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REVIEW: Fallbrook Film Festival

These movies will play briefly at the Bonsall UltraStar; then off to video

Man in the Chair.
Courtesy photo

I saw the following movies at the Fallbrook Film Festival, and they’re going to be running for another week at the UltraStar in Bonsall. If you don’t catch them there, it’ll be Blockbuster if you want to see them (some probably aren’t worth the rental price).

I was bummed that I missed Man in the Chair. It stars Christopher Plummer as an old Hollywood gaffer who’s the last surviving crew member of Citizen Kane. He helps a movie geek in a student film competition.

Robert Wagner plays a has-been film producer, and M. Emmet Walsh is a retired screenwriter; an interesting cast in what sounds like an interesting story.

The Art of Surfing: Carlsbad, was an interesting half-hour documentary. I had no clue that the Boogie Boards I loved growing up, were invented in a Carlsbad garage!

It talks about the pioneers of California surfing, and some top-rated surfers for Carlsbad High School.

I liked the documentary about surfing I saw last year a bit more. That dealt with two Australians that surfed in all 50 states.

I got there too late to see Unitards, which looked even funnier than the title. The clip I saw showed a bunch of high school students trying to get school spirit back with their drill team (all dressed like a mix of Richard Simmons and the Loverboy singer). The description in the program said this was like "High School Musical meets Napoleon Dynamite.”

I also missed Requiem for Bobby Fischer, a documentary that talked with many of Fischer’s Serbian friends and chess opponents.

I caught one movie that won an award and had some very powerful moments. It was La Nina del Desierto.

It involved an old Mexican man who digs graves for the mob. It reminded me of No Country For Old Men at times. Some of the shots of the sleepy desert town were interesting. Other times, I felt like there was a lot of time wasted getting to the main story. It has him seeing an apparition of a little girl in the middle of one grave he’s digging. Watching their faces as they stare each other down and have a one-sided discussion (and the powerful conclusion) makes it worth the time we invested.

There was a student film called Fiasco that the crowd loved. I thought it was a tad too corny. An Arab girl marries a gay friend so she can stay in the country. Her conservative father arrives unexpected, and it turns into an episode of Three’s Company, with a man hiding in his underwear, answering machines that can’t be turned off when risqué things are being said, etc.

It had a few cute moments, but I thought so much more could’ve been done with the story. I thought the production values were great, considering it was a student film.

The students that did Rampage Superstars really did an amazing job. It’s about a TV news crew that has the mantra “if it bleeds, it leads.” This has already gotten a few reporters a little upset with how things are run at the station.

When a school shooting starts inside a classroom, and a fellow student captures images on his cell phone, things really heat up. This movie is very well-written, and it’s a very timely statement on the society we live in today. So many things are recorded by folks with cell phones and there are so many problems with how the news reports things. It was only 15 minutes long, and you were on the edge of your seat the entire time.

Delaney was the best movie I saw over the weekend. It’s about a seedy motel on Route 66 that is involved in selling organs (don’t think pianos). This is bad news for the people that stop in – especially the creepy sales guy that thinks he’s going to get lucky with the attractive woman working the front desk.

There’s a blind dwarf, who keeps us laughing with his antics (pouring coffee into a small mug that causes him to burn his hands) and the things he says. The old guy that runs the show reminds you of an extra from Deliverance, with his leathery skin, long white hair and overalls. There’s a cute side story with a little girl that has a crush on a boy that helps his father run a gas station. They plan to run away together.

This movie would’ve had Tarantino on his feet with applause. It had me doing that.

One of the bigger films that actually had theatrical release last year, was My One and Only. It starred Kevin Bacon and Renee Zellweger, and it’s based on the childhood of George Hamilton (who was there to speak about it). Nick Stahl has a small part, as does Chris Noth (Mr. Big to you Sex and the City fans). I loved the fact that he played a hardcore military officer that is super strict, but unlike movies that go over the top (remember Robert DeNiro smashing a juice bottle into Leonardo DiCaprio’s face?)…this guy seemed realistic. He’s someone the kids didn’t want their mom marrying, but he wasn’t being physically abusive. He was simply a guy they didn’t care for.

We root for her engagement with David Koechner (who’s fast becoming one of my favorite character actors). He might be on the nerdy side (his birds and bees speech with George consists of explaining “Women are either cold or hot, so always have a sweater handy and you’ll be alright.”)

Watching Zellweger take her kids on the road, going from city to city looking for a wealthy man to marry, is at times painful to watch.

I think with a true story this interesting, it could’ve been written a little more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll never be bored. It just seems like there’s more there that could’ve been explored.