12 Newport Beach Film Festival Picks from Movie Critics Far and Wide

Categories: Film
This week's edition of OC Weekly includes 12 films that most excite the Newport Beach Film Festival programmers who selected them--in honor of the 12th year of the county's most-established cinextravaganza.

But what of those other trend-setters: universally beloved film critics?

Your humble servant has trolled the Internet for critical praise of 12 films selected for this year's festival, which runs April 28-May 5. Words and trailers follow after the jump . . .

1) Project Nim. Oscar-winning Man on a Wire director James Marsh looks at the chimp raised like a human child in landmark 1970s experiments. Karina Longworth writes for Village Voice Media that the documentary "powerfully explores the line between human and animal, and open-endedly questions whether it exists at all." 8 p.m. Saturday, April 30; and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at Triangle Square. $12.

2) Bodyguards and Assassins. The first half of Teddy Chan's film set in turn-of-the-20th-century China is a political history lesson, and the second is pure martial arts carnage. Not-the-previous James Marsh writes on Twitch: "The context of this turbulent and volatile period of Chinese history is carefully executed, and Chen ensures the drama is always placed ahead of any particular political agenda. Ultimately it is all for the audience's benefit." 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30; and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Triangle Square, $12.

3) The Redemption of General Butt Naked. The nickname Joshua Milton Blahyi earned was for appearing nude in battle during Liberia's civil war, when he led a ruthless gang of paramilitaries who were responsible, by his own admission, for thousands of deaths. Since armistice, he's publicly preached for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Steve Ramos writes in Box Office Magazine that this is "one of those amazing documentaries that gives you the impression nothing escaped the directors" (Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion). 3:15 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Triangle Square. $12.

4) A Beginner's Guide To Endings. Three grown men deal differently with the death of their inveterate gambler father (Harvey Keitel) in NBFF's closing-night picture from director Jonathan Sobol. My pal Kate Carraway writes for Eye Weekly: "The central dynamic is not between the dead father and his disappointed progeny, but among the three adult sons--[Hawaii 5-0's Scott] Caan as the swaggering womanizer, Paulo Costanzo as a sensitive smarty and The Daily Show's Jason Jones in a near-perfect performance as the conflicted eldest--and it manages to be truly sweet and realistically, stinkily masculine." 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at the Lido. $75 for film and Closing Nigh Gala at Lido Village; $50 for party only. 21+.

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