Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival – The Movies

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , , , , , ,

So I went to the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham this past weekend and saw a mess of movies.  All-in-all I enjoyed the lineup.  Here’s what I saw:

Friday Night:

  • Teenage Paparazzo – I wasn’t particularly excited about this one, but it was better than I thought it would be.  It’s about a 13 year-old who gets a camera and jumps into the paparazzi game who is befriended by one of the stars of Entourage, Adrian Grenier. Through this relationship, Adrian explores the paparazzi world and its relationship to celebrities (and in turn, the whole celebrity culture).  This is a HBO documentary.  I believe it debuted on Monday, but being HBO, I’m sure there will be a hundred more opportunities to catch it.  It’s a worthwhile watch.

Saturday:

  • Exit Through The Gift Shop – This is a documentary about an odd French-American named Thierry Guetta who has an odd obsession of filming everything he does.  He eventually gets obsessed with filming street art, and even takes it up himself under the pseudonym “Mr. Brainwash”.  I throughly enjoyed this film.  I will say that I had doubts about its authenticity as a documentary, even looking on my schedule to see if it was classified as a documentary or a narrative.  Now that I have a chance to do some research, I can see I’m not the only who has doubts!  Given that the filmmaker is Banksy, a renown street artist who also is a bit of a prankster, I think it is good possibility that this is a work of fiction.  But even if it is, it is really, really good fiction.
  • The Parking Lot Movie – A simple documentary about a single pay parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia and its attendants.  The attendants at this lot tend to have more education than most would perceive parking lot attendants having, and their perspective on day-to-day operations, the customers, and the world in general are hilarious.  The tagline says it all: “It’s not just a parking lot, it’s a battle with humanity.”  Unfortunately this film played at the Harambe Room, which was basically in an attic of a building.  There was not much seating and I arrived late, so I was standing in the back.  The room also had support columns in the middle of it which obstructed the view of the movie screen.  I want to give this another viewing when I can get a chance to see it free from obstruction and in the comfort of a recliner!
  • The Human Centipede And this is where things started getting weird.  Now to be fair, I knew this one was going to be weird, so in this case I knew what I was signing up for.  This one?   No, I can’t say it was a good movie.  This is a film about a doctor who kidnaps three people and surgically attaches them together to form a “human centipede”.  Yes, there are some things here that probably shouldn’t be on film.  That said, the movie making is so comically poor, and the concept is so over-the-top ridiculous that I derived a good bit of entertainment simply laughing at the film.
  • DogtoothOK, I had originally planned on seeing Mutant Girls Squad in this slot.  But the Friday night movie had previews of some of the other flicks at Sidewalk.  The preview for Dogtooth was funny.  Quirky.  Perverse.  But funny.  And since I planned on seeing yet another horror film the next day, I figured why not switch it up and watch a comedy.  So I watch the film.  My reaction?  WTF was that?!  This is NOT a comedy.  To me, this also had things that shouldn’t be on film.  But in this case, the filmmaker actually knew what he was doing, so you couldn’t laugh at it.  Unless such topic as incest, male-on-female violence, and self-harm are humorous to you.  I have seen it described as a dark satire.  I would place the emphasis on dark.  Rotten Tomatoes describes it as “too disturbing and meandering for some” and I fall into that category.  But at the same time, it has a 90% fresh rating from critics, and 77% rating from visitors so your mileage may vary.  Just be warned, if you do not like dark films, steer way clear of this one!

Sunday:

  • Barbershop Punk – A documentary that takes on the issue of net neutrality, following the experiences of Robb Topolski who discovered that Comcast was purposely disrupting peer-to-peer traffic despite their claims that this was not their practice.  Interesting film about this subject.  Director/writer Georgia Sugimura and star Robb Topolski were there in person and conducted a Q&A session afterwards, which was cool.
  • Ready, Set, Bag – Documentary dealing with the competitive world of grocery bagging!  Follows eight 2006 state champions from regionals to the national competition in Las Vegas.  Pretty humorous.  One grocery exec actually commented that the competition is “like American Idol—you never know where the stars are.”  LOL!  After the showing, they set up a bagging competition between a handful of volunteers from the audience, with the winner taking on the 2006 Alabama state champion, who was featured in the film.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around, as I had to grab a bite to eat and head on to the next film.
  • Evil Things – Horror film about 5 college students who go off to a house in the country for the weekend and disappear.  All that is found is a home video, which also happens to be the film shown.  Yes, very much like The Blair Witch Project, which I love.  In some ways, this comes off as being even more realistic, as you never get the sense that there is anything ghoulish or paranormal involved.  The sense you get is that these folks are just being stalked by somebody with bad intentions.  Genuinely scary.

So that’s it.  Eight films in all.  I think I got my money’s worth!  I would say may favorites were Evil Things and Exit Through The Gift Shop.

The cool thing about the festival is the opportunity to see films in a theater setting that you can’t see at the big multiplex.  But more opportunities are on the way.  It was announced on Friday night that an independent film theater would be opening in Birmingham in 2011.  They were short on details for right now, but I’m pretty excited about that.  In the meantime, I look forward to next year’s Sidewalk!

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