other looking to create something for oneself even if that can be somewhat callous.

Full review at EFC.

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