David Fenster’s Pincus making its World Premiere tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival
Although the Los Angeles Film Festival was in full-swing last night, I have to say that I experienced a fairly quiet Friday night at LA Live. Although the entire Regal LA Live 14 was abuzz with excitement, I decided to forgo the red carpet bonanza that was the Gala screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild or the intense Summer Showcase screening of People Like Us that found audience members having to literally check their phones at the door. Even among the films further off the beaten path, the hot ticket appeared to be Red Flag, which is currently on my itinerary for Sunday afternoon.
I instead took in The Strawberry Tree, part of the festival’s International Showcase and The History of Future Folk, part of the festival’s “The Beyond” slate. The Strawberry Tree from documentarian Simone Rapisarda Casanova captures the daily routines of two families living in one of Cuba’s last remaining fishing villages in the days before it becomes swept up by a hurricane. Casanova was so intent on presenting the material in a certain anthropological style, that he forgot to make a compelling film. The final result is a film where the audience strains to care about the narrative and the characters.
The History of Future Folk is an intelligently conceived and unique piece of filmmaking from John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker, which despite being a great deal of fun is ultimately a mixed bag. I’m not sure how exactly to summarize this one, but suffice to say it’s the origin story of a Brooklyn-based bluegrass band who’s members came from a planet called Hondo. The great failing of The History of Future Folk is that for a movie about a band, there’s almost no music from said band. While several songs do appear throughout the film in major plot points, numerous opportunities were wasted to more deeply incorporate the music of said band into a film about their music. This History of Future Folk ultimately felt as it was suffering from filmmakers who had too much material and shtick and lacked clarity in focusing it.
Looking ahead to later today, this full day of programming features a bumper crop of excellent films I reviewed earlier in the week. On the narrative side is Pincus while The Invisible War, Sun Kissed, and Call Me Kuchu are all on offer for documentary fans. Another addictive documentary The Queen of Versailles is enjoying an additional screening after premiering at the festival last night (I reviewed it yesterday).
Another documentary enjoying its World Premiere at the festival is Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives. The film is arriving with so much excitement that the showing at 4:40 pm on the 16th has already hit “Rush Line” status, though tickets for the 7:30 pm screening on the 22nd remain. The documentary from Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore is the story of how in the early 1970s Ina May Gaskin and the Midwives of the Farm commune inspired the modern midwifery movement, founded on their teachings which have been recognized all over the world. The brave women have great reverence for midwifery, which Lamm and Wigmore communicate faithfully, along with the sense of playfulness in which Gaskin and the midwives take to their teaching and their work.
As of this writing, I’ve seen 25 films that are playing at the festival this year. Saturday Morning Massacre is by the far the most fun of all of them, and is becoming the true guilty pleasure of the 2012 festival. From director Spencer Parsons, it follows a group of teenage paranormal investigators who happen to travel in a vintage van with their canine companion. Although this rascally gang may sound familiar, Parsons puts them in a chilling reality far more dangerous than a Saturday morning cartoon. Equal parts funny, intelligent, scary, and sexy, Saturday Morning Massacre is this year’s film that upon first viewing is already a cult classic. Parsons and the cast are clearly having a blast with the material, and bring the audience along with them every step of the way. Tickets are still available for both screenings, Saturday the 16th at 10:30 pm and Tuesday the 19th at 10:00 pm. Both are at Regal LA Live.
The films on my itinerary today include Summer Games, Thursday Till Sunday, A Band Called Death, and Vampira and Me. I look forward on reporting back to you on those later. In the meantime, hopefully I’ll see you at LA Live.
[Editor’s Note: In addition to the film’s on Jackson’s wide ranging radar, here are some more ideas for your Saturday afternoon and evening. Moderated by critic Robert Abele, Cooking a Contemporary Classic: A Conversation with Breaking Bad is a two hour conversation with creator Vince Gilligan and the cast of the best show on television. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Dean Norris, Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk are all scheduled to appear. That begins at 5:30. At 8:30 is a free screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with guest Leonard Nimoy.]
Filed under: Film Festivals