The festival's Closing Night film was Waitress, my belated introduction (save her brief role in Factotum) to the late, lamented Adrienne Shelly in her final film as writer, director, and actor. It's a light, fluffy thing, a movie that's built on a foundation of silly tragicomedy convention but also takes the time to examine the stereotypes that we so often assign to southern caricatures. Perhaps the most pleasant thing about it, however, is confirming that Nathan Fillion is more of a well-rounded actor than people give him credit for, too charming to be shackled to genre pictures alone. (After seeing him as a small town doctor/earnest weirdo in Waitress, I'd like to see him try his hand at a "Rex Morgan, M.D."-style melodrama.) It all might be a little too mawkish for its own good, but imagine my surprise when tears came streaming down my face once the end credits rolled and "In loving memory of Adrienne Shelly" came up. You can tell, just from Waitress, that the woman had so much love and hope in her, and this was probably the film that was going to catapult her into the mainstream consciousness. The fact that the little fucker that murdered her tried to make it look like a suicide seems that much more wrongheaded, that much more nonsensical from every possible perspective.
The spectre of the Virginia Tech massacre hung in the air in the festival's final days as well, as they featured two films starring "rising star" Mark Webber as a disturbed, potentially violent loner desperately looking for an emotional anchor: The Memory Thief, wherein Webber is a toll-booth collector without a past who attempts to identify with the pain and the suffering of the Holocaust, and The Good Life, where he's a poor schmuck stuck pumping gas in a sports-obsessed town, looking for solace in a depressed singer (Zooey Deschanel) and a senile movie theater projectionist (Harry Dean Stanton). The latter tacks a ninety-second happy ending onto a straight hour-and-a-half of emo misery (imagine if Capra had agreed with the despondent George Bailey until the very end of It's a Wonderful Life); the former, however, is a somber contemplation of replacing the void with the abyss, so to speak--the essential danger in attempting to correlate inhumane acts that were, nevertheless, committed by humans. The difference between the two works has been on my mind lately as experts and pundits attempt to find rhyme or reason in Seung-hui Cho's horrifying rampage.
Also saw Alan Cumming's "solo directorial debut," Suffering Man's Charity, more or less an excuse for Cumming to scream and ham it up for a straight hour, Bette Davis/What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? style--but at least it finally verbalizes what people find so damned appealing about David Boreanaz: he looks a lot like Warren Beatty from Splendor in the Grass.
I hope you'll read my review of Fracture that's up on the site--it was the festival's annual sneak preview screening, and a far cry from last year's Lucky Number Slevin. Be sure to also check out Walter's review of Hot Fuzz; it takes active resistance to not place an exclamation point at the end of that title.
Speaking tangentially of Edgar Wright, I saw Grindhouse for the second time this week in an attempt to see it in its natural state as many times (and with as many friends) as possible, before it's taken out of theaters to be chopped up into nonsensical halves. It's been said before, but I'll say it again: Planet Terror is tiring junk, but I can't see my grindhouse experience being the same without it. I do wonder, though, what Planet Terror would have been like if it was shot in Rodriguez's vaunted 3-D process--maybe it would have put the man in a better frame of mind concerning exploitation sensationalism, or maybe it would have just been unbearable like Spy Kids 3-D and The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Considering that he too often views the cinematic experience as masturbatory stupidity (think about what Planet Terror essentially skips over with its "missing reel"), probably the latter. But I'm curious.
And finally, check out this fine bit of hypnosis: David Lynch Thinks About Thinking.