Archive for March, 2015

Florida Film Festival (FFF) Preivew 2015

March 27, 2015

Matthew Curtis and Mrs. LanceAround Discuss This Years Films

Florida Film Festival
10-19 April 2015
Enzian Theatre, Maitland, Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village 20 & RPX, and various other venues

LanceAround: Once again, as is our annual tradition here at the LanceAroundOrlando Blog, we’re here with Matthew Curtis, Programming Director for the Florida Film Festival. Every year we ask him to tell us what his five favorite films are for the Florida Film Festival…and he can never do it. Matthew likes all the films. He does not want to be pinned down and forced to select his favorites. So this year we’re going to do it a little differently…

Matthew Curtis: OK…

LA: Matthew, Give me two movies that are guaranteed to make me laugh.

MC: The Israel film, The Farewell Party, which, believe it or not, is about euthanasia in a retirement home…

LA: (interrupting) Euthanasia?” I’m sorry, I said, “films that will make me laugh!”

MC: You will laugh! It’s hilarious. It’s really good. And the documentary feature, The Desk, that’s world premiering, which is about a NY Times columnist that gets fired and hooks up with a very unruly New Zealand TV personality. That’s hysterical. Those two will make you laugh.

LA: Give me two movies that are just great drama.

MC: Wildlike is terrific. It’s a coming of age set in the Alaska wilderness. That is excellent. Imperial Dreams is a really good drama. It won Sundance “Best of NEXT” award last year. It’s about a young African-American man who gets out of prison and he’s gotta take care of his four year old boy. And his old gang boss is trying to get him back to the criminal life. He’s trying to hold out and become a writer so he can take care of his kid.

LA: Two documentaries we shouldn’t miss?

MC: Welcome to Leith, which is phenomenal. It’s directed by a UCF graduate and a University of Florida Doc institute graduate. Limited Partnership is incredibly moving. It’s about a married couple–a gay couple–that was married in the mid-70s in Boulder, CO and spent the better part of forty years trying not to have one of them be deported. This is decades before Proposition 8 and everything else. Unbelievably moving. Really powerful. Really good.

LA: Creative, experimental, unique?

MC: I would say unbelievably artistic would be the documentary Tomorrow We Disappear, which is about a slum in New Delhi, India.  It’s basically an artist’s colony filled with puppeteers, magicians and acrobats–2800 families there–and the New Delhi government sells the land to a real estate developer who wants to build the largest skyscraper in India. All these families have to get relocated. The film is so artistic. It’s beautifully shot and edited! Really, really good! Then there’s a film called Cartel Land which is like Breaking Bad meets Game of Thrones; both below and above the border. That film just won not only the Sundance award for documentary directing, it won the cinematography award. And it’s stunning! Really good!

LA: Your favorite shorts program?

MC: Ahhh…That’s tough!…Uh…I don’t have a favorite shorts program.

LA: Ahhh, I tried to sneak it in there. I knew it wasn’t going to work. I wanted to get you to identify your favorite!

MC: I really don’t have one. You know, the domestic shorts program, we try to sprinkle, if there’s some “name” actors, we try spread them out. Like Oscar Isaac is in one. One of them is narrated by Nick Offerman (The Gunfighter.) We try to spread those out so all the star driven ones aren’t in the same program. Like normal, they do get progressively a little more twisted and perverse and disturbing. But…yea…I don’t have a favorite. The animated shorts programs are phenomenal. 8 X Very, Very Real: Doc Shorts is a Doc Shorts program with perhaps a little more focus than previous because it’s really about a bunch of eccentrics. Normally we use the Real Program just to have the short documentaries that don’t fit preceding the features either because they’re too long or they just don’t work. In this case, this selection of films really works together. And some of them are so odd and disturbing we couldn’t put them before a feature because they would overwhelm the feature.

LA: Which movie is going to have the audience running for the hills this year?

