Did I Not Do This Yet?: A Semi-Belated Summing-Up of PFF 17

April 18, 2008 at 12:24 am 2 comments

Man, do I love You The Living

Hey, sorry about that. Where were we? Oh right – sleeping off the last month, a largish chunk of which I dedicated, body and soul, to the seventeenth Philadelphia Film Festival.

I’m currently in day six of a grotesque fever which refuses to budge from my body – an ailment I accrued in the middle of a four-films-in-a-day gorging. Coincidence? Well, yes – it’s the violent changing of the weather that dun it, though it’s entirely possible, if not scientifically so, that it was the result of seeing too many goddamn movies. My count (drum roll): 81. Eighty-one. That’s including, mind, both the heavy screening deluge I went through prior to the festival and the festival itself. Still, though: ye gods. Dearest cinema: we need a break.

I have to say, though, this might not have been the year to really cut loose and break a record – my record. Of those eighty-one I only really flipped – as in batshit insane loved – well…none, sadly. I really, really, really liked about three or four. I really liked, with some reservations, a handful or two. I hated maybe ten. And the rest – as in, most of them – I found crushingly mediocre, which is somehow worst of all. Rather than inspire some passionate reaction, whether good or bad, I just busied myself forgetting about them immediately. Good thing I carry a notebook.

Here, then is my PFF ‘08 Top Ten, not including the Repertory (otherwise Blast of Silence, Like a Shooting Star and Violent Saturday might push out some modern day underdogs). For your delectation:

Bad Biology (Frank Henenlotter, USA)
Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, USA)
Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey)
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry (Erich Weiss, USA)
I Just Didn’t Do It (Masayuki Suo, Japan)
In a Dream (Jeremiah Zagar, USA)
The New Year Parade (Tom Quinn, USA)
Phoebe in Wonderland (Daniel Barnz, USA)
The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, China)
You the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)

Nothing to sneeze at: Baghead, Glass, Kenny, Land of Confusion, Lucky Miles, The Mugger, Night Train, Son of Rambow, Song Sung Blue

Worth, uh, sneezing at (because you sneeze at the things you hate, right? this metaphor is terrible): Brick Lane, Exodus, Help Me Eros, Jesus the Spirit of God, Mongol, Storm, The Visitor, Young@Heart

(By the way: a 3.09 for You the Living, general public? For shame.)

Other than grumbling about the many, many festival circuit notables that weren’t, for whatever reason, snatched up and brought to our city (you can see a no doubt incomplete list here), my main complaint, as I’ve carped previously, is the rise of video presentation. I understand it when it’s an actual independent film we’re talking about – no need to pony up the heinous fee to convert your video-shot movie to sparkling 35mm. But while I’m pleased as punch the fest nabbed California Dreamin’ and Alexandra, I’m decidedly less pleased that both were screened on video – California Dreamin’ on a motherfucking 2nd or 3rd generation dub, no less. Blast of Silence, meanwhile, was screened not only off of its new Criterion disc, but incorrectly cropped at 1.85, with the top slither of the image projecting on the ceiling. Roughly the same thing happened to the film-projected Bogie vehicle Deadline U.S.A., with tops of heads and hats chopped off by a projectionist who didn’t properly adjust for the 1.33 image. The PFF’s supposed to be eternally on the rise, no?

In any case, thanks to the programmers, the fest staff, the tons and tons of amazing volunteers and those who kept me up to my ears in screeners before things began. And thanks, of course, to those who read this blog and followed my increasingly frazzled mental state. Peace out, yo!


Entry filed under: Errata.

In Which I See Patti Smith Spit a Loogie on the Stage of the Prince Philadelphia Film Festival & CineFest 09: It’s Happening?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jon  |  April 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    A bravura performance! Well done sacrificing body and soul for the sake of this blog. I’m renting ‘Songs From The Second Floor’ based on your recommendation of ‘You, The Living’ – seems like a hell of a Swedish guy! Ah-ha!

  • 2. Anita  |  April 19, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for a great job covering the fest – read the blog every day, though because of timing I don’t think it ever helped me with my film choices. Did make me sorry I missed Edge of Heaven and Lucky Miles which I’ve added to my Netflix queue so if they come out on DVD I can see them. Saw fewer films than past years because the quality just didn’t seem to be there. Only saw two films I loved, You the Living (had never heard of Andersson, so this was a great find) and Stranded, which I gave some extra points to because the story is one of my favorite books.


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