We Are Watching
That's the theme of this year's Newport Beach Film Festival. The volunteers' T-shirts say that on the back. It's kind of creepy. Even creepier after you watch the commercial for it:
We Are Being Watched 2016 NBFF Commercial
What we really wanted to write about today was the great films being screened and to encourage you to buy tickets before you can’t. Tickets really are selling. Some films are very popular. Three screenings of Dirty Old Wedge have sold out already.
She reports she learned a great deal about the art of film making by watching so many submissions. We could write a long article about that, but we'll touch on just two aspects.
Story and characters are everything. A viewer can overlook poor production values if sucked into what is happening on the screen. If one isn’t, all one notices is stuff like the crappy acting, the slightly off set decoration and inattention to detail in props (actors drinking out of empty coffee cups).
Editing is critical. It’s clear that too many filmmakers can’t, or won’t, cut anything out so films are often much longer than they should be. It must be hard to leave something you love on the cutting room floor, but if you want a good, taut film some things just have to be cut out. Disney cut out whole songs when he recognized they cut the flow. When they put one back in the extended cut of Beauty and the Beast it brought the whole film to a halt. Cutting it was the right choice.
One film, The Dynamic Double Standard, really impressed her and she's been telling us for months we have to see it. Festival rules prohibited her from showing us her review copy. We were all disappointed that it wasn't scheduled. Maybe we'll find out why it wasn't. It was shown at the Hollywood Film Festival.
Here’s the Festival programs we recommend based on the films we previewed.
Battalion Wednesday 2:30 Edwards Big Newport program page 132
Who knew the Russians had a woman general in World War 1? Or an all-female battalion that actually fought in the trenches? This is a wonderful movie about an incredible group of Russian women. It is not a typical war movie and the women are not stereotypes.
Jackson Pollock’s Mural (playing with True Believer) Thursday 5 pm Fashion Island Cinemas. page 119 in the program.
A good documentary about an important painting. I did not know the University of Iowa had been in the forefront of abstract impressionism, or that the CIA used exhibits of that kind of art to highlight the artistic freedom available in the US.
Return to Cape St. Francis Several showings. page 106 in the program.
Revisiting The Endless Summer.
Counting Backwards: Every mother's nightmare is effectively portrayed through the eyes of three generations. This is a real horror story with a triumphant ending. It is not a women's story, it is every gender's. The men were as affected as the woman, maybe more so because they cherish their daughters. This film is the best one I've watched as a reviewer.
Three Year Three Month Retreat (Lo Sum Choe Sum): A young woman deals with her past.
The right person for the job (La Bonne Personne pour L'Emploi: An elderly job applicant faces a condescending jerk at a job center. The twist ending made me cheer.
Maurice: I really cared about Maurice. Isn't that what a film is supposed to make you do? The actor who played him was excellent.
The Spirit of Iris It is so refreshing to have the subject of a doc narrate it. She's s great storyteller and a remarkable lady.
The Trials of Constance Baker Motley How refreshing to watch a film about a civil rights leader who is serious, humorous and well reasoned instead of the strident, angry leaders of today. How much she accomplished. How supportive was her husband. What a great story about a great woman.
Short Dream Chasers Monday 8:15 The Triangle, program page 91. Some great short films, including:Selling Rosario This one made me cry. Nothing is what it seems in this film.
Nelly The little girl was excellent. The scenes of the car in the snow were breathtaking. Fabulous cinematography.
Shorts for Shorties L Monday 11:00 am Fashion Island. Family oriented short films like:
Aria for a Cow An animated musical short featuring a previously unreleased song by Howard Ashman & Alan Menken. It’s everything you love in a Disney musical.
Scaredy Bat A tired frog and a bat that's afraid of the dark. A great combination.
Lost & Shortly Found Tuesday 5:00 The Triangle. Pages 189-190 in the program. Shorts like this one:
Avo: The little boy in this film. What he does is totally believable. Kids do things like this.
From Land to Short Sea Docs Saturday 11 am The Triangle, page 186-188. Wonderful short documentaries, including this favorite:
The Cajun Navy An inspiring film about the Louisianans who smuggled their boats into New Orleans after Katrina and rescued people from flooded homes, evading and defying authorities.
Mixed Short Bag Sunday 3:30 The Triangle, program page 192. Artistic shorts including:
The Five Minute Museum The history of man in fleeting images.
Made in California Shorts Monday 3 pm Fashion Island, program page 190. Includes two of my favorite shorts:
The House is Innocent We’ve all heard of the Sacramento landlady who murdered her tenants and continued cashing their government checks. This is the story of the people who bought her house.
Welcome to the Last Bookstore The decor with the books is amazing, like the typewriter hanging from the ceiling with roll of paper flying behind it or the half-arches of books. It was interesting hearing what they found in books. The warehouse is amazing.