My third year going, entropyenator’s first. The weather on the second weekend wasn’t quite as good, being a good deal chillier, but it wasn’t raining and it was decently sunny most of the time. Entropyenator lucked out of having to stand in line under a miserable drizzle, so I suppose we’ll have to try again next year and see if we can properly introduce her to NYC rush lines.
Shorts: Be Yourself: Six short documentaries. American Renaissance had probably the most non-traditional structure, impressionistic and grounded versus explanatory. Live Fast, Draw Yung and All-American Family explore their subjects by focusing on internal family dynamics that then spiral out to the “hook” (child prodigy artist, Deaf culture). Elder and Eternal Princess are basically monologues, although Elder was by far more emotionally resonant; Eternal Princess never rises above hagiography (also, super-awkward moment when everyone was asked to clap for each director as they were announced, and Katie Holmes got polite applause to the whoops of the others). My Enemy, My Brother did some creative interpolation of flashback/reinactment that convey visually how PTSD bubbles up afresh every day for its subjects.
El Cinco: A very naturalistic, almost to the point of documentary, movie about an aging soccer player who decides to retire, and who has to figure out the second act of his life. The nonjudgmental, nondramatic filming style suits the main characters, none of whom are particularly deep thinkers (the main character is, honestly, an asshole who loves well but loves tribally), but all of whom feel deeply and honestly. If the camera was jump-cutting and using tricky angles to signal every dramatic development, I think it actually would have cheapened the emotion with the artificial setting. Put in context, the conflicts in these characters’ lives are nothing new but they’re intimately relatable. Also, although the movie revolves entirely around a man, the female lead is unusually well-developed and realistic in that her attempts to support him are sometimes misguided, often ineffective but well-intended, rather than some perfect pixie girl. Which goes a long way towards making the sex scenes (including an aborted outdoor sex scene) playfully earthy rather than porn wish fulfillment.
Mojave: Really pretentious mangst about how a rich white guy in the entertainment business overcomes his inexplicably tortured psyche to become a better sociopath than a bonafide serial killer. There are some overly cute and meta in-jokes about Hollywood and the movies and how they eat people alive (Mark Wahlberg shows up just long enough to prove he’s terrible at playing not badass). Oscar Isaac appears to be having a ton of fun playing a cut-rate boogeyman, and lifts a couple of scenes to interesting all by his lonesome. Otherwise, the lack of suspense here makes you nostalgic for the Scream franchise.
When I Live My Life Again: Dysfunctional child comes home to dysfunctional family and is forced to confront her childhood traumas. There’s a through-line about songwriting and musical comebacks and evolution, but it’s got no ommph behind it (also, the song that the movie takes the title from, it’s a terrible Sinatra pastiche). Every parallel about destructive parent begetting destructive child is drawn, every terrible decision that could be made by a character is made, and every dated assertion about selling out is tossed out there. Christopher Walken and Ann Magnuson at least seem to be having a lot of fun, but Amber Heard is horribly grating as the self-righteous unlikable heroine who just seems to exist as somebody’s daddy issues mouthpiece.