Friday, April 6, 2018

SFIFF 61: Day One

The Rider

The Wrestler goes to the rodeo. Of the hybrid fiction/documentary films I've seen, this was the most successful as a doc, in the sense that it feels like a document of a people, place, etc. Set in the plains of South Dakota, it explores the trials of a young horse trainer and rodeo champion who's just injured his head in a riding accident. There are many things to enjoy here, cinematically and otherwise: beautiful twilight shots of the prairie, a taste of the hybrid native/white culture (it appears that the protagonist/subject is mixed-race, and his friends and surroundings are similarly varied). The scenes with horses stand out the most: you can feel the connection, and almost glimpse a sense of understanding.

The Price of Everything

This documentary on the state of the contemporary art market feels all-too-real, yet also manages to be enormously entertaining (easily beating out recent Cannes winner _The Square_ as a satire on modern art). Nearly all parts of the ecosystem are captured, including established, up-and-coming, and forgotten artists, as well as curators, critics, collectors, and perhaps most importantly, auctioneers. The access gained by the director (Nathaniel Kahn, of My Architect fame) is astonishing: it's hard for me to believe that Jeff Koons thought he'd come off positively in this film. While there's not much of a conclusion to be drawn, this fascinating/horrifying story left me with lots to ponder. And its screening location, at SFMOMA, felt as appropriate as could be.

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