Mmmmmmm…experimental and student film. Nothing puts one in the mood for this viewing experience more than a few drinks. This is why it is such a pleasure that Microcinema’s September San Francisco screening is taking place at 111 Mina Gallery, equipped with two bars. Being that this is the case, you have to be 21 or over to attend the screening…so beware.
The cool thing about these short film showcases is that for every few films that don’t cater to your discriminating taste, there’s that gem in there somewhere that will leave a lasting impression on you. Microcinema’s monthly Independent Exposure screenings are no exception to the rule and even though not every film was to my liking, I still appreciate the balls these filmmakers have to exhibit their blood, sweat and tears before a drinking audience. People become more vocal about their opinions after they’ve tucked some liquid courage under their belts, so it takes more courage on the filmmakers’ part to get up there and show their work.
Anyways, on with the films:
Transfixed ^ ** ^ Directed by Jason Britski
This one’s supposed to be “a meditative film that celebrates the beauty found within the small details of existence.” The grainy, slow motion Super 8 footage of a boy poking his head out of a car window as it travels down a tree-lined road is soothing and yes…perhaps meditative, as well. But the sound in this film will keep viewers on edge with its deep, bassy drone and distant booms that sound like a giant death machine tromping through a post-apocalyptic battlefield. Not something I would exactly call a celebration of beauty.
My Summer Vacation ^ ****1/2 ^ Directed by Mark O’ Connell
What more can I say other than this is a f*****g gorgeous film. A somber voice describes his calm, quiet summer vacation at a “Norman Rockwell knock-off kinda place” over blurred images of vactioners picnicing and playing at the beach. Everything would seem nice and peaceful, but the raging, digitally enhanced clouds overhead tell a different story. Like the previous film, it feels like danger’s on the way. This time, that danger arrives. The narrator turns on his television set to find images of the Twin Towers turning into hellish pillars of flame and smoke. From here on in, we’re bombarded with wild, digitally pieced together footage pulled from old monster movies, news clips and Bugs Bunny cartoons. On September 11th, all of our lives were affected by the frenzied nightmare that these images so wonderfully illustrate, but despite this true life tragedy, “My Summer Vacation” is still an absolute pleasure to behold.
Untitled ^ *** ^ Directed by Brett Simon
Supposedly this is a “video lullaby” made by filmmaker Brett Simon on September 11th, 2001. Kinda looks like something you’d see on the Health Channel about the inner-mechanics of the human body. Blurred images of liquidy substances smear across the screen to the tune of what sounds like a jack in a box. Creepy, yet pretty.
Postcard to Oz ^ * ^ Directed by Richard Koenig
Oz is gonna be bummed. We have a single shot overlooking a pool as two naked people swim past each other in opposite directions as what sounds like a garbled Spock talks a bunch of backwards jibber jabber. Fun.
Flee ^ * ^ Directed by Tamara Taddeo
Noooooooo! It’s a prefume commercial! At least the title of this one gives you fair warning beforehand. Two lovers whisper sweet nothings in one another’s ear over grainy, black and white images of the woman dancing, the couple cuddling and a horse running through a snowy field. “If I stroked your hair softly…and if I kissed you gently…”
Yeah, yeah. If I stuck my finger down my throat…and jammed my thumb up my a*s…I’d probably cum.
Observatory ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Ryan O’Connor
Hey, it’s a pool full of cool people! A bunch of hipsters wander and lounge about an empty pool – one watches TV, another loses himself in a Viewmaster, a couple of guys in helmets do the “I just s**t my pants” walk and a girl ponders a painting. At least the film looks good.
Vision Test ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Wes Kim
A simple vision test turns into a study about how Americans feel towards Asian Americans. This film was based on a true study.
Twirl Girl ^ *** ^ Directed by Trish Van Heusen
Here we have a bunch of old, scratchy found footage that looks like its about to fall apart, cut together with an animated image of a girl spinning around. Violinst Eyvind Kang supplies the music. I don’t know what the hell’s being said here, but it looks and sounds great!
Transit Man ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Kyle Hurley
A filmmaker and his brother wander about San Francisco with a camera, aimlessly shooting various sights and natives. At the same time, we get to hear the brother’s mother, via telephone conversation, giving her son advice on how to make a proper documentary. Yup, that about does it.
Talking Richard Wilson Blues ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Nicholas Twemlow
Mr. Wilson kills a man for grinding all over his woman at a dance club. He is then punished for his crime by having to listen to radio transmissions of himself drone on about how much life sucks. Hey, we didn’t kill anybody! Why do we get punished, too?
Teeth ^ ** ^ Directed by Ian Kibbey
Our subject learns the meaning behind the saying, “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” the hard way. A quack dentist tells him that he needs to get his rear teeth removed because, according to him, people don’t need as much chewing power anymore. The kid gets his teeth pulled and goes home bummed…feeling a major chunk of him has been taken. Luckily, this film only takes three minutes from our lives. Sucks to be that guy.
Tales on the Marshes ^ *** ^ Directed by Mikhail Jeleznikov
A child narrates, over a blend of animation and live action, his take on the history of St. Petersburg and the USSR. What we get is marshes and corn.
Icarus of Pittsburgh ^ ***** ^ Directed by Kirk Hostetter and Evan Mather
You think you’re a hardcore Steeler’s fan? Well, you’re not as hardcore as Archie McNally and his “daddy.” Using computer animation and interview footage with Archie, this film tells Archie’s tale of when in the middle of a 1979 AFC Championship game, he strapped on a couple of helium filled wet suits and attempted to fly to the heavens to let his “daddy” know how his favorite team was doing. Fuckin’ hysterical!
And there it is. This September edition will also screen in Houston, September 27th at the Firestation #3 Gallery.