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AFI/AFM 2007.3: “I really… liked it”

AFI/AFM 2007.3: "I really... liked it"

I really liked it. “I really… liked it.” After watching Austin friend Alex Holdridge’s third feature, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, on Saturday afternoon (at AFI Fest) I told him “I really liked it.” And, I meant it. But Alex wasn’t sure if I paused in there and if it sounded more like an unsure, “I really… liked it?” So, for the next hour, he proceeded to tease me about it. But truth is, I did enjoy Alex’s new film (which IFC will release next July), a funny and romantic L.A. love story. Alex has grown as a filmmaker and storyteller, and this third film merges the high-concept comedy of his first feature, Wrong Numbers, with the neurotic romance of his second feature, Sexless.

All the elements come together in the best way, from Robert Murphy’s black and white cinematography to Jake Vaughn and Frank Reynolds precise editing, to the wonderfully touching and funny performances from the talented cast. Alex made a romantic comedy that is a throwback to the kind of indie productions we don’t see much anymore. Highly recommended. And, it’s pretty obvious that Alex is a filmmaker to watch.

(Outside the Opening Night party on Thursday night, are In Search of a Midnight Kiss writer/director Alex Holdridge, right, with AFI Fest chief Christian Gaines.)

On Thursday night, Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs opened AFI Fest. The film – starring Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise – is a 90-minute lecture about why the war in Iraq is a bad, bad thing. The film is broken into three sections: a professor (Redford) trying to inspire a lazy student about political science, a Senator (Cruise) offering a candid interview about the war to a D.C. journalist (Streep), and two former students of the professor currently under siege in Afghanistan. As an argument against the war, Lions For Lambs is fairly effective. As 90 minutes of entertainment at the movies, it’s slightly less successful.

I think it’s an important film, worth seeing and thinking about, yet I don’t know if it’s the kind of film I’d recommend to someone looking for a cinematic experience. Which makes the film sort of similar, in ways, to the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. So, who knows, maybe Lions For Lambs could create a mini phenomenon as a cultural event. I just doubt it will create a mini phenomenon as a great film. One film over the weekend at AFI Fest that did create a mini phenomenon, was Christian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days. The film had its L.A. premiere at AFI Fest, on Saturday night. Massive crowds showed up, overflowing the theater and preventing many from gaining entry, myself included. The buzz on the Cannes-winning feature has grown substantially over the last few months, and many expect the film to earn a Foreign Language nomination at the Oscars. I didn’t see the film on Saturday, but I was invited to attend a special dinner for the film, hosted by distributor IFC. Here are some pictures from that nice evening:

(Screen International editor Colin Brown, left, and Red Envelope Entertainment’s Bob Aaronson enjoy a chat during the 4 Months dinner.)

(Liesl Copland and Rob Williams not only both work at Netflix’s Red Envelope Entertainment, they are also two former New Yorkers who have relocated to L.A. over the last year or so. Their company is partnering with IFC on the release of 4 Months.)

(indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez, sits back at the 4 Months dinner, overlooking the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel.)

Okay, back to more and more meetings and more and more movies…

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