Archive for April, 2011

Life After The 2011 FFF – A Retrospective

April 28, 2011

Anyone in the Orlando area April 8 to 17 could have enjoyed a popcorn flavored treat–if, like me, they had the pleasure of attending the 20th anniversary of the Florida Film Festival.

With One Of My New Fans...

I survived my first FFF (only getting lost once.) I’d call it a huge success! I wasn’t sure what to expect. For the first time I had a press pass and an endless supply of movies. It turned out to be a great experience.

Being the second film festival I have ever attended, I was thrilled! I love movies. I mainly love blood and gut-type movies, but the camera angles and music score are some of the things I pay attention to, besides the story of course.

I’m normally easily pleased when it comes to movies. I’ve seen my fair share of horrible ones (the kind that makes you want to scratch your brain out with a pencil.) Over the course of the FFF I divided my time between a variety of movies from documentaries to comedies to more complex narratives.

I can honestly say there wasn’t a movie that I hated and had to walk out of the theatre, which is always a plus. I actually enjoyed most of the movies. Comedies are always my favorite (besides horror, that is) because they’re enjoyable. Super was by far my most ‘super awesome’ film during this years FFF. So awesome that I’m debating seeing it again at the Enzian theatre since it’s currently playing there. (Can you believe the Orlando Weekly only gave it one star–what’s up with that?)

For those of you who attended this year’s FFF I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Like I said before, hours of endless films and engaging in conversations with avid movie goers, actors, and filmmakers is right up my alley.

Being around a constant barrage of people who are just as eager as myself to take part in such an amazing event did bring me to a state of bliss.

For those of you concerned that, now the FFF is over, what will happen to SunnyStefani–don’t worry–more posts are in the works! I will be a regular contributor to the LanceAroundOrlando Team. Please join in the conversation.

Advertisements

Movie Review Battle Over Meek’s Cutoff – Day 10 FFF 2011

April 26, 2011
LanceAround and Number One Son Square Off in a Movie Review Battle Royale

Incredible Scenery And Great Filming Technique Help A Very Weak Story

LanceAround Says:  Beautiful…but…

This movie is nothing to write home about. It tells the simple tale of an old western wagon train crossing the midwest. Told in a very slow-to-develop, highly artistic way, it revolves around the character, Meek, who has agreed to guide a small band of homesteaders traveling west.

Along the way, they meet up with an ancient Native American, whom they can’t understand. Tensions run high as some of them want to kill the “savage” while others believe he just needs their patience and understanding.

What makes this movie beautiful, however, is the cinematography, directing, costumes, props and the great outdoors. If you are going to watch this movie, you have to see it on the big screen.

As the movie slowly plods along, I was so taken by the photography I paid little attention to anything else. Not that there was much to pay attention to. The story unfolded very slowly encompassed by scenes of long silences, watchful stillness and non-verbal expression. It’s as if the scenery was the main character in the movie and the actors and props merely a vehicle to portray the desolate expanse of the old midwest.

The ending, or lack thereof, felt cheap and manipulative. During the movie, I was going back and forth in my mind wondering whether or not it was worth the journey. When it finally ended–abruptly– it made it easy for me to not recommend this movie.

UNLESS, you want a very realistic portrait of what it might have been like to strike out west during our country’s expansion. That–and that alone–is the gem in the rough that this film offers.

Number One Son Replies:

 screenshot from oregon trail for mac. It says "You have found some wild fruit", "Beth has a broken leg", and "Joey was bitten by a snake"

I liked this movie, actually, and like it more the more I think about it. If I was a bit disappointed, it’s only because the trailer and poster are so spectacular.

This is a hypnotically-slow not-much-happens kind of film. It doesn’t tell a story so much as give you an experience. It lets you hang out with a group of travelers for a while – they’re lost and running out of water, and they’re moving across a surreal desert landscape with squeaky-wheeled wagons, and they’re following an Indian they’ve kidnapped and beaten – an Indian who might be taking them to water or might be leading them to an ambush.

Movies don’t always have to be story-driven. Sometimes I’ll go on hours-long hikes: Nothing happens on these hikes – I usually don’t wind up fighting dragons or anything – but they’re still worthwhile. Sometimes I’ll go to an art museum and look at paintings. A painting doesn’t tell a traditional story with a beginning, middle and end. So I don’t mean it as a criticism when I say that this movie feels like a short film that’s been stretched out to feature length.

