Yes, your friendly neighborhood movie critic has once again survived the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison — the tenth annual this time, featuring 220 films in one weekend. Yeah, that is a lot. I remember when they only showed a few dozen films, and a sponsor like Sony was only a dream…
So this year, I saw a collection of short films as usual — I also remember when there was only one of those, and they showed it three times, instead of these days, when there are six collections only shown once each. Deciding is just too much pressure! But anyway, they were short films made by students, running the gamut as usual, from tiny comedies to animation to a mini-drama that can best be described as psychedelic. And two of those short films featured music from the host of this lovely site, available from the music section on top of the navigation bar to your right, so go listen if you haven’t already. It was most prominently featured in Drip, a Rube Golberg-esque short that begins with a dripping faucet and takes you some really wild places — that was the audience favorite this year. So good job, Kevin!
The main course, so to speak, was a feature-length film from China called The Case. It occurred to me much too late that maybe I should have boycotted the Chinese films, but I don’t really like the idea of mixing art and politics anyway. And it was a good film. The main character is the hapless Dasham — at least that’s how the subtitles had it, but on imdb he’s listed as Dashang. His health is delicate, somehow, but they never quite explain that. I’m thinking psychological problems myself, because he often seemed not quite there. Too fragile to keep a real job, he instead helps his wife run a small guest house near a small town. She’s insanely jealous and overprotective, hardly leaving him a moment to himself.
So when he fishes a locked suitcase out of the nearby river, he can barely find the time to open it in private — and when he does, he’s sorry he did, because it’s full of frozen body parts. Now he has to hide them, and fast. But now it’s not just his wife — his brother-in-law shows up, unexpected guests appear, and he even has to suffer through a snap inspection by health officials. So you can imagine what all that does for his state of mind. Then his wife is finally presented with an excellent reason to be suspicious, and everything goes crazy. Overall, very strange, but a fun movie, darkly humorous. I remarked as we were leaving the theatre that I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard such a big laugh for a death scene, and got another big laugh from two passersby, but that does somehow kind of sum up the whole film.
Now let me go see if I can actually get organized enough to post that review of 21 from last week. *grumble*