Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gen Art film festival

Today is the first night of the Gen Art Film festival, which isn't always here in NYC. I"ve seen three of the films already, and since I'm lazy and I generally reprint stuff from a while ago, here are they are:

NEVERWAS

Written and Directed by
Joshua Michael Stern

Once upon a time, long, long ago. There was a boy named Christopher Robin. His father wrote a beloved fantasy book for children about him, and thus ruined poor C.R. Milne’s life forever.

When Zachary Pierson(Ryan Drescher) was a little boy, his father, T.L. Pierson (Nick Nolte) wrote and illustrated a series of books on a magical place called Neverwas before they took him away to the looney bin. His death was one of those things that can ruin a kid’s life, so he took his mother’s maiden name as his own and when we meet Dr. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) again, he’s all grown up and a psychiatrist to boot, arriving at the hospital where his father spent most of his last years in order to help clean the place up and find out what exactly happened with his old man, something his mother
(Jessica Lange) heartily disapproves of. His new boss(William Hurt)
wouldn’t have approved either.

But there are forces out there lying in wait for our hero. Maggie Paige (Brittany Murphy), an old friend from childhood, is a big fan of his father’s books and is surreptitiously working on an article on the late TL. Also, is one Gabriel Finch (Ian McKellen) an inmate at the hospital who also has a fixation on T. L’s books, but for slightly different reasons…

This is perfect material for someone like Terry Gilliam and is the film he probably should have made instead of “Tideland” or the “Brothers Grimm.” This is lots of fun as well as deep, and the characters are ones we can identify with. The acting is wonderful, Eckhart and McKellan give one of their best performances. Gandolf lives, and it’s here. This is worth seeing twice.

Dreamland

Directed by
Jason Matzner

It’s tough being a saint. Audrey(Agnes Bruckner) is stuck in the dreamland trailer park somewhere in New Mexico living with her physically fit but mentally damaged father(John Corbett) and thus she has nowhere to go. Her best friend and neighbor Cindy, er, Calista (Kelli Garner) is dying of some horrible desease and thus she has to take care of her as well.

Is a talented poet who should be going to college in the fall, but her responsibilities to these two needy people is too great. Poor, poor Audrey! Then Mookie(Justin Long) comes along, and there’s love, but Callista is in lust with him too, so gives way. Pure soap. But don’t worry, she works in the local bodega with a nerd named Abraham (Brian Klugman) and they have hot sex.

The problem with this trailer trash version of “Days of Our Lives” is that it’s too predictable. Tom Willett’s screenplay tries to bring nobility into this piece of fluff, but the third act is far too stupid to really keep one interested. The ending is entirely predictable, that everyone lives happily ever after, or at least achieves a minor enlightenment, is something we can see coming within the first fifteen minutes of the film. While the performances are quite good, Kelly Gerner is hot, the piss-poor script just isn’t worth the time and trouble to get out of the house and go to the theater. Pass it by.

WRISTCUTTERS – A LOVE STORY

Written and Directed
By Goran Dukic

According to the Catholic Church, if you kill yourself you wind up in Hell. So when Zia(Patrick Fugit) offs himself, he goes to someplace less bad. A place much like Earth, but grayer and without any stars.

So with no Heaven in sight, our hero is stuck in a dead-end job and spends his spare time getting drunk in the local bar, and here he meets a Russian rock musician Eurgene(Shea Whigharn) who electrocuted himself with a guitar on stage. He still lives with his parents, who are also suicides. They’re hanging out when Zia’s old friend Brian(Jake Busey) informs our hero that his long lost love(Mary P. Gleeson) has also put herself to death. So, now Zia has a mission, taking Eugene’s car and it’s owner on a quest to find her.

On the way, he and Eugene pick up a pretty young hitchhiker named Mikal(Shannon Sossamon), who died of a drug overdose and wants to find the People In Charge, and appeal her eternal sentence as the death wasn’t intentional.

So we have a longish road trip into the world of magical realism, where we meet all sorts of eccentric characters, including a guy named Kneller(Tom Waits) who runs a holiday camp where minor miracles are performed, and a cult leader(John Hawkes) tries to off himself again and find the next level…and yes, there is the expected romance.

This is actually a fun film and worth at least a matinee.

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