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Wednesday, November 6,2013

ELFF Schedule and Reviews

Full schedule and critiques of select films at the 2013 East Lansing Film Festival

by City Pulse Staff
Former Labor Chief Robert Reich (left) and MSU grad/filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth behind the scenes of the film \\

Wednesday, Nov. 6 — A guide through to the 2013 East Lansing Film Festival, including full schedule, venue information and reviews of some of the festival's heavy hitters.

Schedule 

Through Thursday, Nov. 14

Wells Hall showings: $8/$6 students and seniors; Studio C! showings: $12/$8 seniors/$7 students ($8 upcharge for premium seating); opening night feature “Inequality for All,” including director talkback: $15. Festival passes also available, $35-$160.

Venues:

Studio C!, 1999 Central Park Drive, Okemos (behind Meridian Mall)

Wells Hall, 619 Red Cedar Road, East Lansing (campus of Michigan State University)


Tonight:

7:30 p.m.

“Inequality for All” (89 min.) Studio C!


Thursday, Nov. 7:

4 p.m.

“More than Honey” (91 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“Red Obsession” (75 min.) Studio C!

9 p.m.

“The Hunt” (111 min.) Studio C!


Friday, Nov. 8:

1:30 p.m.

“The Rich Have Their Own Photographers” (60 min.) Studio C!

4 p.m.

“Starbuck” (109 min.) Studio C!

“Trashed” (98 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia” (89 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C

“More than Honey” (91 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D

“Radio Unnameable” (91 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

Shorts Program 1: “The Things My Father Never Taught Me,” “Never Gonna Break,” “Heart of a Champion,” “ZIBIDI (Worthless),” “A Good Wife,” “HURDY GURDY,” “The Prisoner,” “Best of Both Worlds,” “Rette Sich Wer Kann (Resuce Yourself)” (122 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

9 p.m.

“A Band Called Death” (98 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D

“Little Hope Was Arson” (75 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

“Red Obsession” (75 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (111 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C


Saturday, Nov. 9:

1:30 p.m.

“Into the White” (101 min.) Studio C!

“A Band Called Death” (98 min.) Studio C!

4 p.m.

“CASS” (100 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D

“Food for Change: The Story of Cooperation in America” (84 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

“High and Hallowed: Everest 1963” (48 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

“Trashed” (98 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C

“A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power and Jayson Blair at The New York Times” (77 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“Little Hope Was Arson” (75 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

Shorts Program 2: “Godka Cirka,” “Global Tides,” “Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train),” “Stop It!,” “LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMOND,” “We Belong Here,” “Mine is Mine,” “Illness” (104 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D

“Starbuck” (109 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

“The Hunt” (111 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (111 min.) Studio C!

9 p.m.

“A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power and Jayson Blair at The New York Times” (77 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C

“Into the White” (101 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

“Southern Baptist Sissies” (120 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

“Unhung Hero” (84 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D


Sunday, Nov. 10:

1:30 p.m.

“Food for Change: The Story of Cooperation in America” (84 min.) Studio C!

2 p.m.

“An Unexpected Win: Title IX and the Pinckney Pirates” (89 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D

Lake Michigan Film Competition Short Films A: “The Making of a Short,” “A Dream at the Edge of Land,” “Slow Burn,” “Cellar Dwellers,” “Cut Out,” “Moonlight” (86 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

Lake Michigan Film Competition Student Films: “TIPI,” “The Slaughter,” “Valentine’s Day,” “For the 25” (84 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

“The Rohl Farms Enterprise” (84 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C

4 p.m.

“Radio Unnameable” (91 min.) Studio C!

4:30 p.m.

“A Space for Music, A Seat for Everyone: 100 Years of UMS Performances in Hill Auditorium” (57 min.) Wells Hall, Theater C

Lake Michigan Film Competition Short Films B: “FORGOTTEN DETROIT,” “Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution,” “48169,” “Transbeing,” “JP Is My Friend” (97 min.) Wells Hall, Theater B

“Mordy to the Max” (100 min.) Wells Hall, Theater D

“Wingmen Incorporated” (80 min.) Wells Hall, Theater A

“Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia” (89 min.) Studio C!

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (111 min.) Studio C!


Monday, Nov. 11:

4 p.m.

“A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power and Jayson Blair at The New York Times” (77 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“Starbuck” (109 min.) Studio C!

9 p.m.

“Southern Baptist Sissies” (120 min.) Studio C!


Tuesday, Nov. 12:

4 p.m.

Shorts Program 1: “The Things My Father Never Taught Me,” “Never Gonna Break,” “Heart of a Champion,” “ZIBIDI (Worthless),” “A Good Wife,” “HURDY GURDY,” “The Prisoner,” “Best of Both Worlds,” “Rette Sich Wer Kann (Resuce Yourself)” (122 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“The Rich Have Their Own Photographers” (60 min.) Studio C!

9 p.m.

“Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia” (89 min.) Studio C!


Wednesday, Nov. 13:

4 p.m.

“Red Obsession” (75 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“The Hunt” (111 min.) Studio C!

9 p.m.

“Starbuck” (109 min.) Studio C!


Thursday, Nov. 14:

4 p.m.

Shorts Program 2: “Godka Cirka,” “Global Tides,” “Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train),” “Stop It!,” “LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMOND,” “We Belong Here,” “Mine is Mine,” “Illness” (104 min.) Studio C!

6:30 p.m.

“Into the White” (101 min.) Studio C!