In fact a lot of movies these days have too much story. The Dark Knight is good, but it feels like Nolan and co. tried to squeeze as much story  into as little time as possible. In the span of a few minutes: 1) The Joker spends, like, a minute talking with a certain someone in the hospital, and that’s all it takes to turn that someone evil. 2) Bruce performs a quick heroic stunt to save Mr. Reece. 3) the hospital is evacuated. 4) the Joker blows up the hospital. 5) the Joker has a bunch of people trapped on two boats rigged with explosives.

The Dark Knight is exhausting.

Anyway.

Westerns tend to be shot in ultra-wide screen, but director Kelly Reichardt is a maverick, so she decided to pull a Kubrick and shoot the movie in 4:3. Good choice? Not sure, but I admire her chutzpah. She’s trying, I think, to make the wide-open desert feel claustrophobic. Also, I noticed the film rarely let’s you see the horizon line, resulting in landscapes that feel extra-weird and disorienting.

(It’s interesting to see the filmmakers try and mesh the wide-open landscape and the tall frame. Sometimes they’ll do this thing where somebody will be moving on a ridge at the top of the frame, and the rest of the group will be moving along the bottom.)

(The cinematographer: an up-and-comer by the name of Chris Blauvelt.)

The film was uncomfortably dark and murky – especially during  night scenes. And sometimes the dialog was murky and impossible to hear. I didn’t like that. But a true movie reviewer must consider all the possibilities and so I must add: It’s possible that this was the theatre’s fault and not the movie’s.

It’s interesting that the nameless prisoner the whites have captured mostly seems…well, he seems bored. If it were me, I’d make the character intense. But he acts like he’s waiting in line at the supermarket or something. Interesting choice.

The best thing about the movie is Bruce Greenwood: 

 He is unrecognizable as Stephen Meek. When I looked him up on imdb, I was like, “wait, Meek was played by him? The guy who played Captain Pike (and the president in National Treasure)?” Greenwood’s Meek is just so cool, and has such an awesome voice. It’s a big disappointment when Meek turns out to be a douchebag (albeit a charming one.)

My favorite scene is when Meek talks about slaughtering a group of Indians for fun. He says something like: I don’t condone what I done, it’s not right playing with people’s lives like that. But – he explains – he’s able to know he done wrong because he’s a Christian, and when an Indian does something wrong the Indian’s not capable of realizing it.

Horrifying! Man, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about that.

The film gives us this harsh view of past racism, but, I feel like, maybe, the filmmakers underestimate how sexist everyone used to be. Not that there isn’t any sexism on display, but….

Well, my knowledge of history is embarrassing, and even if it wasn’t, how much can history books really tell you about how people really behaved – especially in life-or-death situations? So maybe I’m wrong – maybe the old west wasn’t quite as horrifyingly misogynist as I think. But I feel like, in real life, a young woman just wouldn’t be able to constantly, angrily, tell off Meek. In real life, if she said anything at all, she would have said it carefully and respectfully. And, if she didn’t, Meek would have calmly walked over and started hitting her.

So, does the group make it to water? Or do they drop dead of dehydration? Or do they run into a group of Indians who proceed to slaughter them? (And if that last one happens – how much sympathy should we really have, considering?) I’m not going to give away the ending (or at least I’ll try not to. Perhaps LanceAround and I have already said too much.) I will say the ending ain’t gonna make you feel warm-and-fuzzy.  The audience actually let out a collective “aww!” Not, “aww, what a cute puppy!” but “aww, that did not just happen!” I liked the ending, but you may feel different. As you know LanceAround thought it was horrible. But I reckon you could say it was a bold way to let the audience feel how horrible the group’s situation really was.

You know, it’s interesting that LanceAround said  “you have to see it on the big screen.” While we were watching it I was wishing I was seeing it at home, on my beautiful 640 pixel-wide 4:3 RCA TV with built-in DVD player and VCR. Mostly because we were sitting in the front row at the theatre and it was too hot. Also there was the problematic picture/sound, but again that might be the film’s fault or it might be the theater’s. Or maybe those new-fangled digital projectors are to blame.

