In the End, It All Boils Down to Cheesy Pick-Up Lines 

Monday, September 27, 2004

In the three days I've been on the peripheries of the Vancouver International Film Festival, I've already seen eight movies.

Today was my record: five films.

I even considered a sixth; knowing that I had to return to my car at some ungodlier hour than it already was and in the deserted warehouse district where teen temp squatters smash windows - that assured that my record would remain at five movies.

I've already discussed In the Realms of the Unreal and my excited ramblings inspired at least three people to see it.

The Python: a mad beaver, an escaped python, a photogenic monkey, a stern headmistress, and unidentified faeces in the school attic. The comic possibilities sounded endless, but Latvian director Laila Pakalnina seems more taken with pieces of lumber and focused the camera on tables, walls and other household items instead of the actors speaking their parts.

The Gift: I saw this one by default as it was showing during one of my volunteer shifts. I didn't think the boob girl (you'll know what I mean if you clicked on the link) was a prostitute. She was a dimwitted moron. That one image of pimpled old man butt grossed me out so much I vow to become a cougar and save myself from ever encountering such a disgusting twin mound of flesh. Spoiler: the concluding suicide made me really sad for all lonely spinsters and lonely bachelors. I hope the gods may smile upon me and let me find love soon.

Pleasant Street: Another default movie, this one was an unexpected delight, in the form of cancer patient Leida. Her friends at one point made her one thousand origami cranes, as little Hiroshima leukemia victim Sadako attempted decades ago. I have a feeling that, with Sadako's precedent, reaching the goal of one thousand cranes might not impart the luck that supposedly accompanies the birds.

Pity, because Leida was someone with whom I could be buddies. Her death on July 19, 2003 was significant for me. I can't remember what happened on July 19, 2003 in my own life; now, however, much like people who remember what they were doing when Kennedy was shot or when the World Trade Centre towers toppled, July 19 will mark the anniversary of the day when a potential good friend of mine died.

I met the director, Gerry Rogers, afterwards. Mentioning to someone that I liked her film, he made me tell the director to her face.

I've always found it rather awkward to approach someone important and tell them I think they're swell. I just have never been the swooning groupie type. Just as I thought. It was awkward this time.

"You probably want to see the next film," I said after my impassioned compliments, trying to give her a chance to escape one of her rabid fans.

No, the director explained, she already saw it. Maybe she thought I had something more to say. A long silence occured between the period of the last sentence and the period of this sentence. The director took hasty leave of her mute fan following this interval.


Chinese Restaurants: Funny bits in this documentary on the phenomenon of Chinese restaurants around the world overshadowed by my shrunken bladder.

I crossed and uncrossed my legs. I wiggled in my seat. I rationalized that nothing was holding me back from running off to the bathroom midway. Then I rationalized that missing a single moment in a movie equaled not having seen the movie at all. Yet, my thoughts of the toilet just next door probably obliterated most of the film's dialogue.

After the credits rolled, there was no way I could miss the producer's discussion of the film. Plus, he offered a free screening to another three episodes in this series as today's offering detailed Chinese restaurants in Madagascar, Norway and Saskatchewan, not Mauritius, Trinidad/Tobago and Cuba as was advertised. I would have missed that news if I'd obeyed the call of the bladder.

People in Madagascar use the same iron as my Transylvanian grandmother used.

Principle of Party Politics: Ah, I remember the first time I encountered riot police. During an anti-nuclear rally in Taipei. I don't want to be too critical of this movie, so I'll leave it at that.

Spying Cam: Film Festival staff suggested Flower and Snake. I balked.

"What, don't you like Japanese sado-masochism?" they asked. No, I lived in Japan and I had enough of it there.

They recommended After the Day Before. I asked them to recommend a movie in which no women were murdered. They asked if a movie in which men were murdered was ok. No, no murders. Not men or women. So Spying Cam it was.

Spying Cam is a Korean movie. Koreans have a rather peculiar view towards violence against women. Korean rapists, a Korean businessman once told me, are lauded for their prowess and celebrated by fellow jailmates. A successful rape reflects on a man's virility. This movie had a rape scene.

The actor portraying the rapist sat in front of me. He arrived only two hours earlier to attend this very screening. He was shorter than he seemed in the movie. Technically that should have made him less sinister. He had the big cool hair reminescent of Japanese teenybopper magnets. A female companion, her smooth red-dyed ponytail hung over the chair, sat beside him. The rapist actor looked scary despite his disguise.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire: There are two other movies on Rwanda's genocide during this year's film festival and I now want to see those (film #1 and film #2). It isn't that I didn't like this one, but I should have known better. It is about Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, head of the UN Peacekeeping forces during the 1994 killings. The actual stories of the genocide and the survivors take second place. The title should have been enough of a clue.

Yet I don't regret seeing this one, especially as the director, Peter Raymont, and Dallaire's righthand man in Rwanda (Philip Something-Or-Other) attended this sold-out screening. Hearing about Darfur, Juba, Kigali, and Kabul from someone who lived in all these places made up for the boring films I struggled through earlier in the day.

This latter movie is going to take some processing and major cud-chewing.

Are genocides preventable? Philip Something-Or-Other says yes. I don't think so. That, however, doesn't mean we stop trying to prevent genocide.

Philip Something-Or-Other hinted that something fresh might be brewing in Rwanda. It may take 35 years for the Tutsis to act. A revenge genocide said one of the audience members. No, said Philip Something-Or-Other, pre-emptive violence to protect against further Hutu violence against Tutsis. Then he told us of layers of post-colonial clinginess and the overwhelming power of the UN's permanent Security Council members.

In all, rather dizzying. I jotted down notes to eventually make sense of what I'd learned, far more than I can write here tonight.

So ended Day Three of the my 2004 Vancouver International Film Festival experience.

On a more facetious note, I counted eight pick-up lines today from eight fellows. The most memorable was a guy on the street who looked back at me and said sweetly that I look just like his mom. He tried to rescue it after that but I walked too fast.

Eight guys in one day.

My pale film festival complexion must be what's attracting them.

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