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The Phoenix Film Festival centered in Scottsdale, Arizona brought me to emotional heights. While I did handwrite full reviews for each film, for now, I’ll simply rate the films I saw in reverse (countdown) order with just general opinions. Once they come to the Sarasota area, I’ll post the full length reviews. Will CAP titles for understanding.
Two films I left, and unlike Willie Nelson, (a To all the Girls I’ve Loved Before” reference) have no remorse.
THE PAIN BEHIND THE EYES, soap opera in plot, not horrendous, but the acting was B level and I just didn’t care enough about the shallow lifestyle of the characters.
EVERYTHING WENT FINE, (Francois Ozon), sorry Ozon, I loved Swimming Pool and Peter Von Kant was very good, but this seemed taxing.
Now the completed films, again in reverse order of enjoyment:
LAUREN AND ROSE, (Russell Brown) had a showing at LAST year’s @SFF, but playing at this one, I assume due to Covid taking away it’s steam. I had this verified by other film fest goers, but the pacing and mystical music score had me lucid dreaming at least once. I wanted to love the premise, being a foodie and the film being structured as a meal. I also love flirtatious conversations. I respect Jacqueline Bisset as well. Kelly Blatz though as well as the restaurateur were the weak links, I just saw them acting. There wasn’t enough chemistry nor anything new in the story.
MY TWO MOMS: A SEPARATION (Olga Merediz) Gorgeous doc about a woman taken from her nanny before the Castro take over of Cuba and their poignant reunion. What we learn about our parents looking back as adults in hindsight is certainly eye opening. The only quibble I had were the multiple endings.
A FLEETING ENCOUNTER (Romed Wyder) A narrative about a man moving back into the house his family owns after a breakup. The house also has borders who come and go. Enter a mysterious Muslim woman, Chemistry ensues. Excellent acting and inventive story telling. A gallant effort and when the second border arrives, an American woman, the piece certainly makes us look like doofuses. Maybe we are.
SPINNING GOLD (Timothy Scott Bogart) written and directed by the son of the subject, this is a hero worship piece with a capital H. Problems include, starting the film with the narrator/star, Jeremy Jordan, explaining to us all that’s going to happen in the film. Like most self-help books, just show us darn it! Problem two: the white messiah is laid on way too thickly in two parts: The Isley Brothers and Donna Summer subplots. Refuse to ruin it for you, watch it ad be appalled. Let’s just say Justin Timberlake had been cast to play the lead and he probably backed out for obvious reasons. Oh, but what’s great? Every actress and actor who can really sing playing the rolls of the real life singers of Kiss, Isley Brothers and Donna Summer (Tayla Parks!). We all love our dad’s though so there is that.
LITTLE RICHARD (Lisa Cortes) Fantastic celebrity narrators and brilliant archival footage. Fantastic and deserving!
The man battled what he had had drilled into him as a child, but his true self kept rising and shining. The film makes you root for those times when he was his true gay self.
I LIKE MOVIES (Chandler Levack) I smiled throughout the entire film at the witty film references and terrific acting. This is a coming of age, vulnerable human film that I hope makes a bigger release. Gorgeous. Canadian. Heartfelt.
SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS (Ray Romano) A feast of acting by Laurie Metcalf, Ray Romano, Jennifer Esposito and Sebastion Maniscalpo. The only problem is the lack of artistic cinematography and half way decent score. Co-written by Ray and Mark Stegemann, the story and acting though are a 10+ all day long!
STILL: MICHAEL J. FOX, THE MOVIE (David Guggenheim) Guggenheim should win his second Oscar for this (his first An Inconvenient Truth). The movie is perfect in every way, artistically and story telling, I was moved many many times. A beautifully written and humbly candid self-portrait.