Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Portland International Film Festival preview day 6: BOY

I was feeling pretty run down when Monday morning crept around and, as a result, only caught the first of the two features programmed for that day's press screenings.  The second one, Human Resources Manager from Israel, is scheduled for a dvd release in April via the Film Movement dvd label, so I'll likely get around to it sometime 'round then.

I've been looking forward to seeing Boy ever since the festival schedule was announced.  It's the second feature from New Zealand actor/director Taika Waititi, following the indie-cult success of Eagle vs Shark (2007).  Here's the trailer for that earlier feature:

Eagle vs. Shark gathered more than a few comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite, which, if you watch the trailer above, seems fair.  Except, while I didn't much care for Napoleon D, I really dug its New Zealand cousin quite a bit.  Chalk it up to different strokes for different folks...or a love of NZ accents (maybe).

Waititi's new film is an ever slightly more mature product, inspired in part by his 2003 Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night:

Boy tells the story of a kid named, appropriately enough, Boy.  After his mother died giving birth to his younger brother Rocky (yes, it's a pop reference--watch out, there are MANY), their father, Alamein, was thrown in prison for robbery.  In their father's absence, the kids have been under the care of their grandmother.  That is, until shortly after the start of the film, when Alamein is released from prison.

Thus far, Waititi's characters have all been misfits and dreamers and Boy is no exception.  He's obsessed with Michael Jackson to an almost unhealthy degree, mentioning him no less than three times during the introduction.  He's friends with a goat.  And, to top it all off, Boy is pretty sure that his father is a war hero, rather than a convict.

Alamein's return proves him to be no less delusional than his son, smoking endless amounts of marijuana and drinking all day instead of taking proper care of his kids.  Nevertheless, Boy quickly transfers his hero worship onto his father, even seeing him take on the signature moves of Michael Jackson to comic effect.

Perhaps because the narrative is filtered through the consciousness of a child, Boy comes off as less self-conscious and twee than Eagle vs. Shark felt at times.  Although I enjoyed both films, I'm guessing that the second feature will likely pull in more viewers.

Boy plays at the Broadway Theater on Feb. 13th at 1:45pm, Feb. 17th at 6:45pm, Feb 18th at 6pm and Feb. 19th at 8:15pm.

Just in case anyone's curious about the second film that screened on Monday, here's the trailer:

Human Resources Manager plays at the Broadway Theater on Feb. 12th at 8pm, Feb. 13th at 2:45pm and Feb. 13th at 5:15pm.

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