Sunday, February 17, 2008


Michelle and I had the opportunity to attend a film as part of the Portland International Film Festival on Friday, and it was really an interesting experience. The Festival runs for about 2 1/2 weeks every February, and I believe this was the 31st incarnation of it. Films are shown in several participating theatres in downtown Portland during the evenings and all day on weekends. The theater that we attended was actually below street level, which was kind of cool in and of itself, as when we were coming and going we could look up through the lobby and see people walking outside on the street above.

Anyway, we saw an Argentinan film called "La Antena," or "The Aerial" in English (although, I think a more literal translation of "The Antenna", would have been more appropriate). The film was billed as an animation/live action mashing with homage to Tim Burton and several Hispanic directors. The plot revolved around a city whose residents had had their voices stolen by a powerful man known as Mr. TV. So when they spoke in the film, instead of a voice being projected into the theater, there was no sound but the actual text of what they said exiting their mouths and floating around onscreen (in Spanish). It was an interesting concept to be sure, and definitely a fascinating visual style. So anyway, Mr. TV was plotting to steal peoples' words as well, leaving them unable to communicate, and I won't spoil what happens in case you want to see it.

Michelle had a stronger knowledge of Argentinian/South American history that helped to appreciate the plot more, but I understood its meaning once she gave me a bit of background. But it was nevertheless fun to feel like we were part of the Festival crowd, even if only for a night. I'm told that on many of the films, people involved with the production are on hand to field questions after the screening, but that was not the case in ours. If you have the opportunity to attend a film festival, I highly recommend it as a fun and interesting night out.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Brad's All-Time Fave Films: #6

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

It would be an understatement to say that this film is the epitome of a 'triumph of the will' movie. The film centers around an everyday white-collar business man named Andy Dufresne (expertly played by Tim Robbins) who goes to jail for killing his wife and her lover. Despite receiving a particularly long sentence (two life sentences if memory serves), Dufresne is determined to get free.

Of course, there is no doubt that everyone feels that way when they first enter the clink, but after so long, most become institutionalized, so dependent on the structure and the system that prison provides, that they can no longer function with all of the freedoms they are given back upon their release (as well as the harshness of trying to survive being an ex-con). In fact, we see this in the character Brooks, who cannot cope with the free world once he is released.

But somehow Andy remains resolute in his task. His fellow inmate Red (played by Morgan Freeman) manages to secure him a toy pick axe and he goes about chipping away at the prison walls, removing just little bits every night. I don't know how many years Andy ended up spending in prison, plotting and making his escape, but he never wavered in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles (like months in pitch-black isolated confinement).

At the end of the film, as Andy stands with arms raised in the rain, victorious, we don't really know whether or not he regrets his crimes, but we do know that, at least to himself, he has been redeemed.