Sunday, June 10, 2007

SIFF #9 - Over the halfway hump, with a longing sigh

After taking a day off, I had only one film for Thursday night, Spider Lilies (Ci-Qing) (5/8) from Taiwan. Once again, like Eternal Summer, I selected this film on the basis of having previously seen a lovely gay Taiwanese movie in the past. Spider Lilies is the story of Takeko (Isabella Leong), a lonely tattoo artist who keeps to herself, and only seems to have social contact with her withdrawn adult brother who is stunted in childlike mentality after seeing their father die in an earthquake. After the earthquake, even though she was a teen, Takeko got her arm tattooed just like her dead father, thinking this was the only way to communicate with her little brother. However, that tattoo, of the vine-like spider-lily flower which supposedly lines the path to Hell, seems to bring nothing but heartache. As an adult, Takeko is reunited with Jade (Rainie Yang) a young woman from her past who wants the same tattoo emblazoned on her own arm, to remind her of a past love. The past love, is of course, with Takeko herself... when they were young and lived in the countryside. Jade, at the time only 9 (!), fell for the older Takeko, and later as teens they had a relationship. With arty flashbacks and other imagery, it is implied that everything went to hell when the earthquake happened, and Takeko retreated. Jade is now a web-cam girl on a sex-site, but hopes her rediscovery of Takeko in her urban tattoo parlor may change their lives. Or something. Spider Lilies has a dreamy quality that sometimes worked, and sometimes was just a little odd. Jade's baby-doll sexy-girl online persona was a bit creepy, and it was always a little unclear as to how old her character was compared to Takeko. The character of Takeko is quite passive, but still she managed to be mysteriously intriguing. There is lots of longing, and not much action. However, though Spider Lilies doesn't always work, it is certainly watchable.

Here's my next admission: I took Friday and Saturday off from SIFF. Yes, its true! Normally in the past, I've had a week or weekend vacation during the festival, where I've gone out of town, but this year that wasn't the case. Schedule-wise though, maybe subconciously I looked at the listings for the weekend and didn't find much to be intriguing, deep inside knowing by this point I'd be wiped out. The weather turned out to be super-crappy on Saturday, but it was a nice day to do errands and then spend the rest of the day all cozy at home, resting and recuperating.

Sunday, it was back to SIFF'n! I'm at the point of the festival where I'm just looking at my tickets on the day-of, and figuring out where I have to be. I see a movie title on a ticket, and honestly have no idea what it is, or why I chose it. This was the case for The Paper Will Be Blue (Hîrtia va fi albastrã) (5/8). This Romanian film takes place in one night, during the revolution in December 1989 when the national TV station has been overtaken (by terrorists?), and dictator Ceauşescu is on the run. A solider in the militia, bored by simply being on patrol away from the action, abadons post and runs toward the TV station, hoping to join the fight with the people. Costi (Paul Ipate) gets into more trouble that he bargained for, and as far as his abandoned compatriots, they spend the rest of the night looking for him, to try to keep him out of trouble. The film is well made, and conveys the chaos of a night of revolution (who's in charge? the Army? the people?). There is really nothing wrong with the film, but I felt bad that I thought I could walk out at any time and not really regret it. Maybe my building apathy is simply due to film-festival fatigue.

For my second film, I had to dart over to the University District. Luckily, I must have planned well in advance, because I had plenty of time to grab a couple slices of pizza and get a cuppa before heading to the theater. I did not, however, account for the fact that the process of getting a simple cuppa at the coffeeshop right next to the Neptune turned into a torture of slow ineptitude on part of the barista. This is the second time in as many visits that I've had issues with this place. Are these people not trained? How the hell can it take 10 minutes to make a cup of coffee? Especially when the customers can watch what you are doing?

So the film had just started when I got inside the Neptune (just steps away from the dreadfully slow coffeeshop). I plunked myself in the balcony, ready for three hours of Lady Chatterley. Then I got up and moved. Then I got up and moved again. Then I noticed that I wasn't the only one. I saw at least a dozen people prairie-dogging in the balcony. Getting up. Scooting over a couple seats. Sitting down. Looking around. Getting up again. Moving back a couple rows. Sitting down. Craning their necks, and looking around. It was actually kind of hilarous to watch. It also made me realize that the Neptune's entire balcony is at just the wrong slope, making it extremely difficult to see subtitles. Whether someone is 20 rows ahead on the balcony or right in front of you, their head will be smack in the middle of what you are trying to read. Grrr...

It turned out that Lady Chatterley (7/8) was light on dialogue and heavy on the action... err... I mean heavy on pictures of trees and sunlight and dewey plants. This French (!) production actually turned out to be delightful and rather breezy, considering that it was as long as the latest bloated Pirates movie. Fresh-faced and youthful Lady "Connie" (Marina Hands) has a bitter husband, Sir Clifford, who has been in a wheelchair since World War I. After Connie is diagnosed to be suffering from exhaustion at being his nursemaid, an assistant is hired to help her husband full time, and Connie gets to spend her days wandering the vast, lush grounds of their countryside estate. She stumbles upon the hunky gamekeeper washing himself outside his cabin, and thusly begins her sensual awakening. I'd say "sexual", but what I found interesting about this production is that it is her senses as a whole that are revived... Connie spends a lot of time looking at the trees, feeling the sun, running through the forest, and, yes, getting busy with Parkin (Jean-Louis Coullo'ch, who is like rugged mid-40s Brando). This adaptation is definitely done from Connie's point of view. I've never read the book, so have no comparison, but I'd be curious what fans of the book thought of this version. I thought it was a perfectly pleasant (and yes, sometimes titillating) way to while away a Sunday afternoon.

1 comment:

Vickie said...

"Prairie-dogging"! I love it!

I've heard the expression used before, but usually in reference to people in office cubicles...never for people in a movie theater!