We just tied the Nakedjen Film Festival 2013 up with a very pretty pink glittery bow (because, well, it's my festival and I like pink and glitter) and while I know that all of you are sitting there wondering why you were not even on the guest list nor informed that it was happening, let me explain quickly that the NJFF is rather spontaneous. I can assure you that it happens, but even the films that appear in it never know they're a part of it until, well, perhaps they appear in the reviews afterwards or on the screening schedule during the festival itself and even that schedule is subject to change because of seating availability.
Nothing like throwing a festival where you just wing it. And invite whomever happens to be available to join you. One person who is always up for it is my dear friend, Dave Winer. He has been a constant for at least the last seven years. I appreciate that he is a NJFF patron and is always willing to participate. That's one of the key principals of a festival, you know? It isn't just about showing up. It's about participating and offering your own gifts.
The NJFF happened this year in Salt Lake City and included six films. One was even selected because it was appropriate for LilSalty to see as he also wanted to participate. Dave flew from NYC to Salt Lake and I'm going to be the first to admit that while I was at first skeptical that we could have a fun festival in this town (yes, I realize that SUNDANCE happens here, but this is the NJFF and I'm even more particular about my festivals than they happen to be) we absolutely managed to make it happen. Proving, again, that it's the people, after all, and their hearts that always matter.
Since this was a film festival a few quick reviews for you. These are all my own thoughts, of course, and Dave has shared his over on his blog.
I realize there's a lot of controversy surrounding this film and Orson Scott Card. While I understand the controversy, I do not believe that seeing the film actually acts as a support of Orson Scott Card's personally held political agendas or beliefs.
I actually enjoyed the film. Of course it could be much better, but I went in to it with very, very low expectations. Like bottom of the barrel low. I was entertained and I'm a film goer who rarely even signs on for sci-fi films. Let this be your own barometer. I'm guessing that most people are going to not really love this film at all. The heavy sci-fi folks will find all kinds of reasons to dislike it and the ones who truly LOVE the book will also find all kinds of things wrong with it. You know who will love it? LilSalty. I'm sorry that he did not go with us, actually. But we saw it on a school night way past his bedtime. At the end of the day, though, I'd only give it 2.5 stars. So, you see? Not the BEST, but not horrible.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2
We saw this with LilSalty. He loved it. He's 8. It's not nearly as good as the first one, but it is a visual treat. I appreciated the small snarky bits at Silicon Valley and I liked some of the very creative food puns, but it was NOISY. Yes, NOISY. LilSalty likes NOISY and he really did love it so it is a great film for the 8 year old set. Both he and Dave came out of the film wanting a hamburger. Go figure.
I had a real nightmare after seeing this film. That rarely happens, but it was that violent. It is, though, truly fantastic and disturbing and I don't understand why the critics panned it in all the ways that they did. I do not find this film the WORST OF THE YEAR by a long shot. I think it is crafty and compelling and the kind of film that crawls under your skin and makes you itch. There are absolutely no redeeming characters, but there are still valuable lessons to be taken away. That is why we watch film. To experience stories that we might not otherwise experience. This film comprises many of those stories.
12 YEARS A SLAVE
This is a film that is ultimately about survival. The brush strokes are bold, brash, at times very disturbing and extreme, and there's a clear reminder here that we're still a very young country with many mistakes in our not so distant past. We know from the opening moment that this is a true story. While the acting is superb and there are moments when this film truly delivers, the script is unable to hold you all the way through. It's Solomon's story, but we already know Solomon's story and what we're given are too many other opportunities to care, but not truly know and understand the very real people who loved and supported Solomon as he lived as a slave in Louisiana.
ALL IS LOST
We have a man on a boat. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. We really know nothing more about him than that he likes to sail alone and that he really likes to be alone. But it is all we really need to know.
If you had told me that I'd enjoy watching a survival film for more than an hour and half with Robert Redford alone on a boat lost at sea, I'd probably have laughed loudly and told you to take another shot of whatever it was you were drinking. I would also have been very wrong.
ALL IS LOST is truly a compelling film. I do not want to tell you much more than to say that the ocean is one of the very large and beautiful characters, that Redford has always been one of our best actors, and that there is no dialogue in this film. At the end of our lives our own existence is only ever as good as what we ourselves have chosen to make of it.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
This film hit me right smack in the middle of my heart. It's a rare film that does that, but when it does, I want to grab everyone I know and ask them to please go see it. Of course, I also realize that not everyone will love it in the same way that I love it. What I can say is that the script is well written and there's a story here worth telling. Despite it being a historical film about the early days of the AIDS epidemic, it's a story that bears repeating, over and over again, because it also absolutely tells a very intimate story about drug trials, medical advocacy, the FDA, big pharma and how groups of small concerned citizens can, in fact, change the world.
I'm going to surprise everyone and tell you that Matthew McConaughey has been working his whole life to give us this performance and Jared Leto (did you know he was in FIGHT CLUB?!) also shows up and takes your breath quite literally away.
It's truly one of the best films of the year so far and given where we are with our medical community, Obamacare and as a country, I believe it can add to the conversation in an intelligent way. I think film should also do that, as we know. There's a complete rainbow here, and it's a club I think we should all join.