Little Rock Film Festival 2009: More Films
LRFF organizers say attendance numbers have more than doubled over last year's festival. Part of the reason has to be the high quality of films screening. Here are some of my favorites.
Daryl Wein (Breaking Upwards) & Logan Miller (Touching Home) at LRFF Picnic
Think about this scenario: You've never written a screenplay. You've never directed a film. You've never acted in a film. Heck, you've never even been a grip. Try taking that resume and making a film with it, starring veteran actor Ed Harris. That is exactly what co-directors Logan and Noah Miller have done with Touching Home. Based on the true story of the Miller Brothers' relationship with their alcoholic father (played by Harris) the twin brothers play themselves and are surprisingly good. Filmed at and around their home in Marin County, north of San Francisco, the story focuses on the boys' attempts to become professional baseball players while coping with the deterioration of their father's life. If the film wasn't enough, the Miller brothers have also penned a book about their journey called "Either You're In Or You're In the Way" and are plugging both through radio and television talk shows.
Daryl Wein (writer/director/actor) and Zoe Lister Jones (writer/actor) have made a film loosely based on their real life relationship and the attempt to strategically implement an endgame to that relationship. Instead of just immediately calling it quits they take days off from each other while searching for whatever it is they feel they don't already have. The film was an instant crowd favorite winning the Audience Award. Four Eyed Monsters displayed a similar storyline a few years ago although in a much more documentary style. Breaking Upwards succeeds at bringing the romantic comedy genre into the 21st century.
(500) Days of Summer
With bigger names, and a definitely larger budget, (500) Days of Summer covers some of the same territory as Breaking Upwards. The Zooey Deschanel/Joseph Gordon Levitt romcom has been impressing critics on the festival circuit over the past few months, beginning with Sundance where my Paste colleague Rob Davis saw it. Since his astute opinion pretty much echoes my own I suggest checking his review here.
Like all festivals, there is a shorts program. The surprise is how popular they have been. Much of the emphasis falls on local films like these two:
Home Field Advantage
Graham Gordy, screenwriter for last year's best narrative War Eagle, Arkansas, made his directorial debut with this entertaining piece on the interruption of a wedding. Written by Nick and Clay Rogers a disgruntled, drunken, "big hitter" ex-lover challenges the baseball pitcher bridegroom to a duel of pitches. Some able performances and an unexpected ending sold me on this one.
Employing a simple story of a tragic loss as a vehicle for some dynamic imagery director Hans Stiritz makes creative use of the seasons to contrast life and death within a family. Some extremely thoughtful and expressive cinematography.