Saturday, January 11, 2014

IIFC 2014: Friday's films

by Nancy Borchers

            On the fourth day of Idyllwild 2014, we started with the shorts at the Rustic Theater. “Winds and Strings” was a short, well-made film with a predictable plot that everyone has experienced in one way or another. Not just “loved and lost” but made decisions that don’t turn out as well as desired. The actual piece, photography, sound, etc. was ok.
            “Black Dahlia Ballet” was a fascinating art piece. The color palette and score were both masterful. As a film with a plot, it was confusing; but as a work of art it was wonderful.
            “Steve’s Problem” with director, producer, writer Mike Lars White was the funniest film I’ve seen in years. I have nothing to compare it with in all the years I’ve enjoyed films. What a wild imagination, he has. Just when you think it will end and that it has been just great, Mike comes up with another idea and another and another and then he finally ties it all together. What a wild ride!! I love he just follows the extrapolations. He has a great future.
            “The 25,000 Mile Love Affair” was thought provoking in that it is nice to do what you love for a good cause. I really don’t understand masochism even when it is for a good cause. What was the “love”: For each other, the children, the journey, the physical challenges? The film was engrossing and the end result was an interesting, watchable film.
            We finished the morning with ”Masque.” I really dislike evil for evil’s sake.  Or evil for personal gain or power. I loved the scenery and the mill’s buildings. I love architecture so my view of films is really slanted when I see beautiful buildings or sets. I would have thought the idea of the masque weird if I hadn’t had experience with Silicone bandages for scar healing. As it was it seemed normal with the added bonus of character redemption. Slap that masque on the villain and maybe he will have rebirth. Great scenery and photography.
            I’m looking forward to the last day.  There are always so many interesting people in town, especially for the awards ceremony. So far I’ve been able to talk with some of the directors and actors and I hope to chat with more.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Idyllwild 2014 — Day 3, only two days of films left

by Nancy Borchers
            Thursday was another glorious day at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.  We started out at Astrocamp where we were delighted to see a really cute short “Light Me Up” with directors Ryan Walton and Derek Dolechek from Chapman College. This film showed imagination and promise for the directors.
            “Night Riders” was a real step up.  Two actors, incredible lighting and cinematography carried this entire film capturing the rapt attention and wild acclaim of the audience. The film was not listed in the synopsis so I have no Idea who directed it but this was brilliant. It only showed once at my least favorite venue which was a great disservice to this remarkable film. 
            The eerie glow of the dashboard lights of a pickup truck lit the faces of two brothers carrying the body of their father home from a farm accident. The conversation of the two with the normal gaps for thought brought realism. The dialog seemed desultory at first but evolved to reveal the depth of character of the brothers, their relationship and the circle of family of which they seemed to be the last. I cannot say enough good things about this film. It was only eleven minutes long but carried the punch of a feature. You might think I liked it.
            The director, Freeland Shreve, of “Tag” is so likable and funny you wonder how he could have made such a tragic film. The humor and great cinematography belied the disastrous but inevitable conclusion of this film.
            I got to see a brief glimpse of “The O’Brien's” at its last showing and was eagerly looking forward to seeing it in its entirety. I was not disappointed. I just loved it. This very professional film showed not only great acting, but cinematography, dialog, sound and score. I really could have watched it all over again right then and there. It was an hour and twenty-four minutes but it seemed like it was over too soon. No one left after the showing because cast and crew along with the director Richard Waters were there to host the Question and Answer session, which follow.  I want to see more!!
            We went to see “Counterpunch” from director Kenneth Castillo at the Rustic.  I’m not fond of boxing and seeing child abuse upset me since I saw way more than enough during my teaching career. Any child abuse is way more than enough. I went to the lobby to chat with old friends and new friends. Margie told me later that I missed a very good film. I got to talk with the folks from “The O’Brien’s”, which was delightful.
            Off to Silver Pines to see “2FUR1” directed by Jahnna Randell, a mockumentary that pokes fun at Hollywood. It incorporated great humor and cinematography. The sound track was good too.  Light hearted fun.
            The last film I saw Thursday was “Forev” from directors Molly Green and James Leffler. This film was natural, dumb, outlandish, and totally believable. I loved it. 
            Cinematography, sound, dialog and acting were all very professional and seamless. These directors have a very bright future in front of them. There was just enough tension to hold it together and keep it from being trite. The character development had just the right depth. I was very impressed. This is the kind of film I would rush out and see any time.
            After three days of non-stop film going, I was tired. I needed to go home and put my feet up. I looked at the schedules for the next two days and decided that I could play catch up Friday and Saturday. Two of my fellow film goers have already taken a day off so today it was only Margie and me. Tuesday was a totally full day with barely time for lunch and dinner. I didn’t get home until ten. Wednesday I had an eight o’clock meeting in the morning so I got off to a really early start and went full bore all day getting home again about ten.  Ok, this makes thirty-four films I’ve seen so far this year. It beats my past record of twenty-five for the whole festival, hands down. 
            No wonder I’m tired.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Idyllwild 2014 — Day 2, Wednesday, Jan.8

