Wednesday, September 12, 2007

BFF: Boston Film Festival Preview

I've got a weird sort of relationship with the Boston Film Festival. It's the first one I ever attended, back in 2001, and that was the first time anyone saw fit to publish any of my reviews on-line (there's probably an excited anonymous review of Brotherhood of the Wolf somewhere in the Ain't It Cool archives). It was a fun festival, with a couple dozen features and documentaries, five short film blocks, and one or two big name guests every year. Nobody else paid it much attention, with the Toronto Film Festival going on at the same time, so it was kind of mine.

They're also the only festival I attend that hasn't given me a media pass(*) yet - the old management hit me with a double whammy of "internet?" and "we do press screenings a month in advance so that there can be reviews written ahead of time"; the new guys just ignored me, at least up until today, probably figuring they'll get close to the same coverage and sixty or seventy of the dollars I earn at my day job this way. So some of the frustration I get looking at the festival's site probably comes from feeling snubbed. Although they did send me a press release today, so we'll see what happens when I show up for Grace Is Gone on Friday.

Of course, there are other aggravations - the website, for instance, which still doesn't list Grace as Gone anywhere as of 12pm on Thursday, and does list some movies that don't appear on the revised schedule I've received. So, two days before the festival starts, the primary resource most of us have for information about which movies are playing and when is incomplete, inaccurate, and difficult to read. (We will leave aside the big old non-skippable Flash intro that the site as a whole foists upon you). And some of the scheduling itself... Well, I'll vent about that when we get to Saturday.

Still, it's not a bad little festival. They've wisely moved it out of Toronto's way, the $10 tickets aren't much more expensive than what you'd pay at that particular theater anyway, and unless I misread the information I've been sent, every director will be on hand for Q&A, which is pretty nice. They've gotten more indie since when I first started going - they're on what I think is their third year under new management, but have a nice selection of things with recognizable names.

So, what are they offering? Here's what my email says, combined with a revised schedule posted Thursday (which still doesn't list Grace is Gone or High & Outside):

Friday 14 September 2007

7-ish - Grace Is Gone: This has been getting the tag of being a movie designed to get John Cusack an Oscar, but I'm okay with that; he's been a favorite and a workhorse for a long time. Director James Strouse scheduled to attend.

10pm - Opening Night Party. I haven't been to a festival party yet, and I don't know if I'll break the streak here, even though that's all that's going. After all, I don't drink, have a hard time picking out individual voices in a crowded room, and don't do this for a living, so networking isn't a big thing for me.

My Plan: Grace Is Gone, maybe the party. Depends how long a day at work it is.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

12pm - The Price of Sugar: A documentary narrated by Paul Newman about the sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic. I'm guessing it's somewhat more cynical than Rumbo a las Grandes Ligas. Director Bill Haney is scheduled to attend.

2:30pm - Calvin and Sweet Pea: A documentary featurette about the family of a woman with Alzheimer's disease. Director John Fletcher is scheduled to attend.

4pm - Mo: Erik Per Sullivan is a teenager now? Yikes. Apparently, he's playing a kid with a weak heart trying to fit into high school. Director Brian Lederman is scheduled to attend.

4pm - In The Crease: The BFF had pretty good luck with a movie about teen hockey last year, so it looks like their going to the well again. Director Michael Sarner is scheduled to attend.

7pm - Oldest Basketball Team in the World: Another sports documetary, this one about a team of women's seniors who wind up competing with younger teams in a tournament because there's no-one else in their age range. Director Sharon McGowan is scheduled to attend.

7:30pm and 10pm - Lars and the Real Girl: Wasn't there a movie very much like this at the Boston Fantastic Film Festival during its first year or two (Love Object)? Anyway, this movie about a man who falls for his RealDoll until he meets a flesh-and-blood woman has a nicer cast, including Ryan Gosling, Patricia Clarkson, and Emily Mortimer. Mortimer and director Craig Gillespie are scheduled to appear.

8pm - Jerry Weintraub Tribute with George Clooney: Am I spending $150 to watch Ocean's 13 with its star and producer? No. But I imagine that this is what pays the bills.

8:30pm - Team Everest: Disabled people attempt to make it to the Mount Everest base camp. Should look nice, at least, certainly going for "inspirational". Director Andy Cockrum scheduled to appear.

My Plan: The way Team Everest overlaps the two showings of Lars and the Real Girl annoys the heck out of me. I briefly considered some bizarre theater-hopping scheme where I watched the first forty-five minutes of Lars, switched to Everest, and then finished Lars. I'll probably wind up with Sugar, Mo, and Everest, maybe working Calvin and Oldest Basketball Team in the World in if they aren't used for meal breaks. Lars and the Real Girl, well, it's getting a theatrical release, so I'll wait.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

12pm - Come Walk in My Shoes and Lost and Found in Mexico: Two featurettes; one about the civil rights movement and one about American expatriots in Mexico. Directors Robin Smith and Caren Cross are scheduled to appear.

12pm - Short Program A: "AWOL", "Coney Island", "These Boots are Made for Walken", "A Driving Lesson", and "The Baglady Diaries".

3pm - The Union: The Business of Getting HIgh: Documentary about a nightclub owner investigating the marijuana business. Director Brett Harvey is scheduled to appear.

