2008 BESTS OF THE FESTS

Rory’s Picks

Callback: The Unmaking of Bloodstain

A comedy off the red carpet of Hollywood that’s actually funny, and also disturbing, as it pokes around in the doomed making of an indie film in the area. Just hope for a DVD release, and in the meantime, snoop around at the official site.

Yesterday Was a Lie

The triumphant return of film noir. I said, “THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF FILM NOIR!” Seek it out. It may be coming to a film festival in your area, and hopefully it’ll find its way in some theaters, or at least on DVD. For now, immerse yourself in the film’s moody atmosphere at the official site.

Confusions of an Unmarried Couple

Keep your loved one close to you for this piercing look at a relationship in tatters. But don’t be surprised if that loved one looks at you quizzically, or vice versa, if the dialogue starts to sound familiar. Netflix doesn’t have it, so if you’re curious and want to spend the price of a matinee movie ticket, purchase it on the Butler Brothers’ website.

Pete’s Picks

The Order of Myths

Mardi Gras is familiar to most of us, but most of us probably aren’t aware that the first city to hold the ceremony was Mobile, AL. The tradition continues today, albeit divided into two ceremonies – one white, one black. Margaret Brown’s excellent doc examines both and suggests that healing the past may start with a single gesture.

The Stanton Family Grave Robbery

Mark Potts shot this movie about three brothers spiriting their deceased father to Oklahoma from the hated state of Texas for burial for less than $5,000, and it has more laughs and heart than anything Adam Sandler or Steve Martin has made with 2,000X the funds in the last ten years.

Year at Danger

Little can prepare you for Steve Metze’s uncensored, unexpurgated account of life on the ground at FOB “Danger” near Tikrit, Iraq. In an era of heavily edited and sanitized wartime coverage, the footage on display here is…something else. From attempts to frag a superior officer to tearful reunions with family, this may very well be the best documentary of the year. And none of you saw it.

Don’s Picks

Woodpecker

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker was once thought extinct. Yet a few sketchy sightings of the bird rejuvenated a small Arkansas town and caused birders worldwide to fly into a tizzy at the prospect of the reemergence of the bird. Filmmaker In “Woodpecker,” Alex Karpovsky took two wacky dudes and placed them in the center of the action as they too try to capture the bird on film. This doc/narrative hybrid is hysterical and I’m frankly shocked the film has been so scarce on people’s radars, especially distribution wise. Maybe mention here will cause an Ivory Billed Woodpecker type of rush on the film.

Wellness

Jake Mahaffy’s “Wellness” is a little film with huge insights into human behavior. Everyone wants to get rich but the sad truth is if you aren’t by age forty, barring some lottery inspired luck, you won’t be. But that never stops anyone from trying, even when the writing is on the wall that they should. “Wellness” follows salesman Thomas Lindsay on a crappy sales trip in which his product, and life, slowly crumbles in his hands. “Wellness” is an excellent film done on a shoestring budget, but great acting and understated innuendo make for an outstanding cinematic trip.

Happy Birthday, Harris Malden

If you like quirky, strange and funny indie films, you really can’t do better than the zany “Happy Birthday, Harris Malden.” Comedy troupe “Sweaty Robot” conjure up a tale of brotherly love centered around the title characters birthday and affection for crazy fake moustaches. Don’t believe me that the flick’s funny? Well download it on Amazon or iTunes right now and tell judge for yourself.

Yeast

I’m a sucker for movies that make you crawl in your seat due to the discomfort brought on by characters onscreen. It takes a special filmmaker to craft out characters that will mix like neo-cons at an Obama rally, find actors to play them and then wind them up and let em go. Mary Bronstein does all that stuff in her awkward, painfully and funny debut feature “Yeast.” The DVD is available at Amazon and wherever fine DVDs are sold so check it out and prepare to feel the pain.




Posted on January 9, 2009 in Features by
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