Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Last Bits Of The 24th SIFF

While I was thrilled about the second screening of 'Page One: Inside The New York Times', I wasn't so pleased with the messy logistics in the 24th SIFF. Up to this point, I've been relatively sheltered from the bad experiences of other movie-goers. I've only heard about it from the friends and through the complaints in the newspapers. Tonight, I experienced it in full.

The cinema was switched from Lido 5 to Lido 2 at the last minute. Mind you, both cinemas are configured differently. So if Lido screwed the organizers over the cinema swap, I'd expect a notice outside Lido 2 to say 'free seating' or have organizers to be stationed at the door to re-direct the audience to new seats. But no, they left it to the audience to figure out how and where. People had to go down to the organizers to ask about seating allocation before the latter realized the mess. Seriously. In a nutshell, it was literally free-seating. Bloody confusing. It doesn't help when these tickets (sold at the door one hour before screening) are handwritten and arbitrarily coded. Too bad all around for both audiences and organizers.

The programming for this year's SIFF (24th) is strong, and pleasantly palatable without being too arty, poseur-ish or deliberately obscure. The films are very relatable to many across the different genres. But the logistics, my's ridiculously awful. It's almost as though these people are operating on a not very well-thought-out template without an ounce of common sense.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, the movies.

'Night Fishing' (Paranmanjang)

Filmed entirely on an iPhone 4, directors (also brothers) Chan-Kyong Park and Chan-Wook Park made sure the Korean short 30-minute screen time is well utilized to optimize spookiness and show how surprisingly clear the shots are.

While I've to kinda guess that it's a supernatural 'thriller', there're clues strewn around, and I suppose in a way, having seen Asian funeral rites helps in the faster understanding of what's happening onscreen. Or perhaps it's just an exposure to the genre or familiarity with Korean horror in general. At least it's not sappy and long-suffering like those Korean dramas I avoid with a ten-foot pole. I quite enjoyed the eerie creepy portions and the partial peek into elaborate Korean funeral rites and the duties of their shaman.

'Page One: Inside The New York Times'

Depending on how interested you are with the stories of behind-the-scenes of The New York Times (NYT), this film will either be a really boring documentary pretending to be clever, or a fairly interesting conversation. I like it. I wonder why there were so many people who left halfway through. (Read The Guardian's review here, and MediaBistro's summary here.) 

There isn't much of a plot, so to speak. It touches on certain scandals and milestones in the paper. It speaks of press freedom. But it doesn't tell you very much what the objectives of this film are. It's not a comprehensive film, but it does focus on the independence of the paper and ponders about the relevance of it versus its partnership with the other non mainstream media platforms.

The camera mainly follows the very-in-your-face veteran reporter David Carr, who after a while, can be a little grating. It's of course, a running debate about whether newspapers will survive in this new world where information flows faster than the reporter is able to get to. I'm glad it doesn't try to stretch the point that only mainstream media is a credible source of information. Most jarring, it never fails to remind you for no less than six times that it's unthinkable if NYT should fail and close.

Anyway, it was a good watch for an evening. I was amused to see old footage of NYT power meetings that comprised of all men and no women. Very Mad Men-ish. I'd hate to have lived in those days. The man doesn't want to watch Mad Men with me. Each time he does that, he gets smacked, cursed at, and kicked. Muahahahha. I greatly dislike the series. So in the portions of NYT power meetings in the 20th century, it's nice to see more ladies in senior positions.

No comments: