Newport Beach Film Festival - Day 2
I wasn't able to go last night to the opening gala so this was my first night at the fest. To see some quick video hits from the opening go here.
In a word the festival is - fabulous.
The buzz is so great at all the venues. Everyone seems excited just to be there. And every audience member becomes a film critic coming out of the showings. "Too slow." "Didn't hold together." "Wrong ending." "Too much jumping around in the narrative." Gotta love it. So much interest in film in this county - makes me happy I'm a small part of it.
The filmmakers too - met so many great ones even in just a short time. Ran into friends and fellow screenwriters - great energy, great fun.
I think what I enjoy most is watching the excited faces of the directors and producers whose film is showing - they glow like proud and nervous parents showing their children off for the first time. Having attended many film openings in Los Angeles, I can say categorically that the feeling is exactly the same no matter how many people have shown up to see the film and even in the smallest of venues. All the hard work, endless hours, constant frustration are put behind - here now is the culmination of many, many days and weeks of backbreaking work. These men and women are happy and it shows. This business has so few peak moments, it's really nice to see and vicariously live through a few more.
Our press passes allow us in and out of just about any venue. That came in very handy when the movie I targeted for early afternoon was canceled because the idiot filmmakers never sent their film to the festival. I slipped into the "O Canada" Short Film showing instead. I'll cover the shorts in a different article.
Since the festival is at several different venues, travel can be a challenge at times - especially during rush hour. But if you plan properly (and the festival guide they have is really terrific for that) you can do it right. But thank God it's The OC and not L.A. or that burden would be thrice cursed and beyond frustrating. Just figure out a surface street route and avoid the freeways.
After the shorts at the Island Cinemas, my second venue being the Regency South Coast Village Theater, I had to beat feet across town to see both "Below the Beltway" and the odd, funny "Elektra Luxx."
"Below The Beltway" is a sly, acerbic look at the machinations in Washington D.C. It was professionally shot and acted with solid production values. You could tell that the screenwriters didn't have a ton of experience with which to tell the story, though. There were lagging moments and the build up to the "climax" was poorly handled (too obvious and there was no real cinemactic moment.) The story wandered and lost focus, and the story threads spun out unevenly and without precision but it was entertaining nonetheless with some amusing moments and funny lines.
This was the world premiere and I'm sure you'll see it running somewhere soon. I thought this film would make an excellent television series and I hope the filmmakers can convince some show runner to do just that. We have video of the Q&A and some exclusive video with the producer, Jim Wareck (who also co-wrote the script) that we'll post to the YouTube page soon.
"Elektra Luxx" - now how to describe this one? "Crash" threaded through the porn industry - but funny? Sexy? Jaw droppingly inappropriate? A challenge to follow at times? Slow? Profane, Mundane and Insane? (my attorneys) Yes, all of those. But the film has a good heart and a ton of stars.
You get so involved in the lives of the people in the film that you forget (almost) that they're talking, and in some cases doing, the most abberant things in a matter-of-fact manner. You know you're in dicey territory when the lead is mentioning how her hair looks with her ankles by her ears.
This one was filled with stars including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Carla Gugino in the lead role. There's no purpose served in describing the wafer-thin plot - just watch it and smile a lot. I probably would have dialed back some of the performances - a bit over-the-top - but Gugino was nearly perfect in her role as a former porn star who is now facing the frightening prospect of motherhood. If you like your films on the raunchy, quirky, sometimes funny side, this is for you.
"Elektra Luxx" is actually part two of a triology: The first is "Women in Trouble." The third ("Women In Ecstacy") is still listed as in development. There's not even a script yet but hopefully the filmmakers will pull it all together in time for next year's fest.
I do wish that more of the cast and crew had shown up for the Q&A but big ups to actress Adrianne Palicki (Holly Rocket) for coming and brightening our evening with her fabulous smile and entertaining manner.
I begged off from the after parties - just too tired. Hard to imagine that simply watching films will do that to you. But I'll continue to post some impressions and quick reviews. Thanks again to Rudy Garcia for manning the camera.
Tomorrow (Saturday) they have a scriptwriting, directing and music seminar. The Seminar Series is free. No tickets are required. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Panelists are subject to change. The scriptwriting one is at 10:30 AM.
Honestly, anyone who loves film should try and get out to see a few flicks. What a great film resource this is and it's right here! You don't have to go Sundance or Telluride to see challenging, inspirational, experimental and world premiered films
Great films, beautiful weather, celebrities...is that too SoCal or what?
What more could you ask for?