Yesterday at the Los Angeles Film Festival was the most film-centric day many film lovers, myself included, have experienced thus far. The top floor of Regal LA Live was alive with the electric energy of impassioned cineastes darting from one theater to another to see up to five movies in a row.
First up for me was Without Gorky, a family portrait made by Cosmia Spender, the granddaughter of abstract expressionist painter Arshile Gorky. For better or for worse, Without Gorky, has no real interest in exploring Gorky’s work, creativity, influence, or legacy. Rather, the film is the life story of his widow and two daughters as they struggle for decades to deal with Gorky’s suicide and the abuse he inflicted upon them when he was alive. Hence, the film may find an audience with those intensely interested in the private life of a brilliant and complex man, but filmgoers without a preexisting understanding of Gorky’s work are left in the cold. Although Without Gorky is certainly insightful, revealing, and at times funny, the experience of watching the film all too often feels as if you’re sitting in on another family’s therapy session or watching someone’s art therapy project.
The comedy Red Flag from filmmaker Alex Karpovsky was once again a hot ticket yesterday, packing a large crowd into one of the largest auditoriums at Regal LA Live. Karpovsky plays an independent filmmaker named Alex Karpovsky, who is getting ready to go on tour to promote his latest film entitled Woodpecker, something the real Karpovsky did several years ago. While on tour, Alex is hoping to gain some perspective on life and his recently failed relationship. Red Flag spends much of its 99-minute running time running up to the razor’s edge of feeling too self-indulgent, but Karpovsky executed the story with enough genuine heart and humor to make for an exceedingly enjoyable film. Red Flag got the biggest laughs from any audience at the festival so far, and they were all well-deserved.
Crazy & Thief film filmmaker Cory McAbee (The American Astronaut) proved to be a delightful surprise, with a 58-minute running time and a sense of innovation and playfulness that made it one of the most impressive and innovative films of the festival so far. Crazy and Thief follows McAbee’s real life 7-year-old daughter and 2-yeat-old son as they venture out into the world in an attempt to find the Star of Bethlehem and travel back in time. McAbee shot the film digitally with two other crew members, one being his wife, so the films feels consummatly intimate, yet the larger-than-life personalities of the kids make the film feel truly cinematic. Crazy & Thief is a modern-day fairy tale for kids of all ages. The film plays again on Tuesday, June 19th at 7:50 pm at Regal LA Live.
A Night Too Young from Czech filmmaker Olmo Omerzu was up next. The slow-burn coming-of-age tale takes place over the course of one New Year’s Day in which two 12-year-old boys find themselves in the company of an older woman and the two men with whom she forms a strange love triangle. I have a hard time feeling like I can justly evaluate this film, as the screening I attended was plagued with technical difficulties with both the film and audio. Hopefully they’ll be sorted out by the film’s showing tonight at 8:10 at Regal LA Live.
If I were to give an award to any film at the festival for Film I Have No Clue What to Make of Whatsoever, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty would run away with the prize hands-down. It’s hard to evaluate as a film, because it feels like less like a film and more like a 90-minute multimedia art project. The film began as a short How Would You Feel? and instead of expanding on the short filmmaker Terence Nance made another film that expands upon and interacts with his first one, using numerous forms of animation and digital filmmaking. An existential presentation of a relationship as it’s developing and as it’s past, this should quickly become a favorite of the hipster art gallery crowd.
Tonight’s best bets are Neil Young Journeys and Four, both of which I reviewed before the festival. For those not Neil Young fans, Sun Kissed is also on offer during that timeslot, which I also reviewed during the week and recommend. Brave and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World enjoy gala screenings tonight for those wanting and willing to brave long lines. As always, I’ll be off the beaten path seeking out Gimme the Loot, Reportero, and Juan of the Dead. Here’s hoping I’ll see you there.
Filed under: Film Festivals