So I’m sitting at the table in a friend’s apartment, drinking a gin and tonic, and listening to this guy count off all of the women he’s had sex with in an effort to prove a point to his wife. And then I realize that I haven’t written a review yet today. I sure as hell can’t write about this experience (awkward), but I did do something else today. I made my schedule for this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival.
As someone relatively new to the cinephilia game I am actually a film festival virgin. The LA Film Fest will be my first, and I’m taking things slow; I purchased a ten-ticket package, rather than a pass. Part of that deal is selecting your movies in advance. That’s a tough call to make, especially when you don’t know anything about the films, save the artists behind them and a short summary of each. The task was daunting, to say the least. Luckily some fellow commenters over at The Dissolve had some helpful advice. Specifically: see things you won’t be able to see otherwise, and see things that sound interesting.
It’s good advice. I don’t need to see that Justin Long/Emmy Rossum movie because it will be playing at the Arclight or a Laemmle in a few months. Or it will be bad and it won’t play anywhere. Bullet dodged. So I chose to take a few risks.
First I searched out the movies the festival describes as “the beyond.” These are the “films that dare to be different.” They are the kind of movies that may not see distribution, or at least may not see a run in a theater. This year’s Beyond slate includes Giuseppe Makes a Movie (seemingly a meta doc/narrative hybrid), Jossy’s (a Power Rangers parody), and The Well (a post-drought-apocalypse thriller). Each one sounds super weird. They could be bad – hell, they could be terrible – but they’ll certainly be interesting.
I also chose this year’s “film that got away,” Caterpillar. A 2010 Japanese film, Caterpillar was an award-winner at that year’s Berlin Film Festival. It got a release in the US, but not much fanfare
That’s one thing that film festivals should also be: aside from just a showcase for new films, a festival should celebrate what has come before. Unfortunately I could not make the retro screening of Friday work, but I did manage to fit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon into my schedule. My parents took me to see Ang Lee’s 2000 film when it was released, but it was way more nuanced than my 10-year-old brain was prepared for. It is probably time to revisit the film in proper fashion.
So with five slots filled, it was time to look to the rest of the festival to fill out my package. First stop is the international showcase. There’s a lot of interesting choices in this year’s selection, but restrictions only permit so much. In the end I made reservations for Joy of Man’s Desiring (a Canadian film-poem to industry), The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (a French fictionalization account of the titular event, described as akin to the work of Charlie Kauffman), and Violette (a French biopic that alleges to shun all the conventions of the genre). Again, who knows if I made the right choices, but that kind of makes the whole thing more interesting.
With only two more slots to fill I chose one film each from the Documentary and Narrative Competitions. The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest is a documentary about a man famous for his 18 prison escape attempts. As a huge Houdini-head this one was a no-brainer. Man From Reno is a US-Japanese co-production about a crime novelist and a small town sheriff attempting to solve a murder mystery. If that doesn’t sound like the best thing ever then you may be a lost cause.
The 20th Los Angeles Film Festival runs June 11th through June 19th at the Regal Cinema in LA Live. It may not be Cannes or Sundance, but it’ll do for my first time. Hopefully it’s gentle. But not too gentle. This is gonna be fun.