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Reflections on the Florida Film Festival

Posted by austinburns on April 14, 2006

Last week, I volunteered at the Florida Film Festival and had a blast! I got to watch a total of 4 movies while I was there, so I'll run them down real quick.

Wide Awake

This was a documentary directed by Alan Berliner, and it was about his battles with insomnia. Fufilled all good documentary requirements: take a potentially boring/personal story and make it interesting throughout, pepper the doc with little factoids about your potentially boring/personal story, and have it be humorous throughout. Plus, he was in the audience and sitting right in front of me and I got to shake his hand. Awesome.


The Puffy Chair

Written by, directed by, and starring the Duplass Brothers in various forms, this movie is about a guy who wants to get his father a nostalgic chair he found on ebay for his birthday. He wants to drive from New York to Atlanta to deliver it. His girlfriend pretty much guilts him into taking her along with him. Along the way he stops at his brother's house and takes him along with him, too. Comedy and drama ensue. Pretty decent. I felt it had "real" dialogue, so that was good.


Press On

Press On is the story of steel pedal guitarist Robert Randolph and his rise to "fame". I'm a really big fan of RR, so I loved this movie. Basically, he started out playing the guitar in church and he has successfully brought this instrument to the masses. He started playing gigs in New York and got the attention of some very important record execs who pretty much fast-tracked his career. In one year, he recorded his first album, was nominated for a few Grammy's, and performed live on the Grammy's and every other show imaginable (Letterman, Leno, Conan, Regis and Kelly, etc.). Awesome musician and a great documentary.


The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang

This movie is a complete Napoleon Dynamite ripoff. Later I found out that it was made by the producers of Napoleon Dynamite. I'm still not sure if that makes the ripoff better or worse. Nerds being prosecuted by bullies? Check. Mildly unattractive girl friend, but not girlfriend? Check. Cameo by Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite himself? Check. Jon Gries, better known as Uncle Rico, playing the town sheriff? Check. The only interesting thing about this movie was that it was told out of order, a la Pulp Fiction. Still, it was funny. I just feel they are going to ride this gravy train for as long as it will go.



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