I’m a bit late getting to this, but, two weeks ago, I was at Lost Weekend VII, the semi-annual film festival held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, VA. Yes, there have been six previous Lost Weekends (capitalization of those words necessary to designate them from normal lost weekends where you sleep in or binge watch Netflix or something) and yes, I have written of them before. But, this time, I did not spend the entire Thursday through Sunday night huddled in the back row as movie after movie spun by.
Couldn’t hang. Just couldn’t.
Didn’t help that I spent most of Sunday in the ER for my friggin’ back (a syringe of Dilaudid turning it into a different kind of lost weekend), but, even without that, I can’t hang. Certain of life’s inevitabilities have kicked in, making continuous film watching problematic. My wife hung in there, but she’s always been tougher than me, and yes, yes, several other old farts endured, but, not me. I’m done.
Because this is not actually a film festival, it’s a film marathon. Lost Weekend started in 2013 with eight films over three days and now, now…twenty-three films over three-and-a-half days. Doing the math, that translates to oh, say, twenty-seven minutes to eat and sleep over four days.
So I didn’t.
I went home after the next-to or next-to-the-next-to last movie of the night, crashed, made a leisurely breakfast and then a leisurely trip back to Alamo and queue up the next movie, stay until my brains started flowing out of my ears, rinse, repeat. Which means I did not see all twenty-three films, but I did see quite a few, of which I thought three were outstanding:
This is a movie so good it could easily have gone another 45 minutes to an hour of its rather short hour-and-a-half and suffer absolutely no ill effects. It was vignette after vignette of three distinct story lines, two of which may, or may not, be the result of the real story line, which may, or may not, be the real story at all. I’m not going to say much more than that, but this movie will blow you away. Oscars for Rami Malek as Buster, DJ Qualls as Brown, and Best Director for Sarah Adina Smith.
b. Toni Erdmann.
This movie is so good that its over-two-hours run time might actually be a little short. I could have stood a couple more of Toni’s practical jokes with little complaint. In this German film, an apple falls very far from the tree, almost out of the county because daughter Inez is a humorless, stick-up-the-butt corporate apparatchik in contrast with her certifiably insane Dad, practical-joking Winfried, who has practically joked himself into an old age of isolation and loneliness. Guessing that his stick-butt daughter is as isolated and lonely as he, Winfried pays a visit to her office in Bucharest and, well, you just gotta watch. Things get progressively out-of-hand as daughter, suddenly the apple, tries to match him prank for prank and, you know, you’re going to have to answer the door naked to see what happens. Rumor is that Jack Nicholson has been picked for the American version.
A locked-room Spanish murder mystery originally released under the title Contratiempo from Mexico (or not. Lineage is not certain on this film), there is a point in this fascinating story where you go, “Wait a minute. How can that happen?” And you think you’re some kind of Sherlock because, aha! You have discovered the flaw in the movie! But you haven’t, because the thing that you thought happened DIDN’T happen, and you won’t know that until the last few minutes. Very cool.
Some of the other good ‘uns were the amazing Colossal; I, Daniel Blake (which should pretty much cure you of your socialist enamorings); and the freakin’ hilarious The Young Offenders. That’s about all the ones I actually saw and remembered.
If the trend continues, then the next Lost Weekend will be 23-24 films over the same time frame, and I will see about eight or nine because I can’t hang. Be nice if Lost Weekend became an actual film festival where all the movies are listed and you buy, say, a five-movie ticket to see the ones you want, you know, like Cannes or Sundance.