2014 Florida Film Festival: Saturday, April 5

FFF2014LogoMy first hurdle this morning was packing my bag. I planned to bring my one purse that is big enough to fit my iPad. But I also wanted to bring a shawl (mostly to save my spot if I need to go to the concession stand or the bathroom), my current knitting project and book to entertain myself between sessions, a notepad in case I want to take any notes in the dark while watching a film, my glasses in case my contacts are irritating my eyes and I want to take them out, and of course all of the standard purse items like keys and phone and wallet. Once I accumulated everything, the purse wasn’t big enough. I brought my messenger bag instead, and since I was bringing it anyway, I tossed in a couple bottles of water. One hint I got from the Passholder sitting next to me last night is that a lot of people pack food, everything from snacks to a full picnic, and that this is an okay thing to do. I wasn’t prepared to do that today, but I might going forward, and if I do the messenger bag is definitely required!

I again arrived far earlier than necessary. I like being early, especially since this is my first year and I don’t know how everything works yet. I chatted with a very nice 80-something volunteer for a while. She’s been volunteering for 18 years! I asked her for hints, and she said that I should not miss “the film about the museum.” She looked furtively around and whispered, “Penis museum.” During orientation, volunteers were shown part of the film, and she thought it was hilarious. I assured her that I was planning to see it.

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This Week in the Box: Gigi

gigiNote: This Week in the Box is a year-long series where Sam works through the entire Warner Brothers 50 Film Collection box set. To find reviews of the other films in the series and see the complete list, click here.

Second note: this review contains plot points from throughout the movie, including the final resolution of the main characters. It’s not a good movie, so you shouldn’t watch it, but if you want to watch it without any prior knowledge, skip this review.

This movie is icky. That’s the best word for it. If you prefer, we could also go with gross, or distasteful, or “oh god, now I totally get what the sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s was about, we needed if it this is really how things were.”

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Divergent (book)

divergentI live and work in Chicago, and for a shortish period of last year, I had the pleasure of bumping into the filming of the movie Divergent in various locations around town. I didn’t realize until it was already well under way that they’d turned a corner I drive past every morning into a mini film lot (though it made everything else make way more sense, since there was no insulation in those walls), they filmed in my actual workplace one Sunday, and I am a huge fan of films taking place in Chicago in general. I was eager to see the movie, and I wanted to read the book first, mostly so I would get the learning curve of this particular teen dystopia and could ignore the plot in favor of picking out where they filmed what and whether I’d stood in that same place before.

Turns out, that might have been the wrong tactic, since after reading the book I have little to no interest in seeing the movie (beyond the consistent motivating factor of getting to say “Hey! That’s my building!”). There are a great many things wrong with this book, everything from bad prose to bad concepts to bad execution. Added to that are poorly explained history, a failure to orient the reader in space (any space), and a whole whack of incredibly drippy teen romance. Hooray! …wait.

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Grand Budapest Hotel

grandbudapesthotelJust a quick little review here, since the film came out a month ago already. Grand Budapest Hotel, as a movie, is perfectly in sync with the elaborate and ornate structure of the actual Grand Budapest Hotel– fact, it’s a level beyond that, perhaps even with sculpted and stacked bakery confections that serve as a recurring theme and important plot point.

It’s a movie with filigree. Like all Wes Anderson movies, there’s every scene is so carefully manicured that there’s a layer of intentional artifice. Grand Budapest Hotel, the most Wes Anderson movie to date, also as more obvious camerawork than I can remember in his other movies (and him as a director known for obvious camerwork at that). Any time the camera isn’t capturing a still, perfectly symmetrical shot, it’s swinging around wildly to go from one face to another and back again.

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2014 Florida Film Festival: Opening Night, Friday, April 4

FFF2014LogoYou might say I was a little excited to attend the opening night of the Florida Film Festival. As a Cinephile passholder, I was guaranteed admission into the sold out program. Nevertheless, I arrived at the theater an hour before the film was scheduled to start. I was the first person in line. I brought a book for the wait, but didn’t read much as I was chatting with volunteers and fellow attendees and generally rubbernecking at the usual mild chaos that accompanies the start of any large event.

Half an hour before show time, the doors opened, and I was the first person to walk into the theater and choose a seat. Another passholder sat next to me and we chatted until the program started. Preliminaries included short welcome speeches by Enzian Theater and Florida Film Festival President Henry Maldonado, Orange County (Florida) Mayor Teresa Jacobs (the County is the primary public sponsor of FFF), and Maylen Dominguez, the Program Manager of the Film Production MFA at Full Sail University (the primary sponsor of FFF).

After the formalities, the lights went down, and the screen lit up.

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2014 Florida Film Festival: The Good News: My Viewing Schedule

FFF2014LogoUsually, if you ask me whether I want the good news or the bad news first, I’ll tell you I want the bad news. Bad news first means I get the opportunity to troubleshoot, and then have some of the sting taken away by the good news. Hearing the good news first means that the good news is not as sweet as it could be. In the back of my mind, I’m always wondering what the bad news is, so the good news loses its luster. And then tarnishes quickly, as I turn my attention to the bad news.

Since I’m a bad news first kind of person, I intended to post my list of films I will not be seeing before I post the list of films I will be seeing. But I needed to work out what I will be seeing first! Since I will be posting details of films I see after the fact, this good news post is mostly a list. You’ll get trailers and details after I see the films. But since I’m not going to see the films on the bad news list, I want that post to be more detailed, along the lines of what I wrote for the Shorts #1. That will take some time. So good news first, for a change.

It took me quite a long time to come up with this schedule. But this is final. I think.

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