Throw wool

Last night I decided that I’d go to the anti-war march today if I woke up in time. This morning I was woken up by my neighbour talking on the phone outside my bedroom window. She was saying how she’d heard there was this anti-war march today, but she didn’t think that she was the sort of person who’d do that (but she was planning on going down to the Viaduct and seeing the yachting). I looked at the time. It was just after 10.00 am, perfect timing for the march.

I joined the march just past Vulcan Lane. At the front there were people holding signs and chanting stuff like “1, 2, 3, 4, we don’t want your bloody war!” but further along was a group of drummers doing what I think was samba drumming while people around them chanted, “no war!” to the rhythm.

I’m not sure how many people were there, but it was a big crowd. I saw a report on NZoom estimating it as at least 7,000. When the front of the parade at reached Mayoral Drive, I looked back and I’m sure I could see people still down by Victoria Street.

The march ended up at Myers Park. The original plan was for it to end at Aotea Square, but like the construction in QE2 Square, the organisers apparently hadn’t counted on the weekend markets in Aotea Square. Myers Park turned out to be a better venue because there’s trees and grass, not just vast expanses of concrete and a big TV screen showing yacht racing.

There were various speakers, and the organisers had very wisely limited speeches to three minutes each. An Iraqi nun was the first to speak. Most speakers reminded us that the war was for oil, that Bush, Blair and Howard are dicks, and that innocent children are going to die if this war takes place.

Yeah, there were some hippies there, but there were thousands of ordinary people.

After the March I headed to Aotea square. I had coffee from the Kokako stand, which I think might just have to be the next installation in the Coffee From Places That Aren’t Starbucks series. It wasn’t necessarily the next closest coffee place, but it was a sunny day and I wanted to go somewhere outside. The coffee was good, in the way that coffee is good. The sign said it was organic coffee. Word up.

Then in search of air conditioned comfort I saw “Chicago”. I saw it on Thursday as well. The difference being that this time a dude came in and sat two seats down from me and took half his clothes off. That was pretty cool. I’m glad musicals are coming back in fashion, because a good musical is fun to watch. I saw “Evita” about four times at the movies (twice with a gay guy, yeah) and “South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut” three times. I only saw “Moulin Rouge” once, but I hear it’s more fun on DVD than in a cinema. The thing I liked the best about “Chicago” was how the musical numbers took place in fantasy, people didn’t spontaneously burst into song. The costumes were so good and the hair styles were brilliant. I totally want to go and get my hair permed and bobbed. (No, bad idea).

Dylzno and I were going to see the Chinese Lantern Festival, but the streets around Albert Park were packed and there was no parking to be found so we went to the Turkish place on K Road and had kebabs. They have hookahs there. At the next table there were some guys smoking from one. I don’t know what is being smoked, though. It’s not tobacco or pot. Lack of people passed out on pillows or waking up and writing epic poems suggests it’s not opium. How very mysterious!

Special times

First, an email exchange:

To: Robyn
From: Pat
Subject: hello

will you please email me a brochure of your chocolate rouses thanks.

To: Pat
From: Robyn
Subject: Re: hello

Whilst the caffeine and sugar in chocolate can be somewhat rousing, I’m afraid I don’t know what a chocolate rouse is.

Whether it’s a sexual term or a type of confectionary, or some bizarre concept that only exists on the internet, I don’t know, and I don’t have any brochures on the mysterious chocolate rouse to send you.

Good luck with your search for the elusive chocolate rouse.

From: Pat
To: Robyn
Subject: Re: hello

UPSSSSSSSS I AM VERY SORRY !!!! THANK YOU FOR TAKING YOUR TIME TO ANSWER
I DIDNT MEAN TO ….. BYE BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

If I’d had the necessary software handling skillz, I would have got some pictures of some naked black women and put together a brochure advertising “Chocolate Rouses: These fine Nubian princesses will a-rouse you!”

I saw “Adaptation”. I was really excited about seeing it. Like, I woke up this morning and was like, “woohoo, It’s Thursday! “Adaptation” opens today! It reminded me of this thing I wrote about vanilla over a year ago. I’m going to have to dig it out and stick it up on my web site.

The film opens with Kaufman (Cage) doing this monologue about everything that’s wrong with his life and how it would be better, if only certain things would happen. I was like “OMG, that is totally me life.” Yes, my internal monologue sounds exactly like that.

