Don't get me wrong, some of my favourite films started off as festival films (along the lines of some of my friends are...), but I tend to be very cautious about the type of movie I go see in festivals. Quite honestly, most of them suck.
Yesterday, I had the displeasure of watching Festival. Yes, yes, a film in a festival called Festival. Should have been my first warning. Actually it was, but the ticket was free, so I figured, what the heck.
As writers, and as readers, you're about to cringe when I tell you all offenses the movie has committed. Such basic mistakes.
- First of, the movie has no plot. The whole bloody movie was bits and pieces of disjointed parts of obscure conversations, sex scenes (don't get excited, they weren't good), people hanging out, stand-up routines and fringe theatre acts.
If these pieces had ever come together, I'd be more forgiving. But nothing. That's why I can't even give you a synopsis, but only tell you that the movie is about people who come to perform and judge in a fringe festival in Edinburgh.
- Second, the characters. My goodness, I shudder at the thought. There were too many of them to be developed. The characters that were more central were flat and stereotypical - a couple of assholes, a spiritual priest, a virginal goody girl, a going-for-the-top ho.
- The movie combined comedy and tragedy in a way that was unnerving. For example, one of the characters, a lonely person, dies alone, and the scene was comical - beats me why!
- Fine. I'd still be a hell of a lot more forgiving if it wasn't for the fact that the movie committed the worse offense - it left the audience with a sense of - so what? There was no resolution, no issue resolved, no sense to anything. Completely unsatisfying.
The first is Broken Flowers. A Jim Jarmusch movie that won the Grand Prix in Canne this year. While not the best Jarmusch (but also not his worse), Broken Flowers is able to artistically combine the funny and the sad. The main character, Don, played by Bill Murray is developed and layered, as are the other characters, especially the brilliantly funny neighbour played by Jeffrey Wright. There is a plot, a conflict, some sort of resolution, all done in the Jarmusch understated way.
Another festival movie that became a cult movie is Napoleon Dynamite. The plot is minimal, the movie is slow paced, and yet there is character, evolution, resolution and even a cathartic ending.
From Napoleon Dynamite, I will leave you with one of the best speeches ever, Pedro's speech for presidency:
I don't have much to say.
But I think it would be good to have
some holy santos brought to the high school...
to guard the hallway... and to bring us good luck.
El Santo Nino de Atocha is a good one.
My Aunt Concha has seen him.
And...we have a great F.F.A. schedule lined up--
and I'd like to see more of that.
If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true.