Hmm. I was going to end my review there, but then I thought, wait, am I going easy on this movie because I instinctively want to counterbalance LanceAround’s review? I think maybe I am.  So let me add some weights and try to counter my counterbalance:

I liked the movie but I’m not in love. I really want to see it again – which is more than I can say for most films I see.  But it’s no Lost in Translation, to pick another quasi-plotless art-movie. I don’t think it was as good as The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, either. (That one’s a kind-of similar movie directed-and-starring Tommy Lee Jones about a cowboy dragging a prisoner and a dead body across Mexico.)

I said above that the movie didn’t live up the trailer: The trailer makes it seem like a  tense and intense experience, and it isn’t. It’s not that kind of film. Now that I have different expectations, maybe the next time I watch it I will enjoy it more. I can see this movie growing on me.  Nevertheless, I was a little disappointed. I kept thinking that, at some point, the group is going to drink their last drop of water, and be like  “Oh God! What now?” But towards the end of the film they still have several barrels of water left!  The trailer has wall-to-wall There Will Be Blood-style tension music, but the movie hardly has any music. And, while the group was scared that they might be attacked, it was hard for me to feel the same way. As the movie went on, the group keeps not getting bombarded by flying arrows and not hearing ominous sounds in the distance.

Meek keeps saying they’re in “hell”, but, to me, it felt more like they were in purgatory.

P.S. When I wrote that, I was thinking purgatory was sucky, but not horrifying, and kind-of equivalent to a long wait at the doctor’s office. But looking it up, it turns out they do torture you there, in order to purge your soul so you can get into heaven. Interesting!

P.P.S. Am I contradicting myself by saying, on the one hand, it’s okay that not very much happened, and on the other hand, this movie is maybe not as intense as I’d like? I don’t think so. I think you can have a tense, suspenseful, dripping-with-danger kind of movie where not a lot happens.

[Editor’s Note:  So which is it?: An artistic movie that grows on you or a boring, manipulative cheat? Have you seen the movie? If so, drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts: Was LanceAround’s review more accurate or did Number One Son get it right. Inquiring minds want to know!]

The Troll Hunter – Day 10 FFF 2011

April 24, 2011

Great Special Effects Make This Film Fun To Watch

Since the Florida Film Festival is in Florida (Duh) and right next to Disney World it becomes difficult to watch The Troll Hunter without thinking about the boat ride in the Norway land at EPCOT in Disney World.

And, quite frankly, I like them both–The boat ride in EPCOT and this movie!

My expectations were rather low going into this movie. I constantly heard it compared to The Blair Witch Project–A once in a lifetime concept that, by its very nature, can only work once. And I thought the promo posters made it look amateurish. When the movie starts, not only does it feel like The Blair Witch Project, it feels like a bad spoof of it.

Once you get past that, however, the story begins to grab you. Then, the first Troll appears. Unlike other films of this genre, it seems like telling you a Troll will appear is a spoiler. It’s not. I’m not sure how I can explain that it’s not, just trust me, knowing that you’ll see a troll or two doesn’t ruin the film for you.

Seeing the trolls, however, is what makes the film so incredible. The combination of special effects and good old fashion story telling keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie.

Yes, the story line is a little contrived. OK, some of the dialogue is stilted. Perhaps one might even find a moment or two that one could refer to as cheesey. But, by and large, this is fundamentally a good film that will delight and entertain you.

Just like the ride at EPCOT. Only cheaper. And it lasts a lot longer.

Bots High – Battle Robots! Awesome! – Day 10 FFF2011

April 23, 2011

These Women Know How To Destroy Your Robot

Number One Son here. You can’t really watch robot combat on TV anymore, but back when I was middle school I loved watching BattleBots. In fact I think robot combat is my all-time favorite sport. (Sometimes I will tell people my favorite sport is chess-boxing, but I’m being facetious. I’ve never even seen a match.) What happens in robot combat is: two smallish metal killer robots try to destroy each other in extremely delightful ways in the ring. The robots are remote controlled (autonomous killer robots would be terrifying), and sometimes they have circular saws, spears, or other weapons.

