Los Angeles Film Festival 2014

Episode 240 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes / Snowpiercer / Boyhood

A special extended Moviewallas Podcast in which we discuss:

dawn Snowpiercer boyhood

– Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

– Boyhood

– Snowpiercer

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New!  Rangl with us!

We have teamed up with the wonderful folks over at Rangl.com so that we can give you the chance to weigh in our some of our disagreements.  This week, Yazdi states:

Personally, I am fine with not seeing James Franco on a cinema screen for a while. Like ten years. Thoughts?

Click on the Rangl logo below and us know what you think!

Episode 240

Yazdi’s Rangl! Episode 240.

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Out in the Night | Los Angeles Film Festival 2014

Exactly what is the responsibility of the media in reporting news? In my opinion, news should be reported factually and in an unbiased fashion. However we all know that with the advent of syndicated news channels and the need for 24-hour news cycles, it is easy for smaller stories to escalate to larger ones and others to get sensationalized and out of control. Welcome to the movie Out in the Night, a new documentary by Blair Dorosh-Walther that examines the 2006 case of The New Jersey 4.

 

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Through the lives of four young women, Out in the Night reveals how their race, gender identity and sexuality became criminalized in the mainstream news media and criminal legal system.

The documentary skillfully tells the story of a group of young friends, African American lesbians who are out, one hot August night in 2006, in the gay friendly neighborhood of New York City. They are all in their late teens and early twenties and come from a low-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Two of the women are the focus – gender non-conforming Renata Hill, a single mother with a soft heart and keen sense of humor, and petite femme Patreese Johnson, a shy and tender poet. As they and their friends walk under the hot neon lights of tattoo parlors in the West Village, an older man sexually and violently confronts them. He says to Patreese “let me get some of that” as he points below her waist. When she says that they are gay, the man becomes violent and threatens to “fuck them straight”. He spits and throws a lit cigarette. Renata and Venice defend the group and a fight begins, captured by security cameras nearby. The man yanks out hair from Venice’s head and chokes Renata. Then, Patreese pulls a knife from her purse and swings at him. Strangers jump in to defend the women and the fight escalates. As the fight comes to an end, all get up and walk away. But 911has been called and the man involved has been stabbed. Police swarm to the scene as their radios blast out warning of a gang attack. The women are rounded up and charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder. Three of the women plead guilty. But Renata, Patreese, Venice and friend Terrain claim their innocence. They are called a “Gang of Killer Lesbians” by the media. In activist circles they become known as The New Jersey 4.

One can easily forgive Dorosh-Walther for giving us a somewhat one-sided narrative given few people were initially advocating for the women and even fewer people have been able to hear the story from their side, but this is an important documentary to watch. Out in the Night will anger you, sadden you and frustrate you all at the same time and so it should because Justice should be genderless, raceless and sexless and yet we are led to believe time and time again that had these women been middle class heterosexual white women, their lives may have turned out very differently.

The incredible narrative that unfolds over a period of years beginning in 2006 through to present day and in some cases through many of the years that some of the women were incarcerated  will have you glued to your seat. Beyond the injustice however, the most endearing thing about this documentary is the women front and center of the debate, Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain, who have very graciously opened up their lives to us.

Out in the Night Trailer

Natural Sciences | Los Angeles Film Festival 2014

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Nothing in the world is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, wrote Victor Hugo more than a hundred years ago. And so it is with the lead character in the quietly amazing Argentinian film NATURAL SCIENCES (CIENCIAS NATURALES).

 

Lila, a teenager in a boarding school at a rural mountain town has suddenly reached a juncture in life where her paramount need is to find her biological father. Her mother who works a bare, hard life on the farmland will not give her any information regarding the man. Freezing winter is fast approaching but Lila is undeterred in her pursuit. She has tried to run away from school in search of her father, once on a horse through the snow-covered hillsides, and once in a car she doesn’t know how to drive. The school Principal is perplexed, then angered by this sudden, irrational desire on the part of someone who had until then been a quiet, unremarkable student. Reasoning or discipline prove ineffective. Lila is consumed by her mission and is unstoppable. A more sympathetic faculty member, who teaches Natural Sciences at school, also tries to deter Lila. But recognizing that Lila will not relent and likely concerned for her safety, she joins Lila in her quixotic quest. With nary a clue about the man they are looking for, the two hit the road.

 

This should sound like the sort of sappy, road-trip movie that Hollywood likes to dole out with some regularity. If you are more generous, this may seem to you like one of those well-meaning, heartfelt indie films about strangers connecting through unusual circumstances. But NATURAL SCIENCES transcends those categories altogether.

 

This is an accomplished film from first-time director, Matias Lucchesi, who retains a strong, confident hold over this material at all times. Pick a scene from this film, pick any scene, and notice the rigor with which it has been constructed, how it completely bypasses familiar traps, or cliché. You can notice this on a minute by minute basis, in the precise writing, the affectless acting and direction that does not draw attention to itself. In its hard-won naturalness and rigor around all of filmmaking components, NATURAL SCIENCES draws easy comparison to the austere, stark and no less devastating Chilean movie from last year, THURSDAY TILL SUNDAY (DE JUEVES A DOMINGO).

