Completely unhinged Danish animated movie… yes, two Danish movies premiering in one week, something like 15% of all the Danish movies I’ve ever seen. Very calm intro, lead guy walking around the neighborhood, slow and simple, than roooar into the opening credits. Love it. Rest of the movie sticks mostly to the roar side of things, with some truly audacious scenes.

August moves in with sister Christina, but boyfriend Charlie spends a lot of time there too. After an eviction threat, they plot to blackmail the landlord to let them stay, so August, always with his video camera, tapes his underage sister having sex with the landlord, and voila. This might be what leads August to piss off and become a missionary priest for a few years.

Comes back, sister has just died, her little daughter Mia is staying at a whorehouse, and Charlie runs a media empire selling Christina’s body on video and magazines. Only bloody revenge can ensue! August blasts his way to the top with Mia in tow. Weird ending though… go to a huge party at C’s house, but C doesn’t even seem to be home. A has hidden a bomb in M’s doll, M runs inside with it, A runs after her, boom.

Alzheimer’s movie by Sarah Polley, who bravely wrestled herself and Julie Christie away from Hal Hartley before he could cast either of them in another of his increasingly bad movies.

Surprisingly heartwarming movie, not the sad slog it might’ve been. Christie is the devoted wife with alzheimer’s, Gordon Pinsent (shipping news, tons of tv stuff) is the devoted husband, Michael Murphy (john sayles movies) is Julie’s fellow nursing home patient and Olympia Dukakis (mr. holland’s opus) is Murphy’s wife.

Movie jumps through time and space, visiting scenes out of order but with a sense of purpose, flashing back and slowly revealing, not just the usual “start with the ending for the helluvit” (see: pan’s labyrinth). Seems Gordon cheated on Julie years before, and as she’s forgetting her way home and forgetting where the dishes go in the kitchen, she can’t forget that. In the rest home she assumes a new identity as the wife of Michael Murphy, much to her real husband’s and Murphy’s real wife’s horror. It’s a clever balancing act: is Julie punishing Murphy for past transgressions or is she so far gone that she really doesn’t recognize him?

Just a gorgeous movie with excellent story, performances, close-ups, snowy cross-country skiing, and Julie Christie’s beautiful expressions. One of my faves so far this year.

A funny puppet version of dante’s inferno, updated for 2007. But for the most part, “funny” means juvenile jokes at easy targets, “puppet” means stiff 2D drawings with hinged limbs, and “updated” means Virgil has a cellphone and we namecheck each member of G.W. Bush’s cabinet as we go through the circles of hell.

So not too great, but surely not bad either… worth a waste of 75 minutes to hear the not-always-bad jokes, see the occasionally-clever puppetry and watch a little video that someone spent a lotta time on. Not much of a recommendation, but it neatly filled an early afternoon timeslot at the film festival without making me go home or making me wish I had.

Oh and some famous actors did the voices as usual.

Blood: Disliked from the start, showing a neglected round-bellied child walking stupidly around some animals, hitting them, unsupervised, an animal herself. Movie explores the problem of AIDS in China, how it is widespread and misunderstood. Uses the ol’ “look how sad everything is, feel sorry for us” effect… more a mission than a movie.

Sari: the excised fourth Iraq Fragment (and seems shorter than the others), also about AIDS. The kid in this one is human, with thoughts and feelings, expressed in voiceover like the rest of the Fragments, as his mother runs the bureaucratic gauntlet trying to get him treatment.

I think in both situations the kids got the disease through blood transfusions… sad that’s still happening anywhere in this decade.

Excellent program, sadly underattended. Used to sell out both screenings – what happened?

The Moon and the Son
The Oscar ™ winner for best short in 2006. Might not have belonged in this program, since it’s more than twice as long as any other short here. Guy venting frustration with his Italian ex-mafioso father via animation. I’m not into the whole squid-and-the-whale family bitching scene, but this was pretty good stuff. Faith and Emily Hubley mentioned in the credits, I guess as animators, though Faith died in 2001.

Bubblecraft
Kinda crappy music video to kinda crappy song. Things float by in bubbles, okay.

The Little Matchgirl
Disney cartoon that looks like Disney cartoon but moves… a little too smoothly… something seemed somehow wrong. Sad lil story of girl freezing to death set to some important music piece I forget which.

Man Drawing a Reclining Woman
Stop-motion! Director was there.

