Various factors have prevented me from getting to most festivals this year once again, but gorram it if I’m not going to take advantage of the ones in Los Angeles. The LA Film Festival is fairly good sized and attracts a good bit of star power for roundtable and conversation sidebars, but tends to be a little less premiere-heavy and buzz-worthy than you might expect. But once I delved into the schedule, I found more than enough to whet my interest – mostly down in the competition and international sections – and I’m pretty excited to dive into long days and sleepless nights next week.
Here’s a selection of what the festival has in store this year. Synopsis text courtesy of LA Film Fest. Anything I’m planning to see will have “Review Coming Soon” listed underneath it. If we’ve already got a review for a film from a different festival, I’ll link to that (many of the documentaries, for example, played at Hot Docs a few weeks ago as well). I’ve left out a few sidebars and hosted screenings; check out the LA Film Fest website at the link above for the full details.
Opening Night Film
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (USA)
Lisa Cholodenko; Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson
Lisa Cholodenko combines classic Hollywood craftsmanship with a generous indie spirit in this irresistible exploration of an unconventional family. Devoted partners, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, parents of two teenage kids, are going through a rough patch in their relationship when big time complications arrive in the form of the kids’ sexy, motorcycle-riding biological father (Mark Ruffalo).
Closing Night Film
DESPICABLE ME (USA)
Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud; Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Miranda Cosgrove, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, Jermaine Clement, Julie Andrews
One of the world’s greatest super-villains, Gru – voiced by Steve Carell – is planning the biggest heist in the history of the world: to steal the moon. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays and battle-ready vehicles, Gru vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters three little girls who look at him and see something that no on else has: a potential Dad. World premiere.
ANIMAL KINGDOM (Australia)
David Michod; Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton, James Frecheville
An orphaned 17 year old is taken in by his relatives—a volatile clan of criminals engaged in a trigger-happy war with the Melbourne police—and must learn the rules of the jungle in this intense, high style Australian crime movie.
Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass ; John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh
In this twisted romantic comedy, a lonely guy meets the woman of his dreams, but she comes with big baggage—her live-in 21-year-old son Cyrus, who likes Mom all to himself. Kurt’s Review + Cinecast
MAHLER ON THE COUCH (Austria/Germany)
Percy Adlon; Barbara Romaner, Johannes Silberschneider, Karl Markovics, Friedrich Mücke, Eva Mattes, Lena Stolze, Nina Berten, Karl Fischer, Mathias Franz Stein, Max Mayer
When the great composer Gustav Mahler discovers his young wife is having an affair, he consults Sigmund Freud and, in scenes both humorous and heartbreaking, pours out the story of their passionate, tumultuous, and doomed marriage.
Rodrigo Pla, Diego Luna, Rodrigo Garcia, Gael Garcia Bernal, Gerardo Naranjo, Mariana Chenillo, Fernando Eimbcke, Amat Escalante, Patricia Riggen, Carlos Reygadas
For the centenary celebration of the Mexican revolution, ten cutting edge Mexican directors offer snapshots of their homeland—pointed, poignant, subversive, and bursting with life.
WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” (USA)
Davis Guggenheim; Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee
Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim explores and exposes our failing public education system in this moving, hard-hitting—and hopeful—look at our schools and the kids whose futures depend on them.
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