The First Annual Shenzhen Film Festival

First off, let me thank the Fruit Stand/DVD and CD Store that helped subsidize this festival. Without their 10RMB (that’s ~$1.25) rate for DVD’s, none of this would have been possible. Obviously, they’re taking a monetary loss for the free advertising I promised them in exchange for being the exclusive supplier.

Most film festivals have some sort of theme, sometimes something “cinematical” such as “new wave directors,” sometimes geographical. Given the current circumstances, let’s say the theme was geographical, as in movies made by the US. (To be honest, the second choice was funded by European money, but it’s an American franchise as far as I’m concerned, even if the movie took place in London and had only one American star.

Film Festival
It was a lot like this… except it was summer, in a hotel room, and instead of the crowd it was just me.

American Psycho opened the film festival, a movie I had not seen since its theatrical run in 2000. At the risk of this mini-review being too mini, I’ll say that the slasher elements of the second half of the movie are considerably less interesting than the earlier sections, establishing the main character as more of a “ridiculous” crazy than “crazy” crazy. It’s a bit of a cop-out, but it’s safe to say that the movie is polarizing, and those that would like it have probably already seen it and those that would not like it won’t have their minds changed, nor ever watch it, especially because of this mini-review. I won’t waste my time convincing people to see the movie by describing it, so I’ll leave with how I’m glad that the setting for the movie (and the book on which it was based) was the 1980’s. Placing it in 2000 would have dated it too much, not allowing such wonderfully absurd setpieces as the Huey Lewis monologue. It only works because of how we remember Huey Lewis (and later, Genesis); had it been placed in 2000, the movie would not have aged well as it did not have the benefit of hindsight in picking songs that could serve as a “soundtrack of the era.” Very good movie. If you haven’t seen it for a while, let me recommend a repeat viewing.

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction. I’ll make the title its own sentence, if only to draw attention to itself. Yep, it’s that bad. In simplest terms, if I fall asleep during an “erotic thriller,” it’s neither very erotic or thrilling. Out like a light, and this was in the mid-afternoon. “Twists and turns”, blah blah blah, and I just didn’t care about how it ended. It’s odd to see a movie seem so right with making London look as non-American and modern as it supposedly is, and showing off enough contemporary modern design to serve as a timecapsule for the mid-2000’s, but have absolutely nothing going for it beyond that. Bad writing, all but unrecognizable actors in the non Sharon Stone roles, and, again, the power to put me to sleep. And I don’t fall asleep during movies. No good.

I’ve never seen all of a Spike Lee movie before, and at this point, not all of his movies are about racial issues or whatever is stereotypically thought of as being his “topics.” The final movie, Inside Man, was very much a a “robbery movie” where the details of the “heist” are more interesting than what is being robbed and the grisly cop (Denzel Washington) and the too cool for the room robber (Clive Owen) share a manly man moment of bonding, realizing they have something in common but are on opposite sides of the law. I guess putting it in those terms sort of cheapens it, and that’s not fair. Movies like this are always this close to leaving the audience feeling manipulated instead of surprised by the (again) “twists and turns,” but everything in the movie seems plausible enough as its happening, though it’s probably not the best movie to think about after the fact. It’s pure hype to call the movie “unlike any heist movie you’ve ever seen!” being that that quote references the fact that an important plot point is that the robbers seemingly aren’t stealing anything, but instead have some other goal in mind. The quote makes it sound like it’s something new and different, but it’s been done (not to take anything away from the movie, though). I mentioned the part about Spike Lee, and I guess that makes it so I had some unfair preconceived expectations, but when the little kid has a moment with the head robber and the robber is disgusted at the Grand Theft Auto look-alike he’s playing, it’s not exactly subtle social commentary. Similarly, the very obvious moment of a Sikh employee of the bank getting hustled by the police for being an Arab isn’t left at that; a line is later delivered about how ‘Sikh’s aren’t Arabs’, in case anyone had missed the direct scene minutes earlier. Likewise, and I say this more as a joke than anything, but I couldn’t help but notice that the true bad guy in the movie was an aristocratic white guy… Anyway, consider this movie highly recommended. A word of warning though: I’m not one to really care much about movie soundtracks or “scores,” but the one in this movie was just plain awful, drawing attention to itself at all the inopportune moments.

***½

The First Annual Shenzhen Film Festival receives three-and-a-half stars, as the opening movie was a “safe” choice, being that I had seen it before and the middle pick managed to put me to sleep. Of course, the final selection brought everything back together and left the audience wondering when the next Shenzhen Film Festival would be held. Also, minus some points because I’ve realized I don’t really like writing movie reviews, no matter how brief.

IWRY

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