Loom
Stop motion… old woman is Death, collects thread from dying street musician’s head after he saves little girl in the street, weaves it in her loom. Director was there, spent four years on it, is angry about Adult Swim.

Dragon
Girl draws horrors from her past at orphanage, director sells drawings for lotta money, girl summons dragon to destroy director. Something about commercializing other people’s artwork… filmmaker must work for a heartless cartoon company that rakes in large profits while paying him beans. Unjust!

The Mantis Parable
I never get parables. The mantis wouldn’t save the caterpillar, but the butterfly saves the mantis, or something.

The Zit
Gross. Cat pops huge zit or something.

Drawing Lessons
Girl can’t sleep, learns to draw Picasso upside down while listening to thrift store tape or something. Director tries to nimbly jump between insomnia and drawing and tape facets of plot but didn’t seem so nimble to me. I don’t always get the point of cartoon shorts… seems like they put too much thought into being fucking nimble and end up with nothing much to say and then you’ve got everyone telling me oooh, The Cathedral is a great little movie and I should see it. Not saying Drawing Lessons is as sluggish as The Cathedral, but both focus so much on technique and nothing else – intended audience seems to be themselves and fellow animators.

The Sandbox
Now this one had something to say, I think. Maybe about the world trade center. Maybe about the tsunami, or about absent parents, or The Future? I didn’t get it… was kinda pretty, though. Kinda.

Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot
Finally a great one. Fumi’s foot is bad luck, and everything crashes into it and hurts her, till she learns to use its extreme bad luck to draw misfortune away from others. Nice closing shot, with Fumi walking through a field, tripping bulldozers and things.

Juxtaposer
By the talented Joanna Davidovich. Girl on bench just wants to get along with cat, I think.

Ichthys
The Cathedral, part 2, wherein guy at restaurant grows old while waiter catches tiny fish for dinner. Great part involving screaming and arms falling off, the rest an exercise in tedium.

Fluid Toons
Fantastic plymptoon & stimpy style badass grungy little bunch of skits with more humor in ’em than everything previous (except Fumi) combined. Voices obviously done after the fact just add to hilarity. Downloadable too! Kinda terrible, but also the one I most wanted to see again. That’ll show all you serious artists.

Chickenheads
More fluid toons, starring a chicken hunting rabbit. Artist in attendance!

Brought to mind last year’s Somersault and Lila Says and Keene. Not likeable at all, but not worth hating.

Laura lived in the city, loved Chris, who got killed. So she married (Mark?), had a kid, moved suburb. Sleeps with strangers compulsively and might have killed her neighbor.

Ugly, shot on DV + transferred to film I think. Tops of all heads cut off – can’t tell if mis-framed or mis-projected but neither would be surprising. The lighting is either bad on purpose or just bad. Lots of close-ups on Laura looked great – everything else fell apart.

So why was this so crappy? The repeated scenes and not-at-all-fluidly jumping back and forth in time? The pathetic pointlessness of the dialogue? The boring portrayal of a woman who lost her dream man, dream career and dream life, ending up the one thing she didn’t want to be, a suburban housewife? Not even that bad a story or character – just never comes together into anything exciting! No excitement! No reason to watch it! Especially coming off X-Men 3, a movie with too many reasons to watch.

Oh wait, an IMDB reviewer says “writer/director Jason Ruscio said in Q & A … that he was inspired by the break-up of his relationship with the lead actress.” So another movie-as-therapy. The Squid and the Housewife, or something. How come Clean was so good, then?

Long, very nicely done. Music and intertitles, mostly-convincing period style but with (forgiveable, for low budget) 30fps video look. Triple Flashback (fb in a fb in a fb) tells of ship visiting uncharted island, seeing stop-motion tentacle-head Cthulhu, fleeing in terror… otherwise a lot of newspaper clippings and people who want their papers burned and unspeakable horror and such.

Also saw “Day of the Dead”, cutie cartoon (animated in korea) about an iguana learning about his mexican heritage or something… well intentioned but tedious. “The Shovel” a twisty little number where the dude from Good Luck Good Night is accused of killing his neighbor. “Tell-Tale Heart” nicely animated Sin City style with Bela Lugosi’s voice narrating from an ancient tape. And “Venom” about an old woman who loves cats, hates bugs. I dig how the AFF played the latter with no sound at all, with no apology or mention of the problem. I know it’s hard to run a festival, but that’s just like them.