January 26, 2023

I love film festivals. I love films. Watching films is one of my favorite things to do. So when I am in proximity to a film festival, it means that I am going to be going to some movies. I just wish I had the time and money to see them all. Someday. For now, I try to pick the ones I will enjoy the most. In this case, since it is almost finals week and I am a very broke student, I opted to see four movies out of the more than 20 that the Hawaii International Film Festival brought to Honolulu for the 10th annual Spring Showcase. My choices were:

Bamako– a film from Mali that is about how the world bank has and continues to exploit, degrade, and abuse third world nations in Africa and around the world. The story is essentially a trial held in a Mali courtyard in which it is Africa vs. The World Bank. The secondary story, which is billed as the primary is the story of a couple who live in the house attached to the courtyard are struggling to survive in the poverty that surrounds them. A bizarre third story is a movie shown on the TV they watch in which Danny Glover and a cast of odd cowboys have a shootout in Timbuktu. All three stories are demonstrations of how the World Bank is using debt to enslave Africa and Africans. A scene in the court plotline in which an elderly shaman/farmer chants to the court brought me to the edge of tears. Awesome film, heavy handed on the politics, worth watching at least once. Great music.

The Cats of Mirikitani
– this documentary is about Jimmy Mirikitani and Linda Hattendorf. Hattendorf, a documentary film maker, befriends homeless artist Mirikitani. After 911, she takes him into her Manhattan home and together they deconstruct his internment in a WWII concentration camp in Tule Lake, California and work together to reconstruct his life. The most touching film I have seen in a long time. The friendship, the emotion, and the reality of it all is awesome. Reminds you that America put its own citizens into concentration camps during WWII and that we still do.

Exiled– a Hong Kong gangster film about five friends that defy the Hong Kong mob is my favorite kind of movie. One of them anyway. Great shootout scenes, unlikely coincidence, funny mishaps, blood everywhere, and a strange sort of happy ending. A really fun film by director Johnny To.
finally…last night we watched David Lynch’s most experimental film to date:

Inland Empire
– This 3-hour psychological bizarre flick left me and everyone I saw it with feeling like we had just woke up from a twisted dream, dropped acid, or been mentally molested. Laura Dern plays an actress who meets her freaky polish neighbor and then is transported to the past or the future as she accepts a part in a film where the leads were murdered the first time it was produced and seems to unravel a polish folk tale, or curse, that involves a room full of anthropomorphic bunnies, chorus line prostitutes, surreal transitions, and otherworldy atmosphere. I liked it, but I can’t really tell you what it was about. Lynch is distributing the film in an extremely small number of theatre showings and then going to DVD. This one will become a cult classic. No doubt about it. I can’t wait to read about it in five years when it has been totally unraveled. As it was, I had to get a shot of tequila asap after seeing it. Check it out and be sure to watch to the very end of the credits. My favorite scene from the film is when Dern is bleeding on the sidewalk and a homeless strung out Japanese chick is telling about how to get the bus to Pomona and her friend who has a pet monkey, a blond wig, and a hole in the side of her vagina but who turns tricks because she is on hard drugs. Wow.

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