SIFF 2009: Gay girls and love for zombies

Our Rating

People seem to have zombies on the mind this week. Perhaps it is because of the heat… or maybe because mid-festival fatigue is actually starting to set in. But here are my observations of the day regarding this curious theme:

A) The most buzzed about movie of the week (at least in these ears) has been for the locally-made film ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction which is, get this, a gay zombie movie! Gotta love that! The screening on Tuesday night was totally sold out, and there is only one more chance to see it, in Kirkland at 10pm on Thursday. Don’t know if I can physically handle that (transportation-wise and sleep-wise), but I have to admit I’m intrigued. I’ve heard the movie is a lot of fun, a la Shaun of the Dead.

B) The leisure time book of the day seems to be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mash up of the original Jane Austen text with zombie mayhem by Seth Grahame-Smith (the book is subtitled The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!). I saw no less than three copies of the book today (one of which was on my own coffee table!). That’s one hot book.

C) The heat – No zombies were actually in sight this day, as perhaps they can’t stand the heat (zombies CAN go out in the sun, though, right?). Seattle is in the middle of a very surprising lil’ heat wave right now, with temperatures in the upper-80s (Tuesday’s official high was 88, and they predict Wednesday might be a touch hotter!). There has been glorious weather pretty much since SIFF started, especially on the weekends, and I have to wonder if that is affecting festival attendance. We are all so used to the months of dismal weather that we’ve endured through winter and spring, that people are stumbling around (zombie-like, really) in the sun, blinking, and collapsing on the grass in parks, splayed in sprawling positions.

My two movies of the day that had two things in common: they were both gay-themed (which I knew) and they both had surprisingly moving subplots that had to do with Alzheimer’s (which I did not expect).

The first film I went to on the spur of the moment, as I was lucky to leave work early. I was too lazy to have to switch movie theaters, so I went to the film right before my later ticketed movie. To be honest The Baby Formula (5/8) from Canada would not have been on my list of must-see films because of two keywords: lesbian comedy. I know, I know, that sounds mean, but I fully expected it to be wretched. It actually turned out to be pretty funny for the most part, with its mockumentary portrayal of a female couple who both becomes impregnated with each other’s manufactured “sperm” (some faux science involving their DNA, stem cells, and a petri dish). Apparently the film was shot improvisational-style, and all the actors bring laughs to the table, despite some humor that is pretty stereotypical. What surprised me was that the film squeezed some bonafide real earned tears from me with a side-story about one of the women’s father announcing he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. That moment was nicely done, and kudos to actress Rosemary Dunsmore for her unsympathetic mother-in-law being the one to shock me with her raw emotional moment that produced said tears. She knocked that scene out of the ballpark.

My second film was a cute and sweet teen love triangle romance called Miao Miao (5/8) from Taiwan. A pretty Japanese exchange student, dubbed Miao Miao (Jia-yan Ke) shows up at an all-girls’ high school, and is immediately adopted as a BFF by vivacious and beautiful Ai (Yung-yung Chang). Miao Miao falls for a cute, brooding record shop owner named Chen Fai (Wing Fan) who avoids social contact by always wearing headphones (he listens to the sound of silence, because he never wants to listen to music again due to his dark secret…). Miao Miao crushes hard on Chen Fai, who does not return the love. There are a lot of tears, and a lot of Asian pop ballads. And, supposedly, we are supposed to pick up that Ai is actually crushing hard on Miao Miao, though that is barely developed. So what seemed to be advertised as a gay girl love story actually turned out to be more of a gay boy love story (gone tragic). There was a lot to like about the film, as it was actually quite funny and charming in places, but it didn’t know where to end, and there was some very odd, clunky editing throughout the film (I wasn’t the only one to notice this, I heard it mentioned in the ladies restroom afterwards). But all in all, it wasn’t bad.


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