Monday, November 07, 2005

Get Real Film Festival 5 - Sunday

We went for broke - four movies in one day at Get Real 2005. 2:30 to 11:00 p.m. You'd think spending less time in a theater seat than I spend in a cube on an average day wouldn't be so bad, but damn do you ever get twitchy after a while.

William Eggleston in the Real World - William Eggleston is, I guess, a famous photographer. His work seems to consist of taking pictures of everyday objects. Basically found art, but you take a picture of it instead of putting it on a wall. I like found art. I do not like William Eggleston. More than anything, I learned from this documentary that it's possible to create a really crappy documentary even when there's something to work with. Instead of just getting Eggleston to ramble on and open up, we're treated to following him around while he snaps pictures of...nothing. We follow and follow and follow and follow, until you're not sure if you were just dreaming about it in the middle and couldn't tell whether you were asleep or awake in certain parts. What about his drinking habit? That every time we see him in an environment that's familiar to him, he's got a drink in hand, morning, noon and night? What about his wife who puts up with his affairs? What about his affairs who are also alcoholics, one who drinks herself to death? What about his god-awful keyboard music that seems like nothing so much as the episode of Friends where Ross finds his old keyboard? What about the history and the movement around his professed art form? What about the fact that he rubbed elbows with Andy Warhol, which is never mentioned once in the film? Why not interview his son who is tagging along as Dad's chauffeur/gopher? Instead I get to see a picture of Laura Croft's crotch, which is not art; no matter how found you think it is. If it resonates artistically with former adolescent boys some ten or twenty years from now, it will solely be for the reason that they weren't boob men, not because it embraces an aesthetic that eschews action and embraces the mundane.

The Joy of Life - better than Eggleston, and yet proof that the City Pages Real Festival organizers are bastards who are actually thinking carefully about the order of the films. This film has to follow Eggleston for the reason that what Eggleston does with his camera is done using film in "The Joy of Life". Instead of discrete pictures of the mundane, we get semi-static cityscapes of the mundane (yeah yeah, San Fran and all, but we're mostly focusing on fade away city shots and alleyways) with no action, just the words of the narrator, who spends the first half discussing very personal lesbian relationships (I hate to hear people talk about sex, any kind of sex - I feel it's something you publish on the blog you don't intend for anyone to care about. I'm not particularly a prude, I really hope everyone is having a wonderful, active, sex life involving things the Bush Administration would like to arrest them for. I just don't need to hear about it unless it comes up in polite one-on-one conversation), and the second half discussing the nature of suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge (that's right, it has a whole Wiki entry). The halves were meant to relate - the idea of San Francisco as land's end and life's end, but also as a place to start, and a place where you're continually faced with hard choices about life - a place with a bridge that needs suicide prevention and relationships that need suicide prevention (metaphorically). A good idea - just a bit too much non-action when watched on the heels of Eggleston.

The Aggressives - purported to be about balls in New York City where lesbians vied for trophies, such as best femme, best butch, best butch femme, best costume butch, best costume femme, best femme butch, et al, but actually was more of a character study of several young, black lesbians and how they were dealing with their sexuality, particularly as "aggressives" which, in their own words, means the lesbian who wears the pants in a relationship (very Shakespearian!). It was a very good documentary, in part because Daniel Peddle (the director) managed to capture the lives of several women whose lives evolved in such interesting ways: fashion model, jail, the Army, a woman of Asian heritage who felt a difference in not only her sexual orientation but in the race she preferred, and a subject faced with a hysterectomy halfway through the movie. He simply trained the camera on them and let them talk, ala Errol Morris. Peddle was in house for the screening and did a bang up job of fielding questions in a Q&A, and I'm actually looking forward to his next film about Appalachians who hang out near the hiking trails just to help errant hikers.

Zizek! - a movie about the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek who I knew had some sort of Minnesota connection, apparently serving as a professor in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1992. While Zizek is almost incomprehensible at times, with his nonstop riffs on Lacanian psychoanalysis, modern culture and every other single topic you could possibly ponder, after a while you get into the groove of what he's saying and start to enjoy him as a crazy old coot, but a really smart and prolific crazy old coot with some challenging ideas. The most enjoyable moments in the film, however, are not Zizek discussing culture, but rather when he deconstructs his son's play area and chides Astra Taylor (the director) for buying him several DVDs when she's "just a poor working class American girl", pointing out that perhaps he's just hustling her and would have returned all the movies at the last moment had she not offered. If you're interested in his philosophy, check the Wiki page and read a few of the articles listed at the end for a representative smattering of what was discussed in the film.

No comments: