The Nantucket Film Festival
I spent last weekend at the Nantucket
Film Festival. I managed to see five films. The films were Dirty Pretty Things, American Splendor, Whale Rider, Thirteen,
and 28 Days Later.
These films have all been making the rounds of the film
festivals but only Whale Rider is in limited theatrical release at the
moment. The others will be released later this summer. I also attended a live
reading of the screenplay for A Confederacy
of Dunces which is
about to go into production. It is being produced by Steven Soderberg and Drew
Barrymore, and will be directed by David Gordon Green. He is 28 years old
and looks it. His last film was All
the Real Girls. The actors taking part in the
reading, who are not the actual cast of the movie, included Will Ferrell (as Ignatius
Reilly), Anne Meara, Olympia Dukakis, Dan Hedaya, Alan Cumming, Jesse Eisenberg,
Kristen Johnson and Rosie Perez. Other than seeing these actors on stage, I didn't
have many celebrity sightings unless you count John Shea (Lex Luthor in Lois & Clark) or Paul Giamatti
(see below). Nothing rivalled my sighting of the First Lady earlier in the week.
here for official web site)
Here are my mini-reviews:
28 Days Later
(June 27 release)
This is the latest movie by Danny Boyle, best known
for directing Trainspotting.
In 28 Days Later, Boyle is fusing The Day of the Triffids
with Night of the Living
Dead. A man (Cillian
Murphy) awakes from a coma to find
that the city of London is apparently deserted. A virus has
Great Britain turning normal people into angry zombies who only come
at night. Murphy links up with a few unaffected people trying to
to safety. Despite the cool beginning, this is your average
movie. Murphy's group continually put themselves where they will
be attacked by zombies. And then they are over and over again. I
was not impressed.
Rider (wide release July 4)
This movie from New Zealand has had great buzz and
it is a very sweet story. Whale Rider is the story of a
in modern day New Zealand. The chief of the tribe is troubled
because his son only has a daughter. Tradition says that only a
son can become chief so he tries to find a new chief among the young
boys in the town. However, his granddaughter (Keisha
Castle-Hughes) has other ideas. She won't take no for an answer.
Her grandfather desperate for a boy, ignores sign
after sign that she must be the one (a la Neo). Don't look for subtlety
This is a very simple story told very simply but beautifully.
and the rest of the cast are extremely good and even though you know
the first minute how it will end, you will be in there rooting for her.
Pretty Things (July 18 limited release)
This was the best film I saw at the festival.
It is the latest film directed by Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, Dangerous Liasons, The Grifters). In Dirty
Pretty Things, Frears is making a kind of sequel to his early film,
My Beautiful Laundrette.
That film dealt with the immigrant Indian population in London in
Dirty Pretty Things deals with the much more diverse
population in London today. The main two characters are a Turkish
(Audrey Tautou) and a Nigerian man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who meet while
at the same hotel. They both are on the run, Tautou because she
an illegal immigrant, Ejifor because he is a wanted man back
They fall in love as they try to help each other keep their heads
water in the shadowy world of new immigrants. The story is very
and interesting, and Frears keeps the film moving along. The two
are excellent. Tautou made a splash last year in Amelie. Her turkish accent is a bit muddled but who cares.
Ejiofor is amazingly good. This one
is a must see.
(August 15 limited release)
This is one weird whacked out movie. There is
guy, Harvey Pekar, a real guy, whose existence I had been blissfully
of. Harvey has been producing a comic book called American
Splendor based on his own life for about 30 years. A play
been produced and now a movie. The movie is strange because half
it is a documentary with the real Harvey and his wife, and half is a
with Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis. I had a hard time getting into
Splendor because of the format but as time went on it became more
more compelling as we would see the drama and then a few minutes later
the real-life characters. Paul Giamatti, best known for being the son
former baseball Comissioner Bart Giamatti, usually has small parts in
like Saving Private Ryan.
But here, he really gets to shine as Harvey Pekar. Hope Davis,
daughter in About Schmidt,
is also very good as Harvey's wife.
Thirteen (August 20 limited release)
Although Thirteen is a very typical movie about
teens, it is unusual in that one of the screenwriters is thirteen years
Nikki Reed who also stars in the film. Thirteen traces a few months in
lives of two teenage girls (Reed & Evan Rachel Wood) and their
parents including Holly Hunter. In a story that you will think
seen many times before, a nice geeky girl who wants to run with the in
takes up with a scheming "it" girl and starts ignoring her old friends
starts scamming her mother. As these stories go, the girls have a
of fun at first but then enter a death spiral as sex, drugs, and Rock
Roll take their toll. It's very good and well acted but feels
an after-school special.