Stunning. Final impression.
I'll get to the movie that closed the 14th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival on Thursday night but first let me tell you what really impressed me: it was that my guests were knocked out by the ending festivities at the Regency Lido Theater.
Scott McMenamin (VicePresident of Sales) and Alejandro Seri (IMDB) (Educational Marketing Director) from Final Draft (yes, that Final Draft) came down from L.A. to enjoy the festivities that started with a D.J. saying "Hit It!" as the sun went down and was still going strong when I left around 1:00am.
Festival CEO Gregg Schwenk (who also teaches locally) and his staff and volunteers are to be congratulated on this year's festival in general which, as I've mentioned in a previous article, was smooth and impressive. But Gregg and his people also know how to throw a party as was evidenced by the mouth-dropping, stunned look by my guests as they arrived at Lido Village.
Scott, in his role as VP of Sales for Final Draft, has been to the film festival at Cannes and Sundance several times and Alejandro has traveled the world for the company that produces the seminal writing tool of all professional screenwriters. Both said they were "blown away" by the closing night ceremonies which featured a dozen or so food vendors, adult drink vendors, and a sound/light system that had to have awakened the dolphins in the bay. I felt like I was at a really expensive rave and from the reactions of not only the people around us but Scott and Alejandro, that feeling was shared.
Can a one-liner become an entire movie? The short answer is, no. The audience only laughs once. That’s the biggest flaw in Zack Birnbaum’s directorial debut, “And Now A Word From Our Sponsor,” which was screened for only the second time before a live audience yesterday at the Newport Beach film festival.
The film has dramatic, heartfelt moments which are salvaged mainly by good acting on the park of Parker Posey who plays Karen Hillridge, a hospital charity administrator whose relationship with her daughter Megan (Allie MacDonald) is strained by the loss of the family’s patriarch two years prior.
The story opens with heavy weight advertising icon Adan Kundle collapsing in front of a bank of televisions in an electronics store. He awakens in a hospital, alert and functional, but he speaks only in advertising slogans. When Adan opens the tray covering his hospital breakfast and sees a dry piece of toast and a single, hard boiled egg he remarks, “How do you handle a hungry man?”
Newport Beach Film Festival, 2013
Alive and thriving. I'm sure that's the message the Newport Beach Film Festival would love to hear shouted from the rooftops of The O.C. After a few dicey years with administration woes, venue problems, and less-than-wonderful film offerings, I found the festival this year to be robust and packed with films that mean something both critically and commercially.
Having expanded to The Triangle, the renovated Triangle Square in Costa Mesa, the buzz there where I picked up my press pass was incredible. The festival initially went there out of desperation last year because The Islands Theater in Newport Beach was undergoing a renovation and they needed a venue with a multiplex and some food options that was at least close to Newport Beach. This year, The Islands is back but The Triangle is also in its glory after several new shops and food places have transformed it into a truly great entertainment destination.
I was only able to attend my first event this year on Sunday and I chose to go to one of my favorite theaters, The Regency Lido, which is a single-venue theater with an actual balcony. The Lido is such a grand, old girl, the outside looking like a throwback to the days when theaters were edifices and not strip malls, but inside she's spanking new with a new screen, digital sound and digital projection that made the screenings pop.
Beside being my favorite venue to see anything, there were two other reasons I started my festival tour at The Lido: One, OCC (Orange Coast College) was doing its student films there, followed by the 25th Anniversary of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," and two, Regency theater manager Lorenzo Porricelli.
Larry is old school. He makes you feel a part of any event even if if you're just walking around. When I arrived, he was passing out programs for the showing of the student films like some carny barker. He personally greeted dozens of people, many of whom he knew and who knew him. If the NBFF put him in charge of the whole show, this dynamic force of nature would probably increase attendance by 75% on his own!
When Vivian Brechner (Toni Alexander), a female version of Donald Bren, decides to develop a Casino in the tiny town of Fountain Springs, she must bulldoze their bowling alley which is the, "Only thing we’ve got" scream the fifty-two residents of this California desert backwater.
Brechner's dispatches her son, Alexander, (Tyler Strateman) to do her dirty work, and the town’s mayor, Dawson Dinwitty (Gary Austin) springs into action with the city council, which consists of one man, also the town’s bowling instructor, George Pandick, (Andrew Dickler).
Both men must vote in favor of the new Casino, so Brechner tries to buy Dinwitty’s vote by wining, dining, and cajoling him from her office in Fashion Island and the Big Canyon golf course.
Meanwhile, Alexander gets drunk with the “twin” sons of Fountain Bowl’s owner, Herman Pritzoff (Eric Halsz) and agrees to a bowling contest with a prize of $250,000, enough money for the Pritzoff’s to buy the land and save their bowling alley.
This plot engine runs out of gas quickly because the second act has no real narrative. Instead random characters and events are mixed and matched in a way that makes we wonder if a real movie might have been left on the cutting room floor (or if nothing at all was left on that floor.)
The result is a film filled with a lot of “shtick” that is sometimes funny, but more often tired and jaded. You end up feeling like you watched a very long, Saturday Night Live skit, and that’s probably because writer, producer, director Cherie Kerr is founder of the Orange County Crazies comedy-improvisation troupe.
How do say Occam’s Razor in French?
If you don’t know what that means in English, I’ll give you the simplest of definitions: It’s the simplest of solutions.
Occam’s Razor is a principle of parsimony and economy. It compels problem solvers to employ the easiest, most rational, reasonable solution.
