Short takes on Indiefest '11 - Page 3

What to see at the always fiesty film fest? From est to the Ugliest Dog in the World, our writers screen a gaggle of independent offerings on a world of subjects

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Kaboom (Gregg Araki, U.S.-France, 2010) Gregg Araki's crackerjack teen sex romp is pure verve — a return to devil-may-care form for fans of The Doom Generation (1995) and Nowhere (1997). Kaboom is right: besides sneaking under the blue velvet rope for a classical mindfuck death trip (there's even a good part for Jennifer Lynch), Araki and his winning cast let loose a fusillade of dorm-room chatter that runs metaphorical language to its limits. The cult-bidden mystery is too squarely accounted for, but then Kaboom is really as much The Palm Beach Story (1942) as Twin Peaks. Our coed heroes are Stella (Haley Bennett) and Smith (Thomas Dekker), and they're the only platonic thing in the movie. Taken with Araki's lasting affection for 1990s culture jamming, this rock-solid friendship is actually quite touching, but Kaboom works best when sliding up and down the Kinsey scale, huffing comic book paranoia for the fun of it. Thurs/3, 7 p.m. (Max Goldberg)

Mars (Geoff Marslett, U.S., 2010) Thanks to Mars, the question "Can mumblecore survive in outer space?" has been answered. (And it's actually less annoying out there than it is on Earth!) Austin, Texas, writer-director Geoff Marslett's rotoscope-animated tale follows three astronauts (including m-core heavy Mark Duplass) on a Mars mission, two of whom(Duplass and Zoe Simpson) spark romantically en route. Meanwhile, a solo robot delegation lands ahead of them, discovering new life forms and new emotions, as it sparks romantically, á la Wall-E (2008), with a Mars explorer thought lost a decade before. All the squee gets a little dippy toward the end, but the contrast between slacker and sci-fi genres mostly works. Added points for casting Texas hero Kinky Friedman as the POTUS; Giant Sand's Howe Gelb did the film's music and plays the sarcastic head of mission control. Fri/4, 9:15 p.m.; Mon/7, 7 p.m. (Eddy)

Special Treatment (Jeanne Labrune, France, 2010) Let's get this out of the way first: Isabelle Huppert can do no wrong. That's not to say she doesn't occasionally pick terrible projects — she's just never the thing that's wrong with them. Special Treatment isn't so much terrible as it is terribly misguided, contrasting the worlds of psychiatry and prostitution with broad, cartoonish strokes. Huppert plays Alice, a lady of the night who's thinking about giving up the trade. I don't blame her; the clients Special Treatment presents her with are the dullest of perverts. One wants her to dress up like a Japanese schoolgirl with a teddy bear and a giant lolly. Another goes the collar and dog bowl route. It's 2011 — can't we be a bit more creative with our fetishes? On the opposite end, there's disenchanted therapist Xavier (Bouli Lanners). And wouldn't you know it? His patients are photocopies from psychiatry textbooks. There's a point to be made about the link between paying for sex and paying for someone to listen, but Special Treatment lacks the depth to drive it home. Sat/5 and Feb. 9, 7 p.m. (Peitzman)