“Adaptation” reminded me of “Mullholland Drive,” in that the last 20 minutes or so is quite different from the rest of the film, and it can be interpreted in different ways. But really, if you were going to go all out and write a formulaic Hollywood screenplay, where John Laroche and Susan Orlean become lovers, wouldn’t you write a sex scene in the swamp? Well, I would. Maybe that’s just me.

Hey, you know how people talk about the period of time in the late ’60s and the ’70s when the contraceptive pill had been invented, but before Aids happened, when people could just have condomless sex with anyone, and it was all marvellous, blah, blah, blah, pass the disco boots?

Well, what about the time when cigarettes became readily available, when they weren’t taxed to hell, when you could smoke in public buildings, and before people had figured out that cigarettes were physically addictive and could cause cancer and heart disease? Oh yes, that would have been a very special time.

Blue skies

I saw two movies today.

1. “8 Mile”

Taryn Manning has the interesting distinction of having been in both the Britney movie (“Crossroads”) and the Eminem movie. “8 Mile” is everything that “Crossroads” was trying to be.

I saw it as Village Westgate because apparently it has the best sound, and indeed the movie did sound excellent. There’s a part where the Free World guys (the rival to Rabbit’s 31/3 posse) show up at the trailer park to give B. Rabbit some very un-funky beats. Their car has a loud stereo and it’s playing something with a loud, low ominous bassline that set the tone of the scene perfectly, without being cheesy.

The story wasn’t original, but it was subverted so it wasn’t packed full of cliches. Yeah, he meets a pretty girl who sort of becomes his girlfriend, but she sleeps with another guy, but that doesn’t make it the end of the world either.

Kim Basinger as Stephanie, Rabbit’s mom, was great. The movie could have been a great opportunity for Eminem to diss his mother, but while Stephanie was messed up, she also had good intentions and just wanted the best for her family, y’know.

The sex scene – OMG, was that perfect, or what? A friend of mine described it like this: “no fucking montage, no bullshit build-up, just quiet stamping factory sex.” Yeah, cos in the real world when people have really hot sex, instrumental songs don’t mysteriously start playing in the background.

The ending was very satisfying. In a lesser film there would have been a talent scout in the audience waving a contract, or a youth centre being saved from the evil developers. Instead all that mattered was winning the respect of a small club audience.

2. “The Hot Chick”

The movie page of the Herald was lying on the floor. There were two big ads sitting side-by-side. One was for the upcoming “Whale Rider”, the other for “The Hot Chick.” I realised that if I didn’t see “The Hot Chick” soon, there would be a point where I would actually pick seeing it over seeing “Whale Rider”, which seemed morally wrong.

So I saw “The Hot Chick” and it was really dumb and really silly, and had a bit too much of that thing that also happens in Adam Sandler films where something really violent happens and it’s meant to be funny, but I laughed. I laughed heartily. I feel so dirty.

Actually, going back to “Whale Rider”, I think the hype may have killed the film for me already. All these magazines and newspapers are doing massive features on it, just like with the “Lord of the Rings” sequel. It’s like “Whale Rider” is such a beautiful work of art movie, that everyone must go and see it, and if you don’t you’re a bad New Zealander. So therefore, I must rebel and not see it. I still haven’t seen the second “Lord of the Rings” movie yet.

Batman, world peace

I’ve been watching the 1966 “Batman” movie on DVD. I’d seen it a few times before, but I’d forgotten how funny it was. I think there was a period where I would have been like “urgh, “Batman” is so cheesy” (this probably coincided with Tim Burton’s gothic “Batman” movie in 1989), but that’s the whole point: it was meant to be cheesy.

The “Batman” movie is so funny. The dialogue especially is full of zappy lines. I would try to attempt to convey the humour when sexually frustrated Bruce Wayne goes on the date with the seductive Kitka (Catwoman in disguise), but words alone don’t convey the humour. Instead, here is Batman and Robin solving some riddles:

Batman: Robin, listen to these riddles. Tell me if you interpret them as I do. One, what has yellow skin and writes?
Robin: A ballpoint banana!
Batman: Right! Two, what people are always in a hurry?
Robin: Rushing people? Russians!
Batman: Right again. Now what would you say they mean?
Robin: Banana… Russian… I’ve got it! Someone Russian is going on slip on a banana peel and break their neck!
Batman: Precisely, Robin! The only possible meaning!