The “problem” or premise of “Fly Me to the Moon” is this:
Isabelle, a beautiful, young, Parisian bride-to-be, played deftly by Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds), must somehow beat a family curse wherein first marriages end in disaster and the second is destined for eternal bliss.
Isabelle’s eleventh-hour solution to this “problem” is to marry a shill in Denmark and divorce him the same day, thus beating the curse and living happily ever after with her young, dentist fiancé, Pierre (Robert Plagnol).
When the shill is a no show, Isabelle latches onto a hapless travel writer, Jean-Yves played with great comic rhythm by Danny Boon (Welcome To The Sticks). Jean-Yves is en-route from Paris to Kenya via Copenhagen. That travel routing sums up the fictional world created by Director Pascal Chaumeil (Heartbreaker) in this film: screwball.
When Isabelle buys a first class ticket to Kenya at the last minute so she can convince Jean-Yves to marry her, it’s hard to ask yourself why she doesn’t stay in Denmark, find another, local schmuck and pay him the money to complete her “perfect plan.”
But then there’s no movie. And in my view the basic premise or “log line” of a movie is something you know in advance. So if you’re of a mind to say, “A curse on first marriages? How silly. Running off to Denmark to create a paper marriage. That’s a perfect plan? How ridiculous.” Then don’t go into the theater in first place.
Check out the happenings at the OCC Showcase at this year's Newport Beach Film Festival!
Here are some pictures from the after party on April 28! Enjoy!
Enjoy some more pictures from the events of Saturday, April 28 at the Lido Theater...Expect some more pics tomorrow night! And if that doesn't work, try this... https://picasaweb.google.com/113281282356827183170/NewportBeachFilmFesti...
I'm still working on uploading pictures from the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival, but in the mean time check out some pictures from opening night! Tom Arnold and Jaime Lynn Sigler were some walking the red carpet for Jewtopia...
Of course the 1st thing you know about the Newport Beach Film Festival 2011 is that it's moved from its usual place at the Island Cinemas and over to Triangle Square. They are remodeling the theaters at the Fashion Island location so for the bulk of the festival it's at the Newport Blvd. location. Some venues remain the same: opening night was at Big Newport, The Regency Lido in Balboa remains the closing night and other venues will be used like The Regency Lido Theater and The Sage Hill Theater at Newport Coast.
The facade doesn't matter, really. It's still the same well-run show inside. I actually like Triangle Square for the festival because on the upper floor of the buidling is a large, open "square" where people can hang and talk. If the venue itself was more populated with shops it would be perfect. Unfortunately, since Nike Town left and other companies couldn't sustain their businesses there, there is a sort of ghost town feel to it when you're walking between the theater and anywhere else like the media room (the old Nike Town.) Otherwise, it's actually quite nice since on that top floor you can grab a bite and a beer at Yardhouse and there's still a candy store open. There are also shops and restaurants at street level.
If you want to celebrate your fellow story-tellers at a class Orange County event, make sure to set aside 5 days next year, around this time to attend the 2nd Annual Anaheim International Film Festival.
Through the brilliance of our fearless leader Mark Sevi agreeing to sponsor the shorts programs, I spent four days at the Anaheim International Film Festival viewing some 16 film shorts - and there was not a bad one in the bunch.
GET YOUR BUTTS OVER TO THE AIFF AT GARDEN WALK - JUST 2 DAYS LEFT.
This evening I viewed 7 spectacularly professional shorts. Most were from domestic sources and at least one with sub-titles (someplace European I think). Every short kept the audience fully engaged - the likes of which I have not seen before - what a pleasure to witness.
As a producer I would have been proud to have my name associated with any of them. The theme was CUPID and each script was clever, I dare say exceptional, with only one being somewhat predictable - what a creative treat. There are at least two more series of shorts before the festival is over and I suggest it is really worth an hour or so of your time. Use that as a warmup before you go to one of the very fine feature length movies.
A Huge Success!
That's the phrase that immediately comes to mind to describe the The Anaheim International Film Festival which kicked off its inaugural events tonight at the brand new UltraStar Cinemas at Anaheim GardenWalk. The Orange County Screenwriters Association is a sponsor of the festival and we attended with five members and two student film makers who are doing a documentary on OCSWA.
I had the opportunity to talk to Founder and Chairman Sinan Kanatsiz to tell him how impressed we all were with the presentation and organization. Had I not known this was the first night of the first year I would have never guessed. Everyone who worked the desks, the red carpet and security were professional and pleasant. The check-in and red carpet were handled expertly. I felt immediately that AIFF has a real chance of challenging the Newport Beach Film Festival as a premier film event in Orange County. I can see that a lot of that good vibe comes directly from Mr. Kanatsiz himself who was so well-spoken and personable that I wondered why he wasn't himself an actor.
I just got in from attending this evening's activities and while exhausted from a long day today and with an early call tomorrow morning, but it would be negligent of me not to tell you how outstanding this festival is and urge you to attend one or more movies over the next few days. It is being held at the Garden Walk in Anaheim (link).and continues through Sunday the 17th.
The festival was well thought out by people who obviously have a passion for film. They arranged for experienced festival operators to help them set it up correctly (I met some people from the Temecula and San Diego festivals).
From the red carpet to the after party, you'd have thought they've been doing this for years. I suspect they will be around for a long time and would not be surprised if they become one of the "must attend" festivals.
I will write additional information about the festival in the next day or two but for now - IT'S A HIT! Congratulations to Sinan Kanasiz and the other founders.
Go, you'll have a good - no, a great time.