4pm and 9pm - Rails & Ties: Alison Eastwood (Clint's daughter) directs a drama about the aftermath of an accident involving a train. Eastwood and stars Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden are scheduled to attend.

5:30pm - Metrosexual: Didn't that term and stereotype run its course about five years ago? Still, Colm Meaney's got a supporting role; I hope he's the gruff counterweight to the title character. Director Adam Kaufman and star Shaun Benson are scheduled to attend.

6pm - Todd English & Bonfire party.

8:30pm - Good Luck Chuck: Part of "College Night" with Metrosexual, I guess. I have to admit, the commercials have amused me. I like pretty girls doing slapstick. Director Mark Helfrich and star Dane Cook are scheduled to attend.

My Plan: See what the shorts are, then The Union, Metrosexual, and Rails and Ties.

Monday, 17 September 2007

3:30pm - Street Cleaner, Rose, and CNN Hero: Mountain Top Removal: Two short thrillers and a documentary about coal mining. The directors of Street Cleaner and Mountain Top Removal, Nathaniel Nauert and Michael Cusack O'Connell, are scheduled to attend.

6pm - Short Program B: No breakdown of what the shorts are.

6pm - Bobby Dogs: An alcoholic opens a hot dog stand and turns his life around. Director T.K. Reilly is scheduled to attend.

8pm - Good Luck Chuck

8:30pm: The Poet: Rabbi's daughter and German soldier fall in love during WWII. Nice cast, including Daryll Hannah, Roy Scheider, and Colm Feore. Director Damien Lee and co-star Nina Dobrev are scheduled to attend.

My Plan: Depends how soon I can escape the day job. If it's early, then I'll see Bobby Dogs before The Poet.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

4pm - Short Program C: No breakdown of what the shorts are.

6pm - Everybody Wants to be Italian: A local production, with two non-Italians pretending to be Italian in the North End. Director Jason Todd Ipson and actors Jay Jablonski and John Kapelos are scheduled to appear.

6:30pm - Million Calorie March: Gary Marino documents his march from Florida to Boston to raise money to fight childhood obesity. Marino is scheduled to appear.

8:30pm - Stiffs: Black comedy about funeral home operators trying to save their business; set and filmed in Boston. Stars some familiar B-listers (Danny Aiello, Jon Polito, and Lesley Ann Warren). Director Frank Ciota and Aillo are scheduled to attend.

7pm - Trade: Kevin Kline helps a 17-year-old boy investigate the kidnapping of his sister by sex traffickers. It's been a while since I've seen Kline in something good. Direcotr Marco Kreuzpaintner and actress Alicja Bachleda are scheduled to attend.

My Plan: Try to get out of work in time to get to Everybody Wants to be Italian, then probably Stiffs, although Trade looks pretty good.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

4pm - Greetings From the Shore: A girl spends her last summer on the Jersey Shore before leaving for college, and apparently has some adventures. Director Greg Chwerchak, star Kim Shaw, and co-star David Fumero are scheduled to attend.

7pm - Take: Drama about two people who meet and during a tragedy; intercut with that day is another day several years later, with Minne Driver. Director Charles Oliver and Adam Rodriguez are scheduled to attend.

7:15pm - In The Land of Merry Misfits and "Wondering William and the Sandman": A peculiar-sounding fantasy about a young man who wanders into a strange world where outcasts want him to help them capture the "Grail of Popularity". John Water narrates. Director Kevin Ungaro and Producer Maria Menounos are scheduled to attend.

9:30pm - Strength and Honour: Michael Madsen plays a former boxer who gets back in the ring to raise money for his sick son. Director Mark Mahon and Madsen are scheduled to attend.

9:30pm - In the World of Puppy Love: Wendy Diamond documents the search for a man with whom one can bond with as well as with one's dog. Diamond is scheduled to attend.

My Plan: Man, I wish I could get to Greetings From the Shore; maybe I can work from home that day. Otherwise, it's a coin flip between Take and Merry Misfits, then I'll probably go for Strength and Honour

Thursday, 20 September 2007

4pm - Golden Days: Documentary of an indie band versus the record industry. Director Chris Suchorsky is scheduled to attend.

5pm - Beyond the Call: Documentary of ex-soldiers delivering humanitarian aid into war zones. Director Adrian Belic is scheduled to appear.

7pm - "Who Ordered Tax"; no information about this short was found. Director Kevin Bright is scheduled to appear.

7:15pm: "Love Sees No Color": A twelve-minute musical shot around the world.

8pm: New York City Serenade: Two friends from New York scam their way into a Kansas City film festival. Some notable names in the cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Chris Klein, and Wallace Shawn as himself. Director Frank Whaley is scheduled to attend.

My Plan: Stupid day job; I'd really like to see one of the documentaries. Probably just New York City Serenade, then.

Friday, 21 September 2007

3pm - Short Program D: No information on the shorts is available.

6:30pm - High & Outside: Looks like another documentary about wacky ex-Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee (who'll attend along with Director Peter J. Vogt).

And? - Supposedly, other films will get encores.

My Plan: High & Outside, so far.

... And that's pretty much all I can find on it. I imagine all of this is subject to change (I remember seeing shows get rearranged for this festival a lot when it had a fuller schedule); hopefully I'll be able to leave work and get into town from Waltham enough to see and review most of these films.

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