One of the advantages of seeing smaller films touring around festivals is having a chance to see character actors in lead roles. The Hero provides the great Sam Elliot this chance and it’s a joy to watch. No stranger to cinema, Elliot has been a stable presence in many films and TV shows for over 40 years. Here’s a film that gets to play with his image, while also challenging the man to be more than just a mustachioed character actor with a deep and wonderful voice.
Archive for the 'Newport Beach Film Festival' Category
There is a lot to get out of films surrounding family secrets. Ideally, you are gradually drawn into learning about who a family is, establishing various personas, only to have things turn around on you thanks to sudden reveals. It’s not a cheat to make these sort of twists, as you’ve been effectively coerced into feeling like a part of the family. The Scent of Rain and Lightning is a modern western with a mystery at its core. We are well aware that something bad happened early on, but the film wants us to continue questioning the validity of this fact throughout. Unfortunately, the results are not as effective as they could be, due to a disjointed narrative.
The tagline for this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival is “Go Deeper” and that is certainly fitting for the Opening Night premiere film. Take Every Wave: The Life of Laid Hamilton is both an extreme sports film, featuring some breathtaking footage, and a solid biographical study of big-wave surfer and ocean pioneer Laird Hamilton. This documentary from director Rory Kennedy certainly does take us deeper, as we spend nearly two hours watching the story of a fearless and quite affable athlete who has pushed himself hard to find various successes throughout his life, while also experiencing some literal and emotional tough breaks.
For everyone looking to head to SoCal and check out some films this April, the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival begins on the 20th. Additionally, the NBFF has announced TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON as its opening night film. The screening will take place on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7:30pm at Edwards Big Newport in Newport Beach, followed by a gala reception at Fashion Island, also in Newport. The 18th annual NBFF will run from April 20 – April 27, 2017. Continue on to learn more about the upcoming opening night event, the film festival in general and where to find out more about the films being screened and how to purchase tickets.
For this last post concerning my coverage of the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival, I wanted to take the time to dig into some of the short films presented. Thanks to a lovely programmer, I was able to attend a couple shorts programs. A few in particular really stood out and while it is great to see short films in general, I want to specifically get into the two shorts that functioned as westerns; each of a different sort.
It can be fun to learn a neat fact from a film. Call of the Void is a solid neo-noir whose title is translated from the French psychoanalytical term l’appel du vide, which refers a person having a self-destructive impulse. Armed with a camera and a desire to make a film hearkening back to an older time and genre, writer/director Dustin Kahia has made an interesting, stylish effort.
For closing night at the Newport Beach Film Festival, right after winning a Best Actor prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, The Fixer was screened. The film is a fish out of water mystery tale set in a small town, with a colorful cast of characters. Some interesting thematic angles are at play and while the film may not be quite as impactful as it could have been, there is enough strength from the actors and in other various elements that make it a story with plenty of intrigue.
Imagine the worst possible cab ride of your life and then take it to the next level by going weird with it. That’s what Fare is. This nifty 75-minute thriller from writer/director/star Thomas Torrey takes a single-location concept and allows for unexpected turns that build into a radical third act that pushes the nature of relationships to a true zenith of filmmaking imagination.
Here’s an innocent enough romantic comedy that plays up a culture clash angle and mostly comes out on top. UNindian follows many of the tropes you’d expect, but brings in a Bollywood element that certainly helps to establish an identity for it. Familiar or not, the film is effective enough given the cast chemistry and features a display of Indian culture in Australia that I was unfamiliar with.
It is fun to see a connection that ties together actors from all over the world. For the case of Being George Clooney, the connection is international voice dubbing. The process may be understood at surface level, but there are a lot of interesting things that go into being the voice of another actor. This documentary has fun checking in on the actors who have established themselves as the voice of the movie star, among other things, as well as taking a look at this little-talked about profession in Hollywood.
