Dispatches From DIFF: Reviews Of Yesterday's Picks
So, we're halfway through DIFF. Surely by this point you have your favorite seat in each theater (no, I won't tell you mine, otherwise there will be a popcorn fight) and you've made friends with your fellow fest-goers. If not, you still have five more days and dozens of movies to see, so turn in those vouchers, pack your bag and bring a sweater, cause it's on.
I started out yesterday bright and early (by fest standards at least) with Bill Sebastian's QWERTY. The epitome of all things nerd love, QWERTY is what every indie rom com should be. Starring Dana Pupkin and Eric Hailey as the cutest awkward couple ever, the film chronicles the whirlwind romance of two social rejects as they save and support each other in a world that ridicules them. Complete with family fumbles, suicidal tendencies and Scrabble, this movie is delightful and heartwarming.
As a teen I eschewed rags like Seventeen and YM in favor of Harper's Bazaar for one reason - the awesome fashion editorials that the mag has been producing for decades. Pair that with my love of Funny Face and it's a wonder that I didn't learn about Diana Vreeland until my 20s. By the time people like me could truly appreciate her, she was gone, but thanks to the doc Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, the world can see and hear what a truly groundbreaking and influential woman Vreeland was. The interviews with those who knew her best as well as footage from the gal herself, work together creating a must-see for fans of fashion, wit and American culture of the 20th century.
With its Texas ties, Sironia was a crowd pleaser at the Angelika yesterday. A labor of love from screenwriters Wes Cunningham (who also stars in the film), Brandon Dickerson and Thomas Ward, Sironia tells the familiar tale of dreams unrealized in the land of music making. Disenchanted by the fact that he never got the rock star life he was promised, Thomas (Cunningham) and his pregnant wife leave La La Land for Sironia, a small town in Texas where rock stars are forced to become real men. Inspired by Cunningham's original songs, Sironia follows the highs and lows people experience and the things they do to find peace in the real world.
A film like Still Life could never be made in America. In Austrian director Sebastian Meise's feature length debut, Bernhard finds a letter from his father to a prostitute that will change their family forever. The note details instructions of what he wants from the prostitute, including dear old dad's desire to call her Lydia, which just so happens to be his daughter's name. After it calmly makes its rounds through each member of the family they choose to deal with the news individually. If it had been made in this country, the movie would be full of yelling, throwing things and "how could yous," but Meise's film is indeed a still life work of art, one that relies on the audience to view and interpret the relationships and events that are depicted. Difficult as they may be to stomach.