Thursday, June 12, 2008

LA Film Festival 2008

I must admit, though it was crowded and rather uncomfortable at times, I still pine for the punkish LA Film Festival days at the Sunset 5 Plaza. Westwood Village is great and all, but we Eastsiders aren't all that fond of the 10 & the 405. Oh well…..

What are our picks this summer at the Los Angeles Film Festival?

The festival certainly has its eye on sure hits in the action genre for opening and closing nights, though they're from directors far removed from the Michael Bay school of Kaplowie! high jinks. Opening night features Wanted (Wanted review), directed by Timur Bekmambetov (director of the hyperkinetic Night Watch - Nightwatch review) and starring James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie, while the festival closes with writer/director Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Del Toro will also be on hand for a conversation at the Hammer.

Must sees include Elite Squad, which looks like Brazil's answer to Training Day, Nordic music videos in Declare Independence: Spotlight on Scandinavia, HottirBoombaLottie, The Wackness, Momma's Man, South Africa's The Choir and Infinite Border.

Outdoor screenings at the Ford Amphitheatre remind us its summertime in the city. Swear-a-Long Scarface, surf movie Highwater (Highwater review) and high school documentary American Teen (American Teen review) will screen at twilight.

Poolside chats at the W Los Angeles in Westwood tackle topics like pot "The New Stoner Age", funny women "Funny Girls", and "Hollywood, D.C.".

Documentary topics include art:Dirty Hands: The Art & Crimes of David Choe, family strife Must Read After My Death, transsexuals Trinidad chef school Pressure Cooker, and the yucky Fleiss Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal.

To its credit, the LA Film Festival has always screened a few films that deal with the complexities of angeleno life. This year two films explore South Central. The ever important free screenings include The Garden (The Garden review), which examines the dirty underbelly of LA politics that allowed the destruction of a 14 acre farm in the middle of South Central and Made in America, which takes a look at root causes of gang warfare. Quintessential LA architecture is explored in Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman.

Is it too early too visit the 80's? LAFF doesn't think so. From The Lost Boys to Night Flight: Born Again, campy fun abounds.

The LA edginess has been watered down, but that means events like Antonio Banderas being saluted. And who doesn't mind saluting Antonio?