Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Austin FIlm Festival, Part 5

[Photo is of the Signs at Butler Dance Education Center and our building reflected in an SUV window parked by the ballet. I'm feeling a little askew myself. I haven't driven my car, I don't think, since last Wednesday. I didn't leave the building yesterday until we walked to Long Center. It's a weird life in a way.]

The conference is over so chances to meet celebrities, hear writers talk about writing and attend script readings are fading. It's about the movies through Thursday and we only have through Wednesday because of another commitment. So...choose carefully? Or choose randomly? Of course, the latter. Based on timing and location and the blurbs in the info we chose two films that sounded like comic/dramas. A friend went along who likes one of the actors from a sit-com.

The films were at the Rollins. They threw us another curve walking over. Just twelve feet of the west pedestrian bridge on S. First was blocked. This was apparently to keep pedestrians from stumbling into concrete pourings in the dark. Only, well coming from the north you would have already done so. We had to go 150 feet back west down a steep path that is big enough for a car (and not blocked to cars so someone could easily turn down it and come to a bumpy end on the hike and bike). There we intersected the hike and bike and could go up a new (as of a week or two ago) path to intersect the ped bridge just beyond the twelve feet that were fenced off. It's making me crazy this project that never ends that inconveniences cars, yes, but especially walkers. I get this way when I haven't started my car since last Wednesday. But enough about getting to the venue.

First we saw "A Quiet Little Marriage" which was paired with a short, "Carry On." The short left one thinking about overhearing people in public and making certain assumptions. It was everything a short should be, revealing characters but leaving us with just a hint of their lives, like a short story. Then we were plunged into that quiet little marriage. Really Olive and Dax have a kind of idyllic, adult life but it turns out the world is going to put up a few more challenges for them. It was interesting seeing them work out their own little crisis, but the curves thrown at them by people around them really propelled the story. And just as the short knew when to end, so did this feature. It ended at the point that not everything is resolved but much is revealed. We queued up again to see "Shades of Ray."

The leads were handsome in the way that mixed race people often are although the male lead, Zachary Levi, is according to my friend who went with us, Jewish. The female lead, Sarah Shahi, has an Iranian father and a Latino mother apparently. One theme of the movie is how mixed race folks feel lost between cultures. The film is light-hearted and funny and brings home its messages in a package that amused throughout. Some of the minor characters weren't as believable as one might hope for, but they were accomplished actors and funny.

This last film was more relevant to the election, I think, than "W." Much has been made of Obama as a black man. But he is really more 21st century American than that. He is one of an ever growing number of Americans who count racial background in different columns and who are influenced by step family members. I think this trend constitutes hope for understanding on the one hand but I'm sure we will still find in the next few hundred years ways to hate one another by artificially adopting religions and political persuasions to separate ourselves. We have a need to fight pitched battles in groups with firm ideological differences. In a scene between the young Ray and his best friend Sal (seen later as his goofy roommate, well-played if a little over the top by Franz Kranz), Ray asks if Sal sees him as brown or white. The answer is something like "you're just Ray."

The film festival winds down. We will probably catch Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Synecdoche, New York" tonight. I mean is has Hoffman in it, its directed by Charlie Kaufman and its title is a pun. [By the way, I went to my dictionary site to look it up and, coincidence coming, it was the word of the day. I have a friend who would imbue such a thing with lots of meaning. I told FFP and we said "Call Bob!"]


Jette said...

Hope I'll see you guys at the Kaufman film tonight -- I think we've been on entirely opposite schedules this year!

Linda Ball said...

That's really true. Haven't caught sight of you since "W." screening! Hope to chat soon. We plan to line up about 6:30. And sit in Row S left section, of course!

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd let you know that Zach Levi is NOT jewish. Levi is his middle name.

Linda Ball said...

I was wondering what his background was because of the role he played. In the movie, his friend Sal's father is supposed to be Jewish! I should have stayed for the Q&A but it was getting late and we had to walk back across the bridge!