by Nancy Borchers
            Wednesday was another busy one watching films day. There were lots to do and see. I had a meeting at 8 am so I got off to an early start.  We met at The Rustic Theater and carpooled to Astrocamp.
            “Black Rock Creek” with director Melone Lumarda was indeed mystical.  It was the creek we all want to walk along. The film was seamless and I’d really like to see more of Lumarda’s work.
            Director Dina Waxman showcased her wonderful sense of the ridiculous in “The Slippery Slope”. Unfortunately in the discussion afterward, she was unable through youth or insensitivity to accept any comments that were not in line with her political views.
            We sat through “The Blind Date” with director Zhandra Reyes. It wasn’t anything to write home but I’ll try:  So-so acting, cinematography that needs a lot of work and an old plot.
            “Breath Life” was not playable.
            The Colorado countryside was incomparable in “The Flame” with director Sean Owen. I loved the architecture of the various organizations and learned a lot about several philosophies. Unfortunately they really could have used a more ruthless editor as some of the segments ran on too long.
            We stopped at Gary’s Deli for a really great sandwich and took it to Silver Pines to see “Anatomy of ‘Anatomy’” from director David C. Jones. I have seen “Anatomy of a Murder” many times and enjoyed it every time. How the town was affected was really interesting. I loved the old production shots. I had never gotten an overview of the setting before. There were some editing glitches with gaps between scenes. Nothing that still couldn’t be fixed.
            We rushed back to Astrocamp to see “Room for Rent” because I love British comedy, films and TV. Good British comedy — this wasn’t. I will not be rushing around to the Acorn Media Catalog. I thought, from the description, I would, at least, be seeing an interesting set. It was supposed to be a grand English house.  Nope: a typical tiny British attached in the middle of a town.  Inane comedy at its worst.
            We stayed for “Look Closer” with director Chris Schwab. This was another film based on media types: in this case an actor and his agent. 
            Are all media types this shallow? Was this a true depiction of an actor on his way up? Maybe I just have different values that have developed as I’ve matured. Twenty minutes in to it I asked myself “who cares” but I was carpooling.  Then the mood changed and the “moving to New York” scene happened.  Suddenly the characters developed a little more depth. I liked the role scenes interspersed with the actor’s life. That was a good touch. Some of the sound track was annoying.
            Back to our favorite venue Silver Pines to see several shorts.  “See Me” with director Debbie Vaughn was well produced with good everything: sound, acting, sound.
            “Camp” with director Pete D’alessandro was more interesting that I thought it would be when we were trying to decide which films to see especially with Scott Foster speaking after the showing.  
            “Dream Date” from director Brian Lee Brown was next.  The sound was tinny and the dialog thin. I can’t remember anything else.
            We loved “La-Haut.” The tension was terrific! It’s a very professional film about a strong woman, a rather clueless man and an offended town. I made an immediate connection between this town and the trouble [Paul] Black’s wells caused here a few years back. The photography was incredible. The subtitles were good. I will become a fan of French Films if the quality of this film and “Hans Lee and Papa Schultz” are the standard. I am so glad this is an “International” Festival of Cinema! Natalie Boyer led the discussion.
            “The Skull Rosary of Frao’ Ranggoh” with director Jake Lloyd was a delightful romp with “Indiana Jones.” Well, maybe not the sharp repartee of the original but the character development was good. It was filmed in the wilds above Burbank and goes to show that with skilled camera angles and a lot of imaginations we can find our dream locations anywhere. Beautiful scenery and camera work.
            Off to the Rustic for “Doonby“ with director Peter M. Mackenzie. What a great film. The character’s always in the middle of the action and you keep wondering, ”what’s up? “At the end you find out. Will Wallace makes a great terrible bad guy. This was a very professional film. The photography, color sound, score were all seamless. This film is a step up. 
            The last film of the day was “The Fold” with director John Jencks. The scenery was reminiscent of “Doc Martin” but that’s where the resemblance ended. The film unfolded into the thought provoking proposition that an individual’s personal suffering affects those around her. All aspects of professional film making were present.
            Another wonderful day at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.  Exhausting but wonderful.

