INDIEFEST '09 Recap

2009

As the San Francisco Independent Film Festival drew to a close yesterday, it bowed out with a final night time showing of Deadgirl, a controversial picture that challenges the audience's idea of sex and the coming-of-age. It's a nice bookmark to its opening night film, Somers Town, which is also about two teenage boys and a girl, but is at the opposite end of the spectrum. In between, we have films that are either full of life or apologetically cynical, completing a journey from the sweet to the depraved.

Here's a recap of the interesting independent films we had the chance to see.

• • •

THE BEST

Deadgirl

"It uses otherworldly elements to perform a horrific probe of the human experience, which is what the best horror films always do." (Read more)

Somers Town

"After confronting xenophobia so thoroughly and intensely in This is England, Somers Town is the perfect show of progression, as we see how two kids with two different personalities and two entirely different backgrounds could still form a friendship out of nothing but a chance meeting. The story doesn’t deal with cultural differences directly, but lets it play into the characters’ actions in subtle ways." (Read more)

Skills Like This

"Sets itself apart from other noted independent comedies by dropping the indie-cute hip and distances itself from other similar slacker-flicks by infusing a high level of fast-paced rock-and-roll energy... The coolest, funniest movie I saw at this year’s Indiefest." (Read more)

Fanboys

"It’s a movie made lovingly for Star Wars fanboys and a worthy representation of what’s so great about being a fanboy, without resorting to any self-congratulating or lecturing." (Read more)

Ex Drummer

"Brutal. This Belgium film has been compared to Trainspotting for its depiction of the unruly lives of society’s dregs, but one look at it and you’ll see why it makes the Danny Boyle classic look like West Side Story. Ex Drummer is Trainspotting on a cocktail of cocaine and steroids. It’s savagely violent, explicitly offensive, politically incorrect and boasts humor as black as Satan’s morning coffee." (Read more)

 

THE REST

Teeth of the Night (Les Dents de la Nuit)

This French horror-com about a group of young party-hardies trying to survive a vampire buffet relies so much on slapstick and dumb wordplay that it began to resemble a Mel Brooks movie. Offers nothing new but exudes enough fun to keep it a quick, light watch. Bonus points for the inspired casting of the usually intense Tchéky Karyo wearing a silly wig as head honcho vampire, who always manages to run into a random breeze that blows his magnificent hair.

Harrison Montgomery

Set in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, Harrison Montgomery breaks away from its grim environment to tell the story of an artist (Octavio Gomez) trapped in a his role as a drug dealer and his meeting with an odd hermit (Martin Landau) who claims to be a millionaire. Gomez is charming and Landau is great in being eccentric. Covers very familiar territories, but this magical-realist urban fairy tale is a noticeable anti-thesis to the more realistic and sardonic films of this year's fest. Harrison Montgomery is optimistic and hopeful perhaps almost to a fault, but it represents the city's recognisable blend of art, community and destitution.

The 27 Club

"A vehicle for its star Joe Anderson, who turns in a great performance filled and coated with quiet anger, unspoken heartbreak and sympathetic stares." (Read more)

The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans

"An interesting window into a strange and unexplainable culture. The film tries to raise the question of why Lebowski, of all films, that elicited such a response. Nobody knows the answer, of course." (Read more)

Eugene

"It deals with absolutely screwed up lives with little hope in their future, thus offering the kind of unsettling mood where you know for sure that it’s going to exit on some kind of bloodbath, even if it holds the urge back until the very end." (Read more)

Abraham Obama

Focusing on Ron English's now-famous painting of the Abraham Lincoln-Barack Obama amalgamation, this is more of a tour home movie than a doc with something to say. It somewhat shows the enthusiasm by the artist community in the weeks leading up to the election, but like the actual image, it prefers to remain mum on what story it's really telling. Now that the initial high of the Obama myth has calmed down, watching the doc feels dated already.

RSO

A nasty idea for a mockumentary that feels like a poor man's Danny McBride project. There's a terrific commentary on the audience-assuring tactic of modern pop docs/reality shows when an exec from the supposed documentary's studio tells the subject that he has to undergo an inspirational redemption so the audience would leave the film happy, but that's where RSO's ideas end. Amusing at times, but hardly funny.

I Sell the Dead

"...isn’t consistently a hit with the humor, but it's still a solid horror-comedy that packs enough slapstick to push it past its second-act slump." (Read more)

• • •

And that's it! Thanks to Jeff Ross and the Indiefest team for putting together yet another solid year of the festival.

Feb
23
2009
Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.

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