Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Madison Film Festival

About three weeks ago, I read all of the movie reviews for Madison's film festival. This took about an hour to do. I love films and I especially like those non-mainstream ones. I love french films and I enjoy a lot of other foreign movies and interesting documentaries. This film festival is right up my alley. After reading through the reviews, I decided to pick six to eight movies to see in a four day span. The festival starts on a Thursday and ends on Sunday night.

Once you mark all of the movies you are interested in attending, you have to figure out all of their dates/times/theaters/lengths. After this, you have to rule some of them out. I then put together an excel spreadsheet and ordered the tickets online. Let me tell you, that part took about two hours. Yes, the planning was long. But, it was well worth it.

I have just wrapped up the weekend with the sixth and final film, "Fear Me Not." This is a Danish suspense with excellent acting. Out of the six, this is on the top of my list. An "almost perfect" husband and father starts to alter his behavior after participating in a drug study for an anti-depressant. Bonus - his lake house and the furniture throughout all the scenes are eye catching.

"Beaches of Agnes" is an extremely clever and cute tail told by the famous french director, Agnes Varda. She documents her life and films with brilliant sequences and artsy details. She is an artistic genius and somehow is able to tell her story without sounding overconfident. It's very cute. Oh, and obviously, it is in french.

"Light Bulb" was my least favorite film. It probably didn't help that in between that film and the one before it, I had a six hour window where my friends and I decided to visit a new restaurant and bar in town called The Bayou. It attempts to recreate a New Orleans feel. With that in mind, I downed a few hurricanes and proceeded to the student Union to sit and look out at the lake over a pitcher of Spotted Cow. So, let's just say that I was slightly drowsy during "Light Bulb." This is supposedly based on a true story of some guys who are down on their jobs, always trying to invent something, lose everything they have, until something finally - well - you get the picture.

Prior to that, I really enjoyed the documentary, "The Way We Get By." Three senior citizens in Bangor, Maine, volunteer at the airport, greeting returning soldiers from Iraq. It explores the lives of the three elderly volunteers. It doesn't really depict the stories of the returning troops. It makes you think about the kindness of strangers, growing old and the state of our country, among other things. Each soldier seemed genuinely appreciative to be greeted by these strangers, even though some of them were incredibly anxious to talk to their children or grieve over a friend who didn't make it back. A wonderful piece.

"Food Inc." God. Where do I start? I have been a vegetarian for 19 years, having had a few steaks. Which I will never do again. The industrialization of the food business is appalling. And if you can watch that movie and still eat meat, I don't know how. The government has turned our food into a profitable business, putting our health at risk. I know I have mentioned the importance of participating in community supported agriculture, but after seeing this film, I am not opposed to dedicating an entire blog posting on "Food Inc." Unfortunately, it's been a non-issue for presidential campaigners and it needs to be brought to our President's attention. I am so thankful for the food choices I have in Madison.

"Darius Goes West" is a bittersweet and thoughtful documentary about several more fortunate boys who decide to take Darius, a teenage boy with Muscular Dystrophy across the country to have his wheelchair "pimped" by MTV. Darius has never even left the county he has grown up in. These boys are really special and for a young boy who has grown up in the projects, he appreciates everything he sees. Tears in his eyes as he takes in the beauty of the Grand Canyon. How many teenage boys do you know who understand the goodness of what they see? The relationships formed and the generosity of many involved in this film make it a tender journey to watch.

Now that I have reviewed all of these movies and spent about three hours planning my "film tour," I am going to have to see if the Wisconsin Film Festival will hire me next year.

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