Monday, June 7, 2010

Doña Junta Picks: LA Film Fest 2010 June 17-27

The Los Angeles Film Festival is just around the corner filled with new independent and long standing classic films. I got to admit I am a real lazy movie watcher and it is hard for me to make the time to go see a new movie in the theaters.  I love watching movies, but they have to be presented to me, and actually playing in my face for example, (walking into the living room and it happen to be on) or if its an old/new movie someone recommended and I tell my roomie to order it on Net Flicks. This year there are a few titles that catch my attention. I love film festivals a lot better because you get to catch fresh new faces, interesting concepts, and films that are underground. This years fest features a great selection of international films as well as US made films.
The festival starts June 17th and continues until June 27th most tickets are $12 dollars, but there are special package deals. Click here for more info.

After reading and watching some of the trailers here are some movies of interest to me, but feel free to check out their web page for all the listings. 

Doña Junta's Picks

Movie Bio's and trailers taken from the website. Comments in Italics by me.

Presumed Guilty    Mexico Spanish with English subtitles

This film caught my attention because Mexico is notorious for having some fucked up laws! shit is corrupt,so it will be interesting to see this. 

In December of 2005, Antonio Zúñiga was snatched off the street in Mexico City by the police, brutally interrogated for a crime he wasn’t told he was being accused of, and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of a man he never met.

In a country where 93 percent of defendants never see a judge and 92 percent of convictions are not based on any physical evidence, lawyers Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete brandish cameras as their only weapons against an abominable justice system in which every suspect is presumed guilty.
Lost Angles USA

Skidrow is there loved and hated depending who you are, even though it has gotten better over the years, there ares still real stories and people living there.

Thomas Napper’s empathetic, but tough-minded documentary invites us into a part of Los Angeles that many choose to ignore—downtown’s skid row. As we meet the distressed area’s residents, including a former Olympic runner, a transgendered punk rocker, and an eccentric animal lover and her devoted companion, their remarkable stories paint a multifaceted portrait of life on the streets. There are undeniable problems—mental illness and addiction are common themes—but there is also hope and a surprising sense of community. Passionate, polemical, and generous in spirit, Lost Angels finds a unique vitality to life on skid row and a stirring humanity in those who live there.
 One Day Less ( Mexico) Spanish with English subtitles

 I couldn't help falling for the description of this film, it sounds like a charming love story with a don and Dona.
Once the holiday festivities draw to an end, Don Eme and Dona Carmen's visiting grown children kiss them goodbye, and the old couple, now well into their 90’s, return to their quiet routine of keeping busy until the next holiday comes around. Quietly observant, One Day Less settles into the quotidian adventures of these devoted lovebirds as they navigate their beachfront Acapulco apartment, their fragile bodies not always in sync with their saucy spirits. This universal love story explores what it means to grow old with the one you love.

 La Pivellina  Austria, Italy, Spain

Patti, a weather-beaten circus performer with a shock of iridescent red hair, discovers a two-year-old girl abandoned in a park and brings her home to her trailer in a dreary Rome suburb. When no one appears to claim her, Patti assumes responsibility for the toddler, annoying her partner Walter but delighting her 14-year-old neighbor Tairo. This beautifully understated neo-realist film observes the formation of a de-facto family, as the child’s presence subtly transforms these circus outcast’s lives. But how long can it last before the child’s mother reappears?
 Circo Mexico, USA

The circus theme seems to be in the air lately with this film and the one above. I also read an interesting post by my friend Random Hero over on LA East side  about the circus coming to Boyle Heights! Perfect fit for these two films.
For over one hundred years, the Ponce family has eked out a living operating a small traveling circus, making their way through the Mexican countryside one town, one performance at a time. Family patriarch Don Gilberto may be the ringleader, but the real stars are the four charming Ponce children, who rehearse their acts tirelessly while also laboring night and day to maintain the only life they have ever known. Director Aaron Schock uses his camera beautifully to capture the lives of the Ponces, his lovely images complimented by Calexico’s evocative score, celebrating the indomitable spirit of this family as it faces a growing family conflict.
Animal Kingdom,  Australia 

In this astonishing family gangster saga, seventeen-year-old Josh Cody, having lost his drug-addicted mother, is taken in by his grandmother and uncles, a volatile clan of gun-toting criminals who are under constant surveillance by Melbourne's trigger-happy police.  The death of one of his uncles sets off a fierce battle for vengeance, and Josh must learn the laws of a very nasty jungle to survive.

