Film & VideoFlorida Film Festival:4-16-2010
The Sun Came Out (***) Try not to envy the artists brought together for Crowded House’s Neil Finn’s experiment to record an album in three weeks, with the proceeds going to charity. As if hibernating in a studio with some of music’s finest musicians – Lisa Germano, Jeff Tweedy, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway and many more – and finding time to play with their kids, go golfing and wander the beaches of New Zealand. Sounds great, right? Now consider that the music they come up with, which should have run along the lines of ill-conceived sonic messes that usually come out of giant jam sessions, is instead glorious and touching, especially KT Tunstall and Bic Runga’s duet, “Black Silk Ribbon.” – JS (10 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 2:45 p.m., April 17 at Regal Winter Park)
A Million in the Morning (**) You can learn a lot by watching a group of strangers attempt to break the Guinness world record for uninterrupted movie-watching; for one thing, ice to the testicles is apparently an effective pick-me-up. Unfortunately, the focus of this doc is squarely on the insufferable mugging of on-camera commentator Gavin McInnes, who seems to feel that tossing out witless yet unceasing observations on sleep deprivation will make him the next Morgan Spurlock. Dream on. – SS (11:59 p.m., Enzian Theater; also 11:59 p.m., April 17 at Regal Winter Park)
Space Tourists (**) Although ostensibly concerned with the collapse of the Soviet space program and the privatization of space travel, Christian Frei’s documentary leaps from subject to subject with little sense of focus or closure. An occasional breathtaking shot of the Earth from orbit or the dryly funny sight of farmers encountering fallen boosters isn’t enough to elevate a film that feels like it was made with a 12-year-old’s attention span and a 60-year-old’s lament for a bygone era.
– WG (6:30 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 12 p.m., April 18 at Regal Winter Park)
Welcome (****) Bilal, a 17-year-old refugee fleeing Iraq, comes to the harbor town of Calais, France, looking for passage to England, where he has a possible job and possible girlfriend. Calais does not take kindly to immigrants, or those who aid them like Simon, the swim coach who befriends Bilal in order to impress his activist wife. Bilal wants to do the impossible for love. Simon wants to be a better person. Yet this film never reaches for the grand, content in the intensity of abrupt conversations and threats of violence. – TF (8:45 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 2:15 p.m., April 18 at Regal Winter Park)
Leaves of Grass (**) Tim Blake Nelson is smart. He’s smart enough to cast Edward Norton as identical twins and smart enough to make a movie about classical philosophy and not have it turn into a series of bludgeoning conversations. But his intelligence can’t save this ridiculous premise from exploding into absurdity. His comedy-avec-violence about the trials of pot dealers in Oklahoma may have the best summary of the modern history of Israel you will ever hear, but every smart move the film makes gets washed away in the last 20 minutes. – TF (7 p.m., Plaza Cinema Café; also 9:30 p.m., April 18 at Regal Winter Park)
Solitary Man (***) Michael Douglas reprises and expands upon his role as Matthew McConaughey’s skeezy spirit in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (kind of) in this well-acted, flatly directed portrait of a car salesman at the end of his rope. Douglas’ Ben is a womanizing, smooth-talking disgraced business mogul currently scraping the bottom of life by hanging out with a shy college kid (Jesse Eisenberg, of course), showing him how to slay ladies while doing some cradle robbing of his own. Meanwhile, his finances are in ruin and his daughter doesn’t want to see him anymore. Brian Koppelman’s perceptive script makes up for his, and partner David Levien’s awkward pacing but not by much. – JS (9:30 p.m., Plaza Cinema Café; also 3:45 p.m., April 18 at Regal Winter Park)