Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Back: The 2009 AFI Film Festival in Dallas

Yes, the AFI International Film Festival is back, which means Chris and I are spending valuable time poring over the 100+ movie options. We have a particular method for doing this (even though we didn't make it last year--meagre offerings) which is helped by the fact that he's in Houston doing business and I'm at home doing nothing: We both look through the films separately, then we compare lists to see what's in common. If we don't agree on a particular movie one person wanted to see, the interested party can lobby for it. That's how we ended up seeing the two films we did two years ago: I lobbied to see an Indian film (with possibly the most perfect ending a movie's ever had), and Chris lobbied to see To Kill a Mockingbird on the big screen followed by an interview with Gregory Peck's widow.

I don't mean to be this way, but I don't like to go see movies in the theater. I don't know why--it used to be that I couldn't focus while wearing glasses (out-of-date prescription) and my contacts would dry out, so there was no ideal way to view them. But now that I wear glasses exclusively that can't be my excuse anymore. I even waffled on going to see the new Batman. I still haven't seen it. And I love Batman. That said, I actually do gear up for AFI. These are movies that may never be on DVD--you have to see them while you can.

So for grins, here's our initial lists. We have to make our choices PDQ since it starts in a week!

We both agree on ...
Adam Resurrected - Adam Steiner survives World War II’s concentration camps by working for the Nazis, performing his clown act while other Jews are sent to the gas chambers. After the war, he lands in a mental institution where he reads minds and confounds doctors.
Megatron - Maxim’s turning 8 years old. For his birthday, his mother takes him from the village to a McDonald’s in the city. [Note: It's a Romanian movie.]
Double Indemnity - An insurance agent, Walter Neff, meets Phyllis Dietrichson when she renews her husband’s auto insurance policy. An attraction begins and the two plot to murder Mr. Dietrichson for his life insurance money, until the plan goes awry. [Note: I want Chris to see the movie so he'll know what I'm thinking now that our life insurance policy is in place. :) ]
The Eyes of Me - Following the lives of four blind teenagers over the course of a school year at the Texas School for the Blind, The Eyes of Me is a thought-provoking look into the day-to-day thoughts, emotions, highs and lows of adolescents who lost their sight at different stages of their childhood.

Chris will be making cases for ...
Yoroi: The Samurai Zombie - A family on vacation is car-jacked and kidnapped by a couple of criminals. To elude the authorities, the criminals take the family deep into the woods that is cursed by the spirits of the undead. There, the group must face their inescapable karma and destiny. [Japanese film ... you're welcome to question Chris's taste and judgement now.]
Skin - Spanning 30 years in the history of South Africa, this story follows the life of Sandra Laing (Sophie Okenodo), a young woman who, despite being born to a white Afrikaner parents, has light brown skin and curly hair. From a white African family but possessing of black African physical features, Sandra defies the classifications that served as the foundation of South Africa’s systemic racism. It is not until she is thrown out of the same all-white boarding school that reality sets in: Sandra will not have the same opportunities as everyone else in her family. Sandra’s parents set out to have her legally classified as “white” in 1960s apartheid-era South Africa, setting in motion a legal battle that marks Sandra with the strength and self-awareness that ultimately enables her to embrace her identity and cultural legacy as an African woman.
Moon - Nearing the end of a three-year contract with Lunar Industries, Sam Bell is counting the days until his return to Earth. The lone occupant of a lunar mining base, Sam monitors the tractors that harvest the moon’s surface for helium energy. He combats monotony and isolation by tending to plants and interacting with the station’s robotic computer, Gerty. But Sam is beginning to unravel mentally. After a hallucination causes him to crash his lunar rover, he wakes up in the sick bay and soon realizes that his life at the base is not what it seems.
Sugar - For many Dominicans, baseball represents the pathway from poverty to wealth and glory. And so when Sugar, a gifted 19-year-old pitcher, gets called up to the American minor leagues, it seems a dream fulfilled for him, his family and his community. But life on the road and under the glare of the lights carries more challenges than the young man imagined. [Shock-horror, Chris wants to see the baseball movie!]
Zombie Girl: The Movie - Most 12-year-olds are busy with friends, homework, and online chatting. So is Emily Hagins, but Emily found time to write and direct a feature-length zombie movie as well. Zombie Girl: THE MOVIE covers the two years it took her to make it. With the help of her mother as agent, crew, and biggest fan, Emily launches an epic adventure in genre filmmaking, complete with decapitations, disembowelments, and as many brain-sucking zombie sixth-graders as she can muster.

Finally, I will be flexing my lobbying muscles for ...
Hunger - Though ostensibly about the 1981 hunger strike initiated by Irish Republican Army leader Bobby Sands, this poetic-realist debut by Steve McQueen ventures into far deeper territory, seeking to visually articulate the very nature of oppression and resistance. [Note: I don't think it's that Steve McQueen.]
Rough Aunties - Kim Longinotto documents four South African women determined to stem sexual abuse in their country. Through their nonprofit group Bobbi Bear, which uses teddy bears to help children explain their abuse, the women battle racial, socioeconomic and cultural barriers.
Push Button House - Investigates the creation of Adam Kalkin's creation of a shipping container that blossoms into a sleek, modern, pre-fabricated home.

If the gentle readership wants to offer any opinions, then by all means--we can't see all of them!! (The Eyes of Me is the only certainty, and everything else is being debated on the floor.)

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