 A kind of Australian Goodfellas, the explosive, high-style Animal Kingdom heralds the arrival of a major new directing talent, David Michod. He’s marshaled a remarkable ensemble that includes Guy Pearce and a who’s who of up-and-coming Australian male stars.  But at Sundance, where Animal Kingdom won the Grand Jury prize for best international film, it was veteran Jacki Weaver as the twisted family’s unforgettable mother hen that got everybody talking.

 Bitter Feast, USA

This film is meant to be a suspense type of film, but it is kind of funny to me being that I am a blogger and this film is about a blogger getting kidnapped, by a chef  because he wrote bad reviews about his food! it sort of sounds cheesy, but being I write food reviews as well I kind of want to see it. lol
Revenge is a dish best served to order—raw and bloody—in this pitch-black thriller that will forever change the way you look at a frying pan. When a snarky online review spurs the cancellation of his TV cooking show and the loss of his restaurant, a pompous chef kidnaps the blogger he holds responsible (Sometimes leaving a nasty comment just isn’t enough) and serves up a buffet of brutal lessons in critical etiquette. Writer-director Joe Maggio provides plenty of meat and potatoes gore for fans of the genre, while applying liberal dollops of dark wit for those with a more refined palate.

 Jonathan Gold Presents: Udon

Jonathan Gold in conversation about food and film.
Speaking of food and blogging this Conversation with food critic Jonathan Gold is pretty interesting being he was one of the first well known food critics actually writing reviews on print! Wow how ancient does that sound!
JONATHAN GOLD is the restaurant critic for LA Weekly and author of Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. In 2007, he became the first food writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. This spring, he won the first Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Reviews award from the James Beard Foundation. In addition to writing about restaurants for Gourmet, Saveur, Food & Wine, and many other national magazines, Gold has a shady past as a composer and performance artist, spent time as the rap and heavy-metal correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, was music editor of the LA Weekly, and wrote about music and popular culture for Spin, Rolling Stone, Details and Vanity Fair. He contributes to the radio shows Good Food and This American Life.
Life With Murder, Canada, Documentary 

Documentary of a Canadian family dealing with the murder of their daughter and the convicted murderer is their own son. Canada doesn't see as much crime as the US this should be an interesting pick. 
Chatham, Ontario, 1998. 18-year-old Jennifer Jenkins is brutally shot to death in her family home. The main suspect: her brother, Mason Jenkins. After fabricating a story about what occurred, Jenkins was incarcerated. His parents, facing the loss of both their children, chose to support his claims of innocence, repressing the dark secret of their son’s true intentions. Concurrently shocking and heartbreaking, this finely crafted mystery captures the pain of paternal devotion as Mason’s parents struggle to hold onto the last shreds of their family. Led by the belief that one’s children are not disposable, the burden of the Jenkins’ forgiveness proves as fearsome as the murder that begot it.

 The Next set of films are USA based films with more known actors. A few of these seem pretty funny and interesting, but I will most likely wait till they come out on DVD.


John C. Riley, Marisa Tomei, and Jonah Hill form a dangerously funny triangle in Mark and Jay Duplass's breakout comedy Cyrus. When down-in-the-dumps John meets Molly at a party, his string of bad luck seems miraculously broken. Then he discovers that he'll be sharing Molly's hillside house with her gregarious grown son, Cyrus, who'd rather have Mom all to himself. The territorial battle that ensues is both disturbing and hilarious. It’s a tale of Oedipal passions that twists the romantic comedy into a surprising new shape.
 Hello Lonesome 

Lonely since his wife left him, a cantankerous voice-over artist strikes up an unlikely friendship with his regular deliveryman. Many suburbs away, an elderly woman loses the freedom to drive and turns to her wry younger neighbor for nostalgic cuddles and comfort. Meanwhile, a young urban sports fanatic unexpectedly falls in love, though the trials the couple endure prove even more unexpected. Adam Reid’s enchanting, compassionate debut weaves together the worlds of six lonely individuals as they negotiate the age-old process of giving and receiving love. Wonderfully acted, the intimate exchanges percolate with laughter and longing, ultimately knitting together a world of lonesome souls.
The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) combines classic Hollywood craftsmanship with a generous Indie spirit in this irresistible exploration of an unconventional family. Devoted partners, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, parents of two teenage kids, are going through a rough patch in their relationship when big time complications arrive in the form of the kids' sexy, motorcycle-riding biological father (Mark Ruffalo). Bening and Moore, an unforgettable screen couple, are at the top of their game in Cholodenko's wise, delicious and deeply moving comedy.
Classics: I could not help adding some of the classic films on here I would like to see.

