San Fran Intl Film Fest Preview, Part 2

Once again, I present three new mini-reviews of films that will screen at the San Francisco International Film Festival. You can also check out my first batch of five. I’ll post at least four more before the festival opens.

As usual, they’re listed from best to worst.

A- A Date for Mad Mary

The story is as old as romantic comedy, and yet, this Irish charmer doesn’t fit neatly into any genre. Mary (Seána Kerslake) goes directly from jail to preparing for her best friend’s wedding. She’s to be maid of honor, which means she should have a date. But who would want her? Mary is angry, alcoholic, acerbic, judgmental, immature, and occasionally violent. Not surprisingly, she’s also deeply sad and lonely. To make things worse, her best friend has turned into Bridezilla, and her mother seduces boys her age. Despite a few plot twists I saw a mile away, everything felt natural.

B- Paris Can Wait

Eleanor Coppola’s narrative feature debut won’t become a masterpiece, but it certainly is pleasant. The wife of a Hollywood producer (Diane Lane) needs to get from Cannes to Paris and doesn’t want to fly. So, a business partner of her husband offers to drive her. Did I mention that he’s French? The one-day drive turns into a three-day tour of French scenery, history, cuisine, and techniques of seduction. At times the movie feels like a travelogue or food porn. Lightly entertaining, Paris Can Wait works largely thanks to Lane’s excellent and sympathetic performance.

Eleanor Coppola will receive this year’s George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award. The award ceremony, including a conversation with Coppola and the only festival screening of Paris Can Wait, happens at SFMOMA, Monday, April 10, at 7:00.

C+ The Human Surge

This indescribable film (I’m not even sure if it’s a documentary or a narrative) starts with an amazing image: People going about their business on a street flooded with water. Then it settles into its non-story. The hand-held camera follows groups of teenagers in Argentina, Mozambique, and the Philippines as they walk, talk, and interact with the Internet. They ponder about the lives of white people, complain about their boring jobs, and have real or fake sex in front of their webcams. Daring and experimental, but the experiment only occasionally works.