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Local News / Entertainment

Sunday, 24 March, 2013 1:25 PM

Opening Night at the 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival: the Works

PHOTO BY PETE BUBLITZ / ©AMERICAJR.com

A packed house inside the Michigan Theater during the 2013 Ann Arbor Film Festival.

 

by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

 

|

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tuesday night began a week of Ann Arbor’s greatest contribution to film celebration with silent black and white shots of children rushing to catch the cameraman. Though originating from Peter Lennon’s 1967 documentary "Rocky Road to Dublin," the vehicle-bound shooting style that captured literal mobs joyfully trying to keep up suggests an eerie wartime feel that would become more hostile the Irish isle in the years that followed. More importantly, it’s usage in the 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival’s “title card” managed to tie-in the themes and imagery of the entries for the opening program. Here’s a rundown on those entries.

Kevin Jerome Everson’s "Century" focuses on a title Buick model crushed from above by a six-fingered claw, pounding away and even dropping a six-ton donut on it consecutively. The tragedy of crushed legacy briefly turns humorous with the claw’s struggle to pick up the donut and celebration of complete flattening with a spin of the metal sheet in mid-air. The action works thanks to the pause between blows and the robotic arm hinting at human flaw through repeated attempts to clutch onto target objects, which was enough to cause humorous reaction in the audience over promises of machine perfection that don’t exist. 3.5/5

Jake Fried of Boston’s "Waiting Room" manages to present cabin fever in a manner of evolution amid various human characters that successfully exhibits a sense of darkness v. light contrast with ink and white-out.

As for Mark Toscano’s "Rating Dogs on a Scale of 1 to 10": that poor pug. And the improvisation by many of the other characters was unexpectedly appropriate. 4/5

The rotoscope-reminiscient "Marcel, King of Tervuren" by Tom Schroeder was a nice approach to narration creating the animation as a plot technique, and the humor of telling it in a laid-back style gave the revelations of what happened a spontaneous emotion in audience response. 4/5

The world premiere of Laska Jimsen’s "Beaver Creek Yard" covers the cutting and transfer of Christmas trees as though it were another, ahem, animal processing facility, a progression of assembly work that goes so far as to include the burning of rejects and unwanted parts. 3/5

Kyle Armstrong’s Magnetic Reconnection was optimistic with its green northern lights shots, and justified in its message, but this was the kind of "Life after People" exploration that grows tiring after many tirades between suburbanites and Detroiters. 2.5/5

Concluding Yuri Ancarani’s "Il Capo" trilogy, the opening shot caused a kind of slow realization befitting nightmares. The film called "Da Vinci," like life, began with a heartbeat. Blue-tinged and underneath the skin, an "Alien" familiarity arises with exterior, inhuman forces piercing through for the sake of robotic innovation in surgical procedure. Nor could one escape reminders of Brakhage and cutting the bits of white fat from chicken breasts. Even a neighboring viewer, who of all professions was a physician with many years behind him, groaned: “They’re slaughtering the patient.” With one final joke on those willing through such horror, the robotic gadgetry treats its users and viewers to a routine of Busby Berkeley choreography and a bit of leisure downtime that everyone will need before the screen goes black. 4.5/5

The follow-ups were dominated by more simple slide show works, with "Dad’s Stick" by John Smith edited as personal tribute that maintains light-hearted sarcasm through the memories attached to a paintbrash (3/5); meanwhile, the return of Bryan Boyce with "More is on the Way" becomes a pictorial that might hint at life among signs new and old through several tricks. 2.5/5

Jodie Mack’s Persian Pickles fulfilled the kaleidoscopic endeavor of that evening at least (2/5), but the distant approach of horse and rider from a universe behind the frame refreshes the manner of memory remaining alive with additional designs sprouting from the frame over the Carter Family’s song and the short’s title: "Wildwood Flower." 3.5/5

Related Story: Traverse City Film Fest Holds Past and Future equal in focus during the Present

 

PHOTO BY PETE BUBLITZ / ©AMERICAJR.com

A man plays the famous Barton Opus 245 theatre pipe organ.

 

PHOTO BY PETE BUBLITZ / ©AMERICAJR.com

Ann Arbor Film Festival on the Michigan Theater marquee (2012)

 

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