The basic plot involves The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman teaming up to form the United Underworld. Their plan is to dehydrate the members of the United World Security Council. The UWSC members are so busy arguing that they don’t notice the four super villains show up and dehydrate them into small piles of coloured dust.

Eventually good wins over and Batman gets the dust back, but sadly it gets all mixed up, so it’s off to the Batcave for it to be resorted. Finally the dust is ready to be rehydrated. Small metal stands on each chair hold a test tube with the dust for each member. Water is added and, zoing, the security council members are back.

I’m not sure what happened to the metal stands, but as none of the members say “hey, how’d this metal rod get up my arse!”, I assume the stands somehow disappear. Though it is possible that again the members are too busy arguing to notice a test tube up the bum.

But it is soon discovered that there’s a bit of a mix up. The security council members minds are in different bodies. Holy Freaky Friday! Batman observes this and comments, “Who knows, Robin. This strange mixing of minds may be the greatest single service ever performed for humanity.”

So, as the world is a little bit crazy at the moment, perhaps it’s time for someone to get Commodore Schmidlapp’s dehydration device, gather up the world leaders and mix things up for greater understanding and goodwill.

Bondage

19/01/03:

I saw “Two Weeks Notice”. It was a really good romantic comedy. I am currently incapable of writing more on it because I am listening to “Mistadobalina” by Del Tha Funky Homosapien and that is currently using up the part of my brain that writes interesting movie reviews.

But now I’m not listening to ooh ooh Mista Dobolina, so I can write some stuff about that film.

The soundtrack had two songs in common with “Catch Me If You Can”. Namely, “Come fly with me” and “The look of love”. In both films, the first song was used to underscore flying in an aircraft and the second song was used in a seduction scene. However, “Two Weeks Notice” made up for such unoriginality by using “Taking care of business” during the scene where, after eating a bad hotdog, Sandra Bullock’s character finds herself stuck in traffic, really, really needed to go to the toilet.

I was going to bitch about the use of “London Calling” in “Die Another Day”. When I first saw it I thought it seemed like someone had been like “it says “London calling” a lot. Let’s use that in the first big scene set in London! OMG! That’s be so kewl!!!”. But given what happens later in the film, to have a song with lyrics like “The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in,” is quite clever.

I’ve formulated a final opinion on “Die Another Day”. I like how it’s a classic Bond movie in that it’s extravagant and ridiculous. Not like the Bond movies of the ’90s where it seemed to want to be very sensible, “Die Another Day” was full of silly crap.

By the way, my two favourite Bond films are “Live And Let Die” (Bond blacksploitation, afros, voodoo, New Orleans) and “A View To A Kill” (Grace Jones, Christopher Walken, Duran Duran).

Becks Incredible Film Fest 2002

This year the Becks Incredible Film Fest ruined typical multiplex films for me, probably forever.

About two and a half weeks into this year’s festival I had a Saturday with no fest movies to see. I was out at a mall in search of some duct tape when I decided to see a movie at a nearby multiplex. I bought my ticket, took a seat and the movie started. About half an hour into the film (and I’m not going to say what it was, but if you really want to know, email me) I realised that I just wasn’t enjoying myself.

I knew exactly what was going to happen in the film. I knew how it would end and what would happen along the way. I realised that if I sat there for the remaining hour not only would I be bored shitless, but it would be an hour of my life that I’d never get back. So I did what I’ve never done before: I walked out in disgust. It felt really good.

Since 1995 I’ve pretty much tried to see every movie currently playing at cinemas. I’ve always had this theory that it’s good to see all films, even bad and mediocre ones because it expands my knowledge of cinema and makes me appreciate really good movies even more.

But after seeing the really good films in the Incredible Film Fest, I realised that the occasional bad film in a bad cinema is ok, but it’s not good for the soul to be seeing them on a regular basis.

I spent three weeks at the film fest seeing a lot of really good movies. Some days I saw four in a row and would leave the theatre feeling in desperate need of some sunshine, other days I’d just see one film and enjoy the lush decor of the Civic or the groovy lounge area set up in the Chinatown cinema.

It was a really excellent three-week experience. Those of us who live in Auckland or Wellington really are lucky little bastards to have such a fine selection of films put together every year.

Seeing over 30 films in three weeks was a pretty intense experience, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. To see a movie with an audience that really wants to see it, who aren’t just filling in time on a Saturday night, is a wonderful experience. Viva the fest!

