SBIFF 2015: Partners in Crime

SBIFF 2015 posterO woe is me, attending film festivals is getting in the way of my watching classic film. Luckily, I’ve got several blogathons coming up (see banners at right) to get me back into the classic swing of things.

Before we return to our regularly scheduled programming, however, I’d like to tell you about a few of the films I saw at the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It’s a good festival with lots of potential celebrity-spotting, as it’s so close to LA. Unlike the heavenly AFI Fest, though, it ain’t free. Movies are $15 a pop.

But…they do a great deal on late-night movies—you can get a Remains of the Day pass for $60, which gets you in to every movie that starts after 10pm. If you went to every late-night screening, that more than halves the price of the films. So put that in your back pocket. (You know, for next year.)

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Partners in Crime” (2014, Jung-chi Chang)

One of several Taiwanese films I saw, “Partners in Crime” is about high school bullying. Sort of. Three boys who don’t know each other well discover the body of a mysterious classmate on their way to school, Chia, who has thrown herself off her balcony. One of those boys, Huang, becomes peculiarly interested in what happened. He invites the other two boys to their classmate’s funeral. At first, he’s simply lying to the girl’s grieving mother, to make her feel better. Within short order, however, he’s escalated to bringing his new friends, Lin and Yeh, along to break into the girl’s house.

They find a diary suggesting Chia was bullied. Soon after this, things go (more) off the rails. Describing much more of the plot will spoil things. I can tell you that this film boasts the worst school counselor I’ve ever seen on film. In one of the two or three meetings she bothers to have with these kids who’ve found the (bloody) body of a schoolmate who committed suicide, she gives them an essay assignment. In their last meeting, she tells them, “If things come up…deal with them yourself.” The film is more complex than it first seems, just as the plot is more complicated than it first appears to be.

As you might gather from the two stills here, the film is also about loneliness, much more than it is about bullying.

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It’s engrossing, and there are beautifully set up shots like the one in which one of the boys, in the foreground, watches a heated discussion between another boy and a girl, just out of focus, twenty feet away. Definitely recommended. (And to see what might happen to some of these characters as grown-ups, check out “Confession.”)

 

If you’re in the area, or fancy a trip, there are more films coming up this weekend, for free (!). It’s the festival’s “3rd weekend,” during which they show a series of festival favorites. Click here for the schedule.

Also coming up locally are two “The Wave” mini-festivals:

April 23rd  – May 3: Contemporary Films from Spain & Latin America

July 15 – 19: Contemporary Films from France

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