Saturday, April 19, 2008

For the Mind and the Eye

Today Roy and I went to the Riverside International Film Festival. This has been going on since last weekend, and I found out about it earlier this week. Due to current time constraints, we could only attend for a little while, so we decided to go see a selection of surrealistic short films.

I am a huge fan of Surrealism, so this felt like it was right up my alley. We started off with Dislandia, which was by far the weirdest of the bunch. It was a 29-minute film starring a young girl wearing an insanely poofy dress, a brace on one leg, and a papier-mache (or some similar-looking material) mask on her face. This film made no sense whatsoever. It was, however, a very jarring assault on the senses, with loud screechy music, jumpy editing, and a rambling plotline. There were a couple of times during this film when I felt nauseated. If the film was meant to be an experience, it definitely was. On the whole, I enjoyed it, despite its utter strangeness. I did feel that it was weird for the sake of being weird, but I appreciated its uniqueness anyway. The creator was actually there, and we got to ask him some questions and hear some interesting trivia about the movie (like the mask the little girl wore is actually made of pig intestines!).

The second film we watched was a very short, calming film featuring all sorts of bodies of water as its main (and only) characters. It was called Tirol - Land of Water, and it was a nice reprieve from the strange world of Dislandia. The song that accompanied the six-minute film was very soothing and beautiful.

After that, we watched Folly of Two, a funny and engaging film that was obviously inspired by the works of great playwrights Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. The film features a foul-mouthed old man named Ben, who meets up with young(er) Ben, and as they argue about poo, circumcision, and the guy who sent Ben a mysterious note, they wake up in some other place. This new place contains a baby crib, a mural of the Last Supper, some fake-looking birds in a cage, and some sort of strange elevator that moves from floor to floor at random. Eventually, after several different plot twists, Ben and Gus escape the strange place by using the elevator as a means to transport themselves to freedom.

The fourth movie was called Glimpse, and like Tirol - Land of Water, it was very short. This one was actually animated, and it reminded me of one of those books where you flip through the pages and watch a story unfold. Glimpse was very colorful, though, and didn't really have a plot.

Lastly, we watched a really cool movie called Outsource. It was basically a commentary on the human-machine relationship, and it presented the audience with a world in which human beings act as the hub of machines. As human beings on the outside world grow frustrated with their different machines, they push the reset button - and the person who is controlling the offending machine is violently shocked. It was a really interesting take on artificial intelligence, power, and the future - and definitely my favorite of the bunch.

I'm really glad we went to the festival. I was really hoping for that festival experience - watching really different movies in really old/historic theatres, but no such luck. The festival was held in a regular old movie theatre, but at least we got some exposure to new films. I'm always on the lookout for interesting and creative endeavors, and these five shorts definitely fit the bill.


Kim said...

That sounds like fun! I am all about 5-minute movies. Two-hour movies draaaaaag.

Erika said...

Thats awesome....

The other day Jim and I saw the Producers the movie with Gene Wilder.

At first it was SOOO weird to us we HAD to watch know how a movie can be so bizarre you just have to watch it to the end so that you can figure it out??

MAN, I wish I would have known about the festival sounds like good fun....:)

Kimberly said...

How fun! I love to pass the time by watching a good movie.