Saturday, December 01, 2012

AIFF 2012: Deadfall Better Than I Expected

I'm not the official blogger of the festival.  That allows me to say what I think without worrying about it reflecting on the festival itself.  And let me say the festival organizers have been kind to me, helped me out, and even given me a pass. I think it's a good thing that we have a festival and for that reason want to encourage people to see as many films as possible.  And while I'd rather focus on what I like, pass over the glitches,  my main obligation is to the audience, not to the festival. So sometimes I have to give some friendly, and I hope constructive, criticism.

People waiting for things to start at the Bear Tooth
There was a good crowd at the Bear Tooth tonight for Deadfall.  But at 7:50pm people were still  waiting to be let in out of the cold. By 8:15 people were in the theater, but there was still a long line at the pub.   You know they won't start the movie until everyone has had a chance to get their beer and wine.

The guy who introduced the Aurora film was appropriately respectful to the audience and worded his thanks politely and as though he'd given it some thought.  (I couldn't find reference to him or the film in the program. [12/6 - Met him Thursday night.  He's Todd Salat and the film is Catching Alaska's Light Waves and he didn't do the music.]) The film's shots of the aurora were beautiful.  The music was the  typical classical music that often accompanies nature films and I was thinking some Yupik drumming might have been a nice touch instead. 

It's important to acknowledge sponsors and volunteers and to give a nod to the film makers in the audience.  And I know the people running the festival are working 26 hours a day right now. But a friend I talked to after the film said he left his house at 8:05pm  figuring the film would start late and when he got into the theater they were still doing introductions..  For all the work that was put into the festival, it would be nice to keep the opening remarks short and gracious and start the movie within ten minutes of the scheduled time.  Or maybe the music and dancer, who played to a mostly empty house after the film while everyone else was in the lobby eating the big spread of pizza and desserts, should have been on stage before the film. 

Film Programmer Josh Lowman in Bear Tooth lobby
Deadfall itself was better than I expected.  I'm not into bloody chase films, triple flip car crashes, gratuitous shooting, etc.  Last year I put up with a lot in one late night film, but finally walked out when they started cutting off someone's ear.

But Deadfall turned out better than I expected.  There were lots of little things that worked -   scenes where I just enjoyed watching how the camera framed a face or Sissy Spacek nicely bringing her character to life.

As one film maker said afterward, it was as though they couldn't figure out which film they wanted to make.  The prison movie?  The boxing movie?  The caper movie?  The love story? The heist movie?  A comedy?  And the villain's Thanksgiving dinner guest role just didn't work for me.  Yes, bad guys often do have good sides, but I didn't believe his Thanksgiving dinner guest persona.  And while the script made sure the audience knew why Eric Bana didn't bleed to death from his missing finger,  I was thinking, while he was flying across the landscape on a stolen snowmachine in a blizzard without gloves, that frostbite would have been a much more serious concern.

The Quick Freeze Prompts
were announced:
Duct tape

And what does it means when the crowd laughs at the seemingly serious sex scene?  Was it because the whole act started and ended in what felt like less than a minute?

It's late and I don't have enough to time to think this through.  This was quite different and a lot less satisfying than what we're used to for opening films at this festival.  And I know I'm being contradictory here because I complained in the past about using films in competition to open the festival and here they didn't do that. And I'm complaining again.

And making a film called Deadfall is like tempting critics to add an 'r' and switching out the 'a' for a 'u'.  But it wasn't that bad.  It wasn't a waste of my time.  But now that I'm focused here on the title, I'm not sure what it means in relation to the movie. 

Got to get ready for a busy day tomorrow. 

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