Following the screening of excellent film, The Spectacular Now – Director James Ponsoldt and co-writer Michael Weber had a Q&A with the audience on the opening night of the Independent Film Festival of Boston.
Beauty Is Embarrassing ends with an amazing call to action from subject Wayne White. He sums up what he means by Beauty Is Embarrassing, and it just as equally sums up White’s entire Mantra. Do what you want to do, be who you want to be, no matter what.
Wayne White, best known for his creative work behind Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, as well as his work on the Smashing Pumpkins video “Tonight, Tonight,” has changed careers in the past 10 years. After spending the late 80s and 90s performing various tasks as art direction, set, puppet, and animation design – White has become a fascinating artist. Purchasing what he calls “thrift store” paintings, and writing interesting words on them. Ranging from prolific, to what he admits as somewhat crass. The work is unique, and when looked at closer, they just aren’t simple words. The 3D letters are added and implemented with the skill of an expert painter.
A debut film from Neil Berkley, he travels with White back to White’s hometown in Tennessee, we share some intimate moments as White looks into his past, and the hope of his future.
The story is moved along by what appears to be an evening with Wayne White – as he moves an audience along with the timeline of his career. Sharing stories from his past, and his latest artwork.
Beauty Is Embarrassing does an impressive job showing us the world through White’s lens. It’s colorful, full of life, laughter, and amazing opportunities.
Jon (O’Brien), a former high school football star, is aspiring to be a writer, and is leaving his job assisting as a fisherman to pursue his dream. Dave (Chris Messina), is brought back to Fairhaven due to the death of his Father. Sam (Rich Sommer), is the only one in the bunch to have a child, and is divorced.
The film goes back and forth between the complexities of Dave’s relationship with his family and friends, to the challenge’s Jon is having with his impending life changes.
O’Brien’s love of Woody Allen and Robert Altman is clear by the dialogue – just about every scene is focused on dialogue. Characters will talk over each other, and everything almost has an improvised feel (whether or not it was, I’m not sure), but it still feels natural and realistic.
On the surface, the Fairhaven is a fairly simple story – however, the depth of the characters and their relationships complicates things. It takes the film longer than usual to set up where its headed, but once the course is set, its smooth sailing from there.
The film was shot mostly in Fairhaven and the surrounding towns. They did an amazing job picking great locations, every scene felt extremely natural and realistic. Almost as if they showed up, set the camera up and went. The DP did a great job pushing what was no doubt a digital cinema camera to the limit, with rich contrasts, and great lighting.
I enjoyed the film, and am definitely curious what O’Brien will do next. The film is currently seeking distribution, but with some fairly recognizable cast members, I hope the next step will come to them with ease – Fairhaven definitely worth seeking out.
Headhunters is one of the most edge of your seat, darkly funny, action packed films that I’ve seen in a long time. This Norwegian Action/Crime/Thriller from Morten Tyldum is violent, at time gruesome, but our main protagonist finds himself in so many crappy situations (this’ll make more sense once you see the movie), you can’t help but laugh.
‘The Future,’ is Miranda July’s follow up to her debut film ‘Me and You and Everyone We Know.’ It tells the story of Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), and their decision to adopt a terminally ill cat named Paw Paw.
Their good intentioned decision is to prevent Paw Paw from being euthanized at the Vet, and for the last six months they believe she’ll live, the pair will give her a happy life. However, it turns out that under good care, Paw Paw could live up to five years. Because of the constant care the cat will need, Sophie and Jason view the adoption of Paw Paw like getting a newborn baby, and quickly become terrified at the idea of losing their freedom. Given 30 days to pick Paw Paw up, they quit their jobs to use the last 30 days of freedom they have to do whatever it is they’ve always wanted to do.
The film deals with a relationships, and the struggles of making something of your life – all through July’s unique voice. The film takes place a world that looks like reality, but has fantastical aspects – we hear the voice of Paw Paw, a t-shirt that has a life of its own, and a Moon that talks.
Sophie and Jason are essentially living a bohemian lifestyle somewhere in Los Angeles, Jason doing tech support and based at home, and Sophie teaching dance to children. Once the two quit their jobs, Sophie decides she’s going to make 30 dances in 30 days that she’ll post on the internet, and Jason takes up the task of going door to door selling trees for a greener city.
