Friday, September 14, 2012

DC Shorts helps Angelika open indie theater in northern VA; film from Iran deserved 4 stars

Tonight, I visited the new Angelika Mosaic Cinema and Cafes, apparently its first public opening, in Merrifield, VA, behind the new Target Center (where I parked) at Gallows Road and Less Highway, for Showcase 6 of the DC Shorts Film Festival.  I have been to a similar Angelika property in Dallas, TX (Nov. 20, 2011). The link for the new theater is here

I am grateful to a young tech-savvy employee in a Home Depot across Lee Highway who knew (or figured out) where this place was.  Google maps doesn't have the are correctly shown yet, because the side streets are so new. 

The program started about 20 minutes late, as there were some problems getting out of a computer loop that caused commercials to repeat.

I’ll cove the three largest, and from my perspective, best films of the set first.  Some of the others were rather manipulative and trivial.

Suddenly, Zinat” (“Naagahaan, Zinat”, Iran, 21 min, directed by Navin Azid).  Simin (Raya Nasiri) is successfully raising an adopted daughter Zinat after losing her own family.  But one day, the mumbling and desperate biological mother (Nager Nikkhah Azad) Nasibeth appears and says she need to take the daughter back because her husband has gotten out or prison early.  It’s obvious to Simin that the drug-addicted young woman is incapable or raising anyone.  This film could well expand to a feature, and has all the meat of “The Separation”.   In a time when there is so much hostility about a badly-intended extremist American film, we actually see some outstanding film about family relations made by an Islamic world ready to try to understand what has happened to its own culture.

Deleting Emily” (UK, 15 min., directed by Zak Klein) would be a nice companion piece to “The Social Network”.  Andrew (Will Close), about to leave his working class town in north England for six-month job in Singapore, struggles to save both his “power” and “privilege” in his jeopardized relationship with his girlfriend, Emily (Gina Bramhill).  He doesn’t her to delete him from her Friend’s list in Facebook before he can delete her, as a matter of pride.  There are more complications about how to do this on a smart phone and even how to use gMail (no mention of two-step verification).  The film makes a comic commentary on the significance people give to their standing with others on Facebook, and makes the point that even if you have hundreds of friends on Facebook, you probably only know a handful of them well enough to call them real friends.  So the idea of “concentric publication” to specified lists seems superfluous.  Has Mark Zuckerberg seen this film?

Unremembered” (UK,  15 min, directed by Kelly Parslow) presents a London vicar (Tim Heath) obsessed with finding out who is buried underneath a gravestone with only initials behind his London church. He visits a nursing home to try to interview the previous reverend (David Manson),  now suffering from dementia, and asking him “are you a homosexual?”  The film takes the position that we need to accept the idea that most of us become obscure after we pass away. Live your life to the fullest when you can.

Aquadettes" (10 min, directed by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari) presents an elderly woman, who has for years led a group of synchronized swimmers in “the O.C.”, struggling with multiple sclerosis. I was not aware that nausea and vomiting occur with the disease, and she explains how medical marijuana (which we see her smoking) keeps her in her lifelong activities.  And she has a husband to take care of.

Applications” (8 min, USA).  A young woman, appearing to be into heavy makeup, starts her own self-destruction. This is indeed a horror film, and I cringed to watch the hemoglobin flow.

A Night at the Office” (5 min, USA).  A monster who looks like one of the “Grays” is about to abduct and convert everyone pulling an all-nighter to meet a workplace deadline (before a stock market crash, maybe).  And extraterrestrials are apparently quite comfortable hacking Windows-based PC's. 

The Bench” (5 min, Switzerland), a silent film in black-and-white shows a smug young professional get pickpocketed by those in need.

Four Daughters”  (3 min., USA).  I woudn’t want the responsibility for being father or the bride(s). The script makes something of supposed “selfish intentions” inherent in procreation.  At least dad doesn’t have to take his daughters to work and show them off.

Shave Ice is Nice” (4 min, USA).  At least the Hawaiian coast is spectacular.

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