Thursday, May 7, 2009

SFIFF52 Day 15: Unmade Beds

The 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival ends tonight. Each day during the festival I've been posting about one film I've seen or am hotly anticipating.

Unmade Beds (UK: Alexis Dos Santos, 2009)

playing: 7:00 PM tonight at the Castro, followed by a closing night party at Mezzanine.
festival premiere: Sundance 2009
distributor: IFC theatrical release expected later in 2009.

Well. It's been a good festival, but it must come to a close. Thus, the closing night film. Usually I skip out on these, opting instead in recent years for a sprawling Egyptian melodrama or a noirish Béla Tarr conundrum to close out my festival. This time I hope to go back to sample the gala selection at the Castro, which I'd been curious about since reading Robert Davis rhapsodize in Utah. I was able to catch it at a press screening, but it only made me eager to see it again, on a larger screen with a festive crowd.

The film is called Unmade Beds, and it's Argentinian director Alexis Dos Santos's follow-up feature to his 2007 Frameline success Glue. Set amidst non-concentric circles of young hipsters of East London, the film focuses particularly on a pair of transplants trying to navigate relationships. Michael Hawley has briefly encapsulated the premise, so let me add a few words about the film's tone. Santos's integration of an indie rock sensibility and soundtrack with real-as-a-dream handheld camerawork threatens to seem twee, but never in fact crosses into that territory. Instead it builds to a quietly exhilarating conclusion that seems perfect for a lead-in into a closing night party. If I had a different song in my head than Hawley did as I left the screening room, that's because there's a plethora of terrific ones for your hippocampus to choose from.

SFIFF52 Day 15
Another option: Claustrophobia (HONG KONG: Ivy Ho, 2008), which Brian Hu makes sound very intriguing.
Non-SFIFF-option for today: Pull My Daisy (USA: Robert Frank, 1959) at SFMOMA with two other of Frank's films, on a program kicking off a large retrospective of the director at the museum.


  1. Thanks for the link, Brian. I envy your getting a second viewing of UNMADE BEDS, and at The Castro to boot. I've opted to pass on Closing Night for a less glamorous activity...namely, work. I'll be interested to hear what you think of GLUE, when you eventually have to opportunity to view it.

    I saw you last night at 35 RHUMS. I was pretty antsy and unengaged with it for the first hour or so. But man, did it ever have an emotionally powerful cumulative effect.

  2. I really wish I could have squeezed a second viewing of 35 Rhums into my festival. I was pleased to see that the film secured distribution just prior to the festival though. I hope we get to see it again on a Frisco screen later this year.

  3. Glad you guys enjoyed Unmade Beds. I've tried to talk it up, but for some reason I never see it mentioned much in the recaps of Sundance and Berlinale. I was pleased to see its place of honor as the closer for SFIFF. I've seen most of Glue (on DVD, unfortunately), and while it has an especially strong presence for a debut film, I think he took it up a notch with the new one.

    35 Rhums certainly does have a cumulative effect. And in a second viewing, when you have the lay of the land, those opening shots of the train tracks let you enter Lionel's head -- he ruminates on his daughter, their life. And, for whatever reason, the stretch from the nightshift all the way to the end was much more emotional the second time through. (Curiously, Darren Hughes felt the same way about his second screening. Haven't talked to him since the third, that lucky dog.)

  4. I was 100% on-board with 35 RHUMS from the taxi-breakdown-en-route-to-concert until the very end. Regarding the nightshift scene, I thought the "devastating incident" (I'm trying to avoid a major spoiler) at the end was perhaps a bit much. And what a thrill to see Ingrid Caven after all these years!