Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Linking Feller: April

The San Francisco International Film Festival is going strong at the halfway point, and has sparked some terrific pieces online.

Michael Guillén of The Evening Class has a transcript of Catherine Breillat's remarks on opening night film the Last Mistress, which she directed.

The sf360 website, funded in part by the San Francisco Film Society which runs the festival, has an extended version of the interview Medicine For Melancholy director Barry Jenkins gave to Michael Fox, that was printed in last week's SF Weekly. Yeah, it's a real love-in here, when a blogger links to an interview with a director of a digital movie playing a festival that helps pay the journalist interviewing the director, who praises the blogger. But appearances of scratch-my-back aside, Medicine For Melancholy is a terrific and important piece of work. If you don't trust me, ask the people who saw it at SXSW. Lincoln Specter of Bayflicks has a rare dissenting view.

Jeffrey Anderson is filing daily reports to the Bay Guardian's Pixel Vision blog, and Jason Weiner is doing the same on his own site.

I don't mean to bury the lead, but check out this incredibly thoughtful conversation between Ryland Walker Knight, Kevin Lee and Jennifer Stewart inspired by the festival event awarding film critic J. Hoberman its Mel Novikoff prize and screening In the City of Sylvia. These folks are so smart I'm a little intimidated to join the discussion. I'm happy just to read it.

Moving away from the film festival, a couple weeks ago Kevin Lee got Paolo Cherchi Usai to talk about Frank Borzage's masterpiece Seventh Heaven over clips of the film, and it's a must-watch.

And finally, on to a couple other Frisco Bay film festivals on the horizon. Another Hole in the Head (June 5-22) has announced its full line-up. And Frameline (June 19-29) has announced a few titles and is beginning to sell tickets and passes.


  1. I gave Medicine For Melancholy a B. That's hardly a pan. I loved the first two thirds. If the final act had kept the same level, it would have been an A.


  2. Thanks for the clarification, Lincoln. I didn't see the letter grade on your review for some reason, and to me it read more like a C or a B- at best.

  3. I suppose I'm in the dissenting camp, even though I don't dislike the film, by any means.

  4. I should add that I'm considering seeing it again to see if it holds up or improves. I'm just not sure if it fits into my schedule.

  5. What happened to your archive?
    It seems Dave Kehr lost his blog archives too! Anybody knows what happened?

    By the way, I see you are reposting your old post on the blog. So if you want to post at Unspoken Cinema your blogathon entry on Benning's 13 lakes and Ten Skies you're welcome.
    I'll edit the broken link with the >Wayback machine in the meantime.

  6. Thanks for weighing in, Rob. I wonder if the hometown crowd has somewhat higher expectations for Medicine For Melancholy than the SXSW attendees, come to think of it. Craig Phillips, though generally pleased, is pointing out a few reservations, as well. Though in this case, I feel like I have a pretty good rebuttal to his concerns. Just no time to make it, right this minute. I hope to write more on the film soon.

    Harry, thanks for stopping by and asking the obvious question: "What the Hell happened?" I don't know about Dave Kehr's archive disappearance (though I have missed them myself, too) but mine occurred during a moment of misjudged tinkering a few nights ago.

    I'm glad you've noticed that I'm taking steps to rebuild. It's going to be a slow process, and I'm not sure I'll ever complete it entirely (it will depend on how long these search engine caches kick around). I'm prioritizing recent, popular, and personal favorite pieces. The Benning piece certainly fits in the third category, and to a lesser degree the second, and thus is a fairly high priority for me to restore. The Unspoken Cinema link should be reinstated relatively soon, but in the meantime go ahead and do what you like.

  7. "I wonder if the hometown crowd has somewhat higher expectations for Medicine For Melancholy than the SXSW attendees, come to think of it."

    Actually, one of the things I liked about it was that for long stretches I probably could have put a pencil to a map and traced their steps. It's geographically accurate. This probably doesn't really matter much -- I wouldn't care if it weren't -- but it's one of those little things that makes it more enjoyable for a local.

  8. I really appreciated the geographical touches too. The "if you can't beat the gentrifiers, join them" idea that gets kicked around in the film is a fascinating prism through which to look at scenes like the visits to MoAD and the MLK memorial. Both structures sit on what was once one of the city's largest banks of affordable housing. We in Frisco probably know something about this history and apply it to our reading, but I wonder if we might be on some level recognize how this "insider knowledge" affects our understanding of the film, and try to discount this layer of meaning when evaluating the film in a forum available to readers we suspect don't share this knowledge...

    Not saying you in particular might be doing this, Rob. But it's something I can't help wondering about.

  9. Peter Nellhaus5/10/08, 7:15 PM

    Hey Brian: I'm behind in catching up with your site. I hope you see Alone at the AHitH Fest.

  10. Me too, Peter, though June is already starting to look pretty hectic. Have you seen it?

  11. Peter Nellhaus5/11/08, 8:41 PM

    Alone was the last movie I saw in Thailand. The link to my review is here.