Produced & Interviewed By Tim Wassberg
The essence of the Newport Beach Film Festival ranges within its geography which comes together. Established within the Fashion Island complex right on the coast, the highlight of the operation becomes perception. While the upshot becomes a highly attended, locally supported product, there is a lack of connectibility in terms of the filmmakers. However there is a touted independent spirit which when combined with the interactive nature of the foreign film spotlights comes off as wonderfully programmed. The lack of celebrity infusion creates a more local experience but the energy, while elusive, still points to success.
Shorts Love seems to be an inherent background for the essence of the programming with different ideals being explored. In the subsection of “Another Love Story”, “Split Hands”, despite a scitzophrenic narrative fares the best dramatically while “Picture Day” and “Jimmy’s Cafe” with their elements of disconnection within mundane progression come off a little too stilted. The subsection of “Complicated Love” fares a little better because of the more eccentric nature of the subject matter. “The Tab” has highlights in its mockumentary style of comedy but stumbles at the end while “Rope” maintains its wistfulness due to the utter committment of the lead actress. She makes the connection to the bonding mechanism real. “Kate Wakes”, bouyed by a understated performance from Adam Goldberg, tries to be sweet but comes off slightly frayed. “Worst Date Ever” by comparison just seems to want to ingratiate the reaction factor. The next subsection entitled “Love Is Strange” ends the factor with the best witnessed short in the form of the simple and effective “My Four Inch Precious” from Florida State’s film school while “Tea & Remembrance” shows glimpses of greatness but a lack of throughline.
Monster From The Id The quite effective documentary seems almost out of place on the festival scene since its breakdown of philosophy, psychology and hopefulness would be quite effective on History or A&E. That said it balances the essence of what 50s sci-fi movies intrinisically created in the public consciousness and how that alternately provoked an essence of history. There is a “what if” mentality that reaches and speaks into the 21st Century and is perfectly timely. The doc talks of movies seeing scientists formerly as heroes and its integration with the way the youth viewed the world which is now replaced by movie stars. The perception is quite adept despite the lack of intrinsic detail but it becomes more broad in the later breakdown. Still the theory and its presentation of the future of space travel is generally hopeful.
Suspect X – Japanese Spotlight This battle of the minds integrating the mind chess in the cover up of a murder lacks overall logic despite its basis on that fact. However because of the duel-like tat between the two leads, the tension is kept maintained but reflects more like an Asian version of “Law & Order”. Its strength is within its details as specific wordplay and placement of clues works well but not overwhelmingly slow. At the end, there is not revelation and the heartbreak tends to shortchanged the narrative despite some flourished acting. The after party at Kimera shined with a shadowy reflection that while inherently Asian hined at fusion. Crab stuff sushi rolls balanced the Karl Strauss Amber Ale as the wraparound bar slithered the snakelike U formation which kept privacy but lacked a flow.
Seraphine – French Spotlight The essence of what defines “artist” takes on a paradox in this film. With a fine standout role in the lead role by Yolande Moreau, the essence of stripped down performance becomes almost lethal. Within the visage of this cleaning lady/painter on the cusp of war, the narrative lacks sentimentality instead opting for a practical if not lucid basis on which to show this woman dealing with life. Her mindset floats between basic motor elements and a deeper understanding of truth. As the narrative explores more depth than would be expected, the essence of misperceived greatness and loss is revealed in subtle key changes that make you feel for this woman. The afterparty at French 75 Bistro had a definite Moulin Rouge style to it with the bar area buzzing with interaction despite a lack of roaming french tastes.
Il Divo – Italian Spotlight This ode to “Scarface” in a reverse fashion has a “Godfather” essence in terms of its use of lingering basis. Made from the inards of Italian cinema, this film represents both an edgy manifestation of the wielding of power, evidenced in a nuanced if almost alien-like performance from Toni Servillo as Giulio Andreotti, along with a classical elegance bathed in a endless stream of data. The film balances between these essential cinematic sequences optimizing opera and silence and then simple long-take character scenes. This juxtaposition creates an imbalance of effectiveness but jars you in terms of its ability. The beginning aspects hint a larger possibility underneath which meanders a little bit to the end in congruence with staying true to the actual story and not baiting too much in poetic license. But nevertheless, this is a very ambitious and virulent perception of Italian politics from a student of cinema. The after party at Canaletto simmered in white as the “2001” elements of the bar gave an ethereal feeling as the essence of the night washed over in a blaze of indiscretion.
Closing Night Party While most of the films were held at Fashion Island, the final was miles away on a removed peninsula at Via Lido. While more effective in terms of a final venue, location balance created a time lag. While waiting for the party to begin, Malarky’s Irish Pub by walking distance allowed a short pint of Guinness while locals swirled with the black cocktail contingent staring in contentment. The restaurants pulsed upon the opening of the tent with the onion rings and chili from Tommy’s Cafe. Also making the grade was a spicy wrap of with chicken tantalizing the tongue as Perrier bubbled from flittering eyelashes in a roped mix of flashbulbs, talk and whispered glances.
The 10th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival succeeds in their enhancement of a film festival for locals that knows how to maintain its virility. Despite low attendance on the first day attended, the support of the community in tandem until closing showed an intense belief in the power of culture despite a somewhat misguided program structure in terms of the overall breakdown. However a commendable integration of political and cultural highlights stood out in spades giving the confab specific identity.