Posted by: Gregoryno6 | January 10, 2021

The pick of Revelation 2020.

Was there anything anywhere last year that wasn’t touched, screwed up, or disrupted by the dratted covid? The Revelation Perth International Film Festival, normally a June-July event, was pushed back to just before Christmas. I suppose I should be grateful that it appeared at all. The US film festival season was cut very short indeed. Many of the films that came to Perth were given brief or no distribution at all on the other side of the Pacific.

But let’s begin by going back to 2019…

I’ve mentioned REVonDEMAND previously. It’s Rev’s terrific archive of features, docs and shorts – just the thing when the choices at the festival are overwhelming, and time (or money) is short. With Rev being a partly online experience already I decided it was time to catch up with a 2019 documentary, made here in Australia, about children’s tv in the 60s and some of the darker truths that sit behind the entertainment.

Cobby’s Hobbies had very limited release here. Lancelot Link was much more popular. Both shows featured chimps dressed up and acting human, so to speak. Cobby points out that the chimps used in those shows were juveniles; adult chimps aren’t quite as cute, and they’re much more dangerous. Like human child stars that grow up and lose the public’s attention, the prospects for tv chimps aren’t pleasant.

Archive is a science fiction movie about not artificial intelligence, but artificially preserved intelligence. In the not too distant future human consciousness can be preserved in electronic storage for a year. George, bereaved husband, is reactivating a disused laboratory. And he’s running a personal project on the side: building a mechanical body for his wife’s consciousness. He has trouble with his early test models, however, which are developing personalities and emotions of their own.

Yes, dear reader, more about those unnatural persons.

Archive would have benefited from more rigorous editing, but it kept my attention all the way through nevertheless. And it raised an interesting question about the nature of reality.

Lost on the Road to Shangri-La is the tale of a modern journey through mystical foreign lands. Kai – known to readers of this blog as Hairy Soul Man – and his steadfast companion Tim wandered through Asia to find inspiration for a new musical. Dropping themselves into unknown places with nothing but their passports, their backpacks, and a word or two (maybe) of the local lingo, they returned home with a video diary of their adventure. The tale is funny and sad at times, the odd glimpse of the scenery is beautiful, and the natives seem confused but relaxed in the presence of these Australian daredevils.

Kai, being the soulful man that he so hairily is, was on hand at Rev to present the movie in person. That meant enduring two weeks in quarantine – dedicated, eh? Where others might have passed that time staring out the window (me) or testing the efficiency of the hotel’s porn filters (also me), Hairy Soul Man was hard at work editing the video for his song about chilly man bits. Like I said, he’s dedicated.

I took but one dip into Revelation’s Online Summer, with He Dreams Of Giants. Back in 2002 Terry Gilliam, the animating genius of the Monty Python team, started to make a movie titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The production collapsed within a few days of the commencement of shooting. It didn’t have a burning skyscraper or an upturned cruise vessel, but it was a disaster movie all the same. Track down Lost In La Mancha for the fuller tale of the debacle.

Coming forward to 2017 and the stars are once again in alignment. Gilliam has the script, the cast, the crew, and the money. He’s ready to start over with The Killing of Don Quixote. Does he dare? Is he setting himself up for a new catastrophe? The cameras roll… and keep on rolling… this time, it seems, he’s going to make it through.

I could put him out of his misery right now… but fuck it, I need the paycheck.

My Number One Pick for Rev 2020 is Dinner In America. Simon walks tough on the frontiers of polite society. He’s a rebel, hiring himself out for medical tests to make the rent. Patty listens to music in her bedroom and takes Polaroids of herself in the act of (ahem) self-stimulating. In the dreary landscape of suburban Detroit, a strange flower blossoms as Simon and Patty find each other. Violins swell as their eyes meet and their families bond in tearful joy as the young couple advance into matrimony, mortgages, and polite well-scrubbed offspring.

You know I’m just fucking with you, right?

Dinner In America featured at Sundance Film Festival last year, and might have done the festival circuit all across the States. Instead, you guessed it, coronavirus. No trailer, but here’s an interview with the cast. I’m really hoping this move gets a wider release – DVD, streaming, or even a place in the REVonDEMAND catalogue.

PS: This movie may cause you to lose your pants.

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