Saturday, June 14, 2008

SFBFF: Black August, Cuttin' Da Mustard, Spent, and The Secret

I turned my grades in Wednesday, so now I'm truly on vacation. I was spent physically Wednesday-Friday, but I managed to get over to Sundance Cinemas on Wednesday for a few films, the tale end of a great film about black women in the film industry, and a short called, The Secret and another feature, Cuttin da Mustard, a film which used the frame story of kids trying to break into acting, to tell a touching story about a young actor who had made it to director without being able to read. There were other peripheral stories such as actresses who learned to validate themselves, rather than seeking validation from others. Women who used their sex appeal to get ahead rather than trading with their minds.

Spent was a unusual story about a real estate agent who spent her money on a life style that had her one step in front of sleeping on the street. Perhaps, she owned her car, because her plastic wasn't allowing any more purchases when she tried to use one of the many in her wallet to rent a room for the night.

The Secret was a crazy story about infidelity and male prowess. A married man cheats on his wife, the lady one his friend wanted too. On a dare, the loser tells the woman to tell his friend the next day that she used to be a man. The guy flips out and the next thing we see is him rolling her body in a shower curtain and tossing her first in his trunk and then in the water.

He goes mad, especially when he finds out that the woman was a she and his friend was playing a mean joke on him. The film ends with the audience wondering if he also killed his wife. The texture of the film resembles the disintegration of the protagonist's fragmented and and scattered the way lead next to a magnetic field spreads and gathers together, piled on top of itself or spread out in clumps.

I don't know if it was my choices, but I seem to be seeing a lot of films about sanity and insanity, literacy and values.

Black August was a powerful film; the acting was superb, especially that of the lead, who played George Jackson. There was an integrity and a passion in this film that bled off the screen, perhaps it was seen in the Q&A which followed with the director/producer who, while cordial had a clear purpose in making the film the way he did which has been available commercially since February, 2008, on Warner Brothers.

The casting process seemed to be a similar experience, he wasn't looking at just the physical actor, rather at their ability to capture the intent of the when he cast the Jonathan Jackson role, the actor was only 5'7" but he filled the screen as if he were 6'4".

Kings of the Night was an interesting story, taken from a practice in South Africa, where on the weekends the men dress up to compete in contests to see who is the best dressed among them. Set in Georgia, although shot in Austin, Texas, I was kind of confused initially when I thought it was based on a true story, that somehow, the South African male fashion show had somehow jumped the Atlantic and made it to America.

But, it hadn't the director's dad read an article about the tradition and set his story in the south. It was a sweet tale where men protected their women, suicide attempts failed and love really blossomed between all the members of the boarding house, the setting for much of the tale, once the protagonist is released from the chain gang after two years served for theft.

It's the depression, and the $5 a man could win at the weekly preening would certainly make him a king, but more than the money or the can or peaches, it was the fact that a man might be penniless, but true value was not in one's pocket, but in one's heart.

Set in the south, the cast is integrated, even the sewing factory where one of the main characters works. There the typical Jewish stereotype of thrift is challenged when the owner's son, cares about these women who are treated only a little better than their Singer sewing machines.

Here are some photos from the past few days....I'll write more later. Oh, today is the awards luncheon at 11 a.m. at 1300 Fillmore. I met one of the screen writers. His story is about greyhound dogs and the cruelty associated with racing dogs.


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