Monday, June 04, 2007

SIFF #7 - Oh, those coming-of-age boy films...

I attended a screening of Black Irish (5/8) on a whim... no, rather on a last minute invite from my pal E who happened to have an extra ticket (and a half of turkey & cranberry sandwich!) to share (thanks, E!). E is the perfect example of someone who sees a healthy chunk of movies at SIFF (in her case, splitting a 20-pack with a pal) and not only chooses completely different movies than me, but often movies that I don't remember reading about (as in the case of this film). Heck, I'm always up for going into a movie cold, so I said, "Sure! I'll skip my earlier movie, and join you for yours!"

Black Irish is a rather typical coming-of-age film about a teenage boy in South Boston. He has a thug of a brother, and his Irish Catholic mum (the dignified Melissa Leo) has just sent his unmarried pregnant sister off to a home to have the baby and give it up for adoption. You'd think this was the 1950s, but it is set in modern times. Brendan Gleeson plays his washout dad who sits around drinking beer, watching baseball, and circles job ads in the paper without acting on them. Pretty much the only thing that prevents this movie from being a snoozer is the fine ensemble of actors, led by young pup Michael Angarano who I enjoyed in the straight-to-video weeper One Last Thing.... Here is a young actor, who is virtually unknown, who has nice range, and can more than hold his own with experienced actors like Gleeson and Michael Rispoli (who plays his boss at a restaurant). Speaking of Gleeson, I thought his character was an Irish immigrant like the boy's mother, but alas late in the film it is implied that he was a local boy... ooops on the accent, Brendan!

I hung out at Pacific Place to catch Eternal Summer (Sheng xia guang nian) (5/8), a Taiwanese gay-boy coming-of-age film that I was quite excited about. I had high hopes for this based on the lovely Taiwanese gay-girl movie Blue Gate Crossing (7/8) that I saw at SIFF a few years back... but a common theme and a common country of orgin don't mean Eternal Summer is a great film by default. Jonathan and Shane are best friends, despite the fact that Jonathan is a brain and Shane is a jock. They both sort of share a friend/girlfriend named Carrie, but Jonathan realizes that it is Shane he is in love with. Carrie knows (female intuition) but does Shane? Is he clueless as he teases his friend, falling asleep shirtless during their study sessions? Is Jonathan ever going to say anything? Joseph Chang as Shane fares best, but Bryant Chang (as Jonathan) emotes by turning his face into a blank slate for the last hour of the film. Many many tears are shed, and sensitive piano music overwhelms the soundtrack, threatening to pound pain into my head. By the time the big revelation happens, it seems rather after-the-fact plot-wise (if you see it, you'll know what I mean). The film is OK, but I expected more.

BUZZ PART ONE: I do have to mention that E saw Anthony Hopkins' directorial debut Slipstream, and inadvertently called it Slipshit, which was I think not entirely by accident. She HATED it, and gave it 1/8 slices. "Pretentious! The only reason I gave it one slice was because Kevin McCarthy was in it!" (For those of you wondering who Kevin McCarthy is, he was in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and is now a thriving character actor in his 90s.) Alas, Sir Tony, maybe you should stick to acting.

BUZZ PART TWO: I was evesdropping on a passholder that I'll call Resonance Man for his booming voice as he chatted up other Fool Series folks in the back of the theater. Apparently he had already seen 89 films by the end of the weekend, and the only true stinker of the lot was for the German cannibal movie Grimm Love, which he called a "snuff film". I have a ticket for Grimm on Tuesday. I'm scared.

1 comment:

Vickie said...

I do enjoy young Michael Angarano. Just last week I saw him in an unknown (to me) movie called Speak.