Skip to main content

SIFF diary, part 6

Dead Man's Shoes, Sabah, and Mysterious Skin

Armageddon is upon us. I am certain of it. And I have proof. Gregg Araki made an excellent motion picture. And the other proof that the end of the world must be soon, I have now attended 12 screenings and have yet to come upon a film or event that I didn't enjoy. Sure, some of the films have been better than others, but if Cape of Good Hope remains the worst film that we've seen at this year's festival, then we are doing very well.

Dead Man's Shoes caught our attention because it not only stars British actor Paddy Considine (24 Hour Party People, In America), but was also written by the actor. The result is a very interesting and satisfying film of vengeance and redemption.

Richard (Paddy Considine), a soldier that after returning home from the service, finds his brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) has been tortured and humiliated by a group of small time gangsters. Dead Man's Shoes spans the 5 days that Richard spends terrorizing the men and Considine gives a frightening performance. Dead Man's Shoes is slow to reveal the events that feed Richard's wrath, and while not as shockingly violent as other reviews had hinted at, this is a bloody revenge picture that is very satisfying for the performances and the fascinating slow reveal of the horrific events that took place.

Sabah was a delightful surprise. Arsinée Khanjian (AKA Mrs. Atom Egoyan) stars as the Canadian Muslim, Sabah. She has just celebrated her 40th birthday and has spent much of her life dutifully caring for her mother, when she meets and falls in love with Stephen, a non-muslim Canadian (Shawn Doyle) who she fears will never be accepted by her very conservative family.

Sabah is often romantic and with a light tone while confronting the real and challenging issues of family, ethnic and cultural identities and the compromise that happens when acclimating to another culture. I really loved every minute of this charming, romantic film.

Mysterious Skin is a departure for director Gregg Araki. I am familiar with Araki from Doom Generation, which was far too hyper-kinetic and disturbing for my taste. I've steered clear of Araki's films ever since. So when I heard that his new film, Mysterious Skin was showing at the SIFF, I was determined to miss it, despite getting so many positive reviews. The subject matter of Mysterious Skin is still very much in familiar Araki territory, about two boys who are linked together by a shared childhood sexual abuser. As the boys grow up, the past will not let them go and the nerdy Brian, suffers continued nose bleeds and blackouts without ever remembering the details of the abuse that haunts him in nightmares. In Brian's search to find out what happened to him during 5 hours that he cannot remember, he searches out another boy that is also in his dreams, Neil. Neil is a young hustler that seems relatively untouched by the abuse in his past, until he and Brian finally meet again and Brian demands answers.

While the subject matter of Mysterious Skin in very dark and troubling, the films tone is solemn and surprisingly optimistic. Mysterious Skin is a very moving, haunting and beautiful film. It is the kind of film that I never would have expected Gregg Araki to have made. This might be the best film I've seen at the SIFF as I cannot seem to shake it.


Popular posts from this blog

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhastan

Right after seeing Sacha Baron Cohen's film, Borat, I was disappointed. I didn't laugh nearly as hard as I had hoped and it wasn't quite as outrageous as I had expected. But in retrospect, I have to admit the comic brilliance of Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen has adeptly created a film about a fictional man, Borat, from a fictionalized Kazakhastan and used this creation to show the hipocracy of America. Using tactics pioneered by reality television shows, Borat travels across America on a quest to find his true love, Pamela Anderson. On this journey, he meets numerous people who share their thoughts about a multitude of things, exposing the way some Americans really believe about race, class, homosexuality and the other sex. It is a very interesting film. Sure, it gets laughs from ambushing Pamela Anderson with a wedding bag, traveling with a bear, and a bit of naked wrestling, but this film is also very smart in its sly portrayal of the wealth of prejudices that are ali

Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls...

Where does one begin? Peaches Does Herself is a German concert movie of Peaches. Written by, Directed by and starring Peaches. But how does one describe this experience? Normally, I skip the Face the Music program of films at SIFF each year, but Peaches Does Herself was described as the queerest film in the festival. As it turns out, I knew exactly one Peaches song prior and still know little to nothing about her, but it didn't matter. I enjoyed the music and most of all, I loved her persona. Her sexuality was on display and was not only unapologetic, but read as loud as if it were a billboard with "fuck normalcy and judgement, this is who I am" in bright pink neon. To give an overall impression of the film, I've decided just to lay out what happens along with stills. I suspect that is the best I can do for readers to decide whether this is something they should seek out. The film begins in Peaches' bedroom and after the dancers climb through a giant vu

My attempt at Filmspotting's Top 5 List

I just finished listening to Filmspotting podcast, episode #296, and I've been inspired to begin a small project. My concept of great cinema has changed now that I live in a place with so many choices. When I lived in Anchorage, I primarily saw movies at the local Art House, Capri Cinema. Rand, being an out gay man, tended to show a lot of GLBT cinema as well as the better known independent/art house films. The years I lived in Columbia, I watched more mainstream film and really, just about everything that came to town that sounded at all interesting. But in Seattle, the choices are overwhelming by comparison. Sometimes I'll see a classic film, or a film with a lot of buzz, and there are a lot of foreign language films, because of the wide variety of cinema I have access to, I am now a very devoted fan of Asian cinema. The filmmakers in Hong Kong, Korea, China, Japan, Thailand are incredible. And this isn't at all limited to the genre films that have made Asian film