Becks Incredible Film Fest 2002 – My Reviews

Akira
This was the 2001 rerelease with a new English soundtrack. I saw it the afternoon following the Armageddon nerdfest and the Civic was just swarming with chubby guys with long hair and glasses. I was expected greatness but I was a little let down, maybe just because I’m not a huge anime fan. However, sometimes I forgot I was watching an animation, so that’s got to be a good thing.

Asoka
Love really is a battlefield in this epic Bollywood tale. Strict Indian censorship rules prohibit kissing on the mouth, so the main characters got to fall in love and marry with just a lot of meaningful stares. But these restrictions just make the filmmakers get more creative. Asoka might not be very sexual, but it is sexy. It’s also quite unusual to see a film about a mighty warrior pause every now and then to have a musical number, but that’s another joy of Bollywood.

Barking Dogs Never Bite (Flandersui gae)
I really enjoyed this wonderful comedy from Korea. The action takes place around a suburban apartment block and a man who lives there and a woman who works there. He wants to be made a professor and she wants to do something better with her life. As well as plenty o’ laughs, there’s also lots of meaning too. Some audience members freaked out at the fate of some of the canine cast members, but the ending has enough uplifting charm to make up for any nastiness to dogs.

Blowup
I really like “Blowup”, probably because it’s quite arty and I have a thing for arty films. Basically a fashion photographer thinks he may have witnessed a murder – or has he? The best bit is the montage scene where he keeps blowing up photos he’s taken, trying to look for clues. I love the relaxed pace of the film, the long, almost silent scenes. It’s quite a different film from the ones of today. There’s no pop music to underscore the action, it just unfolds at a really natural pace. Sublime!

Bully
This was one of my favourites. Based on a true story about a bunch of Florida teens who kill a guy whom they reckon is a bully. They’re dumb, naive, just like real teenagers often are. There’s lots of nudity, but it’s set in a hot location, so that’s explainable. The one thing that’s not is how sometimes the camera goes into pervy guy mode, lingering on girls’ crotches, almost like a parody of typical “male gaze” camera work. There’s also excellent use of music. On the way to the murder there’s a Cypress Hill song laying on their car radio. They comment on the band, but no one listens to the lyrics: “when the shit goes down, you’d better be ready”.

Dark Side of the Rainbow
“Dark Side of the Rainbow” is “The Wizard of Oz” with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album played as the soundtrack, revealing a whole lot of eerie coincidences as parts of the film and album mysteriously match up. My favourite occurrence is when Dorothy emerges from her house into Munchkin land, the film bursts into colour and the ch-ching of “Money” starts. The best stuff seems to occur at the beginning of the film. Near the end it gets a little boring as the synchronicities grow thin. It’s probably the kind of movie best experienced stoned.

The Experiment (Das Experiment)
The experiment in questions takes place in mock prison in a German University. A bunch of volunteers are designated as either prisoners or guards. Power corrupts and the guards soon end up dishing out more punishment and discipline than they should. The film’s set-up is based on a real experiment at Stanford University in the 1970, but setting it in Germany, in the shadow of its Nazi history, gives it an extra level of menace. The first 90 minutes of the film was really good, but the film makers took the easy route by ending it with a bloody chase.

The Fuccon Family
The Fuccons were an unexpected delight. Shown before “Akira” and “The Happiness of the Katakuris”, these shorts showed the adventures of an American family who’ve recently moved to Japan. The family, played by mannequins, discuss such things as going to the amusement park. Young master Fuccon catches on fire. Mr and Mrs Fuccon laugh and laugh and laugh.

Gonin
I saw “Gonin” twice, because the first time I was really tired, forgot to read the subtitles and subsequently lost all track of the plot. The second time I was more alert, read all the subtitles but still pieces of plot eluded me. In the end I just decided to stop thinking about it and just sat back and watched the film. Surprisingly enough it started to make sense.

Happiness of the Katakuris (Katakuri-ke no kôfuku)
The Katakuris run a guesthouse. They finally start getting guests, but the guests start dying, so the family bury the bodies to avoid negative publicity. There’s also musical numbers a-plenty. Directed by Takashi Miike, the man behind last year’s “Audition”, the light-hearted “Katakuris” might not seem like it has much in common with the gruesome torture scenes of “Audition,” but I reckon both films have an underlying message that even though bad stuff happens, life is really pretty wonderful.

