HIFF 2012: Festival Capsule for Oct 21

This capsule report is a brief look, reaction, and thoughts on some of the films we’ve seen at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival.

Hang Loose

This strand of firecrackers definitely gave new meaning to the title ‘Hang Loose.’

I don’t blame the guys from Kinetic for having some fun after the pretty serious tone that they took with their films last year. And that’s exactly what you get in Hang Loose; a sort of National Lampoon’s Hawaiian Vacation meets The Hangover. You have the straight laced guy going out with the groom and his rowdy friends for the traditional bachelor party. And wouldn’t you know it . . . hijinks ensue.

Kevin Wu and Dante Basco were perfectly fine in their roles here, with Basco even stealing scenes a few times. Everything else in the film though just seemed to be really exaggerated or played to the extreme; from local stereotypes, to certain roles, to implausible feats (paragliding over Waikiki?) some of it was a bit too much for me. Don’t get me wrong, the movie knew it was having fun and everything in it reflected that; I guess I was just looking for things to be a bit more serious or maybe a bit more realistic. In spite of that, I myself hung loose and just went with it and had a few laughs in the process.

Rating 3/5 stars

Holy Motors

If you’re already stumped by looking at this scene from Holy Motors, you’re not the only one.

I don’t even know where to begin with my thoughts on Holy Motors. The movie is confounding to be sure, but entertaining none the less.

I’ll start with what I do know . . . it may take you a while to properly digest what you’ve seen after watching Holy Motors. At its most basic level you have the story of Mr. Oscar played beautifully by Denis Lavant. He goes from assignment to assignment throughout Paris masquerading as different people and doing different things. Sometimes this requires him to kill people, sometimes it only requires him to speak to people. Through it all he is always changing his looks, demeanor, and personality.

Expect to be challenged if you sit down to watch Holy Motors. Some of the maddening questions that were posed to me during the movie: What is he doing? Why is he going around dressed as different people? Who does he work for? Is any of the things he’s doing real? Are there supernatural elements involved? For a feeble minded viewer such as myself none of these questions were really answered–and somehow I don’t think that’s the point. What is real and what is fake definitely come up again and again throughout the film, but beyond that I’m not sure of anything else.

Beyond the confusion I was definitely entertained by what was going on on-screen. Each of Oscar’s assignments was very different from one another and it was interesting to seem him transform himself to fit each one. Mix in the transitioning scenes in the limo in between assignments and you have a picture of a company man who’s been doing his job for a long time, and though he still doesn’t mind doing it, you can tell it’s definitely taking its toll on him.

I’m still not sure what to make of Holy Motors and I might even need a second viewing to be completely sure. What I am sure of though is Denis Lavant‘s great performance and that Holy Motors will challenge any moviegoer.

Rating 4/5 stars

Room 237

Kubrick faked the moon landing . . . MIND BLOWN!

You really have to be some kind of movie fan to really dissect and break down a film. I mean, I thought I was a movie buff since I like to talk about, watch, and go over movies. The theorists in Room 237 though, they take movie fandom to a whole new level.

As I sat there watching Room 237 a majority of the time all I could think was “are these people actually making these assumptions/judgements about Kubrick’s The Shining?” From the faking of moon landing footage to the holocaust, to the genocide of American Indians and tons more in between I sat transfixed as theory after theory was conveyed to us–transfixed mainly because I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Kubrick was a pretty smart guy, but I’m not sure if any of the theories suggested hold any weight.

What’s really fun about the doc is that even though it presents these theorists in a somewhat serious light, it still treats everything sort of tongue and cheek with the way footage from Kubrick films are used to illustrate what the speakers are saying and also at times pokes fun at what they are saying by juxtaposing it with satirical imagery. Another fun aspect that adds to the film’s charm is the fact that it’s obviously subjective. There is no bias involved and it goes out of its way to make it seem as if all of these theories are real.

In the end, while it was a fun presentation of the possible undertones of the film, I never really bought into any of them. Some of the leaps that the interviewers make were really quite large and often times were only supported by coincidence rather than hard evidence. Besides, all of those things couldn’t be true at the same time could they? I leave it up to you to decide.

Rating 3.5/5 stars

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