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.”

FILM FESTIVAL NEWS: The Dallas Film Society and Studio Movie Grill team up for a Movie Madness Marathon

FILM FESTIVAL NEWS: The Dallas Film Society and Studio Movie Grill team up for a Movie Madness Marathon

The Summer Movie Madness Marathon mimics fundraising walks, runs, and bike rides, with the participants asked to acquire pledges from friends, family, co-workers, etc. to donate funds based on whether or not they watch all four films that day. There will also be prizes for the film fans given away at each screening and for the most money raised for the organization, as well as special appearances to introduce each of the films.

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

TEN MOST RECENT FILMS WATCHED: The legendary women edition

TEN MOST RECENT FILMS WATCHED: The legendary women edition

In honor of the wonderfulness of Patty Jenkins’ WONDER WOMAN, this group of films has a loose connection of amazing women, including; the incredibly underrated director that Ida Lupino was (THE HITCH-HIKER), a “I’m having more fun than I should be allowed” performance by Glenn Close in THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, a Marilyn Monroe double feature, one of Julie Andrews’ somewhat less-heralded favorites (for me at least) gems (THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY), as well as an extremely late-to-the-party screening of ROGUE ONE.

THE GUEST COLUMN: Gregory Kallenberg on the Genesis, the Rarity, and the Real (Big) Money Opportunity that is the Louisiana Film Prize

THE GUEST COLUMN: Gregory Kallenberg on the Genesis, the Rarity, and the Real (Big) Money Opportunity that is the Louisiana Film Prize

as a final attempt to sway you to make a film or, in the least, come to Shreveport in October, please know why this competition was created. It was created for you, the filmmaker. I deeply wanted to give you a reason to practice your art and your passion. I wanted to give you a goal to strive for and for that goal to yield the creation of a film you would be proud of. To me, there are fewer and fewer places that celebrate your work in a way you deserve, and, to me, there is no better place — dare I say it? — on the planet to do this besides the Film Prize!

VOD REVIEWS: Nathan Morlando’s MEAN DREAMS offers up a classic story of star-crossed young lovers with a swan song performance by Bill Paxton

VOD REVIEWS: Nathan Morlando’s MEAN DREAMS offers up a classic story of star-crossed young lovers with a swan song performance by Bill Paxton

MEAN DREAMS not only isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, it revels in the trappings of its poor, farm country setting, story tropes, and the familiar character archetypes it puts forward. The film banks on the romantic dynamic between the two leads (Sophie Nelisse, and Josh Wiggins), as well as the villain role embodied by Paxton..

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.

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: Pascal Leister’s LONE HUNTER delivers nuance and heartbreak in a dramatization of a real-life race-related shooting tragedy

SHORTS AND TO THE POINT: Pascal Leister’s LONE HUNTER delivers nuance and heartbreak in a dramatization of a real-life race-related shooting tragedy

We did extensive research and we watched some documentaries about the case, so we had that as a background. One problem was that to this day there is no clear answer as to who fired the first shot. The details of actual events in the woods are somewhat murky. So we went for our interpretation and took some artistic license to fit it all into the dramatic arc of a short. We weren’t necessarily trying to retell the actual events to the tee but we tried to create an authentic, plausible story.