my impulsive mini-film festival attendance this year is, of course, now over — and I did pretty well! liked and/or was interested in almost everything I saw. I posted about Greetings From Tim Buckley already (which, yes, has caused a dramatic increase in me listening to Jeff Buckley), but here is a rundown of the other stuff I saw: Writers, Baby Blues, Lunarcy!, Spring Breakers, and Room 237.
WRITERS A totally pleasant and watchable, if not all that original, movie about a family of writers — Dad Greg Kinnear is a (twice) Penn Faulkner winning novelist heartbroken over his failed marriage to Mom Jennifer Connelly (not a writer); their two kids are both writers-to-be, highschool romantic Son Nat Wolff (who was perfect in the part) and college cynic Daughter Lily Collins. And she gets a little love interest with earnest good-guy Logan Lerman. They live in a beautiful beach house; the soundtrack is perfect (both suited to the film, and full of solid songs); the acting is strong; there are laugh-out-loud moments and tug-at-your-heartstrings moments. Just a solid family drama story with Kristen Bell popping up in a pretty funny part. If I rented this movie one night, I’d be happy. The director/writer Josh Boone, Greg Kinnear, and Nat Wolff did a Q&A after the screening, and Boone told a charming anecdote about his childhood love for Stephen King (which he wrote into the son’s character), which I have since re-told many a time! (He tells the story in this Collider interview.)
BABY BLUES My favorite of the films I saw, hands down. I picked this one for two reasons: it’s Polish (and so was my maternal grandfather, and I basically know zero about Poland/Polish culture, etc.) and the colors. This is Katarzyna Rosłaniec’s second film (the first is Mall Girls, which I am now desperate to see). Besides Spring Breakers, this was the only film that felt like it was made by someone deeply invested in the visual side of film. Every framing choice, wardrobe choice, location was deliberate and evocative. The film follows Natalia (the blond with the pram in the photo), a 17-year-old mother of a young son as she tries to figure out what the hell to do with sketchy assistance from her sorta boyfriend/skater boy Kuba, and the two distant-in-different-ways grandmothers to baby Anton. This is the first film for most of the main actors, and there’s a refreshing realism to their performances that helps balance the incredibly styled world they inhabit. And then there’s the baby — as the director said in the Q&A after the screening, the twins who played him should win the best debut. Heartbreaking little guy. While there’s no final judgment or big moral to the story, Baby Blues has a lot of interesting observations about youth culture — and though they’re speaking in Polish, these kids are fundamentally the same as North Americans.
LUNARCY! A documentary about people who, in some way or another, spend their whole lives fixated on the Moon. Focusing on a handful of characters — and these guys are characters — the most striking thing to me about the movie was its tone. It was hilarious but never made fun of its subjects; it was in-depth but didn’t ‘take a side.’ My favorite guy (the main guy) was Christopher Carson (pictured), who is determined to go to the moon and not return. That it’s something that should happen in this lifetime. He’s incredibly smart, has a singular point of view, and phrases things in the most unexpected and delightful way. There’s one moment — which may not translate in my terrible recap but… — where the question of why comes up: why would you want to leave this planet behind? What’s wrong with this reality? And he just so perfectly addresses it to a theoretic person eating an egg mcmuffin: what’s wrong with this reality? you’re eating it. it’s in your hand. The filmmaker Simon Ennis mentioned in the Q&A that they have some sort of distribution in the fall, so watch your local listings, Lunartics!
SPRING BREAKERS Spriiiiiing break. Spriiiiing break. [Pretend that is the voice of the creepy creepy James Franco character.] I do not even know what to tell you about this movie. It was totally idiotic. And beautiful. Tiresome and flat, and unexpected and captivating. Offensive and hilarious. Girls Gone Wild + MTV + Bonnie and Clyde + The Virgin Suicides. What I know for sure: Selena Gomez never disappoints. That girl is a talent. What I also know for sure: throw a Britney Spears song (or two) into a movie and it’s hard for me not to grin like an idiot in the theatre.
ROOM 237 Not my favorite of the bunch. OK, fine. Least favorite. This is a documentary that gives a platform to a bunch of people with in-depth theories about the meaning of The Shining. There were a couple of cool things, but mostly…I felt like I was in “cinema studies” class again (that’s what it was called at U of T) and there were some really intense talkative film nerds given the reins. I guess I am not the target audience for a movie that shows you clips of The Shining advancing frame by frame by frame. I’d much rather watch The Shining! The best part was when one of the theorists, who is convinced that Kubrick was revealing that he had faked the moon landing footage, was talking about how on the key to room 237 are the letters “ROOM No.” And that those 5 capital letters, he argued, only spell two possible words, ROOM and MOON. To which I turned to my pal and whispered, “Also, MORON.”
There’s lots I didn’t get to see that I am super interested in seeing: Perks of Being a Wallflower, How to Sell Drugs in America, Storm Surfers, Byzantium, Passion… Any other goodies I should see?