Idyllwild 2014 begins

 by Nancy Borchers
 [Nancy and her coteriere began watching IIFC films at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7, the opening day of the Idyllwild 2014. By 10 p.m., they had seen 13 films, including the opening night’s feature, “Red Wing.” Here views and impressions are below.]
            Finally … The Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema arrived for the fifth time on a gloriously sunny delightful Idyllwild day. This year we added a forth woman to our entourage. Five years ago, I started out going to the films by myself. 
            Sallie joined me the next year. Annamarie came with us to a few of them the third year. In year four, the three of us went to the Festival full time and saw as many as possible and this year Margie was able to come along.
            This history is sort of funny when you consider that the first film we saw was “Through the Woods” with director Mike Mcaleer. He spoke about the film beforehand telling us that it was about strong women in Idyllwild.
            It really was about was a witch in Pine Cove, a depressed mother who checks out mentally every time the going gets rough, and a daughter who gets knocked up by an abuser are the main characters.           
            The witch was the only one with her act together. I wanted to shake the characters and tell them how a really strong woman behaves.  I was sitting there with three of them. The room held a bunch more.
            The photography and color were both very good.  The music was good with a few weird dramatic booms to emphasize important action; sort of like liturgical churches with the bells.  Beautiful setting.
            The Silver Pines Lodge was a wonderful venue.  Candles lit every surface and emphasized the coziness and comfort of the room. The seating was comfortable and the flickering fire in the fireplace added to the ambience.  I love this venue.
            Next, we scurried over to the Rustic Theater for the next offering and got to see part of “Moses on the Mesa with director Paul Ratner. The scenery was spectacular and the photography was great. I loved the plot and the history given at the end was very interesting. I hope I get to see the entire film at the next showing.
            “Animal Cookies” with director Matthew Temple was delightful, but it was a bit too short. I loved the kitchen. The man sitting in front of us missed the whole thing by seconds. Maybe it should have been shown twice. Cute.
            “Welcome Nowhere” with director Kate Ryan was a tough compelling documentary on the Roma in Bulgaria.   Both sides were represented depicting the prejudices of those involved. No lectures or axes to grind. I always dislike pious documentaries that belabor the point. Photography and sound were professional. A genuinely good film.
            We jumped in the car and sped up to Astrocamp where I was reminded of the uneasy feeling I get at this venue. There was no ice on the walkway this year but the seats were just as uncomfortable and the theater is so dark that it is dangerous to move around in safely. We sat near the front to see “Black Hearts” with director Malani Coomes.
            Unfortunately this was the first of many media oriented films at this festival. I know authors are supposed to write about things they know and I guess that beginning filmmakers do the same thing. The most unfortunate thing was that they were all there and laughed and giggled so much that it was impossible to hear the few clever lines.
            After a brief conference with my companions we decided to give the film another ten minutes before we walked out. The question was “Are they being paid to giggle?” We left early and went to lunch.
            Quick, back to Astrocamp and watched “Jessie And the Fountain of Youth” with director Tracey Anarella. We didn’t even notice the hard chairs. This was a fascinating film. I loved the scene where a producer interviews Jesse Cohen in the subway. The professional scene changes, good color and music kept us in our seats with eyes glued to the screen. The editing and cinematography were superb.
            Then we headed back to the Rustic Theater for “Amos” with director Taylor B. Maxwell.  The good acting in this film with the engrossing plot really held our attention. It was believable and professional. The sympathetic treatment of the characters made me like all of them, even the bad ones.
            “Turncoat” with director Emily Sandifer was the next film. It was hard to sit through. The makeup was grotesque though I suppose necessary. The way the protagonist’s face was shown was like those films where the profanity flows through the whole film and not just at the beginning to set the character. Yes, we know he was disfigured.  Perhaps she was pointing out that his whole being was disfigured not just his face. Why did the lantern suddenly appear? And in broad daylight? Confusing. In spite of all that, the director shows promise.
            The next film was “Kingman” with director Adrian Szasz. This was a captivating film.  The cinematography was great.  The kid was great. The scenery was great. It was a masterful film.
            “Hans Lee and Papa Schultz” with director Mikael Genit was terrific. I loved the cars, the diner, and the characters. Too much fun.  I had a hard time keeping up with the sub titles since they went so fast but this was a fun romp through the French countryside. The bodies just kept piling up!
            “Where the Fireflies Die” was another terrific film.  There was no dialog but the acting of two juvenile actors beautifully carried the film. The were no amateurs involved in this film. The down to earth portrayal of the two children and the masterful ending scene makes this one of the most important films of the Festival.
            We were all delighted by “Green Acres.”  Living in Southern California, the desert is never too far away so the tortoise’s venue was very familiar even though it was a bit extreme.  Interesting bit of animation.
            We knew we couldn’t miss “Red Wing” even though this has been a loooong day. A thoroughly professional film held our rapt attention.  Will Wallace took good material and ran with it. The cinematography, sound and acting were all terrific. His work just keeps getting better and better. The manipulative villain was very realistic.
            This was such a great day. The Festival is off to a wonderful start.  I was so tired though after all the films that I went home and slept very well. I didn’t get a chance to start this blog until Wednesday and had a meeting at 8 a.m. I ran off to see more films Wednesday morning and stayed all day. I finally finished this article at 6:15 a.m. Thursday morning and will have to get to work on the films we saw on Wednesday.