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Monday, June 02, 2003

SIFF, Day 10
Sunday was a bit of a bummer, SIFF-wise. Since my first glimpse at the schedule, I’d known exactly what I wanted to see come June 1 (Song for a Raggy Boy, Minimal Stories, and Bollywood/Hollywood), but a combination of laziness, back-to-work jitters (I swear this round-the-world movie tour made four days away from the office seem like four months), R being under the weather, and a failure to get my ass out of the house in time to catch the bus down to Pacific Place completely discombobulated my plans. So, instead of the long-planned movies, I saw:

A shorts package called “The Hush,” which turned out to be eight short films—at least half of which were truly dire—without words. Even the two decent ones—Misdemeanor, which won the Best Short award at the Berlin Film Festival, and Kenneth Branagh’s Listening—were rather lame. Misdemeanor had all the too-earnest signs of the MFA course work that it was, and Ken’s opus, even though it featured the divine Frances Barker, the lovely Nanette Newman, and Withnail’s sidekick Paul McGann, was like a second-rate episode of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. The next time I hear someone raving about shorts, I’ll remind myself of the 90 minutes I lost forever on Sunday afternoon.

Seaside is a very slow-moving French film in the Eric Rohmer style, but without Rohmer’s redeeming personality insights. Set in a once-fashionable but now outmoded resort town, the movie trundles through the seasons—summer, when visitors fill out the place and provide the year-rounders with seasonal work; winter, when everything starts to fall apart; spring, when it all goes to pieces; and summer, when the regulars return, which serves to highlight the absence of some former residents. Although it was nicely filmed, and the characters were distinguishable (which shouldn’t be an achievement, but is), they were ciphers with tics and bad habits rather than rounded characters. I confess I fell asleep from time to time, which seemed like a reasonable reaction.