The Driver, USA

Walter Hill's lean muscle machine of a movie unfolds in an urban twilight zone between Union Station and the Bonaventure Hotel, where Ryan O'Neal's getaway driver rules the night streets and Bruce Dern's obsessed cop tries to bust him on his last ride. Hill distills his story and characters down to their high-octane genre essentials, setting them against a concrete maze of Downtown’s back alleys, parking structures, warehouses and tunnels where only the occasional neon sign—most recognizably the long gone glow of Torchy’s Bar—breaks the overwhelming sense of anonymity. In The Driver, neither the characters nor the streets have names.
 The Fall, Argentina (1959) In Spanish with English subtitles

Our International Spotlight this year focuses on the films of Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, a forgotten giant of South Americancinema.  This daring Argentinian director was once spoken of in the same breath as Bergman, Buñuel, and Welles.  Today few remember his name, and prints of his films are very hard to find.  His striking, expressionist films explore lost innocence, sexual repression, and political hypocrisy in images impossible to forget.

Albertina, a pretty, naïve student from the provinces, rents a room in a strange, claustrophobic Buenos Aires household where the neurotic, sickly mother is confined to her bed, leaving her four unattended sons to run wild, living by rules of their own invention. Elsa Daniel stars as the modest, easily shocked Albertina, whose sexuality is awakened by the boys’ uncle, a seductive adventurer. Steeped in hothouse gothic atmosphere, The Fall exemplifies Leopoldo Torre Nilsson's expressionist visual style, which he once attributed to his extreme myopia, which, he said, gives birth to a deformed and haunting world.Most of the locations are of course in beautiful downtown Los Angeles! I find this so much better then having to travel to the Hollywood area only one theater in Hollywood is screening. Here are some of the locations, but make sure to check location when you buy your movie ticket...
 The Hand in the Trap, Argentina (1961) In Spanish with English subtitles

Our International Spotlight this year focuses on the films of Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, a forgotten giant of South Americancinema.  This daring Argentinian director was once spoken of in the same breath as Bergman, Buñuel, and Welles.  Today few remember his name, and prints of his films are very hard to find.  His striking, expressionist films explore lost innocence, sexual repression, and political hypocrisy in images impossible to forget.

The winner of the International Critics Prize in Cannes in 1961, The Hand in the Trap was Leopoldo Torre Nilsson's third consecutive collaboration with writer (and wife) Beatriz Guido and with star Elsa Daniel. Here Daniel plays Laura, a girl obsessed with discovering the dark secret that her family hides in an upstairs room of the house, off limits to everyone. The film delves into a suffocating world of sick love, prejudice, repressed and repressive women, horny men, and images of enclosure and entrapment. Many consider it the Argentine director's finest.
Hickey and Bogs, USA ( 1972) 


Got to love LA in the 1970s!
In the late Robert Culp's taut, cynical detective thriller, Culp and Bill Cosby subvert their upbeat, ironic I Spy
personas, this time playing downtrodden private eyes searching for a missing girl in the sun-bleached mean streets of early ‘70s Los Angeles, and leaving violence in their wake. Culp’s assured direction brings Walter Hill’s dystopic, neo-noir screenplay vividly to life. Offering little reassurance about human nature, Hickey and Boggs pits the weary detectives against their prey in a deadly, morally ambiguous confrontation, and stands as one of the most alarming and rewarding examples of its genre.

The House of the Angel, Argentina (1957)  Spanish with English subtitles
 Our International Spotlight this year focuses on the films of Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, a forgotten giant of South Americancinema.  This daring Argentinian director was once spoken of in the same breath as Bergman, Buñuel, and Welles.  Today few remember his name, and prints of his films are very hard to find.  His striking, expressionist films explore lost innocence, sexual repression, and political hypocrisy in images impossible to forget.

Shown at the 1957 Cannes film festival, this was the movie that made Leopoldo Torre Nilsson an international art house star. Based on a novel by his wife---and usual screenwriter---Beatriz Guido, The House of the Angel focuses on the ruling class in 1920s Argentina, a deeply repressive society where political arguments were often settled by duels, and young women were expected to be totally ignorant of sex. With dark expressionist camera angles that have been compared to Orson Welles, Torre Nilsson tells his story of political hypocrisy and sexual discovery through the eyes of a beautiful, cloistered teenage girl---his muse, Elsa Daniel---whose loss of innocence is rendered in striking images of shadow and light.

Most of the films are going to be screened in beautiful downtown Los Angeles check out the locations here. 

Happy Film Watching!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting selection! Thanks for posting. I definitely have to check out and support the independent film makers. to choose which one to see :-)