My other two San Francisco International Film Festival dispatches focused mostly on mainstream business: popular documentaries, future commercial releases, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But it's a sin to spend a festival only watching – and talking about – commercial fare. So for my farewell SFIFF post, here's a look at two off-the-beaten-track entries I was able to catch.
Sadly, neither indie quite worked for me, which makes me feel like a philistine, I assure you. Ursula Meier's Home, for example, exposed one of my most enduring weaknesses as a cinephile, namely my intolerance for movies that operate entirely on an abstract level – as pure metaphor. Home, a French-Swiss co-production with good arthouse buzz and a wagonload of foreign Oscar equivalents under its belt, tells the "story" of a family that lives peacefully by the side of an abandoned highway, until the highway reopens and all hell breaks loose. The family's response bears no resemblance to the way real human beings would act, and Meier does not make any attempt to render any of it plausible – within the universe of the film or otherwise. And so you're left trying to decipher Meier's big metaphor, which I ultimately decided was either Israel-Palestine or more generally human stubbornness in the face of transformative change (e.g. global warming). It's all very intriguing, even interesting – but deeply unsatisfying as a cinematic experience, at least for me.