Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Film festival offers lots of magic

Starting Friday, see documentaries, independent and foreign films

Express Staff Writer

Are the backup singers merely window dressing for the real stars or are they much more. Find out in the movie “Twenty Feet from Stardom.”.
Courtesy photo

    “This film festival includes real people in independent film, so it feels closer to who we are as real humans,” said Magic Lantern Cinema owner Rick Kessler of the 2013 Fall Festival, which presents three weeks of the year’s best documentary, independent and foreign films starting Friday, Sept. 13, and continuing through Thursday, Oct. 3.
    The list of intriguing films includes: “20 Feet From Stardom,” “The Attack,” “Drinking Buddies,” “Prince Avalanche,” “Fruitvale Station,” “The Spectacular Now,” “Unfinished Song,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “A Royal Affair,” “The Bling Ring,” “Love Is All You Need,” “Blackfish,” “Before Midnight,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The East.”
    “The film festival features films that present some topics that many people have always wondered about,” he said. “There’s something for everyone. There’s heavy and then there’s light.”
    Films include “20 Feet From Stardom,” a well-received documentary about backup singers who live and work on the edge of the spotlight.
    “The Attack” is a dramatic film about an Israeli-Palestinian surgeon and his picture-perfect life turned upside down when the police inform him that not only was his wife killed in a terrorist bombing but that she was the suicide bomber. The story is not dissimilar to the unveiling of the young men accused of the Boston bombings, with wrestling coaches, friends and family of the suspects maintaining they were much different than their apparent beliefs.
    Change gears with “Drinking Buddies,” starring Ron Livingston of “Office Space.” This is a romantic comedy about the magic of “beer goggles” to turn friends into more than friends.
    Paul Rudd and Emil Hirsch star in “Prince Avalanche,” which tells the story about two quirky highway road workers who spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. A National Public Radio reviewer said, ‘“Prince Avalanche” speaks insightfully to the joys and costs of being alone, and of the risk that comes with letting another person in. Bittersweet and deeply felt, it also shows with confidence the estimable and still surprising talents of its cast and director.”
    Sundance 2013 Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner “Fruitvale Station” is a true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident whose well-documented encounter with police on New Year’s Eve in 2008 at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station shook the area, and the nation. It was produced by actor Forest Whitaker.
    Of “The Spectacular Now,” the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, as high school seniors Sutter and Aimee, bring such an authentic face of confidence and questioning, indifference and need, pain and denial, friendship and first love, that it will take you back to that time if you’re no longer there, and light a path if you are.”
    “Unfinished Song” is the story about a grumpy retiree, Arthur, who honors his recently deceased wife’s passion for performing by joining the unconventional local choir, a process that helps him connect with his estranged son, James. The film stars Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton.
    An outlaw who escapes from prison sets out to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met in “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, set in the Texas hill country in the mid-1970s.

There’s something for everyone. There’s heavy and then there’s light.”
Rick Kessler
Cinema owner

    “A Royal Affair” is the true story of an ordinary man who wins a queen’s heart and starts a revolution. National Public Radio said, “While it’s lavish and lush in all the expected costume-drama ways, ‘A Royal Affair’ never bogs down in period detail.”
    “The Bling Ring,” from writer and director Sofia Coppola, takes on the true story of a group of fame-obsessed teenagers robbing celebrity homes. The film stars Carlos Miranda, Claire Julien, Emma Watson, Gavin Rossdale, Georgia Rock, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Leslie Mann and Taissa Farmiga. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “‘The Bling Ring’ is a sly, often hilarious and at times sobering look at the 21st century fascination with celebrities. It may be the most exquisitely crafted movie ever made about a bunch of nitwits.”
    “Blackfish” is a documentary that unfolds like a psychological thriller with a famed killer whale in the center. It is based on the story of Tilikum, a killer whale at Seaworld that has killed three trainers. New York magazine wrote, “It’s true that the number of whales in captivity isn’t huge. But they’ve now become the mightiest symbols of our cultural hubris—of our inability to manage creatures we have the power to capture and imprison. It’s a metaphor for the ages.”
    “Before Midnight” catches up with Celine and Jesse, who first romanced audiences in “Before Sunrise,” and again in “Before Sunset.” It is the third film from director Richard Linklater, of “Slacker” and “Dazed and Confused,” starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, examining where their romance that started on a train bound for Vienna is now that they are in their early 40s in Greece.
    A Sun Valley Film Festival favorite, “Much Ado About Nothing,” is Shakespeare’s classic comedy, which is given a contemporary spin by director Joss Whedon. Shot in 12 days, the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.
     “The East” is a mystery/thriller/drama about how an elite private intelligence firm contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective suspected to be responsible for attacking major corporations. Moss goes undercover, but as she gets closer to the action and the organization’s leader her commitment to her task begins to waver. The film stars Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, Brit Marling, Jason Ritter, Julia Ormond and Patricia Clarkson.
    Many of the trailers on these festival picks, dates and show times can be found at, or call 726-4274.

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