The influx of any festival is finding its identity within the persistent structure of lives without a face. Learning and imparting a bit of wisdom despite any struggle meant to get there always reflects in the face of the beholder.
The Feel Good Film Festival, held at the The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, loosely personifies a lot of the structure it holds in place. Offering a place for a community of filmmakers is always conducive, no matter what the event may be as long as the lingering of ideas speaks true and not because of any preconceived notions of business, which nevertheless permeate.
The films, both short and feature length, reflected this artistic struggle and the need to connect, whether accomplished or not in the confluence of their narrative, some with more success than others.
“Art House“, a small film about the maintaining of artistic freedom within a collapsing financial structure, shows popular culture’s reflection of the current economic stresses. While the aspect of the university dean’s inflection that the house is indeed mainly used for parties, the wanton aspect of imagination relishes through. Granted everything tends to work out a little too quickly but shooting a film with a bit of humor heavily helped by Danny Mooney’s Ben and Ana Kayne’s Becky as the modern day flower children encumbered by fashion or a sense of political correctness gives a lightness to the proceedings. Greta Gerwig, who made this film before her big break in “Greenberg” and is now starring in the upcoming “Arthur” opposite Russell Brand, seems less than luminous in a role that has definite potential if expounded in a “Election” kind of way with some bite.
“How To Make Love To A Woman“, by comparison, uses the idea, actually mildly paralleled in the new Drew Barrymore comedy “Going The Distance” off how the new style of relationships where the career is the breaking point offsets the idea of actual physical compatability. Josh Meyer plays Andy, a boy in love but unaware of how to speak directly without causing a problem while his girlfriend Lauren played by Krysten Ritter, who brings to mind the light and luminiscent charm of Anna Friel and Anne Hathaway, sits bewildered by his swings in moods. Ian Somerhalder, gaining increasing traction on “Vampire Diaries” and lore on “Lost” plays the thankless role of an old childhood friend of Lauren that provides the motivation for said breakdown of relationship. The narrative’s progression is the all-the-while expected but maintains the uplifting spirit while lacking the depth of say “Before Sunset”. Jenna Jameson makes an appearance hampered with kids and a mini-van as herself which make the inherent meaning all the more unbalanced.
“Eagles In The Chicken Coop“, despite all its frustrations, seems to understand that the maintenance of sanity is compromise which the characters in this film do not embrace. The idea from a mockumentary perspective has merit though it has been tried in many ways before. The thought of the faux drama of a “mature movie” (which has become legend on Cinemax) is simply an apt translation of what is known as “bad cinema”: films made on a formula on the cheap for certain buyers and a certain audience. For reasons that would never happen in real life (despite the need to cut costs), “Nameless Studios” hires two wide eyed thirty-somethings still interested in the thought of subtext. While many of the interludes shown happen all too often in these types of films, the baseline optimism portrayed even in the destruction of the picture and the anger of the people involved parlays a distinct lightheartedness that is hard to believe.
In terms of the short films, the ideas paint a little more subversive because the compacted structures require an efficiency of story, that unlike features, they simply cannot afford.
“There Might Be Dragons” starts the progression with a sea of doubt involving a man suddenly layed off from his job equating, in his fragile state of mind, his boss with a living breathing dragon. Though the progression seems internal (and even dark), the last frame reveals a specific detail which gives the film punch.
“Henry & Sunny” harks the idea (at least from this Irish filmmaker) that clowns are the cause of all the world’s problems. Like low level peasants, the ones who make people laugh are treated like garbage. One clown professes his love to an actress. She sees the laughter in his heart and, against her better judgment, shows that she too can be a clown herself to make him happy. The bittersweet element is cut short in a resolution paradoxically more pessimistic than optimistic.
“Undercover”, an outlay on the balance of Muslim perceptions in a pork based world, is actually quite successful in its recreation of 80s comedy. Further discerning that FSU Film School with its Sony Red tendencies is indeed a consistently effective creator of shorts as evidenced by last year’s “Four Inch Precious”, this film takes it one step further addressing cultural issues while still being self-deprecating.
The Feel Good Film Festival highlights a bit of its abilities in the sardonic wit of some of its films simply because, despite their romantic comedy fronts, the ideas are quite subversive, especially in the shorts. Optimism, especially in current times, is reflected in very specific ways within the indie film scene allowing for a cultural record to permeate the ideas of a new generation.