Category Archives: Landlocked Film Festival

Dan of Green Gables

A Champion With a Tear-Duct of Gold

If you’re like me and have attended a public university in Iowa, or if you’re unlike me and know stuff about sports, then you have heard of Dan Gable, the wrestler/coach/beefydude extraordinaire. Yes, well, apparently he was awesome and amazing and beat everyone at everything ever except this one time that haunts him to this very day. Duh. Ok. So there was a documentarian/Gablehead who followed Gable around and documented him and made his documentations into a documentary which I watched at the Landlocked Film Festival. It was called “Freestyle: The Victories of Dan Gable” (dir. Kevin Kelley).

It’s true that as a “somewhat” bookish, flimsily built lady who knows less than your average household domesticated canine about wrestling, or indeed about sports in general, I *may* not have been the target demographic for this film (see use of the word “indeed”), but you know, my Hawkeyes inspire the drunken blood-lust in me that froths the whole city into a soupy piranha tank in heat on certain Fall Saturdays. I mean, I’m a nerd, not a corpse. My point is that I love men savagely injuring one another in front of large cheering crowds. The more vicious the better. Like, give them maces or bear-traps, please.

So I have this to say about the documentary: wrestling needs to allow people to hit and/or kick and/or bite and/or stab because apparently it is more boringer than my old U of Iowa gen ed class,  “The History and Calculus of Etiquette”, which was taught by Dr. Penny Cilin, PhD, who was literally mold.

Speaking of mold, The. Pace. Was. So. So. So. Slow. I actually grew a beard. The film outlined your standard Wikipedia facts about Coach Gable and I guess ran out of time to cram in any interesting information. Even though the filmmaker had followed his idol around like the unshakable awareness of our own mortality that dogs every adult into a terrified paralysis on a daily basis (or is that just me?), he captured exactly zippo of his supposed passion for this sports legend, nada of Gable’s intimate personal feelings, and found zero common thread to shape his narrative except the very lame “victories” thing.

By the way, I KNOW that Gable HAS intimate personal feelings because he was there at the screening and read a tear-jerking letter from his late mother to the audience, fighting off his swells of heaving emotion with every breath. Even super-jocks have feelings…possibly even super-feelings. These gentle giants have athletic hearts that allow a greater capacity for weeping. The guy is waaaaaay compelling, dude! So, NO EXCUSE! THIS MOVIE SHOULD HAVE BEEN INTERESTING! Shame on you, heartless director! What happened? I’ll tell you: you got too caught up in the riches and glamour of the independent documentary game and lost sight of your roots, lost touch with your soul! Shaaaaaaaaaaame!

Also, Go Hawks!


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Phast Phillip

Iowa's Version of the Red Carpet: 6x6 Astroturf

As someone with a short attention span, I love short films. As someone who enjoys laughing, I love comedies. So bless my soul, when I heard that there would be a program of comedy shorts at the Landlocked Film Festival, I got there faster than the lovechild of Roadrunner and the Flash (who I think should have been named “Roadflasher”. Buuuuuut Roadrunner just had to honor her uncle Philip.) Here’s a speedy rundown of the 7 comedic shorts:

“I Hate Panda” (dir. Ian Bennett)- A six-minute amalgam of all those weird aspects of Chinese culture that are inscrutable to your standard Anglo-Saxon. There was a karaoke singing girl in a panda outfit, the characters yelled their emotions really fast and close up at seemingly random points, and lots of anime-style flinging and whooshing and cartoon-y text. It’s my sad misfortune that at no point during this screening was I a 12 yr old Hong Kong schoolgirl.

“Rifle Ave” (dir. John Nodorft)- a crazy paranoid guy ventures out of his crazy bunker in a crazy hazmat suit, even though imaginary helicopters could imaginarily shoot him, in order to save his neighbor/crush/nurse/lady across the street. I give it two tiny thumb-sized tinfoil hats up!

“Bathing and the Single Girl” (dir. Christine Elise McCarthy)- This sassy monologue about the perils of dating as an older-than-20-something-lady was essentially Sex and the City except with a sharp, thoughtful, funny person in it. That being said, it was the only entry by a female human and it was about her boy problems. It made me wish that more than 1 in 7 people in the world were girls and that those precious few had more to talk about than boys. Wait, what’s that? HALF of all people are women? The nightly news shall hear of this, mark my words!!

“Clean Break” (dir. Ryan Lieske)- A skeleton in a rigid book deal who’s being pigeonholed by his publishing company to write “skeleton” books when all he wants to do is write a novel about the plight of a single mother who lost her child? It’s funny. Really. I just didn’t like it. Some people are amused by cruelty and hopelessness and puking in children’s faces. Some aren’t. That’s life. As the French say, “Bonjour!”

“Astronaut on the Roof” (dir. Sergi Portabella)- Is it just me or are things automatically witty in a Brittish accent? It’s so funny, you guys! Okay, so it’s a movie about two guys writing a movie and you see the scenes they’re trying to put in their movie but then they decide to make it a movie about themselves writing the movie and they’re in their own movie all of a sudden and Brittishy voiceovers, you guys! I don’t get it, but goldarn is it funny!

