The film festival finishes today, and even though I only attended a handful of screenings and so obviously can’t judge for the festival overall, it was well worth the hassle for me. Even the badly-soundproofed confines of the Screen on D’Olier Street–where all of the films I attended, bar one, were screened–didn’t ruin my enjoyment as it might otherwise would have, maybe due to my appreciation for the lack of talking and ringing cellphones that usually mar my moviegoing experiences.
Sunday morning was spent at a sparsely-attended screening of George Clooney’s directorial debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the story of Chuck Barris — TV producer and host of the infamous Gong Show by day, _alleged_ CIA operative by night. The premise sounds absurd, but the material is handled with pathos and great affection for the subject, fleshed out with solid performances (Drew Barrymore in particular shines), some nifty visual trickery and moments of fantastic composition. Clooney may be seriously indebted to the likes of Milos Forman and his close pal Steven Soderbergh and as a result doesn’t yet have a true directorial voice, but this is damn good for a first attempt. (So good, in fact, that one wonders if it wasn’t really ghost-directed.)
Nifty trickery was still on the menu for the following evening’s showing of The Rules of Attraction, Roger Avary’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s callous but excellent novel. Multiple angles, split screen montage, reversed scenes and dialogue, sudden stops and crash-zooms blur together in an admirable attempt to recreate and reflect both the multi-narrative structure and the desperate, unsettling atmosphere of the novel. Sadly, Avary plays for straight laughs rather than black humour a little too often, and resultantly fails to truly capture the dark heart of the source material. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by James Van Der Beek’s almost tangibly malevolent turn as the sociopathic Sean Bateman. I don’t think I’ll ever watch Dawson’s Creek in the same light again
Full Frontal, Steven Soderbergh’s post-modern _cinéma vérité_ experiment with digital video seemed to go down well with the film festival audience in attendance, but was a damp squib for me. I was reminded far too much of Jean-Luc Godard’s absolutely _dire_ Éloge de L’Amour. And I have to be honest, I drifted off thinking about other, more interesting things for most of the movie. But hey, thanks to HB’s sponsorship at least I got a free ice cream out of it.
I hadn’t really expected it to be the highlight of the week, but for me The Happiness of the Katakuris–a musical black comedy, if you can believe that, from the director of the brilliant, wince-inducing Audition–blew everything else out of the water. I’ve yet to see a film that was so utterly insane in both substance and execution. Completely mad, and a huge bucket-load of fun to watch. So much so, in fact, that I can’t wait to get my hands on the video so I can see it again and again.