Frame of Mind: Anaheim International Film Festival (AIFF)
Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) comes from a family of assassins with a long legacy of deadeye pride. His mother (Eileen Atkins), who he has recently moved into a retirement home after living with her all his life, is none too pleased Victor has heretofore failed to produce an heir to continue the family trade. Lonely, exacting, socially awkward and approaching his fifty-fifth birthday, Victor is a failure. (The fact that he's the most ruthlessly efficient and expensive assassin in London does not seem to impress dear, old ma.) But when Victor is hired to kill Rose (Emily Blunt), a beautiful thief on the wrong side of an elegant criminal (Rupert Everett), it seems his legacy problems might be solved.
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, the stunning debut feature from twenty-five year old writer/director Damien Chazelle, harkens back to a time when intimate, docu-realist love stories were common and the lines between film genres weren’t so rigid. Chazelle’s film feels both classic and thrillingly new, something we haven’t seen much of since the French New Wave pioneered that kind of storytelling more then fifty years ago. Guy and Madeline is a love story set to music, scored by the jazz that he (trumpeter Jason Palmer) plays and she (Desiree Garcia) longs to share.
American writer/director Aaron Schock wanted to make a documentary about a traveling circus, but in the U.S. that kind of entertainment is a relic of a bygone era. So, he went to Mexico. The subject of Schock’s film, La Gran Circo de Mexico, is nowhere near as majestic as its name, consisting only of members of the Ponce family who can trace back their participation in the circus business a century. The leader of the family now, Tino Ponce, is a man determined to live and die by the circus.
Mandrill is a rollicking B-movie exploitation flick from Chile that gleefully references everything cool in espionage and action cinema, from James Bond to 1970s exploitation and kung fu movies. As a boy, Antonio Espinoza witnessed the murder of his parents by a ruthless gangland boss named Cyclops. Now a man, Antonio has adopted his own one-named moniker, Mandrill, and a similar profession as a highly stylized, highly efficient assassin for hire. Still on the hunt for Cyclops, Mandrill (Marko Zaror) tracks him to Peru, where he falls for his beautiful and dangerous daughter Dominic (Celine Reymond). The pair fall in love but mixing business with pleasure is never easy, as Mandrill soon discovers.
“The law is the law, but men enforce it.” That line is said to Judge Tian (Ni Dahong), a fair and honest court official dealing with the sudden death of his daughter in a car accident. Tian is presiding over the case of Qiu Wu, a poor young man accused of stealing two cars, a crime punishable in China in 1997 (when the film takes place) by death. Tian’s heartbreak is compacted by the lack of closure in his daughter’s case: there are no suspects and the only detail of the crime is that she was killed by a stolen car. Thus the moral dilemma in Judge (Touxi), from co-writer and director Liu Jie: what is fair judgment?
Twenty-two year old Aura has just come home from college in Ohio with a degree in film theory and no idea what to do with herself. “I’m in a post-graduate delirium,” she says. Tiny Furniture plays like a post-graduate, post-The Graduate--quarter-life crises of Woody Allen if Woody Allen was a twenty-two year old girl.
If I tried to explain to you the plot of Troll 2 you would not believe me. Many have tried to dissect the nonsensical structure and chaotic visual style that's rendered it notorious; either for its outrageous ineptitude or its towering avant-garde genius, depending on your point of view. Whatever your flavor of fanaticism, Best Worst Movie attempts to document the phenomenon of the unlikely cult surrounding Troll 2, the 1990…let’s use “film” loosely, which seems to have replaced classics like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space as the coveted Worst Movie Ever Made.
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