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AFI Fest 2013: Trapped, by Scott Nye

15 Nov

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Confining a film to a single house is both sort of an attention-grabbing premise – “look at all we can do with just this one location!” – and something of a cost-saving measure. Between the filmmaker and everyone else involved, it’s pretty easy to come up with an apartment and then throw some actors in it without much concern towards the overall shape of the thing. In fact, no less than four films playing at AFI Fest took this single-location premise. Not all were entirely successful in their gambit, but each one demonstrated just how malleable one could make such seemingly confined quarters.

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AFI Fest 2013: Taking Flight, by Scott Nye

14 Nov

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Not only does a film festival such as AFI Fest allow one to see so many films that one might not otherwise (either through simple scheduling or something as frustrating as the film not being available to see any other way), but the films end up informing each other, feeding off collective energy and enhancing the strengths and weaknesses of one another. Sometimes these connections only seem evident to the specific viewer, who is still turning them around in his or her head as another one is unfolding, but some just sitting there.

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AFI Fest Review: Saving Mr. Banks, by Scott Nye

10 Nov

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I’m a fairly sentimental man by nature, and as such, given to displays of sentimentality in the movies. Because the feeling comes so naturally outside of the cinema, its representation therein can be equally honest. I don’t mind admitting it. Whether that makes me a “sap” or “soft” or just a damn fool is up to you. What I can tell you is I liked Saving Mr. Banks, the story of how a man whose name became a corporation gradually cajoled an author to allow him to commercialize her intensely personal novel, a great deal. Yes, the real P.L. Travers, author of the series of Mary Poppins novels, disapproved of the film immensely, regretting ever allowing Disney near the thing, and this is eventually discarded in the film we now have before us. But just as Disney had its way with her novel, so too can they now have their way with history, and though the result may not be more layered and nuanced than the true affair, I daresay that its essential goal – to uplift, inspire, and celebrate the magically ridiculous machinery of Hollywood – was, at least for this viewer, entirely successful.

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AFI Fest 2013 Preview

6 Nov

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My thoughts in advance of this year’s AFI Fest will be comparatively brief, though not for lack of enthusiasm. I simply don’t know a whole lot about the films that are playing. I kind of like it. Oh, sure, you’ve got your big-name, star-studded nightly galas – Saving Mr. Banks, August: Osage County, Nebraska, Out of the Furnace (World Premiere!), Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – but I suspect most of you have a decent sense of what those are all about. Same goes for other high-profile films like Her, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, or The Wind Rises. What I’m struck by, however, and what I’d like to highlight here, are the many unknown quantities, the extraordinarily rare opportunity this festival is presenting in giving you the chance to see these films – for free – and get to discover some stuff that maybe hasn’t been as thoroughly vetted by New York, Toronto, or even Cannes, and their respective festivals.

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