Happily this was more Role Models than The Ten, a conventional-looking comedy full of State alumni and good writing. Only the second Jennifer Aniston movie I’ve seen (and unfortunately the first wasn’t Leprechaun). She and State/Wain regular Paul Rudd are a married couple who flee New York for Atlanta and stay with Rudd’s asshole brother Ken Marino and his drunk wife, then end up at a commune. Aniston hooks up with sellout Justin Theroux, while Rudd can’t manage to score with Malin Akerman, but since it’s a comedy, the married couple pulls through.

As per Role Models and Wet Hot American Summer, the movie freely uses hacky old plot points (slimy land developers are trying to tear down the commune) and messes with them (the commune would be safe if Alan Alda, hilarious as the only remaining member of the commune’s original founders, could remember where he put the deed). I enjoyed all the background cameos by Craig Wedren, Joe Lo Truglio as a nudist winemaker, overenthusiastic Kerri Kenney, Todd Barry as Rudd’s coworker in the city, and David/Michael/Michael as TV commentators.

Katy liked it too, pointed out that the title is off-base.

“You are not a witness to the ruin. You are the ruin. You are to be witnessed.”

The quote made me space out for a while, since people near me in the theater had been mentioning Collapse before this one started.

A slideshow of a movie, like a PBS version of The Tree of Life. It alternately seems to be a prayer, a history lesson, and a curse against the city of Atlanta. The movie never feels like explaining its ideas in depth, preferring to crossfade into the next evenly-spaced slide, having the unhurried narrator repeat something he said a half hour ago, valuing experience and images over explanation.

I was pleased that shots of N. Dekalb Mall were used as signifiers of the big corrupt city, since I’ve been angry at that place since I left a screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World covered in ants. Less pleased by the rumbly drone of the music, which only seemed to brighten once in a while.

Ebiri liked it.

“This isn’t a lament for the Old South, or even really for The Way Things Used To Be. There’s an abstractness to the imagery and to the discourse that suggests Persons is talking about a symbolic passing. … The film’s tendency to avoid humans comes across as an attempt not to seal itself off from experience, but to make its imagery even more subjective. … Persons’s lament – his surrender – doesn’t feel like a search. Perhaps because he understands the thing he seeks might never have been there in the first place.”

Cheers to Carros and Fearon for the sweet map graphics.

“The weathervane is the center of it all.”

WonderRoot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Filmmakers’ Night

Atlanta, Day One (John Duke and Kris Valeriano)
I liked. KV wears a three-dollar suit, tours picturesque ruins of Atlanta before he starts breaking down. I dig the editing at the end, as it cuts between scenes where he’s in the same physical pose, giving the impression of one movement transporting across locations.

Mouth 2 Mouth (Patrick Coll and Chris Chambers)
Hilarious, very short animation.

Until Dust (Nathan Honnold)
I remember saying to Jimmy afterwards that it’s good to know I’m not the only Guy Maddin fan in Atlanta, but I don’t remember much else. Oh wait, here it is on Vimeo! Blurry-focus titles, one of which says “hairdressing school,” yep, I stand by my Maddin comparison. Too bad it’s one of the only pieces projected interlaced, since it was shot originally on super8 film.

Rex (Jackson McDonald)
A guy picks up girls to feed to his hungry dragon. Shot decently and colorfully, complete with flashbacks.

Breathe (Fletcher Holmes)
Clever special-effects demo, shot underwater and somehow keyed, breathing SFX added later prompting a “how’d you DO that?” from the crowd.

17 Degrees Ain’t Nothing (Carlton Mackey and Dane Jefferson)
Two dudes got a camera, but what to film? They chose to interview some homeless people for an hour – and that hour changed their lives (the lives of the two dudes, not of the homeless people). A year later, footage is edited, theme songs are written, still photos are panned and zoomed, and lessons are learned.

