SFIFF57 Report: Yorgos Servetas’ “Standing Aside, Watching” and Lenny Abrahamson’s “Frank”

FRANK_01Attending film festivals, especially as press, should not be stressful. The staff at SFFS knows this, which is probably why my first visit into their cozy lounge area was greeted with a much-kneeded 30 minute tendering holistic massage and a tub full of all-you-can-drink coconut water, in both chocolate and original flavor. Satisfied with my hydrated, happy, and wholly holisticated self, I sauntered over to the Kabuki Theatre in time to catch my first film of the day, Giorgos ServetasStanding Aside, Watching.

Standing Aside, Watching

StandingAsideWatching_01four-stars4Until I am able to erase selected memories from my lifetime of experiences at will, whether I like it or not, I’ll always be hauling personal baggage into each and every film I attend. Case in point, Servetas’ sophomore feature about a 30-something woman whose rude-awakening upon an unwelcome return to her childhood town directly played into my own fears/cautions I have of returning to my hometown, chiefly, my early 20s adolescent years, which was at times quite dark – though not nearly – heck, not even close to – as dark as the scenarios transpiring on screen were. Even though I couldn’t sympathize with rape and murder, I had no trouble empathizing with the underlining theme of an outsider trying to adapt in an oppressive environment that seems to be suffocating on its own machismo.

The film’s faults (here comes the nitpicking) of having one too many coincidental conveniences, and one character’s somewhat drastic transformation from general nice guy to shining symbol of male asshole-ism seemed a bit of a stretch, but it’s not a stretch that I wasn’t willing to go along with. As I said, I’m just nitpicking here.

Symbolism; that’s where this film is at its strongest, particularly in scenes where humans aren’t even present, such as the transitional montages of grey landscapes, many of which resembled that of vaginas. I found this to be very aesthetically pleasing, not so much for the fact that the vagina is an attractive sexual organ, but more so for the fact of what it represents, which is the respect given to the ever present and ever prevailing force of mother nature, and women in general.

Remaining showtimes for Standing Aside, Watching:

Wednesday, April 30th 1:30pm (Kabuki)
Saturday, May 3rd, 9:00pm (New People)


FRANK_01three-stars15Having not read a single description, yet alone a review, nor seeing any trailers or clips, I went into this film based on the only thing I did know; Michael Fassbinder stars as the eponymous Frank, and apparently never removes that fixed expression papier-mâché head of his (pictured above). Much to my delight, not only does Fassbinder not disappoint, but neither does the attractive premise of watching a film about something so near and dear to my heart.

This seems like an opportune time for a shameless plug. You can hear my band’s 2-year-in-the-making album for free by clicking here.

As a musician, I was able to relate to the creative process elements being shown, as well as the idea of that fine line one walks between sanity and madness when trying to do exist with other bandmates who may not be on the same frequency as the rest of the band.

As a lover of movies though, there were quite a few hurdles I had to leap in order to still give this film a favorable review, which, as my star rating indicates, I ultimately did. There’s the barrage of plastered tweets on the screen in lieu of a voiced-over narration, the hard-to-sit-through misfiring of an ashes-in-the-wind joke (The Big Lebowski, anybody?), and the dull 20 minutes of anything involving the part of the film where the band goes to SXSW.

Even with these misgivings though, there is still enough meat and potatoes within the well-intended humor, happy ending, and catchy song that plays over the closing credits (“Iiiiiiiiiiiii Looooooooove Youuuuuuuuu”) to make me leave this film, and my day of film watching, much the way I began it – satisfied and happy.

Remaining Showtimes for Frank:
Monday, April 28th, 4:00pm (Kabuki)


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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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