The 58th SF Intl Film Festival: Day 7 – Martín Rejtman’s “Two Shots Fired” and a Repeat Viewing of Diao Yinan’s “Black Coal, Thin Ice”

Two_Shots_Fired_02I learned my lesson long ago not to put too much stock in the movie notes found in festival guides. Though not true of all film descriptions, these write-ups do have a reputation of often being a bit misleading. A good example of why these need to be taken with a grain of salt can be found in the write-up for Martín Rejtman‘s Two Shots Fired in where note writer Steve Mockus calls the movie, “a slyly funny low-key existential comedy for fans of films like “Stranger than Paradise” and “Slacker”.” Having been a note writer for festival guides myself I too have been guilty of making loose connections to other known and much better films than the one I am writing about. A certain amount of hyperbole comes with the territory of having to write with the intent of getting as many butts in the seats as possible. So given my experience of what I know about this mis(guide)ed writing process I should have known better than to think this film would actually be the second coming of Jim Jarmusch, a director who is easily my favorite person working behind the camera today. My point of this mini tirade is this; simply having a scene in where three vacationers take a spontaneous overnight trip to the shoreline does not warrant comparison to Stranger than Paradise. It’s a stretch.

Okay, now that my little tirade is out of the way I can focus on what I actually thought of the movie. Contrary to the most enthusiastic applause that I’ve heard yet at this year’s festival I did not enjoy this. Mostly what I didn’t enjoy was the directing choice of having every character act emotionally dead with inward dispositions as if to suggest they were each manifesting the personality traits of an Eeyore fart. Would it kill you to emote a little?! I get that this dry monotone approach to telling this story is on purpose, and that its effect is to bolster up the comedy of the already absurd situations, but what can I say, I found it way more annoying and distracting than I did funny. And that’s pretty funny, because I enjoy this style of acting in Wes Anderson films, but here not so much. Then again, being that a large portion of the audience seemed to have connected with this formula I would suggest, that just like the festival guide’s description, you take my opinion with a grain of salt. What do I know, right?

I realize I didn’t even touch on what the film’s about. Well, rather than give my own synopsis, and waste even more time writing about a film I will hopefully never see again, I feel it’s best, and appropriate given my opening paragraph tirade, to just defer you to the festival guide’s write-up, which can be read here.


Enough negative talk, time to focus on the positive, like Diao Yinan‘s refreshing take on modern day noir “Black Coal, Thin Ice”, a film I already saw just two days prior (which I wrote about here), and a film I revisited with the hopes of ending my day 7 on a high note, which as expected, I did. Yeah Chinese noir!



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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival

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