Sunday, December 2, 2012

Key West Film Festival (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Key West Film Festival

The Key West Film Festival has arrived under The Tropic's famous Art Deco marquee with much anticipation. A local favorite with a strong Key West connection remains "Tiger Eyes" based on Judy Blume's controversial novel and directed by her son Lawrence. This film has sweeping locations in Atlantic City and New Mexico, combined with poignant performances by Willa Holland and the legendary Native American actor and activist Russell Means in his final role.

In the other films, outspoken or quirky characters seem to be the order of the day. There is  Brian Dannelly's "Struck by Lightning" about a precocious high schooler (Glee star Chris Colfer) who blackmails others in the cause to make his magazine a success. In "Any Day Now", the versatile Alan Cumming plays a drag performer, circa 1970, who fights for the custody of a neglected child with Down Syndrome. Vibrant and heartfelt, trading in his customary villainy for some organic Glam rock, Cumming has never been better.

Other standouts are "California Solo", a gritty existential tale of an almost famous Scottish rocker caught in the knotty dilemmas of America's immigration policy. Robert Carlyle is Lachlan. With his gaunt angular physique and emotional  face, a study in struggle,  Lachlan is the perfect shape  for a well meaning figure caught in Kafkaesque quicksand. Along the way, he also exemplifies a shaky rhythm and the joy of Rock and Roll.

The iconic Jane Fonda stars in "All Together" as Jeanne, a libidinous commune resident filled with five other friends all of them septuagenarian or octogenarian and too cute for words as each one dreams of caressing the other. Free love has never been so accepting of its wrinkles, but the acting is excellent.

In Gayby, a gay slacker (Matthew Wilkas) and a volatile  yoga instructor (Jenn Harris) are best friends that want  to have a baby. What at first glance is ho hum, is quickly lifted to ho-ha-hilarious with its rapid one liners and its no holds barred (with all things bare) irreverence. "Gayby" has a wonderful spirit helped in no small measure by the quirk in its characters.

Last but not least, there is Stephen Cone's "Wise Kids", a sociological tale of children deep in a matrix of Fundamentalist beliefs. By highlighting each character "Wise Kids" owes a debt to the work of Larry Clark, but its neutral tone gives the film a wistful edge.

Whether you have a craving for the comical to the quirky, or some edgy moral quandaries, The Key West Film Festival makes for some diverse cinematic flora. Here's to next year!

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