LIFF 2012 Day 14

The Shine of Day (Austria) (review)

Philipp and Walter have never met before now.  Uncle Walter never made it as a seafarer and is too old now.  Instead, he impresses his newly re-found nephew with his tales as a circus performer, and his many incidents as a bear wrestler, back in the days when it was legal.  Phillip is now an accomplished theatre actor, on the rise and starting to get noticed, his obsession with the spoken word means constant practice for his many acting parts which round robin through his mind with each day of the week.

Following Philipp whether he likes it or not, Walter works his way back into his life, and both begin to benefit; Philipp gains an anchor to the real world and his family, a world left behind  by his theatre personas, but Walter also gets to see what he missed as a potential father when Philipps next door neighbour needs a babysitter.

The Shine of Day is all about what makes a day worthwhile, and how the characters find, or rediscover that.  But it has a major flaw, one which caused an audible gasp from the audience.  What you think is the beginning of the third act of the piece, a scene which appears to be building to a suspenseful conclusion, suddenly cuts to end credits.  It spoilt a perfectly pleasant film, frustrating the viewer, and working it through in my head afterwards unearthed no clues in that final scene about why the director chose to end it there. 5/10

Tabu (Por) (site)

High up in a Portuguese apartment, Aurora - a lady of a certain age - is living out a miserable, paranoid existence, her final years on the planet alone but for her faithful and ever suffering housemaid, Santa, who has been with her since her years in Mozambique.  Neighbour Pilar is concerned about her wellbeing, becoming ever more incoherent and abusive, but Santas' quiet, submissive attachment to the woman, entwined by years of routine, is reluctant to let her help.

Tabu is a film with an epic story arc, telling the sad tale of Aurora in the present day, and in the past where her fate was set.  Her incoherent ramblings contained clues to her past misdemeanour's and the beautiful second half, narrated from a future perspective and containing no character dialogue, fills out the character wholly, the sense of satisfaction gained from the realisation of the life of Aurora is a rarity, and turns the film from an average character study of the last days of an old woman, into a beautiful tale of love and tragedy. 8/10

Persistence of Vision (UK) (facebook)

For all the animated films that are made, many more don't get off the drawing board.  A select few of them fall into the crack between, abandoned half-completed mutants that often torment the visionary behind it more than if it was never attempted.

Richard Williams is the guy who gave us Roger Rabbit and has the Oscars to prove it.  Noticed in the early 1980's by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemekis, Williams had spent the last 20 years creating animated sequences for commercials in his London studio, but had also been having a torrid time trying to bring to the screen what he saw as his masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler - his own pet project risen from the ashes of Nasruddin, a cancelled project when the main backer embezzled the money and fled.

Roger Rabbit was a massive success, and it allowed Williams to receive the backing - for both the film and it's marketing from Warner Bros., who gave the $50m and sat back waiting for results.  But Roger Rabbit had one major advantage - it wasn't Williams' baby, so he could settle for less than what his perfectionist requirements demanded to get the film out of the door.  Persistence of Vision is an account of the tragedy of one man killing his own dream with his unattainable perfection.

For the time, the scenes that were made (and survived into the eventual Disney-ified, song-filled travesty Arabian Knight) are true marks of a skilled animator performing animation of a quality only now being attained by computer-assisted 2.5D animation, and the film contains many finished and storyboarded scenes, production clips and other rare footage to flesh it out.  Even without Williams' direct help (he refuses to go on record about the film), you also get a feel for the man, a driven, exceptionally talented perfectionist, making art for arts sake, no matter what the cost.  8/10

The History of Future Folk (US) (facebook)

Down in a dingy American bar, a would-be mass-murderer stands with a banjo and a bucket on his head.  General Trius, saviour of the planet Hondo, was sent to earth with a cannister of flesh eating virus, to rid the planet of it's people so that the Hondorians could flee their doomed world, and come live here.  That was eleven years ago, and thanks to his accidental discovery of music, he's gone a bit off track.

Eleven years has enabled Trius to assume a new identity.  Bill is living a quiet life as a family man by day, and struggling musician by night.  Hiding his big secret in plain sight, he uses his costume and story to entertain the drinkers and send his daughter to sleep at night.  All is fine until Kevin appears.

Kevin was sent from Hondo as well to get the job done, but Kevin is fat, and a bit slow, and when he hears music, well it's pretty much the same result, only with much more enthusiasm.  First on his list, falling in love with the cop who responds to his overenthusiastic reaction to the strange new sounds in the air.  The new two piece band are a big hit, but they have more danger on the horizon, as Hondo sent someone else to spoil the party.

Future Folk is charmingly low budget, and apart from some small continuity issues the story is funny and smart, and surprisingly family-friendly for an evening Hyde Park performance.  Comparisons to Flight of the Conchords are warranted, both being indie productions with the duo peppering their songs throughout the film to break things up (although the Conchords songs are much better).  But it's funny and entertaining and sweet-natured and cool.  A good one for the couples. 7.5/10

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