This documentary was the one film at the festival I absolutely had to see. It’s good! It follows three high school robotics teams, including an all-girls team and a group of underdogs whose robot tends to break down/burst into flames.

How awesome is it that some high schools have battle-robot teams? And how crazy is it – if you’ll allow me to go off on a tangent – that some fuddy-duddies object to this sort of thing? Wikipedia says some schools want to “…shy away from the violence of combat robots…” The violence of combat robots?! Robots do not have nervous systems! These robots don’t even have faces!

One day kids are going to be so over-protected that they are not allowed to watch their teachers erase the whiteboard, in case they are traumatized by seeing all the teacher’s carefully-crafted words and numbers violently obliterated.

I suppose some people might have safety concerns. At one point in the documentary the teacher tells everyone that they’re going to be testing the robot, and it’ll be rolling around the floor, and could everyone get their feet off the floor because the robot could break your ankles.  Even so, if you think combat robots are too dangerous for high school kids you are, if you don’t mind me saying, a terrible person.


Speaking of overprotectiveness! I am required to tell you that clicking on the above image will take you to a pretty R-rated comics site

Although, you know, I think the main reason you won’t be seeing a battle-robot program at your kid’s high school isn’t that people think robot fighting is too violent or dangerous – it’s that building robots is fricken’ expensive.

Anyway it was great seeing all the young kids in the audience. After the screening the director asked the kids how many wanted to build a battle-robot and a bunch of hands shot up. Also, I dunno if he’s going to post them, but LanceAround got some quotes for the blog from a young girl, who said she really liked the film, and talked about the (non-battle) robot she made for a school competition. It’s rad seeing kids – girls especially – get excited about sciencey and engingeeringy type of stuff.

[Editor’s Note: LanceAround here, sorry for the interruption of Number One Son’s creative and insightful review, but he is correct. Here are my notes from the interviews I did:

“I love the Florida Film Festival,” says Grace, who brought her 11 year old daughter, Mary. Mary thought the movie was, “cool. You could actually see your own creation destroy something else.” I tease Mary that another word for that is ‘morbid.’ Jeanette, who’s husband works with Grace’s husband, is quick to rush to Mary’s defense. “It’s not morbid,” she says emphatically, “it’s seeking power!” I jokingly ask Jeanette how long she’s been a feminist. Laughing, Grace jumps in and says she became a feminist when she became the mother of two boys!

Tim is a young student from Lake Highland Prep. He made it to the state finals last year in a different kind of robot competition. (The kind where, instead of destroying other robots, the robots attempt to complete specific tasks.) I asked how he did at states and he admits, a little dejectedly, that he didn’t do too well in the finals. But it was clear that he takes a lot of pride in his robot work. I offered him, and the rest of the incredible youngsters who came to see the film, some words of encouragement.

Now back to the infinitely more amusing review by Number One Son.]

If I have one complaint, it’s – well I wouldn’t go so far as to call the documentary confusing, but, like a lot of documentaries, it is sometimes a bit murky. You might find yourself thinking “wait, what is he doing on another team? Oh, does that team have two robots? Wait, who just won the championship again?” I wonder if documentaries might be improved if the filmmakers did something to test how well the audience is understanding everything. Like, have special test screenings where every so often the movie is paused and people have to take a quiz about what just happened. That way the filmmakers have a detailed account of what information people are retaining, and will be able to tweak the film accordingly. The best videogame makers do lots of play-testing, where they look at how well the player is able to handle the challenges and puzzles.

I guess part of the problem is that Bots High didn’t have a narrator, if I remember right. It’s a bit harder to achieve clarity without a narrator. Narrators aren’t in fashion because narrators are dry and boring most of the time. However, the thing is, it is possible for a narrator to be enthusiastic and/or awesome. Just look at Arrested Development. Or The Big Lebowski.

I’ve only found one other review for this movie online. I liked it so I’m going to link to it! He notes that a big part of the appeal is that it lets you see “teenagers be teenagers; nerdy boys a little too eager to rush to hug cute girls when the girls’ bot is bashed, girls batting their eyes and getting the boys to help with a quick fix a a failing power supply.”[sic]

I’m not sure I can agree with his anti-hugging sentiment however! Can you ever really be too eager to hug? Especially around robots, who need to learn about the importance of loving-kindness so they don’t rise up to kill us all.

