Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Get Real

So this weekend Pooteewheet and I achieved a first - four movies in one day. It's probably even more accurate to phrase that as five movies in 24 hours. Saturday morning after a breakfast of Cajun Andouille Omelet at The Louisiana Cafe, we dropped Eryn off at my in-laws for the evening so we could go to the 2004 Get Real Festival, a collection of documentaries that we really enjoyed going to last year. I know I must be a left leaner if I'm attending events where the door gifts include a poster about the ABC's of Terrorism and a loaf of Hemp Bread and someone strikes up a conversation with me by asking me whether I'm in the movie business and when I reply that I'm a programmer, asks if I've tried the new Mac movie software. This year we saw three movies, capped them off with a burrito on the corner, and then switched over to commercial options. So, in order:

This Ain't No Heartland - the only political documentary, and probably the one I liked least. It was interviews with Midwesterners about the war in Iraq and their opinions on politics. It should have been titled - find some serious hicks from the Midwest who don't watch anything other than the SciFi channel, interview them while they're drunk or off their meds, and see what happens. Contrary to the link, it's not chilling. It might be chilling that they vote - it might be chilling that their vote might cancel yours - but overall, simply not chilling. It's more like heading down to the corner bar in St. Michael or Hawk's in Monticello (or worse, The Zoo), sitting down with the "regulars" and trying to get a coherent political opinion. Not that the discussion about whether America or China would win in a war (be worried about those "2 billion screamin' Chinamen") wasn't enjoyable, and likewise for the drunken yokel mooning and racist jokes, but it could have used some balance. By balance I don't mean drunken yokels with opposite leanings - I mean some of those conservatives from larger Midwest cities, and a wider variety rather than the few they focused on. I understand that most documentaries focus on just a few people and let them talk, but this one could have benefited by a wider base and speeding it up and adding at least one other (younger) woman to those interviewed. Finally - I now know why people like Erroll Morris more than other documentarians - he's willing to let the camera sit - no panning up and down, no focusing on buttons and clothes, no trying to frame the scene correctly with slow pans - all very distracting.

I Like Killing Flies - my favorite from the festival this year! This is why I go to the Get Real Festival. All about Kenny Shopsin, a restaurateur focusing on breakfast who has a menu of over 1000 items, and his eccentric nature and move to a new restaurant. Absolutely fascinating as a character study. He told a story about his first date with his wife when they were stoned and visited the first McDonald's in the area as it was being robbed (his wife walked past the robbers to get some ketchup). You got to see all the little inventions he created for making breakfast easier/faster and hear his take on killing the flies that eventually enter the restaurant. You get to hear his take on life and about how the guy he's serving breakfast to is an investor and probably stealing money from little old ladies, but he still needs his chocolate chip pancakes. You meet his kid and wife and his customers and actually get a pretty good idea of the personalities of all of these people and how upsetting or exciting it is for all of them that the restaurant is moving. And you learn his rule that no parties of five are allowed. If you come in as a party of five, you can't split up, you're still five. If you leave and come back, you're still five. Next week, you're still a party of five. He's very adamant about the issue.

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen - Also wonderful - all about how a few Microsoft execs purchased the American Bowling League and tried to rework it to make it more exciting and profitable by hiring a Nike exec to come in and shake it up. It focuses heavily on the characters of the bowlers and how bowling has changed for them between the old ABA and the new MSABA, as well as the CTO, wives and fans. It even plays off the tension of bowling styles (if there can be such a thing) that arises between the old-school, dignified bowler, the bowler with an eye to making money by watching professional wrestling and integrating showmanship (PBW and his "crotch chop" - I told Pooteewheet it looked like something The Ox would do), the new bowler trying to break into the sport and support his family, and the bowler who feels he's been left behind in favor of a business model instead of a family model. The theater was pretty much packed and people were laughing and really enjoying it. At the end, as the credits roll past, they did the Monsters Inc. three second snippet montage, and it was funny to see PBW watching professional wrestling and lamenting that his crotch chop was perhaps growing stale for the fans and he needed something new.

The Incredibles - worth the hype. Really worth the hype. Take a 50's comic book and turn it into Toy Story meets James Bond. Ten o'clock at night and I was wide awake there was so much going on. There's a scene that looks a lot like the scene in the forest in Star Wars II (original series) with the air bikes - but in The Incredibles, the bikes are spinning while they move up and down and forward and backward, and because it's animated, they can really speed it up and change all the background speeds/etc. independently of the motion of the vehicles - I was getting a little motion sick watching it. The plot flew along and the characterizations were, well, incredible.

The Grudge - yeah, um...no. On rotten tomatoes it scored about 1/3 what The Incredibles scored - but I don't think seeing it three times would have in any way helped and I'm pretty sure 1/3 of The Incredibles would have been much better. Sarah Michelle Geller naked wouldn't have helped either. Well, a bit - but she looks so tired throughout the whole thing that you'd probably worry she wouldn't have the energy to get her clothes on again. It even got the benefit of me going right after early morning window work at the duplex - at which point pretty much anything seems like an improvement in situation. It feels pretty disjointed, as though they through in some of the scares without a thought as to how it was all interrelated, and although there are some scary parts (mostly they seem like rip offs of The Ring), that's never enough to carry a movie.


Steve Eck said...

You went to the Get Real festival, bloged about it, but didn't catch the premiere of Blogumentary ?! Somehow that seems wrong. :)

Scooter said...

This was discussed at our house - but we're rather limited by the presence of our little girl - she's not quite old enough to appreciate Blogumentary yet unless it involves running up and down the aisles screaming "B! B! B!" So we decided to be ironic instead, at least that's what we're claiming.