FILMS GONE WILD: Singing the praises of the truly great Florida Film Festival after doing the jury thing and talking to Billy Crudup for an hour

FILMS GONE WILD: Singing the praises of the truly great Florida Film Festival after doing the jury thing and talking to Billy Crudup for an hour

that attention to detail and/or the prioritization as to where that attention to detail should be focused routinely comes from the top. And this is where I have to give a big nod to Executive Director David Schillhammer, Programming Director Matthew Curtis, and Programming Coordinator Tim Anderson. Those positions are fraught with epic headache-inducing crises and tough judgment calls, and thankless task after thankless task. And David, Matthew, and Tim, managed to both do whatever they had to do to command their film festival ship and heard the cats that are the filmmakers, jury members, patrons, sponsors, film fans, etc. quite obviously have good film programming chops, and also display poise befitting Mr. Roarke from “Fantasy Island.”

FILMS GONE WILD: My Personal Happy Moments at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival

FILMS GONE WILD: My Personal Happy Moments at this year’s Dallas International Film Festival

And let me tell you, it is very hard to convince a famous director or movie star, etc. to leave their home in New York City or Beverly Hills or wherever to come spend a couple days at a film festival in Oxford, Mississippi, or Wichita, Kansas, or Birmingham, Alabama, or Dallas, Texas, so they can have film fans make a big deal over them, talk about a film or films they made 10 or 20 years ago, and receive a cool award and endless praise. It’s even harder to convince a personal publicist, or agent, or manager.

FILM FESTIVAL NEWS: The 12th Harlem International Film Festival does Opening Night with style to spare

FILM FESTIVAL NEWS: The 12th Harlem International Film Festival does Opening Night with style to spare

The 12th Harlem International Film festival’s Opening Night Afro Punk celebration, highlighted by the world premiere presentation of Daniel Peddle’s GARDEN OF THE PEACEFUL DRAGON featured more style on the red carpet than most. The impressive looks on the carpet showed that these filmmakers have figured out that the attention you get in front of the photographers and interviewers there can be useful to get attention for your film when it plays in the fest – and beyond.

TRIBECA 2017 REVIEWS: Rainer Sarnet’s NOVEMBER and Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s THE ENDLESS offers up scares and WTF moments aplenty highlighting this year’s Tribeca Midnight fare

TRIBECA 2017 REVIEWS: Rainer Sarnet’s NOVEMBER and Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s THE ENDLESS offers up scares and WTF moments aplenty highlighting this year’s Tribeca Midnight fare

For all of the heady titles a fancy fest like Tribeca boasts, there’s also a nice bit of midnight movie material floating around. Two standouts grabbed my attention, albeit for very different reasons. One is a bizarro bit of dark folklore from deep within the Baltic states. The other is an old-fashioned supernatural yarn set in rural America in the mold of The Twilight Zone. Both are great examples of how a discerning festival can find sublime treasures even in the over-trodden tropes of fantasy flicks.

TRIBECA 2017 REVIEWS: Dome Karukosi’s TOM OF FINLAND bio-pic is an entertaining and well-told reminder of the reality of bigotry toward gay people that is currently having a resurgence (as our reviewer was reminded yet again following the screening)

TRIBECA 2017 REVIEWS: Dome Karukosi’s TOM OF FINLAND bio-pic is an entertaining and well-told reminder of the reality of bigotry toward gay people that is currently having a resurgence (as our reviewer was reminded yet again following the screening)

The film itself is very well-handled. It hits most of the standard biopic tropes with exceeding competence and sensitivity. Setting the stoic nature of Finnish culture aside, Pekka Strang’s performance as Tom evokes a great deal of the frustration and longing which surely the artist felt. It’s a maddening proposition.

