Frame of Mind: AFI FEST
The sound of bones crunching against a tree, as a man's body tumbles down an unforgiving hill; not once, but twice. This is the sound that haunts you after watching Lone Survivor, superseding the gunfire, explosions, helicopter propellers, and painful screams of four men being ambushed in Afghanistan by Taliban forces. It could easily go unnoticed, this sound, if it were not blatantly on display, or if the scene was anything less than horrific. The success of displaying the carnage, the way in which each man's body was pummeled, bruised, battered, and riddled with gunfire, is to show the perseverance they displayed, the outward courage of these Navy SEALs, that takes on an entirely new level of empathy from the viewer.
Greed, blackmail, sex, and...butter. These are the four components that make-up Director Jim Field Smith's quirky movie aptly titled Butter. Set in the oh-so-americana State of Iowa, where State Fairs do indeed still exist, there is the royal family of butter carvers, the Picklers. Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell) has been the Iowa State champion of butter carvers for the past fifteen years, his crowning achievement's include 'The Last Supper' and 'T-Rex Eating Girl', plus the impressive 'Shindler's List'. It is his wife Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner) who has been by his side the entire time, making sure Bob achieves greatness, and doing her part to maintain the utmost of poise as the First Lady of butter carvers.
Shakespearian plays have been adapted for the screen time and time again. "Othello", "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Tempest", the list goes on an on and the familiarity for a viewer with these stories is established before they ever enter the theatre. "Coriolanus" is a lesser know, and lesser adapted, play Shakespeare wrote. Well-known actor Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort in Harry Potter) in his first directorial effort has adapted "Coriolanus", with a screenplay by John Logan into a modern-day political film, while maintaining the original shakespearian dialogue.
Every year at AFI FEST there are films placed in the Special Screenings section of the program. They are films with distribution in place, and will become available for the general public to see in the coming weeks or months. Jeff, Who Lives At Home was a part of this special screening section and will be opening in theatres in March of 2012 thanks to Paramount Vantage. The newest film from The Duplass Brothers, who have been festival darlings in the past with The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and last year's Cyrus, is in the style of The Duplass Brothers who like to make movies about people and relationships, with an offbeat sly humor. Jeff, Who Lives At Home keeps with their traditional themes, and continues to provide the more subtle, and not so subtle, humor we come to expect from them.
Making himself known as a man who enjoys making movies about damaged souls in uniform, Director Oren Moverman departs from the military of his 2009 film The Messenger to focus on a cop in the Los Angeles Police force in Rampart. Taking place during the Rampart scandals of 1999, scandals that forever changed the Los Angeles Police Department, when police officers were implicated in acts of misconduct, including planting evidence, unprovoked beatings and shootings, perjury, and covering up evidence. These were dark days in the city of Angels, and amidst all of the greater scandal Rampart takes a look at one officer's own personal struggles, on the force and at home.
AFI FEST 2011 Film Review: Carré Blanc (Dir. Jean-Baptiste Léonetti 2011 France, Luxembourg, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland)
As a feature film directing debut, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti's Carré Blanc is sure to make a strong impression on the filmmaking community, and the impressionable audience member who wanders into this dystopian view of the world's future. Shown as part of the World Cinema section at the 2011 AFI FEST, Carré Blanc is a relatively short film by festival standards, at only 80 minutes, but the impact of the film, both stylistically and theoretically, will have you thinking about it for much longer.
AFI FEST 2011 Film Review: With Every Heartbeat (Kyss mig) (Dir. Alexandra-Therese Keining Sweden 2011)
Writer/director Alexandra-Therese Keining's With Every Heartbeat was presented at AFI FEST 2011 as part of the Breakthrough section. Keeping in line with the excellence of Swedish films of the past, and present, Keining presents an intimate portrayal of love being found in the unlikeliest of places and at a time neither person expects--the two people in question just happen to be women, one openly gay and the other engaged to a man. A true triumph for the LGBT cause, the film portrays love as love is in it's natural form, disregarding much of what could have been a proclamation for equal rights on gender issues that only makes its a stronger piece of filmmaking in the process.
As part of the Special Screenings section of the 2010 AFI FEST, Made In Dagenham held the promise of a rousing tribute to the women of Dagenham, England, who in 1968 went on strike against Ford Motor Company to demand equal pay to the men employed at the factory. This Norma Rae type film ended up being a practically disgraceful representation of this proud moment in women's history.
The Weather Station (Pryachsya) is structured with two alternating storylines, one in the present and the other in the past. When a distress call is made from the station a team of investigators is sent to help. Upon arrival they find the station deserted and any signs of how or why everyone is missing are not present. As the two agents uncover evidence or conjecture hypothesis' about what occurred the film expertly shifts into flashbacks using fantastic cross cutting editing techniques, as well as match-on-action, to reveal the answers. But only partial answers are ever given as just as quickly as the film moves from present to past it moves back again to the present from the past. This deliberate withholding of all the facts keeps the mystery going and maintains the viewer's interest as twists in the story appear to occur constantly.
Shown during the midnight movie portion of AFI FEST, 2010, Cargo is the first ever science fiction film from Switzerland. Made over a period of eight years it has the much needed visual style to compete with the more mainstream science fiction films and enough mystery and suspense to appease the casual viewer.
Adapted from the stage play of the same name, the film Rabbit Hole examines the ways in which a married couple cope with the loss of their 4-year old son. Moving away from the initial aftermath of such an emotional and life-changing loss the story takes place eight months after his death. It focuses on what happens as days go by, and how we as people move forward when unexpected and unforseen actions rip apart our simple existence.
The pattern and main theme surrounding the film Rubber is an homage to the no reason. As the introduction states, "Life itself is filled with no reason". There is no reasoning behind why a rubber tire would suddenly gain consciousness; nor does there have to be. Such is the draw to the film Rubber: to try and make sense of it only plays into the idea of life being full of things beyond reasoning. Sometimes you just have to commit to the fact that there is no explanation. There is no actual reason for an event or an action. It just happens. Just as a group of people watching a rubber tire go on a desert killing spree just happens.
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A new short film competition was announced today, "Show Us The Way," created by the Levi’s® brand in alliance with AFI Fest and AFI Conservatory. To enter the contest filmmakers will submit a story treatment for the chance to produce a five-minute short film about a better tomorrow. This new contest was announced at the AFI Alumni Reception during the Sundance Film Festival.