P.S. Yes, I know remote-controlled robots are not technically robots.

P.P.S. Fun fact: Up until now, this was my first review that didn’t use the word “aww”

Oh, That Terri! – Day 10 FFF 2011

April 22, 2011

I enjoyed treating SunnyStefani to her first Enzian-dinner eating-movie watching experience. She loved the theatre and had a great dinner. She just wasn’t too keen on the movie–Terri. (Read SunnyStefani’s review here.)

I, on the other hand, really enjoyed this movie.

Perhaps it’s because I am closer to the subject matter. Going through high school as an overweight male misfit with an overdeveloped sense of morality, I found myself identifying with the main character.

But that’s not what made this movie good.

What made this movie good was the sensational performance of John C. Reilly. I suspect if you asked your average movie goer, they may or may not recognize the name of John C. Reilly. If they see him, on the other hand, there’s a good chance that they will recognize him from one of a plethora of screen roles. Off the top of my head, I remember first seeing him in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and then also Anger Management, The Perfect Storm, Chicago, The Aviator, A Prairie Home Companion, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby–just to name a few! What a range! He’s an actor who is as comfortable handling a lead role as he is taking on a bit part.

In fact, he is such an outstanding performer he is one of the few actors for whom I will go watch a movie just because he is in it.

And Terri was no exception. For me, the most memorable moment in this film happened towards the end. John C. Reilly was playing the assistant principal who was trying to help Terri deal with his issues of low self esteem. At one point, Terri catches Reilly’s character in a small, white lie. The lie was innocuous and meant to be helpful, but catching him was enough to shatter Terri’s faith in him. Reilly’s character then gives a tender, heartfelt monologue using the example of how his secretary will lie to him about feeling sorry that someone she did not know has died while, internally, she’s happy that she will now get a promotion. “We’re all doing the best we can,” Reilly’s character proclaims.

And when John C. Reilly does the best he can as an actor, well, that’s a performance worth going to see!

(Just don’t take SunnyStefani with you.)

Terri Who? – Day 10 FFF 2011

April 22, 2011
Terri and Principal Fitzgerald

Jacob Wysocki and John C. Reilly

Since I was off today, I was actually able to get to the Enzian theatre with plenty of time to talk to eager people waiting to view Terri. I spoke with Nicki and Kim before the film. Nicki has seen movies prior to today at the FFF. She saw Snowman; “I cried the whole time.” Kim said they “reviewed the film and it worked with their schedules.” Nicki proclaimed, “we’re busy women, I wish I had the time to get an all access pass and see more movies.” They’re both excited to view Terri tonight.

Tonight was my first night viewing a film at the Enzian theatre. (Every other film I’ve seen has been at the Winter Park Regal.) I am very excited. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching a movie, drinking, and eating dinner at the same time, because I loved it. This is truly the best theatre to watch a movie.

Terri, directed by Azazel Jacobs, is about an overweight, awkward teenager who lives with his Uncle. Terri Thompson would go to school in his pajamas.  (I used to do this as well.) However, Terri did this because his pajamas were comfortable on him and he was uncomfortable with his body. (I just wouldn’t give myself enough time to get ready in the morning.)

Terri is an emotional train wreck. He’s a troubled teenager in high school who is extremely socially awkward. He soon befriends the Assistant Principal, played by John C. Reilly. This movie captured the image of being an outcast.

I, however, did not really enjoy this film. It was very slow and drawn out. The problem I had with the film is that I did not see a point. At the end I was left with no resolution or sense of closure. I just wasn’t feeling it.

I guess for some people enough is just not enough. The same score was used throughout the film which actually worked for me. It reminded me of The Graduate, which only had one soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel.

Despite my disappointment in this film, I enjoyed the FFF overall. I can’t wait for next year and the years to come.

Vampire Movies Are More Fun When They Follow The Rules – Day 9 FFF 2011

April 22, 2011
vampire sketch

The First Midnight Son Fan Art?

Number One Son here. The Florida Film Festival is well-over but we still have a few more reviews to post!

