Monday, March 30, 2009

FFF Days 1-4

Here's my quick, little synopsis of the first third of the festival:

My planned six-movie marathon on the opening Saturday of FFF got truncated to only three movies due to (gasp!) exhaustion. I must learn to pace myself. This year's fest began for me with the animated Battle for Terra. Though it was predictable and the politics and message a bit heavy-handed, I did end up falling for it because of it's gorgeous animation and quite a good voice-over performance from Evan Rachel Wood as the lead, Mala. This was followed by the very solid Shorts Program #1: "Lost in Space", of which Flat Love and Happy Birthday were my faves.

This was when I got tired and decided to go home and sleep through part of the NCAA tournament and return for the midnight showing of Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley's entertaining doc on the heretofore, unknown-by-me sub-industry of Australian exploitation movies. Although I'm not a necessarily a huge fan of the normal grindhouse fare, it was an interesting peak into an era of world cinema of which I was utterly ignorant. I am now currently on the search for some of these flicks! Looking for you, Alvin Purple!

Anyone remember when the Chuck E. Cheese on I-Drive was a Showbiz Pizza Place? Remember that the house band was an animatronic band of, um, animals called the Rock-afire Explosion? Well, a handful of rabid fans who have kept the memory of the band alive certainly do and they--and the band--are the subject of Brett Whitcomb's documentary also named The Rock-afire Explosion. The band was created by Aaron Fechter, whose business was based here in Orlando, and he, director Whitcomb, and many of the engineers and technicians were in attendance, not to mention the reunited "band" were performing just outside the Enzian theater.

The weekend concluded with the newest feature from Oscar-nominated animator, Bill Plympton, an FFF regular. After his very, very good Idiots and Angels, Plympton stayed for a short Q&A and then commenced to draw a picture and sign autographs for everyone in attendance.

Monday had me at two screenings, the entertaining Italian Shorts program and what is so far the best narrative feature I've seen this year, So Yong Kim's Treeless Mountain. Kim's second film was featured in an excellent article by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott about a new wave of independent films that have been released in the past couple of years. Also featured in the article was Kelly Reichardt's latest feature, Wendy and Lucy, which played at the Enzian the week before the festival.

The rain and traffic looks to limit my movie watching on Tuesday, but I look to get back on the train Wednesday and Thursday. Stay tuned!

Thanks to my sister Samantha for the Bill Plympton pics!

Friday, March 27, 2009

18 and life to go...

Friday night marks the beginning of my vacation and, not coincidentally, the opening of this year's Florida Film Festival--the 18th such event. As always, I dive head first into nine days of nonstop movie watching not knowing if the next screening will make me laugh, cry, think, or piss me off for wasting my time and money when I could've been watching something else. And of course, that's the best part. That, and listening to filmmakers young and old, expert and novice, talk about a movie you've just witnessed and, hopefully, loved. That, and being surrounded by genuine movie fans--those whose collective excitement about a shared love give you the adrenaline to stay up for your fifth movie of the day at midnight. That, and knowing that there are still movies out there that aren't filtered through a committee before their made or picked apart and prodded until they lose their identity.

That, and the fact I don't have to go to work for 10 days.

Stay posted for my periodic updates. See you at the movies!