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The standouts in this showcase are the comedies, which run from dark to romantic, but the two most affecting films are documentaries. Lots of “eh” in between, but that’s a frequent occurrence with nonthematic programming.
Ojos Que No Ven (What the Eye Doesn’t See): When an elderly man dies on Christmas Eve, his grown children decide not to tell their blind mother. There’s a good five minutes of the kids saying variations of “This is the pits.” Then there’s about five minutes of them expressing regret in not telling her. Then the dog dies, so they all have to deal with death after all.
Check Out: A woman with Down Syndrome makes a pitch for a promotion at the grocery store where she works, but her boss can only think about her love life and turns her down—-for the job, anyway. The film starts with something akin to a deadpan Hal Hartley vibe but ends as an after-school special.
A True Friend (pictured above): This is a legit funny meditation on long-lasting friendships, the baffling extent to which someone will go to help a pal, and the power of massive pranks. The film’s punchline is a hilarious surprise.
The Garden of Steven: Is it an insult to the art of the short film to say a movie would be even better if it were a full feature? This sweet, funny, mystical tale about an American missionary in Mexico who finds his own salvation could easily be expanded to 90 minutes.
Walking the Earth: Two minutes of a man filming his bare feet as he walks through various terrains and seasons while a trip-hoppy Moby song plays. It ends with an inspirational quote about how a man will walk 1,000 miles before realizing what he’s looking for is inside himself. Cool Instagram, bro.
Fly: Goofy photo-animated flick about a goofy girl who gets frustrated by a fly landing on her nose while she tries to masturbate in public to a bare-chested man in a fitness magazine. The fly grabs the periodical and swats her in the head. So she flicks out her long tongue and eats the bugger. The end.
Wyrzutki (Castaways): It only takes a minute before the lump forms in your throat as eyewitnesses recall seeing children tossed off the train to Treblinka, the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland. This doc doesn’t fit with the tone of the other films in the showcase, but it’s powerful.
Waves of Grain: Layers of a wood block are planed down and photographed, revealing textures and patterns in animated segments. It’s like a beautiful abstract painting bubbling to life, but the choice of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti-Western soundtrack song “The Big Gundown” makes no sense for the setting.
Not reviewed from this showcase: Line of Sight, for which an advance screener was not available
Showcase 8 showtimes (see a complete schedule):
Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial
Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial
Sept. 25 at 5 p.m. at Angelika Film Center
Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. at Angelika Film Center