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The First Three Rows Are Exhausted: PIFF 2006 (Part 3)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The poster’s theme is ‘Asia.’  Everything in Asia’s theme is ‘Asia.’Parts 1 and 2 are behind us. Part 4 does not, and never will, lie ahead. This is all you get.

“But next year? Will there be another PIFF report for we, the children of 2007?”

Nope. I have no intention whatsoever of being in this country come next PIFF. But I’ll absolutely be attending TIFF. It’s only 4 letters later and it’ll have to do.

“How will we survive until then?”

Not my concern. Now, the conclusion…


12:00 pm — Fuck You, Wake-Up Lady.

The phone rings, I summon all of my Korean language studies to beg for two more hours of sleep. She gives us one. I crawl back into the bed, head-to-toe with Travelling Companion, crying tears of joy.

1:30 pm — So Long, Old Chum.

Delirious with fatigue, I forget the nice, fluffy towel I brought with me iConfession -- All the Busan pics are from another trip.  I shoulda taken more this time.n the hotel room. Good towels are actually hard to find in this country (had to go to Costco to get mine, just like real cheese), so this actually is something of a tragedy. We head off, handing over the cash for a second night and then questioning whether or not we should’ve, having had two sessions of sleep in the room, but only technically spending one night there. Maybe we got screwed, but who the hell cares about anything at this point.

More food at the Seamen’s, it’s as delicious as ever. Then Travelling Companion gets on his train and I’m all alone.

When you’re as dizzy from lack of sleep as I am, the smallest things tend to delight you, but I think Yawn.the lockers at Busan Station would’ve blown me away anyway. When a locker’s available, you shove your shit in, and enter the locker number in the little computer terminal. You put in your thousand won, and then you have to press your finger against the scanner. It takes a scan of your damn fingerprint instead of giving you a key. As I walk away, I’m confident that my backpack will be secure through the night, unless someone cuts my finger off and brings it back to the station. I picture Keifer Sutherland as the someone to be doing that.

5:00 pm — The Strategy.

My evening movie is at 8:30, at a different theatre from the Megabox where all the other ones we’ve seen were shown. I’m gonna head over there on the subway, scope out the area so I know what I’m dealing with, and head to a DVD 방 (not quite pronounced “bang,” it means room) for a couple of hours.

The DVD 방 is something I’ll truly miss when I leave Korea. It’s a place where you can go and pay about 8 to 10 bucks and you get a private little room with a full kick-ass projection home theatre setup to watch a DVD in. They’re absolutely everywhere in South Korea, and they have much better movie selections than any DVD rental place you’ll find. It’s a great way to see a movie once it’s out of theatres, but I have no intention of watching a movie in a DVD 방 today.

I will select a movie that’s just long enough to let me out shortly before the festival movie begins and I will sleep, and oh, it will be glorious.

I climb the steps from the subway, locate the theatre without difficulty, and look around for a DVD 방. Don’t see one. But there must be one here somewhere.

I wander and wander and my legs are rubbery and weak, my eyes are beet-red, and it gets worse every minute I don’t find a damn DVD 방. I’ve explored the whole area, I’ve asked locals in my best Korean and none of them seemed to know, or at least they couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say so they just shrugged. But there really don’t seem to be any DVD 방s in this area, making it absolutely unique among developed South Korea. I give up after an hour or so, and head into a PC 방 to get off my feet and maybe see if I can sleep in one of their slick, hardcore gamer-approved computer chairs.

It’s in here that I take another look at my ticket: it doesn’t start at 8:30, dimwit, it starts at 7:30. I doubt I would’ve noticed that had I been able to find a DVD 방. Looks like someone was looking out for me when they decided not to open any DVD 방s in this neighbourhood.

7:30 pm — Ten Canoes (Australia)

Front row, as usual; clearly the seats they reserve for the same day crowd are the whiplash seats. Though there are enough free seats behind us that the rest of the front row move back as soon as the lights go down. But screw that, I say. I’m too tired to walk up the required stairs.

