Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Need More Time to Watch Movies

I need to find a way to hoodwink, bamboozle, or hornswoggle myself into thinking that 5:30 AM is a reasonable, natural time for me to get up. I’ve got so much work to get done by Monday that it doesn’t bear thinking about, and it doesn’t make an interesting blog entry.

I could keep myself quite busy without this dang work thing horking all the time in my schedule. And, yes, I know—to quote Joe Walsh—“I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do/Life’s been good to me so far.” It is very nice to be an independent contractor and be able to make my living without having to leave the house, but still…it would be even nicer to be independently wealthy. Then I could see as many films as I wanted to at the Portland International Film Festival (PIFF), which starts this Friday. I'm seeing seven. Seven films. What was I thinking? I might have to miss all of the speed skating on the Winter Olympics. Bummer! By the time, I'm able to work on my sweater again, it will be spring and too warm to wear it. Pout! I might have to take books back to the library before I've finished reading them. Sulk!

But how could I pass up any of these?

My Nikifor (Poland): A biopic based on a true story about a “crusty, tubercular beggar” who turns out to be an artistic genius and who created more than 40,000 pieces of art in his lifetime. Apparently, he is totally revered in Poland. Intriguing bonus: The artist (who was male) is played by a woman.

Paheli (India): I need to see one Bollywood movie a year. It is a requirement. This is it this year. I don’t know how Bollywoodish it is—it’s based on a folktale and set in Rajasthan. Here's the scuttlebutt I’ve heard so far. One person says it’s the worst movie she’s ever seen, and the other person says it’s a must-see. Hard to know how to interpret that. I’m guessing, it’s not really great, but I know I’ll enjoy the music, dancing, costumes, and scenery. And when it's Bollywood, absurd plots don't really bother me.

To the Other Side (Mexico) I’m seeing this because I never—somehow—manage to see any films from Latin America. Of the several that were on offer, this sounded the best. The film consists of three interwoven tales about children from Mexico, Morocco, and Cuba and chronicles how they cope without their fathers who are off working in other countries.

Cowboy Del Amor (United States): Hey, what’s a film from the U.S. doing in an international festival? Good question. I’m not sure why, but PIFF always has a bunch of American and other English-language films. I’m not so interested in seeing those. For one thing they usually end up getting released in theaters anyway, so why pay more to see them at the festival? I’m seeing this one because it just sounded too interesting to skip, and I don't think it will be released. It’s a documentary about this cowboy (an American?) who finds Mexican brides for American men seeking the "perfect" wife. I’m thinking that there’s a good chance this film might really piss me off, but I want to see it anyway.

Requiem of Snow (Iraq): Set in northern Iraq, the film is about a Kurdish girl with a very traditional father who wants her to marry a man twice her age. Surprise. She’s not at all keen on the idea.

Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea (United States): An important selling point for me with this is the fact that it is narrated by John Waters, and while I don’t really go for his films, I know he is the perfect narrator for this documentary about a cheesy and doomed resort area that is now an ecological disaster zone.

Delwande (Burkina Faso): How often is there an opportunity to see a film from Burkina Faso? How many Americans have ever even heard of Burkina Faso or know where it is? (It’s in western Africa and it used to be called Upper Volta.) The film is about some women who are accused of being witches and are exiled to remote “witch villages,” where they are supposed to spend the remainder of their lives. I think it sounds fascinating—way outside of my own realm of experience.

Speaking of movies, B and I finally got around to seeing Capote. My book club is reading In Cold Blood this month and I just finished that, so I was finally ready to see Capote. The book and the movie are very complementary. I’d even go so far as to say don’t read or see one without reading or seeing the other. Full marks to the filmmakers for not going overboard with the exposition and just copping out and making a film version of In Cold Blood. It actually seems like they expect the audience to have done it's homework and read the book (or at least the Cliffs Notes) first. It truly is a film about Truman Capote—not the murders. The focus is on exploring what motivated him to write his “nonfiction novel.” Philip Seymour Hoffman does an absolutely tremendous job with his characterization of Capote. Very, very nuanced. What a versatile actor he is. Excellent, intelligent script, period detail, and supporting performances as well.

I was glad to see the supertalented Catherine Keener—one of my favorite actresses—in the role of Harper Lee. I wish she would have had a bit more screen time. She does seem to be getting quite a bit of work (40-Year-Old Virgin, the upcoming Friends with Money), though, despite the fact that she’s 45 and hasn’t Botoxed and collagened herself to a fare-the-well. Is it too much to hope that Hollywood has finally decided it’s OK for women to age gracefully?


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