Monday, April 27, 2009

SFIFF52 #1: The Weekend

by Mark Haslam


I spent a good week staring at the line-up for the San Francisco International Film Festival, trying to decide what to see, what to skip. Making the decision to not see something, however, was near-impossible, especially with some 150 films from across the globe screening. So, as the fest kicked off last Thursday, I chose to not choose, to not plan. Instead, I'll wake up each morning, see what's playing, and, with perhaps some light research, pick a film to see. I'll report back here with my thoughts and my hopes that you in the Bay are enjoying the SFIFF52 as much as I am.

On Friday I caught Jonathan Parker's (Untitled), a satire of the contemporary art and music scenes. The film fails, I think, where most such satires fail: laughs come from a facile immediacy, from pointing at contemporary art as funny, silly, and stupid in and of itself. Parker knows the dedication that most of these artists have (being an avant-musician himself for many years), not to mention the sense of humor many artists have about their works. But the film misses these things. And when it tries to show them, we've been distanced too much to see the characters as anything but parodies—and ultimately too distanced to care.

Catherine Breillat's new film, Bluebeard, has two threads: one, a version of, “Charles Perault's 17th-century fairytale about a gloomy nobleman with a penchant for murdering his wives,” in Richard Avila's words; and two, a young child (named Catherine) with a penchant for tormenting her squeemish older sister by reading the gruesome story. A double story of sisters—two from the Perault story, two reading—the film wonderfully, subtely, Breillat-ly marries sexuality, wit, and self-consciousness. I'd like to write more extensively on Bluebeard, and I'd like people to see it. There's one last chance, this Wednesday. If it helps, check out Daniel Kasman's words after the film's World Premier in Berlin.

A new print of Antonioni's amazing, rarely screened 1955 film, Le Amiche, is a highlight of the Festival. It plays again on Tuesday at the PFA. It's Antonioni. Go.


[A note: Don't forget to check out further, different SFIFF52 coverage from VINYL buddies Brian Darr and Michael Guillen and Darren Hughes as well!]


  1. Brian and Michael and Darren, oh my! Brian and Michael and Darren, OH MY!! BRIAN AND MICHAEL AND DARREN, OH MY!!!

    You understand it's all done with mirrors and one keyboard?

  2. Yes, I understand. I understand! Altho, I don't know who's the lion or the tiger or the bear. Gonna let that one hang...

    Also, thanks, Mark, for doing this this year! I wish I'd had the funds to return for it! I'm looking forward to any and everything else you pull together during these weeks.