That 3rd guy from the right's got terrible form.

Ten Canoes is a telling of what I assume is an actual traditional story told by aboriginal people of Australia. It’s got a story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure, with a jokey, playful, and indigenous narrator telling us in English (everyone else in the film speaks Yolngu Matha) a story about a pair of indigenous men sharing a story about a small indigenous tribe dealing with a stranger and the disappearance of one of their indigenous women. It’s a very light story, and it feels more authentic than typical films dealing with “men of the Earth” due to the camaraderous relationships shown between the main characters — they tease each other, they tell fart and dick jokes, their nobility and mystical connection with the land are not exaggerated.

And while you’d expect a story like this to have some kind of elder wisdom to it, that’s really not what they were going for in Ten Canoes. I suNowalingu could read the sign, but he didn't understand it -- 'Coming soon - Wal-Mart'ppose the moral of the story could be something along the lines of “Be careful what you wish for,” but really, that’s not especially important. The film connects the humanity of these people with that of any group of friends. They may live differently, they may have different concerns, and they may show more penis than the fellas in Shortbus, but there’s nothing mystical or inaccessible about them — they’re just a bunch of guys going about their day. [IMDB] [Official]

9:15 pm — Back Where It All Began.

I really enjoyed Ten Canoes, but even so, it was a struggle to stay awake there for a while. Fortunately, the movie starting an hour earlier than I’d thought meant that it ended an hour earlier than I’d expected it to, which gives me a good three hours right now to find a damn DVD 방 in which to pass the hell out.

I ride the subway back to the area where the original theatre and the hotel were. This neighbourhood is more typical in that I can see three just by looking down the street. I take the first one solely because it is closest.

The selection here is pretty poor compared to most I’ve been to, but the couch is perfect. Oh baby, I can’t wait to drift off on this guy. I’ve selected a two-hour-ten-minute piece of work which I’ve seen more than enough times to make me willing to sleep through it.

9:50 pm — The Rock (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!)

Connery's reaction when they cast Fabio as the next Bond was seen as kinda pathetic.

Not all DVD 방s let you control the volume of the film, but this one does, and that volume quickly drops down to zero. As I lay on the big, soft, glorious sofa cushions, my jacket acting as blanket, I still allow myself the periodic glance over to the screen.

Even without sound, The Rock is a fine flick. And actually, it turns out I can fill in a lot of the dialogue myself, enthusiastic performance and Nic Cage mannerisms and all (provided my eyes are open to see where in the movie I am). I didn’t get as much sleep here as I’d hoped to, but I got a bit. Enough to refresh me, at least for the meantime.

On a final note: Unlike Shortbus or Ten Canoes, The Rock doesn’t contain any actual male nudity, but phallic symbols abound, thank you very much, Michael Bay. [IMDB] [Official]

12:10 am — Back at Full Throttle.

I walk out feeling pretty good, ready to dig in to my next pack of movies. But I grab a couple of caffeinated beverages at the 7-11 just in case.

The Midnight Passions program showed three movies in a row last night, and it will do so again tonight, but I think I’m gonna have to skip out on the last one if I want to make my train. I’m a bit worried about this, because I don’t know what order the three movies are going to be shown in. I really, really want to see 13 Tzameti, after having it hyped to me through Twitch. I’m interested but reluctant to see Taxidermia, having heard that it’s a unique, shaking experience, but a grim one that more than one of the reviews I’d read made a point to mention that while they were glad they saw it, they never want to see it again. Plus it may contain actual animal violence, which I can’t say I approve of one bit. And all I can remember about the third one is that I’m pretty indifferent towards it.

12:30 am — Shattered Soul (Turkey)
Turns out the first one was the one I didn’t give a crap about. Having now seen it, I can’t say my opinion’s changed.

Not too many 'Shattered Soul' pics out there.