TRIBECA 2017 REVIEWS: Zefrey Throwell and Josephine Decker’s FLAMES, is a doc/narrative hybrid depicting a couple “arting” themselves to death

TRIBECA 2017 REVIEWS: Zefrey Throwell and Josephine Decker’s FLAMES, is a doc/narrative hybrid depicting a couple “arting” themselves to death

Prepare to witness jarring scenes of the couple having sex – not regular sex – it’s almost at a genuinely daredevil level. No, this isn’t a porno, but it certainly edges up against those borders at times. Thankfully, there isn’t too much of this, and it really does serve a purpose. This film is all about vulnerability. These are people slicing themselves open on screen, going to a lot of trouble to show us in piercing detail all of their flaws and frailty.

Special Features

The Edward Douglas Guest Interviews: The Israeli director of THE WEDDING PLAN, Rama Burshtein talks about taking a more optimistic look at a woman’s wedding-based dilemma

The Edward Douglas Guest Interviews: The Israeli director of THE WEDDING PLAN, Rama Burshtein talks about taking a more optimistic look at a woman’s wedding-based dilemma

I think I’m lighter than Fill the Void. The Wedding Plan is more of who I am and more of my world, and this is a film that speaks about hope and you don’t wrap hope in grey colors, so it is lighter, because I think when you speak about hope, but people watch the film and they feel very differently. A lot of people cry the whole time and don’t laugh at all.

VOD REVIEWS: Justin Kurzel’s THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS is an under appreciated horror masterpiece waiting to be re-discovered on VOD

VOD REVIEWS: Justin Kurzel’s THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS is an under appreciated horror masterpiece waiting to be re-discovered on VOD

The reek of degradation is so impactful, it’s hard to wash away from the mind. And therein lies the true horror the film offers as well as its cinematic triumph. The murders take a back seat to the explorations of the utter raping of the psyche of a teenager we are subjected to. No amount of gore could make an audience more uneasy, seeking the exits than what The Snowtown Murders has conjured.

VOD REVIEWS: Martin Koolhoven’s BRIMSTONE delivers a brutal, bloody western with three old school star turns by Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, and Kit Harrington

VOD REVIEWS: Martin Koolhoven’s BRIMSTONE delivers a brutal, bloody western with three old school star turns by Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, and Kit Harrington

Yes, it is unforgivingly violent, and frequently – literally perverse, and twisted, but ultimately the strength of the film falls on the two leads, Fanning and Pearce, as well as a supporting turn by “Game of Thrones” star, Kit Harrington, as a gunslinger who becomes an ally to Liz, during an earlier chapter of her life.

VOD REVIEWS: Nicolas Pesce’s THE EYES OF MY MOTHER chills and charms as only a beautiful country surgeon could

VOD REVIEWS: Nicolas Pesce’s THE EYES OF MY MOTHER chills and charms as only a beautiful country surgeon could

Since, by design, the audience spends a lot of time with the character of Francisca, we are made complicit in her actions toward the unfortunate people that come into her isolated universe. The film emphasizes “less is more” both in terms of gore and information, so we are left to our imaginations to determine what exactly just happened or what has transpired during long stretches of time in between the films “chapters.”

TEN BURNING QUESTIONS: Christian D. Bruun’s BLUE GOLD: AMERICAN JEANS

TEN BURNING QUESTIONS: Christian D. Bruun’s BLUE GOLD: AMERICAN JEANS

Christian D. Bruun’s documentary, BLUE GOLD: AMERICAN JEANS, is a pretty classic version of a documentary that likely introduces you to a world you had no idea ever existed. The film looks at the literal history of blue jeans from their creation, the evolution of jeans as a wardrobe staple, and then a fashion sensation, and international presence, and finally, a highly coveted collectors item.

SHORTS and to the Point: Jennifer Sheridan and Matthew Markham’s SET ADRIFT is a sad doggie story that will make you cry in 8 minutes flat

SHORTS and to the Point: Jennifer Sheridan and Matthew Markham’s SET ADRIFT is a sad doggie story that will make you cry in 8 minutes flat

You also have to know what the correct incentive to use to get the right emotion. For example, if you want to evoke a sense of longing/ pensiveness then use chicken or turkey, but if you need a more alert/ concentrated look- you should use a tennis ball. It’s all about how to get the best performance out of your actor and Bowie is no exception. I’ve yet to try the chicken technique with real actors though.