MC: We do have a film from the Ukraine that’s the most unique and idiosyncratic film we’ve ever played. It’s called The Tribe. It’s in sign language and there’s no subtitles, no music and no dialogue. It’s really intense. It’s about corruption, prostitution and gangs at a boarding school for the deaf. The corruption reaches up to the instructors too. The film is a challenge to sit through but incredibly rewarding. It’s won awards all over the world, including Cannes. It’s got some scenes that are so harrowing, people will be running for the hills.

LA: You get a call tonight: President Barack Obama has decided to come to the Florida Film Festival to watch a movie. He wants you to choose one movie for him. What movie is it going to be?

MC: Top Spin which is a documentary about the youngest ping pong champions in the US trying out for the Olympic team in 2012. It’s a stunning documentary; a huge crowd pleaser. The kids; their parents, trying to enable them to fulfill their dreams. It’s really wonderful. It’s one of our three family films this year. It’ll be here the second Saturday as a matinee and we’re bringing in one of the filmmakers from San Francisco.

LA: So, Top Spin is your favorite film!

MC: NO! It’s ONE of my favorite films! Put it this way…It’s a family film that’s so good we actually wanted it for the competition as one of the ten documentary features in competition. But there were complications with that so we’re playing it in a sidebar.

LA: One last question: We have a friend named Holly. She just had a rough year with some health issues. Her and her husband started their own business about sixteen years ago and it’s been real successful. We told her that because she’s had a rough year we’re going to treat her to a film at the Enzian for the Florida Film Festival. What movie should we take Holly to see?

Mrs. LanceAround: Like an inspiring, uplifting film.

LA: Definitely not a midnight short!

MC: Sunshine Superman about the father of base jumping is pretty remarkable and exhilarating. If you want to bring her to something narrative, X + Y is a film about a teenage boy with Asperger’s. He’s a math genius, and his mom is played by Sally Hawkins. The boy is Asa Butterfield from Hugo. The Coach is Eddie Marsan who is one of my favorite British actors. He’s on Ray Donovan and he’s been in a lot of movies. It’s just a really inspiring and touching drama.

LA: How many films this year?

MC: 177

LA: And how many have you seen?

MC: 175 of 177. The only thing I haven’t seen is the Disney Doc, Monkey Kingdom. They don’t send preview screeners and it hasn’t opened yet. And, ironically, one of the food films, The Search for General Tso. I love the trailer. It looks hysterical. I just haven’t gotten around to seeing it. Usually for the food films I let other people curate those. I want to see it. I just haven’t gotten around to seeing it. So 175 out of 177.

LA: There you have it, Matthew Curtis, with his picks of his “Almost Favorite” films for which he categorically refuses to say, “This is my favorite.” Just come see them all! The Florida Film Festival: April 10th through the 19th, 2015 at the Enzian Theatre and other local venues. Thanks, Matthew!

MC: You’re welcome!

Advice From a Vacation Rental Homeowner, Part 2

March 25, 2015
Majestic Crane Outside David & Heather's Florida Vacation Home

Impressive Crane Outside David & Heather’s Florida Vacation Home

[Editor’s Note: In today’s Part 2 guest blog, Heather Newham shares about the natural wildlife she discovers when her and her husband, David, enjoy their vacation rental home. It’s wonderful to read a post by someone from the United Kingdom; complete with references that may sound strange to American ears, such as a “villa” instead of a “home” or “rubbish bins” instead of “trash cans”–LanceAround]

We are so lucky to have a villa in Crescent Lakes that overlooks the conservation area. It’s an area of natural beauty, lit up at night by the glow worms, masquerading as holiday tree lights…I was shocked when I first saw them, but they are so beautiful.