A film like Remember Me makes me wonder why EGOT-winner Rita Moreno is not appearing more frequently in feature films. The veteran actor may be in the role of wise-cracking grandmother, but she plays it quite well and many should know she is capable of more. For now though, here’s an enjoyable film that gets a little too caught up in some raunchier humor at times, despite working well enough as a fun road trip movie with some emotional pull.
If you are going to pay homage to Woody Allen, you better be sure everyone is on board to do the same thing. Writer/director/composer/star Alexander Tovar wears many hats for his film Show Business, but it felt as if he had a little bit of a tough time managing all of them to completely nail what he was going for in this Hollywood farce about a writer getting his shot. That does not mean the film was unenjoyable, but the light-heartedness of the film did seem to extend a bit far with some of the cast.
This year After the Reality opened the 17th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. Since Jewtopia served as the opening night feature a few years back, I have been doing my best to manage my excitement level for these premieres, but the film was certainly no dud. While a bit familiar, the comedy-drama took on some subject matter in an interestingly enough way to hold onto my attention and make good use of its key performers.
Here we are with another year for NBFF. The 17th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival is arriving this week (April 21-28th) and they have hundreds of films to present. This year, NBFF is proud to announce its Opening Night Film, the world- premiere of After The Reality starring Matthew Morrison and Sarah Chalke and Closing Night Film, The Fixer starring Dominic Rains and James Franco. I will be in attendance to cover as many films at the festival as I can and post my thoughts here. Continue on to learn more about the Opening and Closing Night films along with more about the festival.
The final film I was able to see for the Newport Beach Film Festival was this fun little indie called Arlo & Julie. I really enjoyed it. With a neat story, very likable characters, and a soundtrack consisting mostly of old jazz to better evoke some specific films and filmmakers that I see as likely influences, Arlo & Julie has a lot of what I like to see in smaller films that I can only hope to see reach a larger audience at some point. It does just enough to set it apart from other films, but also has plenty in common with the quaint little indies that I tend to like a lot.
So what is all this Twitter business? Wednesday at the Newport Beach Film Fest afforded me the opportunity to check out a documentary that would have made more sense to see on a Friday. At least I now know what I can recommend via #ff on Friday, as Follow Friday the Film is an enjoyable documentary about Twitter. While not an instructional guide and more of an interesting look at how society is evolving, with a specific focus on popular social media, the film is not attempting to force Twitter on its audience, but instead invite folks to see the deeper value in typing a certain amount of characters into a program at any time. It helps that the film is structured together through a road trip, with plenty of interviews to really provide a broad perspective on the subject. As a person that uses Twitter plenty, I was happy to find a group that put out a film explaining this microblogging service so simply, yet in a charming manner.
Monday night at the Newport Beach Film Festival saw a film that I have been anticipating for some time be represented as the Japanese Spotlight feature of the night. I was quite happy to have seen it. The Japanese remake of Unforgiven makes a good case for why I am never against the idea of a remake, before I actually see it or have enough information to pass judgment. Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Best Picture winner is the film I consider to be his best work as a filmmaker (and as an actor, for that matter), so the concept of remaking his film should presumably strike ire in the hearts of those that claim remakes are always terrible. Of course, hypocrisy is a funny thing, as the reaction to Ken Watanabe starring in a samurai version of the same story seems to have made most skeptics excited about this particular idea. Still, this is not about the public at large, it is about what I thought of the film, which basically amounts to being an interesting remix.
Here’s another Newport Beach Film Fest review focused on just one feature that I caught on Monday morning. Cas & Dylan is a Canadian-produced road trip comedy, focused on an odd couple that needs to be enjoyed, if one wants to enjoy this film as a whole. It is a bit cutesy in the way it presents a scenario that can be summed up by saying, “She’s a [blank] and he’s a [blank], but together, they’ll become best friends ready to do whatever.” Fortunately, Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany make for a good pairing and the film gets enough mileage out of its comedy and drama to make this good-looking film a good watch as well.