Day Seven of the Los Angeles Film Festival™ offered a little something extra aside from my usual screening adventures. For the first time since Clayton, Anna, and Robert all had lunch together earlier this year before the commencing of the 84th Annual Academy Awards, two Award Circuit staff members were able to meet yesterday for the very first time. That’s right, Mr. Terence Johnson flew into Los Angeles last night, ready to plow through this fun and crazy festivity alongside yours truly. It was a surreal moment to finally meet a fellow colleague in-person — we both love working for The Awards Circuit, and to be able to share that adoration and enthusiasm for our job in the flesh was pretty awesome. Without further ado, here are my thoughts regarding Day Seven (I’ll also be including some of Terence’s reflections)…5pm – 6:50pm:
Terence’s flight did not arrive until 7:45pm, so I braved the first two screenings on my own. The first movie of the day was Jake Schreier’s indie sci-fi, Robot & Frank. Starring Frank Langella as — you guessed it — Frank, this small film is one part science fiction and two parts buddy flick. When Frank’s dementia becomes a hazard to his health and livelihood, his son brings him a gift from the present-future: a Robot that will attend to Frank’s every need, whether he obliges or not. At first Frank finds his new caretaker to be an uptight nuisance, but the two form an extraordinary bond of friendship as the film progresses. Supporting turns by Liv Tyler and James Marsden as Frank’s children are brief yet memorable, especially Tyler’s cloyingly liberal Madison. There’s a sweetness to this film that I very much enjoyed, but Christopher Ford’s screenplay is what shoots the highest in reach. It’s indelibly funny — “WARNING: Please do no molest me” has to be one of the most hilarious movie lines in awhile — and goes down a unique path to derive its drama. Did I also forget to mention Robot & Frank has one hell of a twist this side of The Sixth Sense. All in all, I’d definitely keep your eyes on this indie film when its August release comes around.
7:10pm – 8:35pm:
Next up was Timothy Greenfield-Sander’s About Face. This documentary from HBO Films provides us with several intimate interviews from the most recognizable faces of the modeling world. Everyone from Beverly Johnson, to Cheryl Tiegs and Carol Alt participate in the film, explaining how the modeling world not only affected their careers but also their self-image as women. Isabella Rosselini and Paulina Porizkova deliver the most brutally honest and interesting interviews, but it’s a shame that About Face never finds its concrete thesis or purpose. Does this documentary mean to attack the modeling profession or is it simply a film that wishes to recall the tumultuous history of the modeling industry in a pre-1990s world. Greenfield-Sanders’ intent remains unclear overall, and ultimately that lack of focus is what disappointed me the most. Excellent footage was taken from each interview with an infamous model, but they all seemed so anecdotal instead of collectively speaking out against the industry that made them a household name. The footage captured is workable for a better made-documentary concerning this very topic. Unfortunately, Greenfield-Sander’s About Face isn’t it.
10:10pm – 12:00am:
After rushing back from Dennys where Terence and I ate (it was the only cheap restaurant available that we didn’t have to wait ages for to get a table), we launched into André Téchiné’s Unforgivable. Let’s just say Terence was a lot more “unforgiving” of this particular international showcase than I was. To try and explain to you this disjunctive narrative would be futile, so suffice it to say that the film centers around a real estate agent and her writer lover, who both stay shacked up in a villa on the Italian island of Sant’Erasmo for one crazy summer. Unforgivable grapples with so many different stories that attempt to weave into one another, but the process of coalescence is sloppily executed and, as Terence noted, “poorly edited” together. Yet, for some bizarre reason, I was intrigued by the chaos and randomness of the whole movie. I don’t want to give anything away until my review, because there are a lot of shocking moments within this particular Italian story, but I thought the film succeeded in its ability to contrast the beauty, warmth, and magnificence of Italy with its several dark subject matters. Terence believes the film’s narrative could be brought over to the states, but I disagree. The frenzy and sexual abandon that’s contained in the film feels slightly more authentic and digestible in a European setting. You get this sense that Europeans live life on the edge, doing whatever they please to do because they have the freedom to do so. I don’t believe an American-produced film that replicates this exact narrative would portray their characters so uncouthly and amoral. Europe is far more forgiving in this regard, as was I when it came to the flawed characters and haphazard story of Téchiné’s Unforgivable.
Well everyone, it is time for me to get some shut-eye. Terence and I will be heading back to the festival tomorrow, so stay tuned for our full report on Day Eight. As always, it’s been a pleasure reporting on the day’s events. Hope you all enjoy reading!