Every so often during a festival they’ll be one of those quirks in the schedule when the only thing playing worth seeing is a film that doesn’t apply to any of our needs areas. It’s not applicable for any of our special programming or mini-fests, it will be released way before the next Florida Film Festival, and we know it’s not gonna open at Enzian (either because it’s a major studio release or the distributor is already committed elsewhere). These are what we refer to as “guilty pleasures,” and Sunday morning provided a couple of doozies. While Shannon went for BORAT CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, I got to see FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, and what a joyous experience that was (more on the film later).
Last night we arrived unfashionably early for the much-anticipated post-film concert/party in honor of John Cameron Mitchell’s new work, SHORTBUS. Since it was advertised from 10 PM – 4 AM and we knew there was no way we’d be there until the wee hours, we figured to stay for as long as possible and hopefully still get to see some industry friends and good music. Unfortunately, without any place to sit and rest my troublesome middle-aged lower back, we didn’t make it to John’s performance (I would’ve loved to hear some HEDWIG live if that’s what he ended up playing). But the people-watching was great, the assortment of Go-Go dancers of all shapes and sizes pretty entertaining (including the zaftig woman, the two ballet dancers, and the “Monkey Girl” with fur and hair in way too many places), and we did get to hear a couple of SHORTBUS cast members display their musical talents. And the hosts of the event, a drag queen and king who called themselves Kathy Bates and Kevin Spacey, were pretty funny. Thanks to Michael and Erin and everyone at THINKFilm for the invitation.
Quick Takes: ALL THE KING’S MEN (3-Stars) – This one gets an extra star for Sean Penn’s typically great performance as the Huey Long-like Louisiana politician in this remake based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren. But despite a cast that also includes(get this!) Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins, the film feels all wrong. Perhaps trimming it down to 2 hours killed it, but the voiceover narration, the inconsistent Southern accents, and James Horner’s cloying and overdone score are just some of the problems in this long-delayed disappointment. FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (5-Stars) – Christopher Guest and company take aim at Hollywood in this hilarious look at a film production called “Home From Purim” and the effect that some rumored Oscar buzz has on everyone connected to the film. Add Ricky Gervais (as the studio head) to the comedy dream ensemble of Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Michael McKean,Jennifer Coolidge, and the list goes on–they’re all back and as good as ever. LITTLE CHILDREN(5-Stars) – The excellent new comedic drama from Todd Field (IN THE BEDROOM) about disgruntled surburbanites and parents who end up having an affair while the town reels from the addition of a paroled sex offender to the neighborhood. Wonderful performances by Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson (who is this guy?), Jennifer Connelly, and Jackie Earl Haley (who was also in ALL THE KING’S MEN as Sean Penn’s creepy bodyguard), along with a smart script and voice-over narration that actually works, make this one of the best films of the year. THE NAMESAKE(4-Stars) – Mira Nair’s poignant family saga that moves from Calcutta in the turbulent 1970’s to present-day America is a beautifully shot drama with some nice humorous touches. Kal Penn makes a nice transition into a more serious role, and it’s only in the film’s latter moments that the dialogue and action veer toward the melodramatic. It’s no MONSOON WEDDING but still well worth a look. THE FALL(2-Stars) – What the hell? Tarsem, the director of THE CELL and REM’s “Losing My Religion” video, spent four years shooting this exotic, grand-looking, yet completely ridiculous adventure-fantasy about a hospitalized silent-film stuntman who’s telling a heroic story to a little girl in exchange for stolen morphine from the hospital pharmacy. The broken-armed child is certainly precocious, but for all the visually striking locations and set design, the film is boring and poorly acted (perhaps intentionally to heighten the Saturday morning serial/silent film influences). A major letdown.