Sunday, November 04, 2007

Superheroes and deficit

Whether you came to the walk of fame as a tourist to snap a picture of The Hof’s star or to haunt clubs on Hollywood blvd, chances are that you ran into Superman, the Hulk, Wonder-Woman, Batman or one of the multiple incarnations of Jake Sparrow. I’m of course not talking about the real ones – because guess what, they don’t exist – but about those “actors” who pose in superhero suits with tourists in front of the Chinese theater, in exchange for a tip. Part of the Hollywood tourist trap that is the walk of fame, these characters are the subject of Confessions of a Superhero, a hilarious and not-to-be-missed documentary that explores the lives and journeys of the people behind the masks, from actors making a living to more obsessive persona's. Superman, Wonder-Woman, the Hulk and the filmmakers were present for a Q&A afterwards.

After fighting through the mess to enter the screening – thanks to AFI’s absurd & unexpected change regarding passes and total disdain for the press – actor-turned-producer Diego Luna introduced the screening of his friend Gael Garcia Bernal’s directing debut, Deficit, which followed a group of rich kids partying at a house for a weekend. Despite some light comments on social classes and racism in the background, Deficit proved to be disappointing, a somewhat pointless work that didn’t bring anymore drama than most parties I’ve attended…but don’t get me started on this. Luna and another producer came back for a Q&A while Bernal was MIA.

AFI FEST 2007: The Telenovela & the Policia


Directed by Sergio Umansky

Saturday night we entered the world of a telenovela writer (Mauricio Isaac) and his twisted relationship with a policeman(Dagoberto Gama) in Mexico City. After a not-so-routine stop one night in the city, writer Miguel escapes policie harassment when he reveals that he writes for a very popular telenovela. The policeman Bracho, a fan, feels he has a special link to the inside world of his favorite soap. From there, a cat and mouse game ensues as plot details change and Bracho becomes violent.

The film is hilarious in it's portrayal of the ridiculous telenovela world and in the policeman's increasing frustration when the plotline doesn't go his way. It's also a meditation on police harassment in Latin America and the fact that the bad guys don't always get caught; more often than not they're rewarded.

The film could have been edited down about 40 minutes to be a bit more taut and the ending is not very punchy but it's still a fun ride for anyone who ridicules the genre.

AFI FEST: Romania

Saturday we traveled to Romania just before the fall of Communism.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, directed by Cristian Mungiu and winner of this year's Palme d'Or at Cannes, proved to be a brilliant study of two women arranging an illegal abortion during the final years of Ceaucescu's dictatorship in Romania. Repression, both political and sociological, comes in the form of an illegal abortion, of the difficulty of doing simple things like renting a hotel room or buying cigarettes. Anyone who lived or traveled to Eastern Europe during this time and remembers the absolutely awful service and gray atmosphere will find this familiar.

From arranging for an illegal abortion, to rape and having to dispose of the fetus somewhere in the streets, the actions here are almost in real time and shocking. While there has been controversy over whether or not the fetus should have been shown at the end (given that many other actions take place offscreen), Mungiu explained that since the whole movie centered on this abortion, it seemed implausible not to show it. I agree--anyone who agrees with the idea that abortion should be legal and safe absolutely and those who seek to have it made illegal must see this film.
Check out the review at: