Apr. 9th, 2008

kayjayoh: (Default)
Tonight I went to the Onion's "Lit and Libations" book club at the Brocach, as the discussion was on Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. It was a fairly interesting discussion and I met some interesting people. I will definitely go again the next time they are doing a book that interests me. The fact that it was right before the usual Wednesday night session made the deal even sweeter. The only downside was that I had to choose between it and Ladies Must Swing at the Monona Terrace, but there will be other chances to hear them.
kayjayoh: (Ida)
The 10th Annual Wisconsin Film Festival has come and gone, and what a great four days. Sure, it was a bit drizzly on Thursday (a little yucky for walking between venues but great weather for film watching) but it was glorious the next three (a little less great for film watching but excellent for walking between/waiting outside of venues and hanging out between showings). Turns out just about everything we saw this year was a documentary. Here is what we saw and what I thought:

British Television Advertising Awards: Sure it seems a bit odd to go to a film festival and spend over an hour watching commercials, but these are really good commercials, plus the fact that they are from Great Britain gives them a certain "exotic" quality. We went to a showing of these last year and heartily enjoyed ourselves that time around, too. Particularly striking were some of the PSA spots, including a gut-wrenching one on anorexia. The ads ranged from classy to funny to beautiful to haunting.

Mad City Chickens: Yay for local documentaries! Just like Cork n' Bottle: the Ken's Bar Story from last year, many of the folk in the audience had been involved in the film. The narrative was solid and actually quite engaging, though the film could stand a bit more editing to tighten it up. There were some unnecessary special effects that made it feel a little amateur. Still, both M and I agreed that we found ourselves really wanting to raise chickens by the time it was over.

Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula: Another documentary. My, would I like to go to Hawaii. Thank goodness I saw this at the beginning of some warm weather, otherwise I never would have been able to go back outside. The film focussed almost exclusively on one particular hula school (the title school) and particularly on the leader of that school. It made a lot of sense, though I found myself wishing that there had been at least a little bit more compare/contrast with other male hula groups. The major sponsor was the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and in truth, it did feel like something I might find myself watching on PBS if I ever turned my TV on. It did provide us with the quote of the weekend, though we found ourselves paraphrasing it a bit, not having remembered it perfectly: "We're trying to work on your self-fucking-confidence!"

Pageant: Fabulous! And I do mean fabulous, as this doc followed several contestants in the Miss Gay America Pageant. It was amazing to watch the various men transforming themselves into glamazon queens, especially since some of them were very masculine men in their non-drag states. The film looked at the processes of getting into drag, the nitty gritty of the pageant, and the personal lives and feelings of some on the contestants. We saw it on the same night and in the same venue as Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula, so it was a neat combo.

Short Films: The Saturday Afternoon Program: <sigh> It seems there is always one choice that disappoints us, and this was it. We had wanted to have a short program on our slate, this one fit our schedule and the film write-ups sounded good. Sadly, we didn't realize that these were experimental shorts. In past years they were grouped and labeled by theme (comedy, experimental, etc.) but not this year. The blurbs also didn't really indicate what we would be getting. Experimental can be good, but we didn't think that most of these ones quite worked. At the very least, they weren't to our taste. On the upside, as the name would indicate, they were all short. There were two of them that I enjoyed, a couple felt kind of "meh" and the rest made me wish I were elsewhere. Ah well. C'est la vie.

Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness: Not only did I really like this one, I also bought the DVD on my way out. Throughout the film, I felt deeply envious of the urban explorers, as Madison doesn't really have much of the same sorts of sites to explore. Granted, one could argue that this is a good thing for the city. However, that is one of my favorite photographic subjects, and they got some amazing shots. Definitely an intriguing topic. <envy envy envy>

Nerdcore For Life: Nerd (and geeks) represent! Highly entertaining well paced. Some of the artists were actually in attendance at the screening, including a rather drunk and vocal MC Router. I think it would pair well with Heart of an Empire from last year.

Sponsored films of the 40s, 50s & 60s: This was an OMGWTFBBQ?? in the very best sense. While the
British Television Advertising Awards featured the best of advertising in the UK for 2007, these were odd little corporate films from American companies in the given decades, often with goofy products and even goofier concepts. I had a few "can they really be serious?" moments, and laughed till I was weak.

The Meaning of Tea: Very beautiful and very relaxing. They could have done a better job at establishing *where* they were at any given time. As the title would indicate, this was much more of a philosophical documentary than a straight up factual documentary. It did leave me with a desire to spend some time traveling in Asia, or at the very least to eat some Asian and Indian food and drink tea (of course).

The Singing Revolution: The last film we saw this weekend and definitely the most powerful by far. It took my breath away and gave me chills. I don't think I even have the words to adequately describe it and do it justice. I will see it again if it comes back to the area, and I will drag folks with me, too. http://www.singingrevolution.com/

And now the countdown begins to next year and the 11th Annual Wisconsin Film Festival.

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