Like a couple other of the festival’s entries, this movie has a bit of a schizophrenia — it’s got semi-separate elements, and they aren’t equal. There’s the serial killer plot, the better of the two, with interesting detectives and classy gore cinematography the likes of which I don’t think I’ve seen since Seven. On the other side there’s the multiple-personality girl (see, that out-of-place comment a few lines ago about the bipolar disorder was almost meant as a joke), which basically does all the same stuff any multiple-personality movie would do, having each personality represent a different region of the nutjob’s soul. It’s like Herman’s Head if Herman thought the big fat jock guy might be cutting people’s legs off.

That's not to say there are NO 'Shattered Soul' pics, I just chose to go this way.It’s not too hard to guess where the serial killer plot’s going, but I doubt the filmmakers care about that, since they spend most of the too-long runtime with the girl, and not even with her wondering if she’s the killer. Mostly she’s just wondering what the hell’s wrong with her, while the lead overactress gets to spend the time just irritating me. I think this movie would’ve been better served to focus exclusively on the cops and have us discover as they do that their main suspect has got a few friends in there with her.

But who cares? It’s not a good enough movie to get any more time out of me. It’s over and I’m still doing just fine on the sleep front and I’ve got ten minutes to wait in suspense before I find out if I get to see the movie I really want to, or the one I kinda dread to. [IMDB] [Official]

3:00 am — 13 Tzameti (Georgia, France)
To quote many a childhood game of Fish: I got what I wanted. And it’s real good.

What can one say about a man's back that hasn't already been said by Oscar Wilde?

I don’t want to give too much away, as it looks like this one may have the chance to make its North American rounds at least on DVD (it’s getting a limited release in UK theatres in February), so I won’t. I’m not saying a damn thing about plot; it’s much better if you don’t know what’s going on for the first half, just as I didn’t. (To that end: if you want to see a trailer, see this one, which doesn’t betray anything but a sense of the style. Apparently there are some out there which are too revealing. Be YouTube wary.)

I don’t want to suggest that the ideas in 13 Tzameti (Tzameti actually just means “Port Feare13″ in Georgian, which means I’m calling it “13 13,” but that’s what everyone else is calling it, so who am I to differ?) are especially new, but they’re handled in ways that crank the intensity and plausibility right up. It’s a very cool, dark story, told in stark black-and-white, and it’s got some great performances, ranging from the overdone Announcer (that’s as much plot as you’re getting out of me) to the understated protagonist (who strikes me as a cross between a young Robert De Niro and Drew).

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an ending. Really, it’s like they just couldn’t think of an interesting way to end the story and they just took the easiest way out. It’s a shame, but it doesn’t do too much damage to what is otherwise just a great, exciting piece of cult filmmaking. [IMDB] [Official]

4:45 am — Head Out.

Without enough time to get through Taxidermia and still make my bus, I have to head out. I do regret it; as wary as I was of seeing this movie, I still lament missing out on the impact I was promised it would have on me by the Internet Media. But there’s nothing I can do.

I kill the time that remains before my train leaves in a PC 방 and in a Kimbap Heaven (24-hour cheap Korean food — they’re as everywhere as PC and DVD 방s are). I made it through the two movies just fine, but it’s here, as I read and wait for my order of cheese donkasuh, that I really start to feel it. That tightness behind the eyes, the vague nausea, the odd appeal that the greasy tiled corner in this shithole presents as a wonderful place to curl up for a nap.

And now I'm out of both Busan pics and hovertext ideas.  Good night.

I finish up, retrieve my backpack from the Skynet lockers, and pass out almost immediately on the train. I’m out for the entirety of the three-hour ride into Seoul, then again for the 40-minute bus ride back home. And I get one more hour of sleep at home before I need to get up and showered and off to work at my school at one.

4:35 pm — Feeling It.

I nod off while taking to a student. Not while the student’s the one talking, while I am. Right in the middle of a sentence. laebmada

Go to Part 1Go to Part 2

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Monday, November 20, 2006 11:05 am

    You truly are a God among men.

    All it took to convince me were 13 years and your experiences in Korea.

  2. James17930 permalink
    Thursday, November 23, 2006 1:26 pm


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