The 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival is wrapping up today and with that the winners of this year’s festival have been announced. Elizabeth Rohrbaugh and Daniel Powell‘s Becks won the U.S. Fiction Award, Diego Ros‘ The Night Guard won the World Fiction Award, and Karen
The films that comprise Richard Linklater’s Sunrise Trilogy are considered by many to be some of the best independent features of the last couple decades. In the trilogy, two strangers meet in the first film, and each subsequent film picks up their story several years after the previous installment. It’s very much like the acclaimed 7 Up saga, in which a group of individuals are revisited every seven years. With that in mind, it’s easy to dismiss Emily Ting’s feature film directorial debut as a “Linklater wannabe,” but though the formula may seem familiar, Ting’s directorial style and writing are not. It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is an engaging and relatable romantic drama that poses some interesting, awkward and heartfelt questions about life, love and the pursuit of talking plush toys.
“Never stop; never stop fighting till the fight is done.”
It seems rather odd for Be Here Now to open with a quote from The Untouchables, especially when one takes into consideration just what this particular film is about. Lilibet Foster’s powerful, intimate and emotional documentary chronicles Andy Whitfield’s battle with life-threatening cancer.
Caroll Spinney may not be a household name, but his iconic Sesame Street characters surely are. For the last 48 years Spinney has been the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, two of the most well known characters in Disney’s Muppet universe. Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker’s film I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story takes a look at the man behind these characters and paints a lovingly crafted portrait of him, both in his professional career and his personal life.
Coming of age stories may be the most popular genre of indie filmmaking, and perhaps this is because the storyline is a flexible one, ensuring there is much agitation in a story to propel the protagonist without offering exactly how the story will resolve. The same is not true for love stories, for example. Argentinian writer/director Matias Lucchesi's first feature, Natural Sciences, the search for self is dressed in Lila's (Petra Hertzog) insuppressible need to find her father.
The opening shot of Mike Ott's third and final installment of his Antelope Valley Trilogy, Lake Los Angeles, glides into his narrative arch from the center of an open road, the dust trail illuminated in a flurry. A young girl's voice can be heard over the quietly stunning image, whispering a story which settles, along with the camera, on the rabbit in the moon. From the dusty floodlit haze, we break to the image of the back of a man's head, precisely lit and composed, seen trying to alleviate his solitude with a prostitute. It’s an emotionally gripping film with a naturalistic tone, following the interwoven stories of its two star-crossed protagonists. The subtle forces at work in this echoing tale are a concoction of the way images accumulate meaning, using Malick-esque narration sequences and repetition of phrases and spaces, all to the gain of the understated story.
Part romantic comedy, part cool and sometimes-condemning reflection, writer/director Benedikt Erlingsson's Of Horses and Men is both comedic and stoic. Shot against the moving landscapes of his native home of Iceland, an ensemble cast blunders its way through a series of small stories that often end with death, either human or equine.
Outside of being known as “the coldest spot in the nation,” there doesn’t seem to be much else going on in the sleepy town of Cut Bank, Montana. It’s the sort of small town where everyone may know your name, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they really know who you are. It’s the sort of town where news travels fast, especially when you’re trying to keep things quiet.
There is much enjoyment to be derived from the very entertaining sports documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball. It not only works for fans of the sport but also for non-fans alike. It’s about a rag-tag bunch of disparate personalities; it’s about bucking the system; and, like many great sports films, it’s about the underdog.
Sci-fi films, well most films actually, often leave themselves open for scrutiny. When a film takes place on another planet or in a different time, like the distant past or future, and the filmmakers do a decent job of setting up the environment in an engaging way – it’s usually easier for an audience to buy into the faux locale or point in time, making the viewer more susceptible to the unfolding drama.
The found footage genre. The genre where the audience is watching “recently discovered” footage about an event or in some cases a mystery. It raised eyebrows and churned stomachs in 1980 with Cannibal Holocaust. It came to prominence with the immensely successful and trend setting 1999 release The Blair Witch Project. It likely reached its zenith with the Paranormal Activity franchise. Primarily a staple in the horror genre the found footage film has met with mostly disastrous results. Chernobyl Diaries, The Amityville Haunting and Apollo 18 are just a few titles that have used the format and all of them were pretty bad films. Now comes Brian Netto, who makes his directorial debut, and his refreshing and mostly effective found footage thriller, Delivery.
The full lineup for the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival has been announced today, with highlights including the premiere of Clint Eastwood‘s Jersey Boys as the closing night film, as well as the previously announced US premiere of Snowpiercer as the opening