Friday, May 22, 2015

IFFBoston 2015 Day #07: I'll See You in My Dreams and The Wolfpack

Today in "different priorities at film festivals", I talk about how I mostly try to prioritize movies that I might not otherwise be able to see, so when the last two days of IFFBoston come and it's basically "stuff that's already got distribution and will open on this very screen in a couple of weeks"... Well, it's cool that those coming for Q&As or to see things early got some of that.

"I'll See You In My Dreams" director Brett Haley

First up: I'll See You in My Dreams writer/director Brett Haley, who was genuinely thrilled about having gotten that distribution and had plenty of stories about how Blythe Danner was terrific to work with, especially since the song she chose for the karaoke scene (one she had sung in cafes herself when younger) fit the film so well. A lot of talk about being a younger guy making a film about older women as well.

Next up was Crystal Moselle, who made The Wolfpack, giving the sort of Q&A that I tend to think of as "frustratingly informative". A lot of questions were built from premises that it was easy to infer from the film but which are not actually the case - for example, it is very easy to assume that the family has lived in that apartment for the kids' entire lives, which is not what happened. We also learned that she met one of the kids on the street, after they had started going outside, and kind of followed him home. There were other things mentioned, such as why we don't see much of the sister (she's developmentally disabled, so the feeling is this would be exploitative).

It gave me a bit of a weird feeling - shouldn't this stuff have been in the movie? It's more interesting than a lot of stuff that was, after all! But, on the other hand, is it not in some ways very impressive editing that she was able to build the film that shuffled a lot of things that were not so important to the story she was looking to tell off to the side? Probably.

I'll See You in My Dreams

* * * (out of four)
Seen 28 April 2015 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #2 (Independent Film Festival Boston 2015, DCP)

Thing to ponder: I can put a note in my phone or computer that says "revisit I'll See You In My Dreams twenty-five years from now", and it could follow me from device to device over that time, and it will actually remind me to give this movie I liked well enough in 2015 another look with the proper amount of life experience. I like it; I'd like to see how much it speaks to me at that age.

It focuses on Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner), an independent widow in southern California. Though best friend Sally (Rhea Perlman) and the rest of their bridge game (June Squibb & Mary Kay Place) live in a nearby retirement community, she's still in her own home, which has its minuses, such as when a rat startles her into sleeping on the back porch. New pool cleaner Lloyd (Martin Starr) finds her and strikes up an unlikely friendship, later meeting up for karaoke. She and the new guy at the complex, Bill (Sam Elliott), also catch each other's eyes.

And that's kind of where things stay, for the most part; this isn't really about building to something as much getting snippets of Carol's life at what's not exactly a turning point but is maybe the most interesting it's been in a while. There are bits that could probably be popped out of the movie with little damage and others that have a bit of padding around moments that nudge things forward. It's a pace that can aptly be called "retiring", not exactly slow but with even the significant moments a bit muted. These people are at a point in their life where disastrous decisions are likely, and the movie reflects this.

Full review on EFC.

The Wolfpack

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 28 April 2015 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #2 (Independent Film Festival Boston 2015, DCP)

I suspect that film fans are going to talk The Wolfpack up more than it truly merits; the only thing we like more than an amazing story is meeting folks who love movies as much as we do, and there's no denying that this movie has both. The thing is, while "meeting" the Angulo brothers certainly makes one want to like the movie, I wonder how much it will hide the film's flaws to those who aren't the same sort of fanatics.

When director Crystal Moselle met the half-dozen brothers, they lived in a small New York apartment with their parents, home-schooled, almost never leaving the building. In many ways, their only connection to the outside world is through movies, which they love, devour, and meticulously recreate. They spend hours transcribing the dialog, building cardboard props, and putting together costumes, all within the confines of just a few rooms - but what happens when one finally gets the courage to go outside?

The first movie we see the boys recreating, right at the start, is Reservoir Dogs, and it's kind of interesting that Moselle starts with them re-enacting a Tarantino movie - as much as he's an extremely talented director, he is also famous for constructing his films from other bits of pop culture rather than creating things from whole cloth. Is there some significance to the fact that much of the first thing we're seeing is in some ways a copy of a copy?

Full review on EFC.

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