Saturday, March 21, 2015

QWFF 2015 Day 4: And then it snowed

It snowed. On the first day of spring, it snowed. Actually, it wasn't as terrible as it sounds; it's more the timing, I think, that has bothered everybody. And can you blame us? This winter wasn't as brutal as last winter, but it felt almost as bad, and for a brief moment, it looked as if we had finally put it behind us. It's like the killers in horror movies - never count 'em out until you're absolutely sure they're out! (Sometimes not even then.)

I came to P.S. 69, the third venue for the Queens World Film Festival, all the way from Bayside, which is far to the north and east. I thought the weather might impede traffic somehow, and indeed I had to wait awhile for a bus, but once it came, the ride was fairly quick. The weather didn't stop the great big crowd from coming - lotsa friends and family of the filmmakers who were in the house last night.

P.S. 69 in the snow
- Comic Book Heaven. The last days of a neighborhood comic book shop and its cantankerous octogenarian owner. Speaking as someone who used to work in a comic book shop a lot like the one depicted in this short documentary, I have to say that it's not surprising at all that it's out of business. It looked like little more than a hole in the wall, and I counted a grand total of one female customer and zero kids. It appeared as if the merchandise was mostly of the long underwear variety, and I couldn't tell if there were any trade paperbacks (collected editions of monthly issues).

Folks, comics were my life for a long time, so believe me when I say that that character on The Simpsons may be an exaggeration, but he is heavily based on reality, and he should not be any kind of role model when it comes to running an actual comic shop. I can only go by what I saw in the doc, and I concede that I may not have gotten the complete picture (it was only 12 minutes long), but what I saw was an owner who wasn't making any concerted effort to bring in more than just adult white men as customers, and for too many years, guys like him were not rare at all.

As a film, however, this was good. I can see why director EJ McLeavey-Fisher chose his subject. Joe Leisner makes for good sound bites, and his crankiness played very well to the crowd I saw this with. Hell, I laughed a few times, too. The film was shot and edited well, made nice use of the score. As a film, this works... but I only wish that the subject matter was someone who didn't perpetuate the worst stereotypes involved with comic book retail.

- Old Days. Aging rock band The Atomik Age Project reminisces about its glory days. They sound like a good band, in that Eddie and the Cruisers, nostalgia-rock vein, but the entirety of this short consisted of a couple of very brief talking head interviews and a music video. That's it. I learned more about them from this webpage than from this short.

Some of the filmmakers (and subjects) at P.S. 69 last night
- As You Pass By. Doc about a florist in an unusual part of town: next to a cemetery and under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The location of the business is as much an element in this short as the business itself: there are a number of shots of the oppressive-looking ceiling of the BQE covering the wide street, people on the tiny sidewalk, car traffic, etc., and this is apparently part of what will become a bigger piece about the BQE and its effect on those who live and work in its vicinity. If this film is any indication, that's something I'd like to see.

- The Walk. Boy whose father recently died befriends an old man who just wants to go for walks. I expected some kind of M. Night Shyamalan-type twist to this story, but it was exactly what it was on the surface - and I'm grateful for that.

- Gasper & Son. A father-and-son neon-making business. Neon lights have been a huge part of the visual iconography of New York for generations, but according to this doc, it's a dying art, and seeing how neon is made was pretty cool, as was the family dynamic at the heart of this story.

More pics at the Tumblr page.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

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