Los Angeles Film Festival Diaries: Day Four


7:30pm – 9:30pm:

Yesterday marked the shortest festival time, as I was only booked for two screenings since the films began later on in the evening. There was definitely a lot of buzz building as I was walking in to see Seeking a Friend for the End of the World — the red carpet was lively and bustling, and Keira Knightley looks even more beautiful in person if you can believe that. Besides the excitement over seeing the two lead characters in this apocalyptic romantic dramedy (although by the end, there is no comedy left to be had), I believe the majority of people attending the festival were all there to support screenwriter-turned-director Lorene Scafaria’s debut film (Scafaria is best known for her witty screenplay of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). There was a lot of love in the theater for Lorene, and I have to say she does a fine job…to a degree. This is not a perfect film by any means — Kiera Knightley and Steve Carell’s chemistry works better on a friend scale than a romantic one — but it was thoroughly engaging. To me, it’s Melancholia-lite with a bit more humorous bits albeit less visual bedazzlement. However, it has a host of great small performances from actors that steal every scene they are in. Derek Luke and Martin Sheen make the most of their scenes, but it’s Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) who truly shine, proving that these two highly undervalued actresses need to score more film roles. I’ll dive more in-depth on Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but suffice it to say that while I enjoyed the direction and overall quality of the film, I would be lying if I said I much preferred watching our two leads over the minor characters that had me cracking up in fits of laughter.

9:50 – 11:45:

The second and final film of Day Four was one that blew my dirty socks off! The Swiss produced film Summer Games — which served as Switzerland’s submitted film for the 84th Academy Awards for “Best Foreign Language Film” — has instantly become one of my favorite foreign films ever. Here is a film that makes no apologies for what ensues in the narrative. Kids act bad, adults behave even worse, and yet through it all the summer vacation remains a paradise that nobody wants to see end. There are so many moments in the film that touched me on a profound level. I applaud an R-rated film for focusing its entire narrative on a group of children. These children are flawed, but its more because of the damage done to them by their parents who all have some issue or another. The two leads in the film, Armando Condolucci as Nic and Fiorella Campanela as Marie, deliver some of the best young acting I’ve ever seen in film. The two share a great chemistry, and the roles they are asked to handle beg for a deep and focused emotional commitment. No worries there, because these two deliver in spades. I love how this film handles per-pubescence. There are many moments in the film that ring true for children going through changes in both their bodies and their maturing minds. I cannot stress how much I love this film, only that everyone needs to see it as soon as possible so I can have a dialogue with them. Stay tuned for a full review for Summer Games. Unfortunately, unless my colleagues explain to me otherwise, I won’t be able to place this film on my list for “Top 10 of 2012” seeing as how it was a 2011 release, not to mention a previous Oscarâ„¢ potential candidate per Switzerland’s submission.

Well everybody, yesterday was a blast even though I only was able to screen two films. The movies I did see were particularly memorable, especially the latter which still hasn’t stopped reeling through my mind. Later today, I’ll be seeing another three films. I should have some reviews posted up throughout the day since I’ll have more time in the morning to write them up. Take care everyone, and hope you’ve all enjoyed my diary entries thus far! In honor of the Swiss for their amazing contribution to cinema with Summer Games, I say this to you: Tschuss (the informal Swiss-German word for “goodbye”).