Rob Reiner is one of our favorite directors. Like many older Americans, we first encountered Rob playing Archie Bunker’s son-in-law, “Meathead” in Norman Lear’s hit TV sitcom All in the Family. But it was his brilliant direction of writer William Goldman’s The Princess Bride in 1987 where we fell in love with his movies. Other favorite movies he directed include: This is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, When Harry Met Sally, Ghosts of Mississippi, The Bucket List, and, of course, two of our all time favorite movies written by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin: The American President and A Few Good Men.
When we heard Rob had directed a movie written by his son Nick Reiner (along with Matt Elisofon) we immediately put it on our list. NumberOneSon warned us that the movie did not get a lot of positive reviews. After watching the movie, we understood why. It’s not an easy movie to watch. The ending isn’t tied up in a neat little bow. There are a lot of unresolved issues. But it’s a very good movie. And, if you happen to suffer from an addiction, it’s a must see movie. Any addict will tell you the path to sobriety and fulfillment is long, difficult and littered with setbacks. This movie has it all.
As usual, Rob manages to find the humanity in each character. His direction is well paced. He gets good performances from his cast. Most importantly, he tells a compelling story. Nick Robinson gives a strong performance as Charlie, a young addict struggling to find sobriety while his father (played by Cary Elwes) runs for governor of California. Nick is surrounded by a competent supporting cast, including Morgan Saylor and Common. But it is Devon Bostick playing Charlie’s friend Adam who gives a standout performance.
Based on the real life experiences of Rob’s son, Nick, this was a touching and personal film by one of our great American directors.
Shorts Program 4: Modern Love
For the most part, the FFF is the highlight of our year. We enjoy great, independent film. We learn so much for the fabulous documentaries. And we meet some of the industries most celebrated stars. Yet there is one thing we about the FFF that can make it challenging for us. Since the films are not rated, we often find ourselves watching movies that are a bit too raunchy, particularly for Mrs. LanceAround. Such is the case for this group of shorts. The collection includes roommates with boundary issues, familial sex acts, childhood amputations, candid conversations about all aspects of sex and a zany, staged dinner party for a 40th anniversary.
Lost in the shuffle is a wonderful, sarcastic spoof called, Too Legit. It explores the absurd allegations by US Senator Todd Akin who stated on national TV that if a woman is “legitimately raped” the body has a way of “dealing with” that situation to prevent pregnancy. Although it was also disturbing to watch, the important social message was powerful resulting in this film receiving a Special Jury Award for Achievement in Political Satire.
Also of note was the entertaining short, Syrah, which explores the concept of a Siri-esque phone program deciding to take matters in her own hands as she guides a couple around the city.
Special Screening of “The Greasy Strangler”
A few years ago, the FFF featured a special midnight screening of an unnamed film. So confident are the FFF faithful, the theatre was packed and patrons were treated to a wonderful mockumentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. That movie was so enjoyable, Mrs. LanceAround, NumberOneSon and I were eager to see this year’s special midnight screening.
Although younger and more hip NumberOneSon mostly enjoyed The Greasy Strangler, Mrs. LanceAround and I found ourselves wishing we had skipped it and gone to bed early. For us, the thing that makes Ed Wood movies so special is that Ed Wood truly thought he was making great movies. I’ve never had a liking for movies that are intentionally made to be bad movies. In my opinion, all this movie did was succeed wildly at being bad!