Before this happened, I saw:
"The Betrayal" (Q&A, Ellen Kuras) - gorgeously shot documentary about the personal and political struggles of a Laotian family.
The second scheduled film, "Silent Light," was not available so we were given free admission to its regular run at Film Forum that weekend. I had never been there before, but it's the same subway stop where I worked in spring 2007.
I purposely don't read anything in advance about the movies, so spent time wondering where and when it took place. They were speaking what seemed like German, yet there was some Spanish and mention of Chihuahua. Turns out it's about a Mennonite sect in modern Mexico. The pace was excruciatingly slow. Some might call it art.
"Wendy and Lucy" (Q&A, Kelly Reichardt) - packed house where I was stuck in the front corner (who knew this would be so popular?). This was by the same filmmaker and had a similar feel to "Old Joy," but had more of a plot.
"Gomorrah" - organized crime in Naples. Maybe this was also art, but to me it was just violent. I was coughing a bit and made sure to bring a bottle of water the following night.
"Up the Yangtze" (Q&A, Yung Chang and Hannele Halm) - while waiting for the movie to start, I ascertained from overheard conversation that I was sitting next to Doug Block of "51 Birch Street." This was another strong documentary, about the massive dislocation caused by China's Three Rivers Dam focusing on one poor family in the evacuated area whose daughter leaves school to work on a cruise ship. One time-lapse image was particularly stunning. I would have liked to see less about the day-to-day shipboard life and more on the larger issues.
I was sipping water often but it wasn't helping, and I probably annoyed everyone with frequent coughing. As the Q&A began, I dashed down to the ladies' room to refill the water bottle and cough some more. So I missed most of the discussion, except to learn that the filmmakers were from Montreal (which I could tell from the accents) and the girl later went back to school. I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the next film, so moved to an aisle seat in case a quick exit was needed.
"Hunger" - in the time of "the troubles" prisoners in Northern Ireland stage hunger strikes. I'm not clear on all the political issues, or if it was worth it to starve to death. Graphic and violent fictional depiction of real events.
Back home, it was getting clear that this was no ordinary cough and I had a full-fledged flu. Over the next 24 hours my fever reached a peak of 103, and then averaged around 101, even with medication. For several days I just slept, tried to sleep, and coughed, with all-news radio in the background. I went back out for the first time on Monday for groceries and Tuesday to work, but still don't feel totally recovered.
So the screenings were abruptly curtailed by illness. I saw what I could, and voted before today's deadline.
Most of the time I was too zonked to read, but did finish:
"24-Karat Kids" by Judy Goldstein and Sebastian Stuart - totally my kind of book. New pediatrician Shelley Green joins a posh Upper East Side practice. Loved it.
"The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold - The murdered teenage heroine Susie narrates the book from heaven, which is unbelievable enough, but things get really weird toward the end. Still, for the most part, a lyrical take on the effects of a life cut short.