Friday, June 12, 2009

SIFF 2009, Day 8

May 29, 2009
(2009) Dir. Marcel Sarmiento & Gadi Harel

From Blogger
Not many films included in the Midnight Adrenaline series sparked much interest this year when I was just glancing at the schedule, but this was the exception. The synopsis just completely intrigued me. Deadgirl asks the question of what would happen if two average teen-aged boys were to find a girl tied up that no one knew anything about. In exploring this simple set up, Deadgirl becomes an analysis of manhood in American culture.

My very brief plot summery isn't really sufficient. The two boys that find the girl are JT (Noah Segan) and Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) on a day that they cut school and end up exploring an abandoned hospital. Deep in the basement, inside a locked room, they discover the naked body of the girl under plastic and to their amazement, she is alive. Rickie wants to take the girl to the hospital and tell the police, but JT is going to take full advantage of finding a "totally hot" naked girl strapped to an exam table, so Rickie leaves. When he returns, he learns of JT's discovery. The girl is not a normal girl. She cannot be killed and she appears to have more in common with a wild animal then a human.

This plot point allows this movie to explore some very dark, disturbing territory without becoming repellent. JT and plenty of others who find out about the girl do horrific things to her, but the story isn't so much what is happening in the basement room of the hospital, but is more about what Rickie is going to do about it. He is the only one who knows about the girl who doesn't participate in the gang rape and even attempts to free her. But he doesn't stop them, when all it would require is to contact the authorities. Why doesn't he? Well, because JT is his best friend. And also, because this whole situation has brought into question what it means to become a man. And right or wrong, his lack of participation makes him less of a man in their eyes and thus, in his own.

In the end, this is not a movie with heroes or villians, but that instead implys that all men are monsters, even the ones with the best of intentions. Additionally, Deadgirl points out that boys don't start out as monsters, but are taught in their attainment of manhood. And while I don't agree that all men are beasts, I do think it is worth considering that the American cultural ideal for men may premote the development of monsters.

Danse Macabre (2009) Dir. Pedro Pires

From Blogger
Some features have a short screening with them. I am very bad at finding these, but I did see one short this year, the fascinating Danse Macabre. This film is a poetic and very visually stunning look at life after death. This isn't a film about a supernatural afterlife, but instead the very natural process of the changes a body goes through after death. There are depictions of the body being moved, of embalming, of rigor mortis, and so on. Interesting concept.

Most fascinating was the choreography. The body appers to be played by a dancer and this dance is preformed with poses instead of movement.

I enjoyed this short. It was visually rich and a perfect companion to Deadgirl.

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