Sunday, November 06, 2005

Get Real Film Festival 5 - Saturday

After dropping off a sympathy card for my sister and stopping by the Power Liberal (rew's and Smartie's) open house just long enough to steal a bottle of Bell's Two-Hearted, meet MNObserver for the first time, and admire the new house (very nice - beautiful wood work - close to Minneapolis, although it's a bit creepy how much their books/games match the ones at my house), Pooteewheet and I hit the second day of the Get Real Film Festival.

Ride of the Mergansers was produced by my friend from back in the BBS days, Steve. I hadn't seen it yet, so it was a real treat. It was wonderful - just ten minutes or so long, it shows the quick slice of a Merganser mother getting her children out of the nest (they nest high up in trees/artificial hollows) and into the water. Steve has a real eye for humor, and there was a lot of laughing from everyone in the audience almost the whole time. The City Pages rep said that it had a reputation as the Penguins movie for Minnesotans.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John was about a midwestern farmer who turned the family farm into an organic farming success. The focus wasn't on the organic farming per se (at least not until the end), but on the man and his family and how his unique character, creating an ad hoc commune for artists and hippies in the heartland, and retaining his ties to the land and family, created the situations that eventually led to success despite plunging farming prices, hostile townsfolk (who were sure he was running a drug-addled, child-killing cult on the farm), and various personal problems, including the passing of his mother (who is shown as a spirited old lady in most of the film, and then is suddenly an emaciated body on deathwatch at the end, which is incredibly shocking to see). He has video footage (phootage?) from almost every stage of his life, and it's amazing to see it all tied together and to see someone's life so fully documented. He does a great job in the documentary of moving back and forth between the absurd, the serious, and intersections of both in his life.

Ballets Russes was about the history of ballet in the 1900s and the story of competing artistic directors and owners to put their company forward as the ballet company. While this might not sound very interesting - it was really engaging, particularly if, like me, you think of ballet as "Swan Lake" with minimal masks and just two dancers doing most of the dancing and no real staging to speak of. This is actually the vision on a single man and was not the original style, which involved elaborate displays including designs by Matisse and Dali, among others. Even the setting of ballet to classical music was a fairly modern invention that was at first criticized (Neve Campell's The Company makes much more sense after this movie). The dancers themselves were interviewed exhaustively, and their passion for dancing was obvious and life long (and most of them seem to live into their late 80s). Things learned: that several of the most important ballerinas were Native Americans (Maria Tallchief), that many of the ballerinas were 13 or 14, that Batgirl (Yvonne Craig as Barbara Gordon from the old Batman- and the Orion Slave girl in the original Star Trek) was actually an ex-ballerina, that there were only a few ballet troupes and that they traveled world wide (and that ballet in Melbourne and Sydney can be directly traced to their visits there) and how popular ballet was at one point, many of the dancers moving back and forth out of Hollywood for a while.

Sarah Silverman - Jesus is Magic - not so much a documentary as a stand up show, but I have a crush on Sarah Silverman, so it's difficult to object. Fimoculous has links to many of the current articles about her as she's finally become a celeb du jour. There was exceptional turnout for this movie, and the theater was packed, with some people leaving and others sitting on laps - makes me think they should have kept the festival at Oak Street as that seemed like a slightly larger venue. That would have been fine, except they didn't let anyone in until fifteen minutes after the time the show was scheduled to start. We stood in the entry area of the Lagoon for 40 minutes crotch-to-ass-to-crotch-to-ass, Pooteewheet having perimenopausal hot flashes, bopping a balloon around in the air (much booed when it was hit onto the upper landing and later popped by a disgruntled young woman) for amusement. Pooteewheet thinks we need to never leave the theater for dinner again unless it's one of us at a time. The movie was great. If you've never seen Sarah Silverman, she is absolutely over the top, riffing on the Holocaust, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus (hence, Jesus is Magic), 9/11, AIDS, deboning babies, and so much more, all told from this sort of semi-innocent persona. I once watched a documentary on Trio about why we find offensive comedy funny - and Sarah's stand up is a distilled version of that documentary. When you laugh at her jokes, you have to wonder why, and you have to question whether it's really funny and what the fact that it is funny says about how we think about each other and about race and stereotypes and how those things can be used to make us more educated and tolerant of each other. A Sarah Silverman audience isn't laughing because she said "Chink", they're laughing because this word exists and carries any power at all; they're laughing because we live in a society where you can indeed say this word on television but have to say "N-word" for another race; they're laughing at the absurdity and at a shared pain and sense of nobility about existence that really seems ridiculous when blatantly mocked. The idea that some subjects are sacred and others are not is thoroughly examined by sliding back and forth between the profane and the day-to-day, and you leave with a laugh, but also with a lot to think about.


LissyJo said...

Are you sure people are laughing for all those introspective and intelligent reasons? Or are they laughing because she said "chink"? Having not seen any of sarah silverman's work, i cannot remark on the movie, but i do think many people are still 12 and like the way they sound (or others sound) when they try on words for fit. It's like when i watch anything from Don Rickles. He's not funny--just offensive.

LissyJo said...

Ok, so i just watched the trailor for the the movie you saw...and it just might be funny.

Scooter said...

It was funny, Ms. Blotter Blog of the Day.

Robin said...

I liked Sarah Silverman enough that I even watched that stupid, "Pat the Bunny" show. Good thing they canceled it before I disliked her. It almost made me give up on Seth Green, too.

(PS - So who is having who over to play Cranium?)