JC: Indy Film Fest First Impressions

Posted: July 17, 2011 in J.C. Personal, Reviews, Uncategorized
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Friday I went to two features at the Indy Film Fest. As with many festival films, you never know what to expect. The only thing you have to go on are the couple lines in the program or on the website. Since these films are making the festival rounds, many times word of mouth is scarce.

My first two films were more picked on timing and not description anyway. The first film I saw is called “Jess + Moss” and it screened with a short called “In That Moment”

First, let me say that both films screened in The Toby theater at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. What a wonderful theater! It is an amazing space for some of the films at the festival.

The short “In That Moment” was a 5 minute, black and white short showing a street performer and a woman with whom he makes a connection. This short did not really do anything for me. I will not say that there was anything wrong with it, I just didn’t really understand what the filmmaker was trying to do and it just left me confused and sad.

The feature, “Jess + Moss” is an American film written and directed by Clay Jeter. It tells the story of, well… Jess and Moss. I’m not 100% sure of their relationship. They act like brother and sister most of the time, but there was definitely a sexual tension between them. We’re told through Jess that their parents used to be the best of friends and one night Moss’ parents were killed on their way to hang out with Jess’ parents.

One of the major motifs in this film is memory. Moss spends lots of time listening to memory improvement tapes in hopes of activating his stored memories, presumably memories of his parents. Jess spends a lot of time listening to tapes made by her mother and punishing herself physically, while she emotionally tortures herself by listening to the tapes left to her by someone that is not around, for whatever reason.

The tapes play a central role, Jess records everything and memories come in pieces and are then rewound like a tape to give the piece of memory some context.

Jess and Moss talk a lot about life and the past, but rarely do they touch on the future. Most of the conversations are about mundane topics and the ways that each of them view the world around them. I’m not sure what Jeter was trying to do with this film. If he was trying to get me to feel sorry for these two young people, he succeeded. If he was trying to confuse me with the ending, he succeeded. If he was trying to make me uncomfortable at the sexualizing of Jess by focusing about 20% of the movie on her legs, he succeeded. Actress Sarah Hagan gave a good performance, as did Austin Vickers, but this film as a whole just didn’t do it for me. My advice is to skip it unless you’re looking to feel sorry for these characters and be angry and confused by the ending.

The second feature I saw is a Chilean film called F*ck My Life. The attention grabbing title was enough to lure me in for this take on romantic comedy. Before you turn off at the title or genre, keep reading. F*ck My Life is the story of likable Javier and his obsession over Sofia, his ex-girlfriend. Javier is so flawed that we can’t help but feel sorry for him and cheer for him at the same time. Told in flashback, through talking head style interviews with all of the main characters, this film follows Javier through a one night stand, leading to a relationship, loss, obsession, depression and finally realization.

I don’t want to give too much away about this one because I believe it is worth seeing. The characters are hilarious and Javier gets himself in some of the strangest situations leading to multiple laugh out loud moments.

This film does a great job showing how one person’s selfishness can impact the lives of many people around him. It also does a great job understanding that we live in a world of social media sites. Not only does the film not ignore that aspect of life today, it uses it as an important character. If you are not offended by the title, make sure to catch this one. It screens again on July 21 at the festival at 7:30. It’s worth seeing.

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