Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Film Festival For One

Yesterday I speculated on whatever I would do with all my Tuesday evening alone, and since I suck at making choices, I just did it all.

Well, nearly. I watched all of the extras on the Brokeback Mountain DVD - which, every time they showed a scene from the film, made me sob anew... ahh, undiluted insanity - which were interesting yet a bit on the trifling side... I wait impatiently for a new double-disc treatment with all the assorted gay-cowboy-rific bells and whistles, such as an alternate ending where Jack Twist shows up at Ennis' door, says ol' Lureen was making up that whole "dead" thing, and they have explicit sex for two to three hours. A boy can, must, dream.

Next, I watched a short film a friend lent me, called Bugcrush. It's by Carter Smith, whose fashion photography I'm pretty familiar with, and played in the shorts program at Sundance this past festival. It won (well, tied for) the Short Filmmaking Award. It tells the story of "a small-town loner's fascination with the new kid in town (that) leads him into something much more sinister than he could ever have imagined."

And it was really very good. Very creepy stuff, that kind of devolves at the end into a hallucinogenic nightmare. It really hit home here, in the way it showed the scary places a gay teen is willing to place himself when what you desire isn't allowed an open expression - when you have to hide, and are ashamed of, who you want to have sex with - and the ways that can cloud your judgement. The lead actor was really terrific - he showed how terrified the character was while, at the same time, how he was willing to put himself there because it was the only option he saw to get what he wanted so badly. I am probably being kind of vague here, and most people probably will never have the chance to see this film, but for those who do I really don't want to spoil it. The director, Carter Smith, shows a really deft hand at creating an atmosphere of weirdness, and of unsettling sound, and I hope he gets to make more films. Here's the film's website, you can watch the trailer there.

After that, I watched Everything Is Illuminated and Walk the Line back-to-back.

I really dug Everything Is Illuminated, much more than I thought I would. I never even thought of Frodo once! Liev Schriber's directing debut was much less showy than I worried it would be, and the quirkiness of the story and characters never felt quirky for its own sake - they felt like possible, if a bit embellished, human beings. I was especially impressed with Eugene Hutz, as tour guide Alex - more than just the cartoon I thought the character would be, he's got a beautiful range, and the touching moments between he and his grandfather were really very lovely. Now do I have to read this book that every moron on the subway was reading a couple years ago? I don't know...

Walk the Line... sigh. I only popped this in because I figured I could fast-forward through most of it. I figured I didn't need to watch the musical numbers, so that'd cut off a good half the film right there. But... well, there were plenty of long shots of people walking off into the distance I fast-forwarded through, as well as the silly little time-is-passing montages of touring... but otherwise, I ended up watching the whole damned movie, including the musical numbers. And, shame of shames... I enjoyed it. I thought Joaquin Phoenix, the man whose combination of humpy shoulders and harelip makes me shudder with fright, well, I thought Joaquin was fantastic. And, even more, I thought his best scenes were the musical numbers. I felt like Joaquin captured the essence of Johnny Cash better and more realistically than Phillip Seymour Hoffman captured the mannerisms of Truman Capote. And Reese... okay, so her country-gal act has been forgiven. She was great. Oscar-winning great? No. But solid, and sweet, and immensely likeable. Not a great film, but a really solid, old-fashioned picture.

And then I died.

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