And the Other Newport Beach Film Fest Awards Go To ...
Trippiest Feature Film
Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy
Based on acclaimed author Irvine Welsh's 1996 novel Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance, Rob Heydon's film zeroes in on an aging clubber and drug mule (brilliantly played by Adam Sinclair) falling in love with an unsatisfied wife and office drone (Kristen Kreuk) just as dark forces are making the man's life a living hell in an Edinburgh, Scotland. We already know the place is bleak, thanks to Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting and the smash movie adaptation. But where heroin intensified the scuzziness, ecstasy makes it all warm puppies and sunshine, baby. Heydon and his crew blend intense electronica with cinematic tricks that make you feel as if you're using as effectively as Marty Scorsese did in Harvey Keitel's swirling drunk scene in Mean Streets.
The story is about extreme skiers and their realization that what they do leaves a carbon footprint. To drive this message home, directors Dave Mossop and Eric Crosland cut into impossible ski porn several shots of nature--flowing lava and ice floes, steam rising from seas, a bright yellow moon dropping like the Times Square New Year's Eve ball, snow, snowflakes and snow banks that appear to be created by artists, and orange, purple and yellow skies at sunset. As in Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, All.i.can also relies on a vigorous soundtrack to render your mind blown.
Best Double Take
Daniela Flynn directs, co-edit, adapts and stars solo in this eight or so minute short based on a monologue from the stage play of the same name by Jerusalem-born Australian playwright Ron Elisha. It's about a grown woman dealing with her upbringing by a Nazi SS officer and Jewish woman. As she looks into the mirror, the daughter speaks of grief over her mother's suffering at the hands of her father. But the image looking back defends dad and shames momma. Borrowing a German accent, Flynn's haunting performance proves your family's dysfunction was nothing.
Best Spaghetti Western Face-Off
Ernest Borgnine and Barry Corbin
The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez is an uneven comedy--it's about an elderly man (Borgnine) who never realized his dream of becoming a famous actor finding fame among Latino nursing home workers because he once locked mitts with a certain Mexican singer-actor. But give writer-director Elia Petridis credit for not only pulling out a solid performance from 95-year-old Borgnine--who appears in nearly every scene of the movie--but of squaring him off against another veteran actor primed for the challenge, 71-year-old Barry Corbin. The quality of the film rises several notches in their scenes, which coupled with goofy spaghetti western cues, show that Petridis was at least on to something.
Best Reason Not to Panic, It's You-Know-What
In Organic We Trust
Los Angeles commercial and filmmaker R. Kiplin Pastor travels the country to find out whether organic truly means something or is just a marketing term. I won't give away the final answer, except to say you won't be wrong whichever one you choose. Pastor's amazingly packs several topics into 81 minutes, although while presenting the film at Island Cinemas he did say an In Organic We Trust II is in the works, and I don't think he was kidding. Fun fact: the sister and brother-in-law of the first farmer interviewed on screen fired me from an editing job a few years ago. Oh, and screening attendees learned more about organics, growing your own and donating overflow backyard crops to the needy at a after-drinks-and-munchies party at Sage Restaurant in Corona del Mar sponsored by OC Food Access. Learn more about what that nonprofit is up to at ocfoodaccess.org.
Best Supporting Players of All
Newport Beach Film Festival volunteers
Without them, I'd have nothing to blog about. Oh, jeez, but please don't take it out on them.
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