Phil Mann’s Tips
For the 2012 Key West Film Festival
The 2012 Key West Film Festival opens with a welcoming party at the Hemingway House on Thursday afternoon at 5:30pm (Tix at Keystix.com) followed by a screening of While We Were Here at the San Carlos that night. On Friday through Sunday more than 33 films will unspool at the Tropic (on all four screens) and at the San Carlos. For a grand finale, there'll be a free screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on the beach in front of Salute.
The full schedule and info is at KeyWestFilmFestival.com. Tickets can be bought there, or at the Tropic Box Office, for all films. To help you sort through them, here’s a quick summary.
ALL TOGETHER- Moving and comedic story of aging friends who decide to share a communal home, starring Jane Fonda and Geraldine Chaplin (in French w/subtitles).
ANY DAY NOW – In the 1970’s a gay couple fights the legal system to keep custody of an abandoned mentally handicapped teenager. Starring Alan Cumming, with locals including Randy Roberts, Randy Thompson and Annie O’Shea. “Laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking without resorting to neat Hollywood set-ups or resolutions.” Eye For Film
BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL – Bettie narrates the story of her life, with a light touch and humor.
BIG VISION EMPTY WALLET COMEDY SHORT FILMS- The best of the films submitted in this year’s shorts competition.
BORN AND RAISED - A coming-of-age drama about a teenager in the Florida panhandle who begins considering venturing out of his small town to escape his interpersonal conflicts. From Rome Film Festival.
CALIFORNIA SOLO – A British rocker faces deportation from the U.S., and confronts his past. “Robert Carlyle's layered performance as an embittered musician facing his demons gives this fragile drama some emotional heft.” Hollywood Reporter
CLOUDBURST- A Lesbian couple escapes from a nursing home and go on a road trip to Canada to get married, with Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. “This crowd-pleaser from writer-director Thom Fitzgerald brings campaign-season relevance, geriatric glamour and Oscar clout.” Memphis Commercial Appeal
COMING UP ROSES – Young Alice (Rachel Brosnahan) and her fading-actor mother, Diane (Bernadette Peters) desperately hold onto each other and the fantasy of a better life.
DEADFALL - Two siblings (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) on the run after a casino heist. “A highly satisfying Western-cum-noir in the old tradition.” Variety
EL MEDICO: THE CUBATON STORY - Like Buena Vista Social Club it combines the personal story of a Cuban musician with plenty of his music and dancing. Is he El Medico – the doctor his mother wants him to be, or Cubaton -- the reggae singer his Swedish music producer is trying to develop? “Takes us on a wonderful authentic trip into the heart of Cuba.” (Linda Sweatt, SBCC Film Reviews)
THE FALLEN FAITHFUL- Thriller about a religious man, searching for a profound and meaningful connection with God, who is also a man of violence, a hired killer.
GAYBY is one of several LBGT-themed films at the Festival. This one’s a comedy about a straight girl who wants to get pregnant, and her male gay best friend who helps her “the old fashioned way.” Sharp and witty, and set in Brooklyn, you’ll be reminded of Lena Dunham’s Girls, with cameos from her cast-mates Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky. “Like Dunham's show, Gayby draws zeitgeist-y, situational laughs from the lives of people it seems to know, rather than straining to position itself as a hip authority…. If it's not the best comedy of the year, it's easily the best to transcend the comedy formula.” (R. Kurt Osenlund, Slant Magazine)
HEAD GAMES – A stark, unflinching examination of contact sports and the self-inflicted injuries the participants take as "part of the game." (Documentary)
HORS SATAN - Enigmatic drama about the relationship between a woman and a mysterious outsider on Northern France's Opal Coast. Is he the Second Coming, or the Devil? (in French w/subtitles)
IN ANOTHER COUNTRY presents us with three overlapping small love stories, all featuring the same cast headed by the well-known French star Isabelle Huppert. It’s directed by Sang-soo Hong (known as Korea’s Eric Rohmer) and set at a seaside town in his home country. “While it doesn’t shy away from telling moments of harshness, it’s for the most part bright and breezy viewing, matching its picturesque and sunny seaside scenery with mischievous insights.” (James Mudge, Beyond Hollywood. com) Nominated for the Palm d’Or at Cannes, this is a must for fans of French cinema. (Despite its foreign aspects, the movie’s language is English. How else can the French and Koreans communicate?)
