But as fun as it is to laugh at the emperor's-new-clothes-domino-effect obviously happening amongst film festival programmers, there are also plenty of ammonia-crystal-diamonds to be found sparkling atop the heaps of brown stuff.
In this past week spent at the RiverRun and Nashville Film Festivals, I've seen a number of grand films about which I'd like to give you a heads-up...
First and foremost: POVERTY, INC.
Have you ever wondered if maybe those well-intentioned TOMS shoes you bought were actually doing more harm than good? Well, you were right! "POVERTY, INC. follows the butterfly effect of our most well intentioned efforts and explores the hidden side of fighting poverty." It's not all doom and gloom, though—the film points to people and organizations that are doing it right, and suggests ways for you and me (and TOMS) to make a difference. A must-watch for anyone who's ever cared about working to ameliorate World poverty.
Second: THE WOLFPACK
"Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch. Nicknamed the Wolfpack, the sextet of brothers spend their childhood re-enacting their favorite films—from Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs to The Dark Knight and more—using elaborate homemade props and costumes."
The film raises a lot of interesting questions about family, creativity, and the value of community.
Third: I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
Currently sitting at 100% on the ol' Rotten Tomatoes, this film offers a poignant, often funny look at both the troubles and angsts of aging, and the importance of grabbing life by the cohones no matter how old you might be. The trailer kinda sucks, but the film's totally worth your time. Checkit.
Fourth: WELCOME TO LEITH
It'd be a mistake to take this (and probably any documentary) at face value. Dig deeper.
WELCOME TO LEITH "chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb." More than that, though, it forces the viewer to really question the value of free speech, and to wonder how committed a free society really needs to be to that ideal.
Welcome to Leith - Teaser from NO WEATHER on Vimeo.
Fifth: PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS
I cannot remember the last time I watched a movie this endlessly witty. My older brother Jo-Ben (who's endlessly on the prowl for quippy movie zingers) would probably find enough material in this picture to last him, oh, three or four weeks. It's also chock-full of insight into the life of a guy co-parenting in a broken home whilst trying to make a go of it as an artist. So, y'know, vaguely familiar stuff. I don't like or agree with all the implicit assumptions the movie makes, but you'd be hard-put to find a more clever, enjoyable divorce-parenting movie.
Here's a random scene from it that for some reason someone's put on the youtubes (although it's nowhere near a highlight). Enjoy...