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Palladino’s Picks: Film Fest Day Four

DJ takes in Shaun Tomson, Hong Kong action, and a snoozy five-tailed fox.


One: What’s been the heaviest-attended Santa Barbara International Film Festival event so Far? How would I know? I don’t do their books. However, there’s no doubt that the Arlington audience for the surf film Bustin’ Down the Door by SB’s Shaun Tomson drew as many if not more than the lush tribute given Cate Blanchett the night before. My pipeline informs me that one of the producers bought at least 300 tickets at a discount price for his friends, but even so the Arlington is a big place and it was tres full: about 100 people were turned away, too. Nobody ever went poor in this town supplying boomer kahunas with rich salty dollops of surfin’ nostalgia. Besides, it’s probably the most cinematic of sports. Right after kung fu fighting.

Two: I’m tired of being wrong. I had genuinely high expectations of Yobi: The Five Tailed Fox, a Korean animated feature that combined traditional mythology with wacky sci fi. But it put me straight into dreamland. (Hope I didn’t snore.) It’s not really a kids’ movie either, and I felt sorry for parents who had to explain the subtitles to tots clearly baffled by the wacky monsters, the scary scarecrows and the tragic reincarnation philosophy that informed the snoozie movie.

Three: But I can be right sometimes, too. Triangle, the Hong Kong action film written and helmed by the three great working practitioners Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, was gorgeous, a trifle confusing and a brashly successful melding of cop drama and treasure allegory, with a splash of farce and an alligator thrown in at the end. Remember when Hong Kong directors got condescending praise? Nowadays they look like old masters.

Four: The world premiere of In the Company of Actors was sparsely attended, but was an excellent aperitif after hearing Blanchett-featured in this SBIFF World Premiere doc-alive Saturday night. She says plays aren’t literature; they are occasions for the creation of theater, an art both ephemeral and permanent. Sounds like literary talk to me, mate.

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