In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida)
This 1976 Japanese erotic classic was the replacement for the banned “Baise Moi”. I saw it twice, the first time at the Civic, where the audience was in full-on “so bad it’s good” mode. Led by one fellow who laughed at everything and made funny comments, the audience soon giggled at almost everything on screen. The second time I saw it at Chinatown with a well-behaved audience. It was then that I realised just what a beautiful tale of obsessive love it was. There were funny moments (the egg laying, the old man doing the bird dance), but there was also plenty of really beautiful and sometimes sad scenes.

The Isle (Seom)
This was my favourite film in the festival. Both arty and violent, it’s about love and about pain – two bloody fishhooks placed together, making a heart shape. A woman runs a place where men can come and stay on a small hut floating on a lake and fish. She sleeps with them for cash, puts up with their bullshit until one guy comes along whom she takes a liking to. But he’s got about as many troubles as she has. Violent self-mutilation so convincing that it almost made me gag contrasted with the peaceful, misty lake setting makes for a unique cinematic experience.

Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA)
It’s not unlike the standard Hollywood military investigation movie, the difference being that it’s set on the border of North and South Korea. An incident has occurred involving men on both sides and the neutral Swiss are investigating. It took a while for me to get into the story, but soon enough I was caught up in the tale of people who are Korean first, Northern or Southern second. (I think it should be noted that this film features a Korean Mexican-standoff – not unlike the Korean Mexican cafe in Hamilton).

Mau Mau Sex Sex
This documentary profiles Dan Sonney and David Friedman, exploitation film pioneers. Discovering early that more people will see a film if it’s retitled from “Maniac” to “Sex Maniac”, these two fellows made a career out of films showing naked ladies doing all sorts of things (for educational purposes, of course). While both the fellows and their films are really entertaining, the documentary seems a little unfocused, like it can’t figure out if it’s a biography of Dan and David, or a history of the films they made.

V Movie Marathon
I was going to do it again. Really, I was. But I had to wuss out and go home after the first film. See, “Blowup” was screening the following afternoon, so I wanted to be awake and alert for that. Fortunately the first film filled me with such happiness that I was ok with missing the rest. For that film was:

Revenge of the Cheerleaders
The slutty, bad-girl cheerleaders are hanging out in the school bathroom. One of them disappears into a stall and is obviously having sex. She emerges a bit later with a shy smile on her face. Then out comes her boyfriend, Boner. Why is this significant? Because Boner is played by David Hasselhoff. Yes! This was his first film role. He dances several times, pulling a magnificent kum fac’e. This film provided endless delights for the V’d-up audience. The best/worst scene is when the cheerleaders spike the cafeteria food. While the school is engaged in a psychedelic food fight, the girls visit their boyfriends in the showers. Things get foamy, but not before a brief glimpse of Hasspenis is revealed.

Musa
I saw this on the smaller screen at Chinatown, but it would have been much better on the giant Civic screen. It’s a big movie and it needs room to move. Somehow it didn’t engage me as much as I would have liked. There were lots of battles scenes but they didn’t have stylised fighting, instead quite raw and rough action. I think I’m going to blame my ambivalence towards this film on just not being a huge fan of war films in general.

Rural Americana
Two documentaries – one short, one longer – about two peculiarities of rural America.

The Dancing Outlaw
Jesco or Jesse or, er, Elvis is this crazy tap dancin’ fellow who aspires to be a star. He’s got a fat, big-haired wife, a young-looking mother and plenty of wild tales to tell. The documentary mostly sits back and lets Jesco take over with his own wild style. Sometimes it’s a little meandering, but there’s more than enough humour and personality to make up for it.

Okie Noodling
Noodling is the time-honoured tradition of catching catfish using ones arm as bait. These catfish are big enough that a human arm can fit inside their mouths. At the beginning of the documentary, noodling, and the men who do it, seems pretty crazy. But as the film takes a closer look, noodling ends up just seeming like any other recreational activity – there are fathers passing it down to their sons, friends going out and doing it on the weekends.

Peter Jackson’s Filler
The much-anticipated opening night entertainment extravaganza, lovingly made by the film fest team. A cross between Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and the hype surrounding “Lord of the Rings”, it all came together like a mutant love child of a teen romance gone horribly wrong. Things got even better when the action moved from on-screen (the twinkling onion ring) to live in the theatre and a bunch of zombies came on stage to kick out the jams.