We have a pool at our villa, so we spend a lot of time in the water enjoying the view. If you are very quiet you might be lucky enough to see a deer!..Two of our guests have told me that they have seen them, but I haven’t. We do see racoons quite often, and I love them, but people who live here see them as pests. I must admit they do have a great liking for exploring rubbish bins!! We often see egrets wandering around as well as the impressive cranes, which appear almost tame. Look out for the turkey buzzards that fly overhead. They can open and overturn your rubbish bins faster than racoons. The beautiful hummingbirds love the trumpet yellow flowers we planted in the hedge to keep our lanai lovely and private. You could actually bathe sans suit–except I’ve been told it’s against Florida law to do so…!!!

View From Our Pool Deck

Eduado On Our Pool Deck

I love visiting garage/yard sales when we are here on a Saturday or Sunday. They are a fascinating insight into American life! My husband thinks I’m absolutely bonkers…but he comes with me, if only a bit reluctantly…I would like to introduce you to ‘Eduado’…He is our magnificent cactus that lives in the corner of our Lanai. I’m only telling you this because we bought him in a garage sale !! See…I told you garage sales are awesome!

We just had the screened cage over our pool repaired, so nothing can enter the lanai without permission….But the beautiful lizards try very hard to get in. Don’t do what my young son did once upon a time…Don’t try to catch them. Because when they feel threatened they discard their tails…Poor Josh had nightmares for some time when that happened to him. It took me ages to convince him that they re-grow them!!

Advice From a Vacation Rental Homeowner, Part 1

March 23, 2015
Heather Loves the Holiday Lights Around Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel

Heather & David Love the Holiday Lights Around Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blog is from Heather Newham. She, along with her husband David, are from the United Kingdom. They own a vacation rental home right beside Disney World. Today she provides some insights on free activities at Disney World. –LanceAround]

From Heather…

We spent 3 weeks at our villa in Crescent Lakes during the winter Holiday Season. It’s our home in Florida, and we try to visit it at least twice a year, because we love it.


Holiday Lights on Jeter Bend Drive in Celebration, FL

The winter Holiday Season is a great time to visit, because it is such a magical place. We went to Celebration to visit the homes decorated with light displays. They are amazing!!…The displays on Jeter Bend Drive were particularly spectacular, and included synchronized sounds, water effects, snow and even Disney Films!!  It was great to watch the local children screaming with delight.

I love visiting the Disney Parks, but it’s only recently that I have discovered some of the things you can do in Disney that are free. I guess everyone knows about Downtown Disney and the Boardwalk, but did you know that you can visit Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, even if you’re not a guest there, and enjoy sitting by the lake at 9pm watching the fireworks for free? We did this for the first time last year on New Year’s Eve. The fireworks at midnight are really awesome. I will never forget seeing the countdown in the sky and then the explosion of fireworks from 18 different locations erupting everywhere I looked. Just writing this now reminds me of the excitement I felt…I can feel that excitement right down to my toes!!!  Disney offers so many unforgettable experiences.

I was talking to LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround about my discoveries and they told me there are many more great things to do that are free. Such fun!!! You can visit all of the Disney hotels, and of course you can use many of the ferries, and the monorail to travel around. The LanceAround family took us to explore Disney’s Fort Wildnerness Resort campgound…Every night they have a sing-a-long with Chip and Dale and then show a Disney movie. When we arrived, we had just missed Chip and Dale, so we will have to go back again next time we visit, but we did make S’mores on the campfire while the movie played on the outdoor screen…I sound like I know what I’m talking about when I mention S’mores by a campfire, don’t I?…But I confess I only just discovered the delights of toasting a marshmallow and squeezing it with some chocolate between 2 graham crackers…Oh my…it tastes so good !!!!…I never encountered this in the United Kingdom…I’m taking this idea back home with me…Can’t wait to show my 4 grandchildren how to make S’mores!!!!  I have bought some graham crackers to take home with me, but I’m not taking any Hershey chocolate–cos Cadbury’s chocolate is so much nicer!! Promise!!

I remember the day it was time to go back home…felt a bit sad…but I’ll be back again soon.