Daniel Davilas accomplished urban fable, Harrison Montgomery, follows the desperate and absurdist exploits of a small-time dealer and would-be artist in the Tenderloin. The film takes its name from the heros downstairs neighbor, a reclusive coot played by Martin Landau who may have the potential to become a slum-bear millionaire. Another S.F.set feature, Jon Bowdens The Full Picture, likewise derives a great deal of pleasure from juggling seemingly opposite tones. This oddball domestic farce with echoes of 70s Sam Shepard deviously maps the fissures in a couples relationship when the guys twisted mother comes to town for a visit. Some of the best performances in the IndieFest program can be found in Josie Lehrers The Mens Story Project: Building Strength, Creating Peace. A straightforward record of a one-night-only performance last summer at Berkeleys La Peña Cultural Center, the doc captures a dozen or so confessional and deeply funny monologues by a cross-section of local dudes about the wrenching price of conforming to popular or parental definitions of masculinity. This trio of Bay Area films mirrors in miniature the aesthetic risks, sociopolitical ambitions, and astonishing commitment that distinguish every IndieFest title. Make no mistake: Independents, and nobody else, are maintaining the cherished ideal of movies as a medium of personal expression.
The Mens Story Project screens tonight at 7:15 at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F.
Feb. 5-22, 2009