“Mimespeak” (dir. Tracy D. Smith)- A cubicle-bound operator in a call center gets jealous of his inexplicably wildly successful coworker who is… a MIME. What?! A mime in a call center?! How–Wha–huh? It’s utter foolishness! I LOL-ed all over myself. And, praise mighty Zeus, a laaaadyyyy director! I’d like to scale back my previous sarcastic indignance and kiss the feet of Tracy D. Smith, you beautiful lamb chop, you.

“Wolfsbane” (dir. Matthew Wilson)- This is not a comedy. It was probably put in with the comedies because it is a laughable drama. It’s steam punk Red Riding Hood where Granny is a werewolf and you’re not even slightly surprised by it. You can tell it’s set in “the past” because everyone over-enunciates and uses Pee-Q-Lee-Ar words and syntax. It annoyed the puke right out of my bile-filled belly.

And that’s how that all went!

Zzzzzzzzzzzoooooommeepmeep! Get out of here, Phil.


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The “Boob” in Boob Tube

It's Not Degrading If She's A Hero!...No, Wait. She's Not A Hero If It's Degrading. That One.

I yell at TV. I don’t like to, but it compells me like the power of Christ compells demons at an exorcism. It’s just that TV is mean to ladies. TV makes pictures that look like ladies do stupid things like wash cars in their bikinis to sell hamburgers, be married to a 2 when they’re at least a 7, and fight crime in their underwear and heels. Ladies can’t get old  on TV. Ladies rarely get good jobs on TV. Ladies on TV are mostly just strippers or housewives or failing, messy, single girls who can’t land a man and whine about it all the time. That’s why TV makes me yell at it.

People roll their eyes at me a lot.

Miss Representation (dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom), which showed at the Landlocked Film Festival, was a wonderful scented bubble-bath of validation for this angry girl’s angry heart. It was all like “Yeah, women ARE being portrayed unfairly, and are being underrepresented and misrepresented! You were totally right all along, and people should ALL be yelling at TV!” …only it did it in a rational, methodical, and very sleek, entertaining way. I nearly swooned.

There are some sappy parts where the director/narrator sits poetically under a sunlit tree, gazes up at the sky with a weary expression and wonders “what kind of world will my unborn baby girl child inhert etc, etc.?” (women, am I right?) but most of this film is incredibly snappy and smart. It’s as entertaining as a Michael Moore documentary, but without that sick “I just ate a whole large tub of cheese-blasted popcorn” feeling afterwards.

You want haunting statistics? You got ’em. You want frustrated eloquent teens? You got that too. Rachel Maddow, Condaleeza Rice, Geena Davis, Katie Couric, and tons of other famous and intelligent female humans? Yes, ma’am. How about a little hope at the bottom of the box? Yuuuuup!

Please, everyone, see this movie. I beg of you.


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Marshmallows, Demons, and Marshmallow Demons

What Happens When A Girl With A TV For A Head Falls In Love With Two Men...And One Of Them Is Jesus?

In these trying times of political strife, of red versus blue, of noodle-armed vegan pit-hair wavers versus mullety gap-toothed hog-stranglers, sometimes we need to chill out, remember to put down our kindles and pitchforks, and just love each other.

Paradise Recovered (dir. Storme Wood) remembers. It’s a charming little indie flick from the heartland about a suuuuuuuuper-Bibley girl who believes that eating marshmallows and watching even the G-est of movies will allow actual-factual demons to infiltrate her brain and tear her away from livin’ the sweet Jesus life. She is brain-washed-ish by a TV evangelist and her boss/minister/father-figure (low-budget evil Tom Hanks) into being a nannyslaveprisioner at crazy Tom Hank’s house. He also arranges a marriage for her to his Bible college son, who is actually also kinda evil.

Bibella decides to spice up her hum-drum life by getting a job at the health food store where she meets the smug philosophy student manager and instantly sparks FLY! After Philosophy guy “She’s All That”‘s Biblette with lipstick and low-cut tank tops, they, as unlikely as it may be, fall in love even though he has utter contempt for her deepest beleifs and she beleives he will spend eternity skinny-dipping in a lake of fire. But at least she’s hot now.

It’s low budget. There are weird things like a comic-releif roommate who I’m guessing is normally a straight-up clown in real life, and a guy who talks in his best Bill Clinton immitation for all of his lines (the preacher-dad of smug Romeo). BUT, and I say BUT, this movie was fun and it warmed the cockles of my fridgid little prejudiced-against-both-smug-college-kids-and-religious-fanatics heart. Seriously. The characters were likeable and human, the issues were complex and compelling, and there was a nice story development which is dandy for people who like their heads not to explode because of retarded monkey scribble writing.

As I left the theater, I was left with a sense of understanding and divine grace.  I was brimming with a deep love for my fellow man and hope for the future of what seems so often like a divided world. …Then some little punk squeaked out a terrible attempt to pick me up and I was once again left with familiar old ire.


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