Things become complicated when Sophie begins speaking with an older man, taking in the suburbs so to speak – a decision which changes many things between Sophie and Jason as the film moves on.
With July the word ‘auteur’ comes to mind – she has a unique style that if I started watching this film in the middle, I would recognize it as hers. The performances by all the actors can only be described as unique. They don’t necessarily “act” the way normal people do, but in this world, that’s ok.
Technology is featured quite a bit in ‘Future,’ the film opens with the two leads sitting on a couch typing away on their laptops, barely interacting with each other. A little into the film, Sophie cancels their internet, believing that anything they want to accomplish is going to be ruined by it. In the Q & A following the film, a question was asked about her reference to “Facebook” and the way technology is featured in the film. July said that it was important to show technology because it is such an important part of our lives, but she also had to take it away for anything to really happen to the characters.
Surrealist, dark, and emotional, ‘The Future,’ is a wonderful film, definitely a must-see this Summer.
Check out the great Q&A with Miranda July here!
[This film was reviewed at IFFBoston 2011]
The Independent Film Festival of Boston came to a close last night at the Coolidge Corner Theater with the screening of CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP. A week filled with 90 narrative, documentary, and short films, the festival as always, was a great success.
While I’ve still got a few more reviews I’m working on, I wanted to post about the various winners of Grand Jury Prizes and Audience awards.
2011 Narrative Feature Award Winners:
Grand Jury Prize: LITTLEROCK directed by Mike Ott
Special Jury Prize: GREEN directed by Sophia Takal
Audience Award Winner: 13 ASSASSINS directed by Takashi Miike
2011 Documentary Feature Award Winners:
Grand Jury Prize: LAST DAYS HERE directed by Don Argott & Demian Fenton
Special Jury Prize: CONVENTO directed by Jarred Alterman
Audience Award Winner: RAISING RENEE directed by Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan
Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing: HOW TO DIE IN OREGON
2011 Short Film Award Winners:
Grand Jury Prize: ICH BIN’S HELMUT directed by Nicolas Steiner
Special Jury Prize: THE STRANGE ONES directed by Lauren Wolkstein & Christopher Radcliff
Audience Award: FLYING ANNE directed by Catherine van Campen
Only 51 weeks till the 10th Annual Independent Film Festival of Boston (yeah so what, it is never too early for a countdown!), to stay up to date with the festival, you can join their mailing list at iffboston.org, or follow them on Twitter.
This morning the Independent Spirit Awards announced their nominees for the 2011 awards. Definitely a sign of what is to come this awards season! I’m glad to see Winter’s Bone picked up plenty of nods, and honestly, I’d love to see John Hawkes take home best supporting for it. What do you guys think of the results?
The Kids Are All Right
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Everything Strange and New
The Last Exorcism
Night Catches Us
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000)
The Exploding Girl
Lovers of Hate
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone
Nicole Holofcener, Please Give
David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole
Todd Solondz, Life During Wartime
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Diane Bell, Obselidia
Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture
Nik Fackler, Lovely, Still
Bob Glaudini, Jack Goes Boating
Dana Adam Shapiro, Evan M. Wiener, Monogamy
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
BEST MALE LEAD
Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
James Franco, 127 Hours
John C. Reilly, Cyrus
Ben Stiller, Greenberg
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism
Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
Allison Janney, Life During Wartime
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jack Goes Boating
Naomi Watts, Mother and Child
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Samuel L. Jackson, Mother and Child
Bill Murray, Get Low
John Ortiz, Jack Goes Boating
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Adam Kimmel, Never Let Me Go
Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
Jody Lee Lipes, Tiny Furniture
Michael McDonough, Winter’s Bone
Harris Savides, Greenberg
Exit Through The Gift Shop
BEST FOREIGN FILM
Of Gods and Men
The King’s Speech
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Casting Director: Jeanne McCarthy
Ensemble Cast: Ann Guilbert, Rebecca Hall Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Lois Smith, Sara Steele
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
In-Ah Lee, Au Revoir Taipei
Adele Romanski, The Myth of the American Sleepover
Anish Savjani, Meek’s Cutoff
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Hossein Keshavarz, Dog Sweat
Laurel Nakadate, The Wolf Knife
Mike Ott, Littlerock
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Sweetgrass
Jeff Malmberg, Marwencol
Lynn True, Nelson Walker, Summer Pasture