The Charm and Rant of Charlotte Pomerate (Beth Malone)
The filmmaker has, what was it, a grandfather involved in “very far left” politics? And his wife wrote children’s books. And she was interviewed by her granddaughter, then the interview was turned into a claymation video… but it’s more “clay” than “mation”. Clay-still-life. Combines two styles I don’t like (documentaries about one’s relatives + animating audio conversations) but it was cute so I couldn’t stay mad.

Passion Seeker (Chris Chamber)
Video for a song by Little Tybee and Adron edited from 1930’s-90’s film clips. Played at around 2fps, and it’d be important to know whether that was intentional. If so, I’m not a big fan. If not, hey WonderRoot, I can give you advice on how to fix that. The song was nice.

Christmas and Hanukkah (Garry Bowden)
“Love is coming for us all,” says the description. A straight-faced romance soap-opera that inspired derisive laughter from the audience. Could Bowden be the Tommy Wiseau of Atlanta? Could he even be of Atlanta? I didn’t recognize any of the scenery, and it’s mostly shot outdoors. Story follows two people who find each other after sour breakups, shot by a man with a handicam but without a plan.

Heaven (Chris Sailor)
Heaven is a parking lot where echoes both precede and follow your words. You should be quiet, according to the man behind you in a creepy mask, but you are not. Also, you’d like a cigarette.

One Minute Fluid Toons on Paper (Brett W. Thompson)
Finally, the long-awaited return of Fluid Toons! Less narrative (and without the awesome sound effects) than the last installment, but any Fluid Toons is good Fluid Toons.

Godamsterdam: Yellow Fever (Ben Cohen)
Part of a web series celebrating political incorrectness. It’s no Sarah Silverman Program but it made me chuckle. Probably the most ambitious project here, setting up a regular cast of characters and a whole series of shorts, with higher than usual production values.

The Ugly Duckling (1939, Jack Cutting)
Katy said the baby swan wasn’t ugly enough, but I think it’s that (1) he’s different from the ducks and therefore ugly to them, and (2) when he sees his reflection in the funhouse ripples of the water he appears ugly. IMDB says it was the final Silly Symphony cartoon, but it wasn’t very musical… no songs about what it’s like to be a duckling.

Katy: “They’ve turned The Ugly Duckling into a marital dispute.”

Me: “Hey there were six baby swans in that shot! There are only s’posed to be five.”

Atlanta (1996, Miranda July)
Miranda July’s performance as both the 12-year-old swimmer and her overbearing mother is wonderful. However, this is “video art”, which means it’s like a short film but it’s full of video static and looks like shit. The sound was defective on my copy, and since it’s all interviews, the sound is kinda important.

The Summit (1995, The Bros. Quay)
For the first minute I thought “hey wow, the Quays have made something totally different from their usual pretentious goth stop-motion” and I was happy. A few minutes later that thought still stands, but I am not happy. In what language are these guys giving monologues in a featureless room? Oh wait, I get it, “summit”. Funny. Some sites list this as a short satirical art piece, another calls it a 70-minute failed pilot. I saw the short version. The Quays come out and shake their hands at the end. Jonathan Stone, one of the two guys, was in Institute Benjamenta.

Jumping (1984, Osamu Tezuka)
Half a funny concept piece about someone who is an awfully good jumper and the places he ends up (incl. stereotype-africa and hell itself), and half a showoff reel of first-person perspective animation. Excels at both… wonderful.

Sisyphus (1975, Marcell Jankovics)
Another showoff reel, this time of bodily poses and stress as Sis. rolls the rock uphill, but this one not as delightfully enjoyable as Jumping, and all full of horrible gasping groaning noises.

5/4 (1974, Hieronim Neumann)
A split-screen stunt used to more wonderful effect than Timecode (or About Time 2), sometimes seeming to fragment a single image, and sometimes looking like different takes of the same action. Playful. Music is light and quiet and not in 5-4 and there are spacey 70’s-sci-fi sound effects whenever something cool happens, which is most of the time.