Tom’s SFIFF56 Report: Day 4 – “Night Across The Street”, “The East”, and “Key of Life”

East_01What a better way to spend a beautiful, sunny San Francisco day than to watch some films at a film festival? With one exception it was well worth it! Here are a couple that I saw today, as well as Key of Life thrown in there for good measure.

Night Across The Street

Night_Across_The_Street_01one-star2The final film of prolific director Raúl Ruiz and follow up to Mysteries of Lisbon, Night Across the Street surprised me, as this film seemed like a poorly staged play that was badly video taped. I wonder if in part it is the poor transition from film to digital that may have caused some of the aesthetic problems, such as the frame-rate which seemed like cheap television, but the lighting as well seemed like a sit-com and the acting reminded me of a telenovella, except in this case full of repetitive non-sequitors taking the form of pseudo-philosophy/existentialism. And the use of green screen? And the shoddy, romanticised directing of children? And the constant trivia? What were they thinking?

The plot you ask? I ask that too. A plot is not necessarily necessary, and I wouldn’t ask for it, especially when a film tries to take surrealism and squeeze meaning out of it, but in this case you can’t squeeze meaning from a dried lemon (to use a nice Southern-esque analogy). There really is very little substance in this film; the aspect that the film continuously alludes to, that some sort of massacre happened, or he killed himself, or he killed his wife and himself, or etc. – that aspect could have had something to it. Sadly it did not.

Overall it was a painful film to sit through, one from which I would have left early if I hadn’t found the perfect seat in the mid-back-center at the last minute before the start of the film, and I would rather suffer than kick people about in the dark.

The East

East_02three-stars15The East was one of those times when perhaps I should have read a bit more about it before I went into it. Expecting something as educated and thought-provoking as Something In The Air, what I got was rather a semi-sci-fi thriller about a super-anarchist-collective group of eco-terrorists fighting against a super-intel-corporation, with the main character being a member of the latter sent to investigate the former.

I found the portrayal of the anarchist group bizarre – the hazing initiation of shoving your hand into a deer’s guts for one struck me as a bit odd. However, the characters within said group are quite interesting and diverse, and the acting and direction is through and through quite good. The plot, as well, all said and done, and the topic of the threat of corporations to the citizens of the United States and the world is absolutely worth discussing.

Beautifully shot on the Alexa, if a bit unnecessarily frantic in editing, as seems to be the contemporary American wont, it’s a good thriller and worth a viewing.

Key of Life

Key_of_Life_02three-stars15Amusing. Key of Life is a film about a young man at the end of his ropes and a Yakuza who got into a bizarre accident switching places.

The film is full of good, genuinely clever humor, à la early Wes Anderson, from the very opening scene in which one of the primary characters declares a business proposition to her company to get her married.

My only complaint about it is that the film began very dark, and slowly through various plot twists actually became lighter and lighter. I couldn’t help but wonder why this was, and I felt it detracted from the dynamic juxtaposition of light and dark that the film painstakingly created in the beginning.



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Categories: Festivals, Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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  1. Filmbalaya’s Guide to SFIFF56 2013 | Filmbalaya.com - April 30, 2013

    […] East – “Beautifully shot [and well acted]… if a bit unnecessarily frantic in editing, as seems to be t…” – […]

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