NOT Cilian Murphy

Midnight Son is about a young man who looks kind-of like Cilian Murphy who has a skin disorder. He gets badly burned if sunlight touches him. So he sleeps during the day, and works as a security guard at night, and, as a result, he’s lonely and alienated. Anyway turns out he’s a vampire. I don’t have a lot to say about this one, which is why I’ve been doodling instead of writing. (See sketch above.)

The movie isn’t a masterpiece or anything, it’s no Vampire’s Kiss (trigger warning: non-graphic rape scene.) But it is moody and fun and I enjoyed it. The twist with this one is the main character has been slowly turning into a vampire his whole life. Sunlight became deadly for him around puberty. Now, all of a sudden, there is only one type of food that satisfies him: A certain red liquid which, I’m sorry to say, is not V8. So he goes to the butcher’s and gets some blood, and starts drinking it out of a coffee cup. But animal blood doesn’t quite hit the spot. So he finds someone who will sell him blood bags with human blood. But then it turns out the dealer gets some of the blood using questionable means. Also, our protagonist loses control and kills somebody, but he didn’t really mean to…

You know that feeling you have that you were innocent when you were younger and now you’re corrupted and make all sorts of moral compromises? Also, remember that one time when you did something really, really terrible and you wished you could undo it and you were like, Oh God, What now? I think this movie speaks to these feelings. (“Actually,” you reply, “I’ve never had feelings like that.” Really? Never? It’s just me? Huh. Guess I’m evil.)

(There is this nagging voice in my head that is saying ,“Sorry but that last paragraph is the WORST. You were like Ha ha! Look at how brilliant I am! I have uncovered the deep hidden meanings of this film. Truly I am the world’s greatest movie reviewer. Meanwhile the reader was just rolling his eyes.” Aww man don’t roll your eyes! I want you to love me!)

(“What!” you say. “I didn’t roll my eyes at all! Actually I think you’re super-smart!” Well thanks!)

Midnight Son Filmmakers During Q&A

During the Q & A the director said that this movie was inspired by Romero’s Martin, which I haven’t seen. To me it felt like a less-comedic An American Werewolf in London. (The director of this movie said he thought vampire movies are all about guilt, and that they became more popular after 9/11 because we are feeling guilty about our response.)

I’ve been trying to figure out why the movie doesn’t quite work and I think the answer is: The characters will sometimes act the way the plot requires them to act, rather than act the way they actually would. For example, at one point the blood-dealer is all, Sorry, I’m out of blood, how about I drug somebody and steal blood from them? Right now! Here I go! And Jacob, our protagonist, is all, No, stop! And then the dealer’s partner pulls a gun on Jacob. Now I don’t know much about the black market and I don’t know much about business, but this, to me, kind of seems like a bad business move. There’s a rule in How To Win Friends and Influence People that people sometimes overlook. It’s right after Rule 3: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Rule 4: “People don’t really like it when you pull a gun on them.” Actually I think anytime you find yourself pulling a gun on one of your customers, you’ve got to ask yourself: “Is leveraging guns on the customer base really consistent with my company’s core guiding principles? Maybe we should have a team meeting and open a dialogue about shifting our paradigms in vampire contexts so we can better meet long-term mission critical objectives and really take things to the next level.”

I also think vampire movies (and King Arthur movies, and Robin Hood movies, and Spiderman movies) are more fun when they follow as many of The Rules as possible. When Jacob put a cross to his forehead and it didn’t do anything, I was thinking aww boo!

A vampire movie where the vampire isn’t afraid of crosses? Blasphemy! That really crosses the line.

(I’m very sorry.)

Of course there are lots and lots of vampire rules,* I guess you can’t follow every single little one. But if you are trying to decide whether your vampire should have a reflection, and part of you is like umm, no reflections? That is much too silly, and part of you is like, yes! No reflections! That is awesome! then you should listen to the second part of you. Try and bend your movie to the rules instead of vice-versa. Don’t worry! You can approach vampire movies from a brand new angle and still follow all the big rules. You can make your move gritty and serious and follow the rules. You can make it over-the-top and goofy and follow the rules. You can even be a die-hard atheist and follow all of the rules (Joss Whedon: atheist, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

And instead of throwing out a rule you can always put an interesting spin on it. I haven’t seen Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, but apparently someone holds a cross up to a vampire, and the vampire replies: “Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire.” That is awesome.