Plaster Caster
Cynthia Plaster Caster is so choice. I really hope I’m as cool as she is when I’m in my 50s. Since she was 19 she’s been making plaster moulds of rock stars penises. This documentary follows her as she prepares for her first exhibit. Along the way she makes a couple of plaster casts, including one of Danny Doll Rod (possibly her boyfriend, or at least lover at the time) that she casts in the same hotel room that she did Jimi Hendrix in back in the ’60s. It’s a little bit sexy, but also pretty funny.

Possible Worlds
I was a little bit confused at the beginning of this film, but that was due to me not paying attention and missing some information about one of the characters. The rest of the film, with potential parallel universes, brains in jars, a mysterious woman, and a couple of cops investigating a murder, all fell into place by the time the final twist was revealed. Deep, and very meaningful.

Rated X: A Journey Through Porn
Like most porn-themed documentaries, this one had a predominantly male audience. I’m not sure why, because this doco about the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley was both funny and sad, and really well made. People at all sorts of places in the porno industry were observed. The director, Dag Yngvesson, was even asked to help film a low budget porno. It was the little things that stood out, like the woman porn director who said she liked for there to be some sort of emotional connection between the couples in her films.

Seance (Korei)
This film was very scary. I got so scared at one point that I had to close my eyes. I regressed into total girly wuss mode. A kidnapped girl escapes and ends up in the home of a psychic and her husband. The woman decides to delay returning the girl and to give the police “clues” in order to boost her profile as a psychic. Then things go horribly wrong. Deep, menacing bass tones create a feeling of heavy doom. One of the scariest films I’ve seen in a long time.

Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation
Apparently the internet is sucking up all the new animators who’d previously show their stuff with Spike and Mike. There was plenty of entertaining stuff but the one that blew me away was the Betty Boop “Snow White” cartoon from 1933. Betty Boop ends up in an icy underworld where a kind of ghost (the voice of Cab Calloway) sings “St James Infirmary”. I was sitting there, watching, just amazed at what a brilliant cartoon it was.

The Story of Ricky (Riki-Oh)
Brought in as a replacement for the other banned film, “Visitor Q”. I really enjoyed “Ricky”. It was full of cheesy, over-the-top violence. How is it possible to not enjoy a film where one character disembowels himself and strangles his foe with this intestines? Or the corrupt assistant prison warden who keep mints in his false eye? Complete with subtitles that had been translated a bit too literally, and a couple of audience walk-outs, “Ricky” was good, trash fun.

Tex Avery Returns!
The first cartoon that played had no sound until about halfway through, but it audience was laughing along at the merry antics, anyway. One of my favourite cartoons in this selection started with a cutesy squirrel that was taken behind a tree and beaten up because, let’s face it, we didn’t come here for no happy bon bon forest animal adventures. I like how parents take their kids along to this.

Bride of That’s Exploitation!
The premise is simple: hey baby, come over and I’ll show you my trailer collection. This year’s selection had a few technical problems, but there was plenty to entertain. My favourites were “The Jesus Trip” (a beautiful nun runs away with some bikers), “Redneck County” (a black pop singer becomes stranded in a racist town), and the trailer to “Southern Comfort” which played backwards and earned a small applause.

Vampire Hunter D
The title character in this animated feature is a tall, dark gentleman. He is the kind of character that teen Goths aspire to be like. But like the teen goth who curses the embarrassing fast food uniform he has to wear on weekends, D has an embarrassing smart-arse talking hand (“What’s the sound of one hand yapping?”). It’s a very stylish film with a satisfying ending that’s kind of reminiscent of how “Rocky Horror” ends.

Wendigo
This was supposed to be scary, but it wasn’t. An annoying man and woman and their son are planning on spending a weekend in a small town. Before they even get there they’ve had a run-in with some gun-totin’ locals. The boy gets a figurine of a wendigo – a native American mythological creature – and when things start to go wrong (and of course things are going to go wrong), is the wendigo going to make its presence known? It wasn’t scary, but it did have a really bleak feeling to it, contrasting nicely between the wild outdoors and the safety of indoors.

Coming Soon:
Baise Moi
Sex With Strangers
Visitor Q

“Baise Moi” and “Visitor Q” have been temporarily banned, pending some hot court action. I was looking forward to “Baise Moi”, mainly because I dig French movies (silly reason, yeah), and I was really looking forward to “Visitor Q” because I dig Takashi Miike’s films. “Sex With Strangers” is the Wellington replacement for “Visitor Q”. Being the obsessive movie-lovin’ completionist I am, I’m going to have to see it. That might mean driving down to Wellington (choice!), but rumour has it that it may get an Auckland screening later.