JOURNEY TO PLANET X – Two young filmmakers make a movie about making a sci-fi movie… and having fun. From Tribeca Film Festival. Cast and crew will be there for a Q & A.
KINDERBLOCK 66: RETURN TO BUCHENWALD - The story of four men who, as young boys, were imprisoned by the Nazis in the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp and who, sixty-five years later, return to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of their liberation. (Documentary)
LET MY PEOPLE GO is another LBGT-themed comedy. Reuben is a French-Jewish gay working as a postman in Finland (after completing his degree in comparative sauna cultures). It’s “a hectic, colour-saturated Euro farce that sends up a multitude of stereotypes.” (Craig Takeuchi, Straight. com)
NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING- A chronological look at growing up, formed from two different stories. The two sets of friends represent the American dilemma between what you have known and what you hope to know; the split between longing for the past and the desire to explore.
THE PLAYROOM features another appearance for the versatile John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Sessions) now as a parent carousing downstairs while his four children invent a game of their own in the attic playroom. “An emotionally rich drama set in suburbia in 1975. Gathered around a candle to simulate a campfire setting, they improvise a tale about four orphaned kids who escape from their lonely castle and set out for adventure.” (Eric Snider, Film. com)
QUARTET is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut. The foursome of the title are retired opera singers, Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay among them, sharing digs at a retirement home and finding a way back to their glory days. “Quartet has a warmth and charm that'll likely make it a firm hit with the same crowd that turned out for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” (Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy)
THE SAPPHIRES follows an Aborigine girl band as they go on a tour of American troops in Vietnam. “A jewel-bright charmer about four spunky indigenous women whose powerhouse voices catapulted them onto the 60s-era world stage as Australia's answer to the Supremes.” Hollywood Reporter.
SHADOW DANCER is a spy thriller featuring Andrea Riseborough (Made in Dagenham) as an IRA turncoat double agent and Clive Owen as her MI5 handler. “A labyrinthine tale of cat and mouse, of deception and double cross, of betrayal and confused allegiances.” Observer (UK)
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN is a documentary about four international adoptees, “Chinese girls emotionally divided between the Asian country in which they were born and the America in which they were raised... you’d have to be a stone not to be moved.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
STARLET- about the moral dilemmas raised when an aspiring and often stoned actress discovers a stash of cash in a Thermos she buys at a yard sale. The movie was featured at the SXSW Festival, and won the Breakthrough Performer Award for Dree Hemingway (granddaughter of Papa) at the Hamptons Film Festival.
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING – An outspoken gay teenager narrates his own funeral. Laugh aloud high school comedy with Allison Janney, Rebel Wilson & Allison Janney “The characters are likable, the jokes are spot on & it's an all-around good time.” Movies. com
TIGER EYES is the first-ever feature film adaptation of a Judy Blume novel, written by Judy with her son Lawrence, and directed by him. It’s the story of a teenager coming to terms with the sudden death of her father and an unwanted family relocation. “The rarest of family films, smart and nuanced, with an attention to detail in images that mirrors what is Ms. Blume’s strength with words.” Filmmaker Magazine. Judy will be there for a Q and A after the film.
TIME ZERO: THE LAST YEAR OF POLAROID FILM – Documentary that captures the passion of photographers who loved Polaroid film, and what they went through to save it.
UNFIT: WARD VS. WARD – Expose of bias against lesbian mothers via a documentary on case of convicted murder husband awarded custody. (Documentary)
VIOLETA WENT TO HEAVEN – A portrait of famed Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra filled with her musical work, her memories, her loves and her hopes.
WHILE WE WERE HERE – A married American woman (Kate Bosworth) has an affair with a younger man on an Italian island. With Claire Bloom.
THE WISE KIDS – A low-key drama about questioning kids in a South Carolina Baptist church. “A guileless exploration of the growing pains of sheltered innocents whose reticence and sincerity evoke 1950s small-town values.” NY Times
YOSSI – “Yossi (Ohad Knoller) is a thirty something doctor in Tel Aviv who hides the fact he is gay from all around him…. a lovely story full of emotions that build to a crescendo.” Flickfeast