Actually, come to think of it, Jacob was turning into a vampire in stages, so maybe he becomes allergic to crosses and garlic later.

(I didn’t have any problem with Jacob being a born-vampire, incidentally! Other vampires are born in the normal way so it’s fine.)

Anyway, solid movie. The last shot is fantastic.

*The best part of that Wikipedia article is the  section on Count Chocula.

Shut Up Little Man – Day 9 FFF 2011

April 21, 2011

Who'd Have Thought Their Nightly Fights Would Go Viral

What would YOU do if you moved into a new apartment and the two inebriated middle aged men next door would suddenly begin screaming at each other at any time of the day or night?

This happened to these two filmmakers in the mid 80’s. At first, they tried to angrily confront the neighbors. But, with a human skull in the window, the drunk neighbor threatened to kill. So the filmmakers decided to audiotape the fight. This worked perfectly, for a few minutes, until the neighbor noticed the microphone being held by a boom just outside the window.

The neighbor walked to the microphone–and continued the screaming fight by speaking directly into the microphone! During the fight, the neighbor would constantly shout, “Shut Up Little Man!”

After accumulating over 40 hours of audiotape from these nightly fights, the filmmakers began to make copies of some of the more fascinating moments of conflict. This was long before the internet and You Tube. These were cassette tapes.

And they did the 80’s equivalent of “going viral.” Within 10 years, there was a one act play, a full length play, CDs, three different movie deals (they all fell through), radio programs and several different comic books all based on–or containing the actual recordings of–the Shut Up Little Man audio casette tapes.

Then came this documentary, where the filmmakers tracked down the surviving principles from these next door screamfests.

The end result is a fascinating documentary that skillfully uncovers all the salient details of the original scuffles and then viral explosion of this phenomenon. It’s a story that explores the dynamics of dysfunctional, alcoholic living, the legalities of surreptitious audiotaping, questions of copyright law and all the dynamics of a viral encounter.

Well paced, the movie skillfully unwraps the intricate layers of this fascinating story. Part detective story, party voyeur, part legal, this documentary has a little of everything.

It’s even funny.

Revel 20 Party At The Eden Bar – Day 9 FFF 2011

April 21, 2011
20th Anniversary of the FFF

Happy 20th Birthday to the FFF

[Editor’s Note: While SunnyStefani enjoys her first FFF Revel Party, LanceAround is attending his third. Today’s post looks at two perspectives on this year’s party…]

SunnyStefani: When I arrived at the Eden bar I ran into a staff member who was telling me that things are running very smoothly this year, minus having to throw a bum out for asking customers for money! There was even a live band at the party.

LanceAround: I was disappointed when I heard that this year’s party was going to be held at the Eden Bar and the other outdoor areas of the Enzian. Although we love the Enzian, it’s not a very conducive atmosphere for a large gathering. As the caterer from Spencer Tracy’s Father of the Bride would point out–there’s no “flow.” Contrast that with the previous two years when the party was held at the Maitland Art Center and Full Sail campus–two very different yet fabulous venues for a party.

I ran into Jordana Meade and asked her about the venue. She explained that since this was the 20th anniversary, we were holding a free party for the entire community.  Unlike previous years, when you had to pay an entry fee for the party, this year was free and featured small cupcakes to celebrate the anniversary. The theme, consistent with this year’s Festival, was Florida. One could purchase Florida grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and other typical Florida outdoor party grill foods.

Director Lavado Stubbs

SunnyStefani: Walking around looking for someone intriguing to talk to I stumbled across a gentleman who was wearing a ‘filmmaker’ pass. So of course I was instantly drawn to him. After introducing myself, I found out he was Lavado Stubbs, who directed After: The Kellie Greene Story. He is from the Bahamas and is an international student at Full Sail University with only one more month until graduation.

“The festival has been amazing,” said Lavado, “This is a big thing; I’m loving it. I wrote the concept for the documentary” for a school project. This movie is a documentary about rape survivor, Kellie Greene, and her triumph of overcoming such a drastic event. I was given three days to shoot, but “I weaved in an extra day with my professor and got it extended to 4 days.”

