I’ll have to make this one quick. I have to leave to see ELENA in 25 minutes.
First up on Sunday was BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING, a very nice documentary about artist and former Chattanooga resident Wayne White. Wayne is responsible for designing and voicing Randy, Dirty Dog, and other puppets on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. For those of you who grew up watching the show like me, the section about the seminal children’s program is worth the price of admission. Wayne spoke after the screening and proved he was even more charismatic in person than on screen. A well-made movie about a fascinating and extremely-talented character.
The French animated film TALES OF THE NIGHT (IN 3D!) may be mildly entertaining to French children, but to American kids who don’t read books let alone subtitles, I suspect the film will be a bore. I found it entertaining enough but perhaps a bit too inconsequential. Someone please tell me why a movie featuring computer-rendered versions of shadow puppets would need to be in 3D? It brought absolutely nothing to the experience.
I had a couple of hours to kill. NaFF really wanted me to see STREET PAPER because it was the only film playing in that time slot. The roughly-made documentary about Nashville’s street paper THE CONTRIBUTER may not win any awards, but I’m glad I saw it. The characters were fascinating, and I can safely say no other film this year will change my outlook as much as STREET PAPER did. Every month, I’ll be buying the CONTRIBUTER from the seller on Thompson & Nolensville that I up until now have ignored.
The major winner of the day was the French “feel-good” film THE INTOUCHABLES about a paraplegic man’s budding friendship with his unlikely caretaker. This is the second highest grossing film in French box office history. Yes, this type of slickness usually makes me run for the door . . . BUT! . . . despite that, it actually works. I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed this film. The only thing that really irked me (and this is a sore point) is the casting of an able-bodied actor in the role of the paraplegic man. (See: GLEE / Artie controversy.) Sure, Francois Cluzet did a fine job; but disabled actors have a hard enough time as it is getting film and television acting roles. There are plenty of disabled actors who could have brought their life experience to this part. Perhaps the filmmakers thought the idea of a truly disabled actor in the role was just a little TOO real, and there lies the sad state of affairs we are in.
By the time ALPS began (the follow-up to Giorgos Lanthimos’s DOGTOOTH), I was exhausted. Perhaps partially due to my yearning for sleep, I just didn’t connect with the film. ALPS wasn’t without merit, and fans of DOGTOOTH will likely enjoy it, but I found the film a bit too in love with its premise. Normally when other people in the audience are laughing and I’m not, I wonder what it is I’m not getting. In this case, I wondered what they weren’t getting. There were some very funny moments to be sure, but I speculate people primed for DOGTOOTH-level weirdness were laughing at shadows.
More tomorrow! Time for ELENA!
<– NaFF Day 3
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Tony Youngblood is a film and music snob and producer of the experimental improv music blog and podcast Theatre Intangible. His favorite films include Eric Rohmer’s The Green Ray, Abbass Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician, Lee Chang Dong’s Oasis, and Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap.