NBFF Midway: Reflexoes de um Liquidificador, High Road Premiere, Aaron Sorkin, California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown

Categories: Film
Searching the High Road.
Checking in on the Newport Beach Film Festival at its halfway mark, viewers have been treated in this 12th year to the option of sticking to one genre of presentations--say, only shorts or comedies or Spanish-language movies--or creating their own cultural bouillabaisse.

My dance card has so far included an edgy Brazilian black comedy, a totally improvised stoner comedy, a talk by Hollywood's hottest screenwriter and a bittersweet documentary on arguably California's greatest governor.

Friday afternoon I ducked into a Triangle Square theater screening Andre Klotzel's Reflexoes de um Liquidificador (Reflections of a Blender) not knowing much other than it was from Brazil, involved a woman's missing husband and featured a talking blender.


Ana Lucia Torre is excellent as Elvira, a tireless wife who is introduced discovering that her husband of 40 years has gone missing. When she reports this to police, she is told he probably ran off with another woman. If not, a cop informs, Elvira will be the No. 1 suspect in his disappearance.

She becomes just that. She also becomes a conversationalist with her old electric blender, who seems to know a lot about the hubby's departure. What starts as a rather light (and weird) comedy grows darker (and weirder), and I must report that a couple older folks in the early afternoon audience walked out when . . . Well, let's just say if you can stomach Delicatessen, you can stomach Reflexoes de um Liquidificador. My, what a perfect movie-poster endorsement.

Friday night brought the world premiere of Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder Matt Walsh's High Road, whose cast includes--ahem--Party Down's Lizzy CaplanThe Mighty Boosh's Rich Fulcher, Tenacious D's Kyle Gass, Breaking Bad's Matt L. Jones, Superbad's Joe Lo Truglio, The Daily Show's Rob Riggle, Prison Break's Joe Nunez, Players' James Pumphrey, The Office's Ed Helm and Zach Woods, Saturday Night Live's Abby Elliott and Horatio Sanz and newcomer Dylan O'Brien.

A friend in weed
Walsh and co-writer Josh Weiner created 65, one-paragraph scenes instructing the actors to hit various plot points. Or pot points. Maryjane dealer Fitz (Pumphrey, in a slit-for-eyes' opening performance) falls hard for Monica (Elliott, cutey) just as his band breaks up. Through a series of coincidences, misunderstandings and Walsh-Weiner spitballs, Fitz and his high-school age mentoree Jimmy (O'Brien, kicking off what will likely be an impressive resume) split Los Angeles fast for Oakland.

Hotly pursued by Jimmy's father (Riggle) and a cop wannabe (Lo Truglio), Fitz and his young partner in crime hope to reunite in the Bay Area with their respective estranged father and mother. Speaking of es-strange, that's an apt description for Fitz's tranny dad (Fulcher) and the bizarre things that come out of his mouth. Indeed, Fulcher and Caplan vied for the loudest laugh breaks out of the Theater 4 crowd in Triangle Square's cineplex.

It helped that High Road cast and crew members filled about half the seats in the oversold house. But the guffaws truly were well-earned. Walsh's strategy sounds like the recipe for something unwieldy and uneven, and I must admit to have had my doutbs after viewing the trailer. But High Road is hilarious and, no, I wasn't stoned.

The director and all cast members listed above were at the world premiere expect Fulcher, Gass, Riggle, Helm and O'Brien. Also there were Morgan Vukovich, who plays a prostitute, Andy Daly, who plays Elliott's dad, and Neil Flynn, who is not in the picture but did play the janitor on Scrubs for years.

After the screening, Sanz--who would go on to call High Road the best movie he's made since Boat Trip--introduced his old pal Walsh and producer Kirk Roos. Walsh said the project was four years in the making, shot in "the ugliest parts of LA" and that a game called "Milky Milky Cakey Cakey" mentioned in the movie is a real game involving sheet cake and milk. Small wonder that when questions were asked of the cast, Jones admitted that "a lot of us had no idea what was going on."

No poo sticks were harmed in the making of this film.

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