The first set of films M and I took in last night was at the Monona Terrace. All hail the eyeball-assaulting carpet pattern!
It was not surprising that while this year's pre-film trailer was pretty in interesting, there was no way it could top last year's "We Like It Here!" intro.
Our first selection was a short-film program of 3 documentary films. At 2 minutes, National Anthem Tryouts was also the most interesting and endearing.
The 6 minute-long University of Wisconsin Marching Band was also fun, but the footage and editing was a bit choppy. As someone who had Mike Leckrone as a director (albeit for Concert Band rather than Marching Band) I found it amusing as hell. Still, it seemed more the thing to show at a Band-specific function. Very home-movie.
Ghost Player was the longest, at 54 minutes. It was also the most frustrating. Like University of Wisconsin Marching Band, it was edited in such a way that made it more appropriate to an audience that already knew the group. So many things were reference in passing but never explained. In fact, one item that sounded *extremely* interesting wasn't even mentioned until over the closing credits, and again, without actually telling the story.
The most frequently repeated phrase in Ghost Player was something along the lines of "I can't explain it." Well obviously, but if that is the case, maybe find someone who can? I think every person who spoke on camera was one of the team. We hear nothing from their families, co-workers, fans... We just have to take their word that it was special and amazing. I think the topic could have been a great documentary, along the liine of Heart of an Empire. Instead, I kept checking my watch to see if it would be over soon.
Still, if that is our worst pick, it is going to be a great weekend.
For our second program, Slightly Unsettling Spanish Shorts, we were joined by E at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). The selections lived up to the name. All three of us were definitely unsettled.
The first film, Ya no Puede Caminar (13 min) was also, to us, the most unsettling. I saw the ending coming about halfway through and though, "No, it can't be that. How would that happen?" And then it did, and it was *worse* than I'd thought (by which I mean far creepier). On top of that, the ending is both shockingly horrible *and* unresolved, leaving you with a feeling of "Oh my god, no! What happens next?!" M, E, and I found ourselves discussing the possibilities all the way home.
El Tren de la Bruja (19 min) was more immediately and viscerally disturbing, but carried less of a lasting feeling of unease. It felt much more like a standard modern horror film, of the "torture porn" variety. It did have an interesting twist at the end, and more-or-less resolved. The questions left unanswered did not feel as pressing. In fact, while I wondered was was really going on, I found myself wondering even more what would happen next in the world of the first film.
Tercero BB (19 min) was like Almodovar meets Hitchcock. The most interesting thing about it is the way it set you up with one POV and interpretation on the story and then, halfway through, it takes you back to the beginning and retells it all from a second POV which fills in some gaps and alters the interpretation in a very cool way. Once again, this is a film that goes to the closing credits on an unresolved note: what was that noise off-screen? What did they do to each other? Yet like El Tren de la Bruja, I didn't care quite as much about the ending as I had about Ya no Puede Caminar.
Tras Los Visillos (17 min) was far less unsettling. When pretty much of the characters are horrible people, it is hard to care. Definitely brutal and violent, but even the twist was kind of a shoulder shrug for me.
7:35 de la Mañana (8.5 min) made an excellent bookend with Ya no Puede Caminar, for it also left us scratching our heads and saying, "What just happened here? That was bizarre." In a way, the set-up was like something from an episode of Criminal Minds, if Criminal Minds were in Spanish. And a musical.
All in all, the program did just what it said on the label, leaving us slightly unsettled. Perfect.
On the schedule for tonight: For the Love of Movies: Film Criticism and Unforgettable. I'll write them up on Saturday if I have time.