The upcoming Alice in Wonderland inspires new interest in the question, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
“Both have inky quills,” is one answer suggested in Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice (one of those books written before the answer to every question about Lewis Carroll’s work was answered “it’s a subtle allegory about his love of photographing naked little girls”).
Here’s my answer: a raven pecks savagely, croaks, and scatters dung, and a writing desk is where a journalist pretends to be a raven.
Today’s line up at Cinequest: get the Dramamine because there’s four road movies, but the real prize in the package is the sighting of a new Alain Resnais:
Met a former San Josean at Brennan’s Sunday, and we both turned the pub into a version of Alice’s pool of tears recalling Tuesday night Hong Kong movies at the Towne theater. Don’t expect The Robbers (noon, Cam 12) to be an adequate crying-towel. MSG describes it: “a remote Chinese village long ago, two bandits—equal parts rakish and buffoonish—try to shake down a local man and his daughter. Soon, some imperial soldiers show up and do a lot worse. The bandits side with the villages, the villagers turn on the bandits, the bandits turn back against the villagers and so it goes in the rice paddies. Director Yang Shupeng milks the historical warrior genre mostly for laughs: an oft-repeated dirty joke, plenty of mugging, lots of exaggerated scowling and excessive shouting.”
And then there’s Bank Robbery (1:30, Cam 12). In “SP’s” view: “This strange little Estonian film is a bit misleading in its titling, so in order to keep viewers from the letdown that can come from wasting every minute waiting for the big heist, let me explain that mostly this is a road movie. The young Hannes is a kid growing up in the Estonian underclass, of which Andres Tuisk’s film doesn’t paint a pretty picture. He’s beat up by bullies and menaced by his dad. When his “uncle” Madis shows up after 10 years in jail, Hannes is fascinated by his stories of life as a bank robber and convinces Madis to let him go with him on a car trip.
Along the way they run into an alienated upper-class rebel girl, and Madis’ former fiance, and the ride takes some weird detours. Meanwhile, Hannes gets more and more enthralled with the idea of a big score. The film has the green glow that was all the rage in the ’90s, giving it a throwback feel. The acting is solid, especially Marika Barabantshikova as Hannes. He seems so young and innocent that it makes everything he goes through—and all the things he keeps hidden—all the more shocking.”
Blue Ridge (1pm, Cam 12) Director/writer/producer/editor Vincent Sweeney explores the world of the trailer park in the last Cinequest screening of this indie picture.
The documentary The Sonosopher (4pm; Cam 3) tells the story of a Beat-poet-turned-Mormon-professor who specializes in odd-ball incantory, meaning-free sound poems.
Border (4pm, Cam12) is an Armenian drama of a border incident, in which a blameless buffalo starts no end of trouble. A Charlie Cockey selection.
Krews (4:15, Cam 12) was, I’d thought, a film about someone named Krews, in the same way that Kuffs is a movie about a guy named Kuffs. (Here, Kuffs is memorialized in the 50 Worst Movies Made in San Francisco article way, way back) Instead, it is apparently a gangsta spellng of “krew” meaning “team of thugs whose deliberate misspelling of even one-syllabled words shows their contempt for society’s laws”.
“SP” laments: “it starts out like a typical crooks-in-suits crime drama, bathed in the cold silver and blue of Collateral and every other L.A. thriller since Heat. But within the first 15 minutes, it goes crazy, throwing a finale’s worth of twists into the beginning and sending the movie in a whole other direction that has street gangs facing off with high-tech crackers. Will there be alliances, double-crosses and one big standoff where everybody points their guns at each other? You bet! A fifth-generation Tarantino rip-off isn’t the worst thing in the world, but about the time the twists start snowballing ludicrously in the last act, it feels like it is.”
The Orange Girl (5pm, Cam 12) Eva Dars’s Norse romance about that day you see a woman on the street car and think about her forever.
Eamon (6:45, Cam 12; RIGHT) ” EJ” comments: “It takes some time for the blond 6-year-old title character to be fully revealed as a demon, but halfway through the film, manic little Eamon drinks a Coke and turns into the cute Irish cousin of The Omen’s Damien. Even so, he isn’t the real monster in this quirky dark tragicomedy—that would be his mother, Grace, a disturbingly selfish and hurtful creature, who barely puts up with the boy while relentlessly criticizing her slavish husband. The first film to be released under the auspices of Ireland’s Catalyst Project, which gives young filmmakers a budget and total creative control, Eamon’s Oedipal tale told in a remote Irish seaside town is a sad commentary on how a family can become something dangerous.
The Escape (4:15; Cam 3) Katherine Windfield’s story of a Danish journalist who gets involved with the Afghan terrorist who sympathized with her.
Benjamin Bratt gets Maverick’d: Tonight, Bratt (TV’s Law and Order, Miss Congeniality) arrives to receive his Maverick Spirit award with La Mission, an indie film about a man in crisis, directed by his brother Peter Bratt. Bratt plays Che, an ex-con recovering alcoholic in San Francisco’s Mission District dealing with his drinking problem and working for Muni. The discovery Che makes about the secret life of his son, Jess (Jeremy Ray Valdez), brings him to the crisis point. Co-stars Talisa Soto Bratt, who was in the James Bond movie The Living Daylights.
And here’s how she looked. (LEFT, obviously.)
Director Bratt will introduce the film; a conversation with actor Bratt will follow.
And, with all due politeness, to the above I would say “See you, don’t want to be you.” Look at what’s over at the Cameras 12 instead Wild Grass (Les Herbes Folles, ABOVE) (Ca, 12. 7pm) It’s the one and only screening of the unpreviewed new one by Alain Resnais about a lost wallet found, and the seemingly unlikely love story that results. It played at Cannes and then submerged. Interestingly, this time around Resnais’ film seems to be buttressed less by the theater and more by the more rarefied side of American TV: at a press conference Resnais commented that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was an inspiration, and he hired X-Files composer Mark Snow to do the music. Hey, there’s even interest for Bond geeks denied a possible glimpse of the former Talisa Soto: Matheiu Almaric of Quantum of Solace is in it! James Bond hit him in the foot with a hatchet, man!
God is D_ad (7:15, Cam 12) Yep, and all of us are his murderers. As Guy Kibbee said in Rain, “Good ol’ Nietzsche.” A road picture in which a comic book store clerk and his buddies mull over the nature of power on the way to a comic book convention, with a hot bored chick. And it looks a little something like this…
Prima Primavera (9:15, Cam 12) sounds like something you’d order at the Macaroni Grill, whereas indeed it is a Bulgaria to Serbia road picture about a pair of lamsters wanted for murder.
Semshook (9:45, Cam 12) is Siddharth Anand Kumar’s film about a Tibetan raised in India who decides to ride his motorcycle back to the mother country, though the Chinese border guards aren’t keen on that.
Shorts 5 and Shorts 6 (Cam 3) can make for 16 shorts in the course of one 7pm to midnight dose, with separate admission and intermission and all that.
Solitary (9:30, Camera 12) A thriller about an agoraphobic; at this stage at Cinequest, theater-bound constant film watchers will know just how she (Amber Jaegar) feels.
And in way of farewell today: the best film of the new millenium, David Lynch’s A Goofy Movie, which goes out to the great Resnais. It’ll only take 2 minutes out of your life, but it’ll be a great 2 minutes you’ll remember on your deathbed.