3rd Day at SF IndieFest 2013: “Faceless”, “Inside Lara Roxx” and “Berberian Sound Studio”

Faceless

Facelesstwo-stars1My 3rd day of IndieFest started off with a perfectly good example of what happens when a filmmaker can’t leave well enough alone.

Through an infectiously pulsating soundtrack, candid testimonials from those who have crossed the border, family members of border crossers, and Coyotes (human traffickers, not the actual animals, just in case you were wondering), this movie - or at least the first three-quarters of it - serves as a welcome addition to the many already existing non-fiction films on such similar subject matter.

As a documentary detailing the struggles of undocumented Mexican migrants, as well as the perceptions of those Americans whose homes lie on the Mexican/American border, Tristan Albrecht‘s movie can be liked to that of a delicious hearty sandwich, or at least this analogy works for the first three-fourths of the movie.  However, were it not for the massive amounts of oil and vinegar (the 9/11 focused last quarter of the movie) which I found to be borderline exploitative, mainly due to the fact that there was no need for this extra manipulative narrative to even exist, except to be just that – manipulative - it would have no doubt ended up tasting a lot better than it had.

Inside Lara Roxx

Inside_Lara_Roxx_1three-stars15From the get go we’re told that in 2004 three adult film workers (porn stars) were diagnosed with having HIV.  Lara Roxx was one of them.  From this point, and for seven years following it, Director Mia Donavan documents Lara’s life.

On the surface it would appear that having a former porn star as the focal point in one’s documentary that the narrative would naturally fall into place.  The end result would either be observing someone’s train wreck of a life, or their story of redemption.  Inside Lara Roxx falls somewhere in between these two.

Naturally, there is a portion of the movie that looks at the porn industry, which left me to draw my own conclusions as to what I already knew – it’s filled with creeps, airheads and addicts.  Side note: I’m not trying to vilify or stereotype an entire industry as I am sure that there are also a great deal of decent and non-soulsucking people who earn their living through porn, but going off what was presented here, one wouldn’t be wrong to have a negative take on the industry.

At one point in the movie Lara expresses what it is that she hoped would come of this documentary.  Lara, if on the off-chance you are reading this, I would like to thank you for your courage (not stupidity) in being exposed in such a real an honest way.  I know for a fact that your story has and will continue to help others who suffer from mental illness and addiction.

Berberian Sound Studio

BerberianSoundStudio_courtesyIFCfour-stars4Fans of Giallo films, stand up!  Last week my friend, and fellow Filmbalayan, Nick, published his review for this excellent film which I think sums up what I just watched perfectly.

It is as if David Lynch directed a film about an introverted British man getting hired as Dario Argento‘s sound editor circa 1977.  While every film geek in the world is now running to get their tickets the rest of you might need some more convincing.  This brilliant movie explores the relationship of sound in film, art in life, and what happens when all of those things get thrown together in a nightmare blender full of rotten produce.  To put it simply, Berberian Sound Studio is a must see film.

Well put Nick, well put.  Especially the part about Lynch and Argento.  I would only add that thanks to this film I now know what the true appearance of a dangerously aroused Goblin looks like, and I am a better man for it.

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