Lavado said it was a very long editing process and he’s glad his female colleague was in charge of it. After: The Kellie Greene Story was “selected as one of the 16 finalists. It’s entered in the American Pavillion Emerging Film Maker Showcase at Cannes Film Festival,” exclaimed Lavado. He told me he’s “super excited, it’s amazing to reach such masses. This is a very heavy association, only 16 out of 400 films were selected” and Lavado’s was one.

LanceAround: One of the most rewarding things about the Florida Film Festival is being surrounded by film lovers. Everyone you encounter is eager to talk about films. There is a wealth of knowledge about independent film, film history, film techniques–you name it. Just walking around the party and overhearing all the conversation about film is so much fun.

SunnyStefani: David Iton, a friend of Lavado said they go to Full Sail University together. He’s getting his Masters in Business. Today was the first time seeing this film and said it was “pretty interesting.”

Both Lavado and David are going to be enjoying the rest of the night at the Eden Bar before they leave to go to their friend’s shoot. Being a Communication major I can relate to Lavado because my senior project was ‘The role of a producer.’ I enjoyed my time talking and getting to know Lavado.

LanceAround & SunnyStefani: Make sure you join us tomorrow for it is the last day of the FFF 2011.

Super awesome! – Day 9 FFF 2011

April 20, 2011
Rainn Wilson as Crimson Bolt

Rainn Wilson as Crimson Bolt

I made it to the Regal with enough time to stand in line with the other press and volunteers. A staff member told me the line to see Super was wrapped around the theatre. We were waiting to enter the theatre because they wanted to let all the stand-bys in. After about thirty of the stand-bys were let in, the press followed along with the volunteers and staff.

The theatre was packed! I’ve never seen such a packed movie theatre before, there did not appear to be a single seat empty. As I looked around to find an empty seat, I discovered one next to Justin and Mary Ann, who are both from the Orlando area. Mary Ann had previously seen Hamill and Norman at this years FFF. Regarding Hamill, she told me she was “surprised about the political battle between sign language and the spoken word. It was a big part of the movie,” which she liked. The dark themes in Norman also caught her attention.

Finally after the remainder of the stragglers came into the theatre and scarfed up the last available empty seats, Super was about to start. Not reading much about this film prior to watching it I was terribly excited that none other than Kevin Bacon was in it. Yes, that’s right, Kevin Bacon! For those of you who are avid Kevin Bacon fans you know there’s a game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which is a trivia game that links any individual through their film role to Kevin Bacon within six steps. You would of course also know he has a commercial out with Logitech that’s about being in love with himself. I may or may not know this because of a close friend of mine who’s obsessed with Bacon. Yes, my friends a guy.

Super, directed by James Gunn, is a humorous superhero movie about Frank (Rainn Wilson). Franks wife, Sarah (played by the gorgeous Liv Tyler), leaves him for Kevin Bacon, who plays the Jock. When the finger of God touches him, he realizes all it takes to be a superhero is the choice to fight evil.

Frank decides to do ‘research’ about superheros that don’t have special powers and use weapons. He runs across Libby (Ellen Page) at a comic book store where she proceeds to wonder why no one takes matters into their own hands and becomes a superhero.

Frank makes a horrible make-shift superhero outfit and starts beating up ‘villains’ with a pipe wrench. The news outlets begin to refer to him as the “Crimson Bolt.” While beating people with his pipe wrench he tells them, ‘don’t steal,’ ‘don’t molest children,’ or ‘don’t do drugs.’ Libby becomes his ‘kid’ sidekick, despite the fact she’s 22 and is referred to as “Boltie.”

This movie was more graphic than I was expecting, which is great considering my love for horror films. The audience was in love with this film during the whole showing. There was nonstop laughing and clapping during the film. By far number one on my list of movies at this years FFF. Super was super awesome. I’d call it a twist between Kick-Ass and Super Bad. Good versus evil. I really enjoyed this film.

I talked with Mary Ann after the film who said she was “embarrassed of the sex scenes with my nephew next to me.” Justin is her nephew who is only 14. “I enjoyed it but I was worried about Justin. Even though it was violent, the theme came through. I liked it. “

The audience cleared out pretty quick. I’m assuming, like myself, that after the showing they made their way down to the Enzian for the special event they were having at Eden Bar for the 20th anniversary salute to the FFF. I’ll tell you all about the party in my next post!