 

The actor who plays Lila (Paula Galinelli Hertzog) necessarily carries the film on her young shoulders. And effortlessly brings it to a place of believability, capturing the sullen, untalkative affect of the teenager whose world is dominated by a singular myopic obsession. She may seem possessed by the fever of an irrational pursuit, and may not have the means to articulate it fully, but she is also inherently a good person, a person trying to discover herself as a grown human being and unable to do so without locating her roots first. And how about Paola Barrientos who plays the teacher who accompanies Liza on her search; one of the hardest things for an actor to do on screen is to transmit empathy, and Barrientos does it with a rare authenticity that never once tilts into cheap sentimentality. What great fortune for this director to have been able to recruit these two actors for his first film.

 

This is a film of quiet wonder. It tells a story that may initially seem familiar, but in how it goes about telling it, the film is note-perfect . I cannot wait to see the next project from this filmmaker.

 

NATURAL SCIENCES is the best film I saw at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. And by a wide margin.

 

[Natural Sciences is an Argentinian film currently making the festival rounds and was screened at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival.  It is awaiting distribution in the U.S. You can watch the trailer here].

 

 

Los Angeles Film Festival 2014 – Picture Set 2 (#LAFilmFest)

Trouble Dolls Writing and Directing Team – Jennifer Prediger & Jess Weixler with Actors Will Forte and Megan Mullally

Jennifer Prediger & Jess Weixler

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Director Matías Lucchesi talks about his movie “Natural Sciences (Ciencias Naturales)”

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Directors Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel discuss their movie “Meet the Patels”

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Director Nathan Silver with the cast and crew of “Uncertain Terms”

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Production Designers – Jeannine Oppewall & K.K. Barrett

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Documentary Film-Maker: Blair Dorosh-Walther discusses “Out In The Night”

 

Episode 234 – Los Angeles Film Festival Live – Podcast #2 (#LAFilmFest)

Another Podcast from LA Film Festival.  In today’s show we discuss the movies:

Walking Under Water
Walking Under Water
(Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, 2014, 77 mins, DCP)

In Badjao with English subtitles

US Premiere

Directed By: Eliza Kubarska

Screenwriter: Eliza Kubarska
Producer: Monika Braid
Cinematographer: Piotr Rosolowski
Editor: Bartosz Pietras
Featuring: Sari, Alexan
Music: Michal Jacaszek
Uncertain Terms
Uncertain Terms
(USA, 2014, 74 mins, HDCam)
World Premiere

Directed By: Nathan Silver

Screenwriters: Nathan Silver, Chloe Domont, Cody Stokes
Producers: Chloe Domont, Richard Peete, Josh Mandel
Cinematographer: Cody Stokes
Editor: Cody Stokes
Music: The Blair Brothers, Khia
Cast: India Menuez, David Dahlbom, Caitlin Mehner, Tallie Medel, Gina Piersanti, Hannah Gross, Adinah Dancyger, Cindy Silver
Meet the Patels
Meet the Patels
(India, USA, 2014, 88 mins, DCP)

In English, Gujarati, and Hindi with English subtitles

US Premiere

Directed By: Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel

Screenwriters: Ravi V. Petal, Geeta V. Patel, Billy McMillin, Matthew Hamachek
Producers: Janet Eckholm, Geeta V. Patel
Executive Producers: Geralyn White Dreyfous, Dan Cogan
Cinematographer: Geeta V. Patel
Editors: Billy McMillin, Matthew Hamacheck, Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel
Music Supervisor: Brooke Wentz
Featuring: Ravi V. Patel, Vasant K. Patel, Champa V. Patel
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Los Angeles Film Festival 2014 – Picture Set 1 (#LAFilmFest)

Comet

Director Sam Esmail and Lead Actress Emmy Rossum at the World Premiere of “Comet”

Land Ho!

Actors – Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson and Elizabeth McKee with writer/director team – Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz at the LA Film Festival Screening of “Land Ho!”

Episode 233 – Los Angeles Film Festival Live – Podcast #1 (#LAFilmFest)

It’s the LA Film Fest 2014 and we’re podcasting directly from the film festival.  Stay tuned for daily updates and check back for more updates, news and reviews at www.moviewallas.com.

 

In this episode we cover the movies:

Land Ho!

Land Ho!

(Iceland, USA, 2014, 95 mins, DCP)

Directed By: Martha Stephens,
Aaron Katz

Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson, Karrie Crouse, Elizabeth McKee, Alicia Olivia Clarke, Emmsje Gauti

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

L’enlevement de Michel Houellebecq

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

 

(France, 2014, 93 mins, DCP)

In French with English subtitles
Directed By: Guillaume Nicloux

Screenwriter: Guillaume Nicloux
Producer: Sylvie Pialat
Cinematographer: Christophe Offenstein
Editor: Guy Lecorne
Cast: Michel Houellebecq, Luc Schwarz, Mathieu Nicourt, Maxime Lefrançois, François Lebrun

Recommended By Enrique

Recommended By Enrique

 

(USA, Argentina, France, 2014, 87 mins, DCP)

In English and Spanish with English subtitles

World Premiere

Directed By: Rania Attieh,
Daniel Garcia

Comet

Comet

 

(USA, 2013, 90 mins, DCP)
World Premiere

Directed By: Sam Esmail

Screenwriter: Sam Esmail
Producers: Chad Hamilton, Lee Clay
Executive Producer: Steve Golin, Peter M. DeGeorge, Colin Bates
Cinematographer: Eric Koretz
Editor: Franklin Peterson
Music: Daniel Hart
Cast: Emmy Rossum, Justin Long

For more on the Los Angeles Film Festival 2014, visit http://www.lafilmfest.com

#LAFilmFest

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