Film Fest Stuff

What would the fest be without the crazy audience members? You just don’t get people like this in multiplexes. Here’s my five favourites:

The Gesturing Guy
During the two “Rural Americana” documentaries, the gesturing guy would interact with the on-screen action. In “Dancing Outlaw” Jesco mentioned that he’d waved to his mother wearing handcuffs. The gesturing guy held up his hands together and waved. Later some people were waving at the camera. He waved back. In “Okie Noodling” Mr Gesture appeared to be excited by a really rockin’-looking dude and did that “hail Satan” sign.

The Girl With The Loud Laugh
The female who annoyed the hell out of me last year during “Nowhere to Hide” was back for the movie marathon this year. Also of mention was the woman who, during “Spike and Mike,” laughed at stuff that wasn’t funny, but had to force herself to laugh with the rest of the audience at the genuinely funny stuff.

The Moaning Guy
During “Rated X” there was a guy sitting a mere two seats down from me who let out small moans at various parts of the movie. He seemed to moan the most whenever there was porno action, but also moaned when the director called his mother for advice.

The Over-Prepared Girl
Before “The Experiment” started a girl sitting behind me rattled off a big long description of the set-up of the movie (mostly culled from the festival programme). After about five minutes of constant talking, the guy she was with said, “yeah, I deliberately don’t find out much about films before I see them.”

The Actual Crazy Guy
He wriggled around in his seat all the time. He wouldn’t sit front on, instead he faced towards the right, often looking at the audience. He frequently yawned loudly and stretched his arms out. He occasionally muttered to himself. Once he brought out a piece of electronic equipment that beeped and flashed a green light (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a cell phone). He engaged in a hardcore nose-picking and snot-eating session. He slapped himself.

Hardcore film fest attendance is all-consuming. Sacrifices have to be made. Here’s five things that just don’t fit in with hard-core film fest lovin’:

Eating Well
There was one point where I was feeling a bit sick and I was trying to figure out what I’d had to eat that day. I realised all I’d had was three cups of coffee and a Kit Kat. Last year I seem to remember fitting in proper meals and eating well, but this year I was so hungry one time that I stopped off at McDonalds on the way home. Urgh, never again.

Doing a Job Skills Course
In a case of synchronicity almost on par with “Dark Side of the Rainbow,” the three weeks that bIFF took place on also happened to be the same three weeks that Work and Income NZ ordered me to get my unemployed arse on a three week job skills programme. I found it difficult to concentrate on anything that was happening (“Turn your weaknesses into your strengths!” “You are a marketable item!”) because I was usually more excited about the line-up of films I’d be seeing later in the day.

Editing a Film
A friend of mine volunteered to edit a low-budget film. As he’s working full time that means he has to spend all his spare time hunched over his computer trying to fit together pieces of what looks to be a really bad film. I fear for his mental health. I kept trying to lure him away with exciting descriptions of films in the festival, but he’d always reply, “nah, I can’t. I’m editing.”

Having a Social Life
I managed to see a few films with friends but most of the time I was on my own. It’s hard to convince people to come along and see three films in a row (“It’ll be fun!” “Uh, I don’t like films with subtitles.”) Fortunately every film I saw on my own had a bunch of other film geeks sitting on their own so I didn’t feel all that sad. I’m kinda pleased, though, that I managed to fit in a friend’s birthday dinner.

Giving Up Caffeine
About halfway through the fest I decided that I was consuming too many caffeinated beverages. I went cold turkey and suffered with the most unpleasant headache for two days. By the third day the headache had gone, but I found myself entice by the espresso machine at the Chinatown cinema. Yes, of all the potential sources of caffeine, it was the coffee machine at the fest that broke my resolution.

Crossroads

I saw “Crossroads”, otherwise known as The Britney Movie. If you want to see a really fun movie with pop stars, pop music and everyone having a good time, see “A Hard Day’s Night” or “Spice World”. If you want to see a dreary, overly serious waste of time, see “Crossroads”.

But you’re probably not going to see it, so here’s a basic plot summary:

Britney hates her friends, father, wants to meet her mother and get laid. Britney travels from Georgia to California with her friends and a bad boy. Britney meets her mother, but her mother is a bitch. Britney bonds with her friends and father, sleeps with bad boy. Britney sings “Not a girl, not yet a woman”. Everything is ok.

