Mill Valley Film Festival “Bay of All Saints” and “The Last Man on Earth”

Bay of All Saints

Hang on to your heart strings, because this one is going to tug.  I hardly doubt there is one Bay Area resident attending this year’s festival who will leave this movie not thinking something along the lines of “And I thought I had it bad at the place I’m living now.”

The focus of this documentary is a stilted overlooked seaside community living on the poorer-than-poor slums of the Brazilian seashore, known as the palafitas.  In this case, stilted means houses literally balanced atop some wonky wooden stilts.  It’s a community inhabited by squatters who can’t afford to live anywhere else.  These are people who live amongst rats and above stagnant mosquito-infested water spreading god knows what kind of diseases.  Their “yards” consist of pile upon heaping pile of toxic flotsam and jetsam.  Remarkably, director, cinematographer and editor, Annie Eastman was able to capture enough sincerely joyous moments to leave this viewer feeling hopeful over the fates of those featured in this documentary, regardless of how much these people have been oppressed and abused.

The Last Man on Earth

This darkly comedic look at how a socially awkward middle-aged Italian bingo attendant spends his first few days on Earth during a space alien visitation ultimately winds up missing its mark.

Tonally, it’s all over the place.  The segments aimed at humor are juvenile in both execution and context.  That reason alone, was enough to make me uninterested in this.  But it’s the existence of these segments that seemed to serve only one purpose; to hinder the  more serious-toned parts of the movie, i.e., murder, cover-ups, redemption, that truly had me annoyed.  When the movie is exploring these sterner issues I was on board.  However, those times seemed few and far between.

Too bad director, Gian Alfonso couldn’t have picked just one genre/sub-genre (sci-fi/comedy, or sci-fi/drama) and stuck to it.  Then again, maybe there’s an appealing factor to these tonal shifts that is beyond my tiny Earthling comprehension.

Showtimes for Bay of All Saints: Wednesday, Oct. 10th – 9:15pm (142 Throckmorton)

Friday, Oct. 12th – 5:00pm (142 Throckmorton)

Showtimes for The Last Man on Earth: Tuesday, Oct. 9th – 9:30pm (Sequoia 2)

Thursday, Oct. 11th – 7:15pm (Rafael 3)


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