And the Other Newport Beach Film Fest Awards Go To ...
Apartment in Athens, Nazi Drama from Italy, is Big Winner of Newport Beach Film Fest Awards
. . . NBFF awards have been dished out for the weeklong cinextravaganza that ended Thursday night. But, like American television producers, I feel even more awards need to be bestowed. So I came up with my own. Call them the Matties or Shmatties or Cokscars, if you will.
But first, keep in mind these were compiled after the send off for the Songs for Amy Irish/Scottish/English cast and crew at Muldoon's Pub in Newport Center, where songwriter Jim Mckee and composer/co-songwriter Ultan Conlon armed themselves with acoustic guitars to perform soulful music from the dark dramedy.
By the way, sitting next to director Konrad Begg and writer-producer Fiona Graham Thursday night as they dropped shots of something into their black stouts with handy mixed-drink and Coors Light chasers by their sides (a ritual which would be repeated . . . repeatedly), it hit me: Irish people can drink. Who knew?
From Muldoon's and the Celtic serenade, it was on to the waning moments of the festival's official closing night party at a Via Lido Plaza sticky with spilled Absolut Citron, oozin' with schmoozin' and pounding to DVUET-DVUET-DVUET tuneage that shook the barnacles off tubs in the adjacent harbor.
So, yeah, keep my frame of head in mind while scanning these awards for . . .
Worst Use of Cher's New Lips
Before Ted Turner and Meryl Streep conspired to make us forget what a great actress Jane Fonda was, she did On Golden Pond with her dad. The 1981 weepie comes to mind while watching Bruce Beresford's Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, where an elderly parent who lives in an idyllic spot next to a pool of water is visited by a long estranged daughter with kids. The difference is Henry Fonda had a spouse and his daughter only had one child. Hank played a retired college professor who aged gracefully. Jane plays a hippie grandma/ craftmaker/pot grower whose plastic surgery took me right out of the picture. I mean, what kind of Earth muffin goes under the knife? Worse, Fonda's over-acting had me screaming at the screen.
Best Use of Larry Miller and/or Janeane Garofalo
Directed and co-written by Tom Morris and co-produced by former Irvine resident Kevin Liang, this effective comedy packs a lead actor who resembles my cousin Lance (Chris Sheffield), high school students played by people who appear to be 27 and a familiar face behind the teacher's desk, Elaine Hendrix of Superstar, The Parent Trap and TV's most recent 90210. It's the story of a guy about to lose his tennis scholarship because he failed physical science and must make it up in summer school after he was supposed to graduate. As his parents, Larry Miller and Janeane Garofalo might have been expected to phone it in, but to their credit they gave their all. You had to love seeing Garofalo, the pride of Air America here playing a homemaker with an ever-present white wine. There are hilarious scenes without the veteran comic-actors, but the movie is all the better with them in the pocket.
Most Pretentious Film
Daniel Gillies directs himself as an American children's book author dealing with writer's block, emotional pain and a 14-year-old prostitute in Bogata, Columbia. Their story intersects with that of an LA daycare teacher played by Gillies' real-life wife and Broken Kingdom's executive producer Rachael Leigh Cook, who gets way too close to a student and his father. There is interesting camerawork, actor interplay and totally unnecessary poetry breaks. If a stooge like me can figure out in the first act the plot twist that will be revealed in the third, the kingdom isn't the only thing that's broken.