It got me thinking. It could have been a better film. It could have been a much different film. Here are some ideas I had on ways “Crossroads” could have been improved:

  • The climax of “Crossroads” happened when Britney loses her virginity. This is also what happened in “American Pie.” So instead of making a teen movie about a bunch of guys who want to get laid, make it about Britney’s epic quest to have the burden of her virginity relieved.
  • Blues musician Robert Johnson was said to have met the devil at some crossroads at midnight, and sold his soul in exchange for being able to play the guitar like he was born to play. So Britney meets the devil at some crossroads and sells her soul and transforms from a mediocre Mickey Mouse Club performer to a million-selling pop singer.
  • Instead of contriving that “Not a girl, not yet a woman” was written in motel room with lyrics by Britney and music by the bad boy, instead be a bit more honest and showed Max Martin and Rami in Sweden working with Dido, emailing bits back and forth, then sticking it all together in ProTools. Yeah, that’d make a good movie.
  • Apply the “Crossroads” formula to make a film about Nsync. There could be a scene where the older woman who’s giving the boys a lift to California asks JC to read her some of his poetry and he reads out, “I get so excited when I’m watchin’, girl. I can’t wait to see you touch your body, girl.” But instead of writing some sappy music she’d nail him.
  • Instead of basing the movie around “Not a girl, not yet a woman”, make it about “I’m a slave 4 u.” Taking inspiration from the video, Britney and pals hang out in an abandoned building, get all sweaty and writhe about with a snake. It could also be an emotional journey where everyone learns a lesson and becomes stronger.
  • Or the next time Britney says “I want to star in a movie”, someone sits her down with every film Madonna made after “Desperately Seeking Susan” and makes her watch them over and over until the truth sinks in.

Death Farm Film

I lived on a farm. I didn’t like it and craved concrete not grass under my feet, but that’s another story. This story is about the farm safety film I watched at school once.

Matangi was only about ten minutes drive from Hamilton. It was more like a rural suburb of Hamilton than actual proper country living. Most of the people who lived there had what are called lifestyle properties. Ten acres, some cows some sheep and pony. I think there was only one actual dairy farm in the area. Most people who lived in Matangi had office jobs in Hamilton.

So one day at school – I think I would have been about six years old – my class was ushered into the library, the black curtains drawn and the projector was started up to show us a film about farm safety.

The basic plot was that a bunch of American kids all go to someone’s farm in America for a party and they all end up dead. It sounds like a horror film, right (“Death Farm,” perhaps)? It pretty much was a horror film, designed to scare its audience into observing farm safety.

I’m a bit hazy on exactly what happened in the film, but I can remember the following incidents:

  • The kids were sitting around pretending to be Native Americans, passing a bowl and pretending to drink from it. The bowl was filled with some sort of poison, like weedkiller or something, which is why they didn’t actually drink from it. Except one girl did! She didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to actually drink from it, took a sip, said it tasted horrible and died!
  • There was a big silo filled with grain and this kid dressed as a cowboy had somehow jumped into it. He began to sink down into the grain. Soon he was totally under the grain, with only his cowboy hat remaining on top as a tragic reminder.
  • One of the kids decided to go for a ride on a tractor and couldn’t reach the brake or something and ended up driving off the path, and rolled down a hill where he died!
  • Near the milking shed there was a big pit full of cow poo. One of the kids was probably doing something like running around or playing on the milking shed equipment, slipped and drowned in the giant pit o’ poo!

Whenever one of these unfortunate youngsters died there’d always be a shot of a sad-looking mother making their bed or doing something to show that little Jimmy wasn’t around anymore.

Of course it’s all pretty crazy. I mean what kind of irresponsible parent lets their young child invite a bunch of friends over to their farm, leaves them totally unsupervised resulting in a series of deaths?

What’s even crazier is that my six and seven year old classmates and I were shown this film. I’m pretty sure that if something like this were to be shown in a cinema it would have a rating that would not allow kids that young to see it.

But the best part is that there wasn’t much in the film that was relevant to us. We lived in a rural area, but we were living like suburban kids. Watching TV or playing with Barbie dolls was a more likely after school activity than swallowing weedkiller. The film was really for kids who live on really big farms, whose parents would be farmers, not, say, accountants or managers.

I’m sure my teacher thought she was doing something really good by showing the death farm film, but it was really spectacularly irrelevant. I still do this day do not know anyone with a giant pit of cow poo.

Update: I found out that the film is called Apaches, and is responsible for traumatising an entire generation of children!