Saturday, April 12, 2014

SFF Selections 2014: "Lies I Told My Little Sister"

Lies I Told My Little Sister * ½

      Imagine Tracy Lett's Pulitzer-prize winning August, Osage County as produced by the "Lifetime" network. Imagine Violet Weston's cancer being over-sentimentalized with sap lines like, "Anything could happen to anybody at any moment...", "She wasn't cast iron, no one's cast iron!", and the classic, "Every heart has its graveyard." Imagine Violet and Barbara's wrestling match taking place in the sand at a beach (looking like the actresses were in fear of harming one another) and ending in one straddling the other as they giggle. Imagine a romance cropping up mid-way to ultimately provide the story's emotional climax and conclusive resolution after grief, family reconciliation, and personal growth had been established as the plot's core themes. Imagine all these things and you will have a pretty clear picture of what sitting through Lies I Told My Little Sister is like.

Friday, April 11, 2014

SFF Selections 2014: Richard Ayoade's "The Double"

The Double * * * ½

     IT Crowd actor turned film-maker Richard Ayoade turns in his second directorial effort on the heels of official SFF selection Submarine's success with his deadpan Dostoevsky-inspired The Double. Jesse Eisenberg's Simon is easily the least noticed man on the planet. Working at quite possibly the worst-lit office of all time doing nondescript clerical work (either Tim Burton or a '40s-era private-eye seem primed to pop out of a cubicle at any given moment), in one scene he looks at a photograph of company-head "The Colonel" and it's notable that there's actually a reflection in the frame's glass. His own mother can't even pick him out in a television ad for his company, asking, "Which one was you?" Befuddled at how to reply, Simon bumbles, "I'm me!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

SFF Selections 2014: "The Congress"

The Congress * * * ½

     Having meticulously replicated the Wright-brothers' flying machines, real actress Robin Wright's fictitious son of The Congress brags, "I build in the world of jet planes and space ships." He is a living master in a dying field. Less a master of her own skill-set due to the "lousy choices" her agent incessantly references, the Robin Wright of The Congress is also in a dying field: acting. In the first of two scenes in which Wright's agent Al addresses her with a monologue -the camera transfixed as her face reacts (like in Birth's timeless long take or the newly minted classic shot of Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave), Wright's eyes silently expel tears as Al (a world-weary Harvey Keitel) says that the studio has only one more last chance to offer. This last chance is "scanning": the studio systems assumption that all actors are driven by money rather than artistry.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

SFF Selections 2014: "Mood Indigo" -All Style, No Substance

     Friday the 4th, Rory Kennedy's doc Last Days In Vietnam opened 2014's Sarasota Film Festival. Having skipped this year's opening night film, my interaction with this year's fest began last night at 6:00PM with the first of the 31 films/events that make up my itinerary. Up until this post's publishing, Rodney&Roger devotees may have noticed the blog's longest hiatus from regular postings in years...