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Friday, 28 March, 2014 12:28 PM
52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival: My Take on the Opening Night Program
AAFF Program Director David Dinnell and Executive Director Leslie Raymond on March 25, 2014 inside the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, Mich.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tuesday evening’s first batch of screenings at the Ann Arbor Film Festival felt like a testament to this year’s entries being more captivating: there were moments of contemplated retreat, but not once did I move from my seat, not even to another; an occurrence I can’t recall the last time I accomplished. Perhaps the front row benefit of it capturing my entire sight and sense range was a change much needed, yet the introductory content this year really had no drag for me to justify a break from: the documentary submission was less abstract and more intimate than last year’s “Beaver Creek Yard,” the send ups and exploration of more mainstream fare was a safety cushion, the animations were just as fun in their humor and profoundness as they’ve always been, and festival favorite Jennifer Reeder’s submission isn’t buried among the competition blocks for a change. So how does each film stack up?
“bbrraattss” (Ian Cheng, New York, NY 2013; Video, 3 minutes): It’s appropriate for AAFF 2014 to begin with chuckle-worthy imagery that creates a theme of cluttered interaction. Is it computer glitch gone wrong in the manner of its interlocked bodies, or a nightmare scenario of the Bugs-Fudd saga? I certainly hope not both. 3/5
“Interactive” (Bryan Boyce, San Francisco, CA 2013; Video, 2 minutes): A fast-cut ridicule that follows the Everything is Terrible School’s style of splicing the hell out of retro cheese and creating new twists. 4.5/5
“The Dark, Krystle” (Michael Robinson, Brooklyn, NY 2013; Video, 9.5 minutes): Made in a similar vein, but this submission is more specific in lampooning the monotony of ‘80s soap opera Dynasty. “[It’s] more about the archetypal nature of the show,” said Director Robinson after the screenings, “but there are subplots [in there].” Agreeable, given the vibe of a battle between a glass of emotion and a glass of whatever was in the bottle edited together perfectly to make a noticeable, laugh riot resolution. 4.5/5
“Division” (Johan Rijpma, Netherlands 2012; Video, 1 minute): This took the early lead for turning flat, inanimate backdrop into a more organic environment, albeit one of a black, nerve-like system. 3/5
“Cut” (Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet, Hannover & Bielefeld, Germany 2013; Video, 13 minutes): I spotted ten. SHUTUP, I DID! Anyways, it gets the award for “Not turning away will knock years off, BUT…” The transition of too close for comfort images from most of cinema’s existence manifested a good balance of “Damn it, what next?” and “Damn it, what WAS that from?” enough to clamor for Vimeo to upload it. 4/5
“A Million Miles Away” (Jennifer Reeder, Chicago, IL 2014; Video, 27 minutes): What hooked me? Maybe how the lighting, editing, and textual effects molded over each other. Maybe it’s including another innovative rendition of a Metal classic that seemed foreshadowing enough to fool (and move) both teacher and audience. Maybe it’s the message of not underestimating what kids understand life about life. Maybe it’s all of the above. As well as pouring out the right volume of snarky humor to better sentimentalize the dilemma and frustration of life for women and girls. As Reeder put it, “I want to make movies about girls from THEIR perspective.” Openly seeking a more feminist approach to how females are portrayed characteristically, Reeder puts across a situation that is blunt in its reveal yet hopeful of future resolution, even if it’s told in illegible texting. Now that I mentioned it, those translation reveals were hidden tracks of epicness. 5/5
“Metamorfoza” (Martha Colburn, Netherlands 2013; Video, 6.5 minutes): The theme of dimensions and stages succeeds with nightmarish stop motion animation, but the editing is too static and anarchic for the images to be caught up to no matter how clear the message is. 2.5/5
“Tacoma” (Courtney Krantz, Brooklyn, NY 2013; 16mm, 6.5 minutes): The subject of focus is simple (Krantz’s grandmother-in-law) and as warm and hospitable as the setting. Her home is a capsule not of time lost, but legacy that perseveres in the fascination of the director. “It’s definitely another time within that nature,” said Krantz. “I love [that] nature and [its] relationship.” The concept works because it allowed the audience to absorb the atmosphere of the home without getting hit with the state of the narrator, allowing it to linger in thought while we continue to experience her home the way both of them wanted it to be experienced. 3.5/5
“Little Girl” (Bruce Baillie, 1966): Unreleased until this year, the only section that can justify a bit of fuss over being delayed is the water strider sequence. The tones reflecting on and underwater maintain a contrasting serenity to the stand-on-your-seat analysis of the insects’ movement. The remainder is just another double-exposure interpretation and what looks like outtakes for singular situation expression. 2/5
Related Stories: 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival Preview: Features in Competition and Special Guests; 51st Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) announces Award Recipients; Opening Night at the 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival: the Works
Ann Arbor Film Festival logo on the big screen
Attendees mingling during one of the breaks
Filmmakers Courtney Krantz, Michael Robinson and Jennifer Reeder were in town to introduce their films.
Reeder is the director of "A Million Miles Away."
"The Dark, Krystle" was directed by Michael Robinson
3/13 Barton theatre organ player
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