I love movies. I have loved movies all my life. I grew up on them. When I was eight years old, I managed to convince myself I would make movies when I grew up. Now I am in the process of getting a degree in Film Studies. I write about film more than ever before, partly because I have to for my classes, mostly because I enjoy it, because I have something to write about. Sometimes it helps me understand the film better; sometimes it helps me understand myself better.
I created this blog as a place to showcase my work, and also as an incentive to keep writing reviews, analyses, and essays over breaks, when there’s no one here to grade me.
I have tried many times, and failed, to explain in a coherent manner why it is that I love films. Here is my best—and most coherent—guess.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ATLFF'15: What I'm Excited About (Part II)

I’ve made it through the opening weekend of this year’s festival, and, true to my first post about the Atlanta Film Fest, I went to a lot of screenings. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

In case anyone was wondering, The Dickumentary informs us that cock worship is alive and well in North America, in the small but dedicated following of the St. Priapus Church of Montreal—located mainly in the (sacred?) basement of the order’s high priest and founder, D.F. Cassidy. While it is admittedly hard—no pun intended—to top that piece of information, the other screenings were also more than worth the time, if only to find out how much of a pain in the ass, according to filmmaker Jonathan Kesselman, John Heard is. My favorite event so far has to be the “Other Worlds” short block, a surprisingly diverse and impressive collection of eight horror and sci-fi films, by turns hilarious and terrifying, that truly made me happy about the future of the film industry. What I take away from it all? Don’t ever pick up a crow totem off the ground.

But the festival is less than halfway through, and there are more exciting events in the coming days. This is what I’m looking forward to.

While We’re Young (Wednesday 3/25 7:00 p.m. at the Plaza)

The only feelings I have now are wistful and disdainful,” fortysomething Josh (Ben Stiller) says at one point in Noah Baumbach’s latest coming-of-middle-age story. The line could almost perfectly describe most of the “indie”—whatever that means—director’s works to date, and I expect melancholy humor and hard-biting irony, boisterous levity and bitter truths about getting old, to ensue when Josh and his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) unexpectedly befriend a young and unpredictable Brooklynite couple (played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). Baumbach scheduled to attend.

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards (Wednesday 3/25 9:45 p.m. at the Rialto)

This adaptation of Robert Boswell’s short story collection by the same name unfolds as a series of vignettes that explore the difference between fantasy and reality, memory and history, and the joy and agony of the human condition. A man’s obsessive visits to a fortuneteller leave him nearly homeless. Time collapses as two marriages slowly dissolve. A young man recounts the summer he spent in a mountain town, squatting in a borrowed house with a loose band of slackers, abstaining from all drugs (other than mushrooms)—and ultimately asking just what kind of harm we can do to one another. Helmed by seven directors, this express anthology stars Kristen Wiig, Matthew Modine, Amber Tamblyn, Jimmy Kimmel, and Kate Mara among others. Producer and star James Franco scheduled to attend.

The Sisterhood of Night (Friday 3/27 7:00 p.m. at the Plaza)

Caryn Waechter’s Kickstarter-funded debut feature seems to offer a provocative meditation on the tragedy and humor of teenage years changed forever by the internet age. When Emily Parris (Kara Hayward) exposes a secret society of girls that meets mysteriously in the woods and accuses them of sexual deviancy, the small suburban community they hail from makes national news and soon becomes the setting of a modern-day, social media-inflected Salem witch hunt.
Love N.C. 17 (Friday 3/27 9:45 p.m. upstairs at the Plaza)

An exploration of love—and what seems to be the diversity of its forms and effects—through six short films that deal with topics as distinct as murdering your partner (Chandelier, Alexander Yan), seduction by the gods (Persefone, Grazia Tricarico), and erotic massage (Happy Endings, Hannes Thor Arason).
New Mavericks (Saturday, 3/28 12:00 p.m. at the Plaza)

Each of the seven short films in the “New Mavericks” collection features a female filmmaker and a strong female lead. While some of the directors have shown some apprehension about anything feminist-labeled or their reduction to the rarity or curiosity of a woman director, as if that somehow put them in a category all their own or described their work in any meaningful way, there’s no denying this films deserve recognition on their own terms.
Next Year (Saturday, 3/28 2:15 p.m. upstairs at the Plaza)

First-time writer-director Vania Leturcq aims to capture the possibility, excitement, uncertainty and bittersweetness of growing up in L’annee Procahine, the story of 18-year-old best friends Clotilde (Constance Rousseau) and Aude (Jenna Thiam), who are finishing school and must decide what to do the following year. Clotilde is eager to leave the small, provincial village and move to Paris, dragging Aude along, but the two girls respond to the move differently.

Love and Mercy (Sunday, 3/29. 12:15 p.m. upstairs at the Plaza)

Paul Dano and John Cusack play younger and older iterations of Brian Wilson in Bill Pohlad’s TIFF-premiered warm tribute to the Beach Boys founder. Billed as the true story behind the legend, genius and madness of the songwriter and recording savant’s life, Love and Mercy chronicles Wilson’s decades-long struggles with mental health and substance abuse and his middle-age relationship to Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks), who is determined to save him from his therapist (Paul Giamatti).

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