Pardon my yawning. Up late last night watching Alice in Wonderland, about which more later; it may be the defining event of the Gothic Lolita gang’s generation; but it’s ultimately another sequel and not really Alice as we know it. I feel more affinity with Tim Burton than any other filmmaker alive, as far as shared backgrounds, influences, and references are concerned, and at the same time it’s got to be noted that there’s already been an ideal 3-D animated version of Alice and here’s the director’s website.
Depp: unsettling (Peter Sellers, sort of, this time around, just like he was Vincent Price, sort of, in S. Todd.) Anyway, more later.
Today a scad of one day only films: at 6:30, the local premiere of The Secret of Kells. It’s a benefit for San Jose’s Sister City Cultural Exchange Program which accounts for the price: $20 general, $12 Camera Cinema Club members, $10 students.
The secret is: how did this modestly produced Irish film end up as dark horse candidate for the Best Animated Film Oscar against Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up? Don’t know the answer, because I haven’t seen it yet; all I’ve heard is praise for it from animators, and then there’s this.
Blogs are the place for tangents, yes? I noticed that they’re flaunting Tim Burton in the upcoming doc Waking Sleeping Beauty. It’s odd how little Disney at the time went with Burton’s wonderfully sinister idea for the film version of my favorite kids book, Lloyd Alexander’s five volume Prydain Chronicles (as opposed to what we got, 1985’s The Black Cauldron, sometimes named as the worst full length animated cartoon Disney ever released).
On the basis of what we’re glimpsing here, one can can only wish that The Secret of Kells’ Tomm Moore had directed Alexander’s books.
Now, as for the unstoppable fest today:
Cleanflicks is at a special screening 11:45 this morning. The Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival is presenting a one night only screening of Ajami, the Israeli film about the gangsta life in Jaifa; co-written by Palestinian and Jewish writers, it’s up for the best foreign film Oscar this year. It’s sold out but there may be rush tickets: 7:30 at the RetroDome, 1694 Saratoga Ave. You can’t walk there from downtown, I assure you.
Raton, by Team Stroganoff and rising San Jose filmmaker Jacob Rangel, is running before the 6:45 screening of Professor. Raton is worth seeing; it’s a remarkably creative way of dealing with the constraints of the 48 Hour Film Festival. As for Professor: This documentary about a University of Iowa prof is an example of what Queen Victoria was complaining about when she said that Prime Minister Gladstone addressed her as if she were a public meeting.
Also today: some talked-abouts: Babnik (7:30, Cam 12), Hell is Other People (7, Cam 3), Gabi On The Roof in July (5, Cam 12). Am very impressed by Paprika Steen’s actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown film Applause (above; 1pm, C12).
Let’s also plug Shorts 3 at 4:15.
Clandestine by Gideon Kennedy and Marcus Rosentrater is a fascinating Jay Rosenblatt-style trip down memory lane with help from the Prelinger and other archives. The mystery of sinister “number talkers” is used to contrast the secrets of the narrator’s father: he was another one of those 1950s men much better at dealing with a ham radio than with people in the room. Still: “My father was not, as they say, a member of the second oldest profession”—that is, a spy.
The directors have a big idea here: the way a covert life matches the mystery of the strange numerical codes bounced off the ionosphere by short-wave radios; in short, the father is a code that can’t be broken. There’s a trend in autobiographical indie film, in which it’s explained that a parent’s divorce is obviously the most terrible thing that ever happened in the filmmaker’s life. I don’t at all want to dismiss Clandestine as such, yet I can’t buy its equation that betraying a marriage is the same thing as betraying a country.
For those preferring marital fidelity, the Brazilian Undertow Eyes by Petra Costa, is a great solace: it’s about old love, ornamented by poetry, and yet the poetry does nothing to obscure the candor and trust of an aged married couple who tell their stories. Fans of Heddy Honigmann’s O Amor Natural are especially recommended to see it.
Fereshteh Joghataei’s How Green Was Our Valley is, in one word, heartbreaking. An Iranian tribe is destroyed root and branch by a hydroelectric project, and you don’t have to be an agriculturalist to see that what they’re going to get isn’t as good as what they had.
And Notes on the Other: a pungent short on the cult of Hemingway, which includes a visit to Papa’s bronze slab in Idaho, the bull-running in Pamplona, and a Key West competition where a group of odd portly snowbeards impersonate the novelist. A subtle lesson to all would-be machos.