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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

The 17th Cucalorus film festival is nearing the end of its 4-day run in Wilmington. It’s a wide-ranging assortment of mostly small and independent films that brings together a pretty diverse crowd of old and new Wilmington, film students, industry craftspeople and (perhaps best of all) the filmmakers themselves. Like all good festivals, there’s way too much to take in, so you either plan excruciatingly or just kind of stumble into things. We chose the latter, and were richly rewarded.

The one big ticket we’d heard about was We Need to Talk about Kevin, a hit at the Cannes film festival. It’s a disturbingly intense story of a mother who, try as she might to construct a ‘normal’ life for her family, knows in her heart that something is really wrong with her son – and perhaps her. Tilda Swinton’s icy coolness is perfect for the part; the sound and scene design, non-linear story line and terrific acting add up to a kind of suburban horror story — but one that’s not supernatural, which makes it all the more chilling.

The 5 films grouped together as Zaragoza Shorts were a somewhat unexpected treat. I went in thinking that if only one or two of them were any good the evening would be well spent, but each in its own way was memorable. Even better, the filmmakers of 4 of them were present and spoke at a Q&A afterwards. We saw:

  • Jesus was a Commie, based on a magazine piece by, and starring, Matthew Modine. A meditation on non-violent revolution and how far we have gone astray from the teachings of Jesus. Really more of an illustrated essay – but at least intriguingly illustrated, and thoughtful.
  • Gilded Age Gladiator, an animated story of the 19th-century boxer John L. Sullivan. Coming in the week of Joe Paterno’s firing from Penn State, it was a timely story of the symbiotic intersection of money, media and sports.
  • Waiting Room. This film (less than 10 minutes long) is about – well, it’s about a man who waits in a room. Powerful and suspenseful results from a very spare minimalist esthetic. Not one frame, not one sound is wasted, nor more than needed. Here, more would have been less.
  • Manhattan Melody. Holly is a bored, unfulfilled aspiring actress in New York City, whose romantic dreams erupt from interior monologues to song. A chance encounter with potential danger seems to offer an escape. Will it?
  • I’m Coming Over. Perhaps the most off-beat of the night, and the funniest – a sweet postcard to the filmmaker’s adopted home town. Is there something wrong with your life? Is it possible the solution involves lumberjacks and chainsaws? Only, we learn, if you’re not clumsy. And what’s the deal with the typewriters and telephones?

I realized in writing this that it’s been a long time since I posted. I must have been spending a lot of my tech time with Facebook and/or my new smartphone. It’s easy to post to Facebook from the phone. I should try to post to the blog from it.

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