“Unhung Hero” (84 min.) Studio C!


Selected reviews

“Inequality for All” 

If the phrase “eroding middle class” makes your eyes roll and your brain tune out, hang in there. That’s exactly what they want you to do. This riveting documentary is like an economic version of “An Inconvenient Truth,” complete with classroom-like discussions and animated infographics.

The film focuses on the research of Robert Reich, a Rhodes scholar who served as Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. Reich is funny, engaging and brutally honest about the reality of the economic crisis facing America. Intercut with interviews with 1 percenters and lower middle class factory workers, “Inequality” works in tandem with recent releases like “Park Avenue” to solidify the argument that we’re living in the golden age for documentary filmmaking.

“Inequality for All” won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

-Allan I. Ross


“Unhung Hero”

“Unhung Hero” asks a question that’s nagged men forever: “Does size matter?”

The film doesn’t provide the definitive answer, but actor-comedian Patrick Moote’s quixotic journey to enhance his penis’ size is worth the ride. 

Once you stop giggling over the premise, you join Moote for what may be titled Male Enhancement 101. Who knew that, on average, Korean men had the smallest penises (but huge phallic statuary)? Or that male enhancement is a $5 billion global industry?  

The film captures several bizarre, cringe-worthy enhancement techniques. In China, they use weights. It hurts just to write that.

Somewhat unsatisfactorily, Moote concludes with a resigned shrug. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, so to speak.

-Mark Nixon

“A Fragile Trust”

Constructing a documentary around notorious plagiarist Jayson Blair seems like rewarding bad behavior. But director Samantha Grant’s expansive exposť of the former New York Times contributor goes beyond Blair’s mental illness and potential motivations to the destructive consequences of his chronic deceit.

Despite the interspersion of hand-drawn animation and lots of media clips, the film lacks the suspenseful drama of better documentaries. But Grant’s empathetic quest to look beyond Blair’s sociopathic moniker forces viewers — especially aspiring journalists — to ask themselves what they would have done in his position. 

-Paul Wozniak


“Little Hope was Arson”

This documentary about the burning of 10 churches in East Texas is a great primer for those who haven’t heard of the arson spree and massive criminal investigation that followed. It will likely leave viewers wanting a deeper of understanding of what happened during those early days of 2010. Director Theo Love broaches but never fully explores the roles of religion, family and justice among the faithful of these East Texas communities. With a tight 70 minute run time, “Little Hope” never drags as it leads the viewer through the wreckage of churches, families and individual lives.

-David Barker


“Broken Circle Breakdown”

The deeply enmeshed “starting over is possible no matter what” belief in American

culture is called to task in this emotional film directed by Felix van Groeningen.

Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) farms and plays banjo in a bluegrass band, which Elise

(Veerle Baetens) joins soon after they meet. The film chronicles their relationship from passionate beginnings through the joys and challenges of parenthood and ultimately to tragedy.

Appalachian bluegrass music, Didier says, was made for endurance. Its songs, capable of evoking both lighthearted joy and deeply felt pain, parallel the impressive range of emotions present in this film. At once personal and political, it evokes tensions between values idealized and values exposed.

-Laura Johnson


“Southern Baptist Sissies”

The story may be set in the heart of the South, but Del Shores’ message of tolerance over rigid dogmatism is universally powerful.

Acceptance is key to appreciating Shores’ screen adaptation of his play of the same name, both thematically and to the film itself, which is essentially a pre-recorded live performance. If you accept that the actors’ performances are timed and geared to the spontaneous laughter of their room, then you can appreciate the biting honesty in Shores’ writing and the empathetic portrayal of every character on stage.

-Paul Wozniak


“Food for Change”

A documentary on food cooperatives is timely; the imminent arrival of Whole Foods in East Lansing is generating talk about its impact on the East Lansing Food Co-op. Filmmaker and co-op member Steve Alves presents an informative (if perhaps oversimplified) history of co-ops that parallels and critiques the rise of concentrated wealth and corporate power.

The film effectively presents the vision and potential of food co-ops, but while it touches on some of the challenges — such as internal conflicts and shifting demographics from mixed races and incomes to predominantly white and higher-income members — it neglects to effectively problematize them.

-Laura Johnson


"Wingmen Incorporated"

A clever comedy steeped in the style of “Old School” and “Swingers.” Even with a shoestring budget and some fuzzy audio, the solid script — supported by strong acting and editing — definitely put this film in the ranks of its predecessors.

You don’t need Vince Vaughn to make a funny film, just a great premise and lots of dry punch lines. 

-Paul Wozniak


"The Slaughter"

A story of emotional detachment between father and son exposed and mended by the slaughtering of a pig. This is the must-see, hardest-to-watch film of the festival. The setting of the slaughter farm and filming of a real, humane pig killing adds graphic, visceral intensity to the film's themes. Natural acting and dialogue and a simple story are the perfect balance to this tour-de-force cinematic wonder. 

-Paul Wozniak


"The Making of a Short"

It would be easy to view "The Making of a Short" as a literal short documentary profiling an all-too-familiar writer/director who apparently wants the fame of filmmaking minus the workBut as a “This is Spinal Tap”-style mockumentary of the sad and self-involved character described, “The Making of a Short” is almost too clever. The understated acting is superb, making this satirical caricature all the more biting and hilarious.

-Paul Wozniak

“A Band Called Death”

In 1971, three Detroit brothers — Bobby, David and Dannis Hackney — formed Death, an MC5-style proto-punk garage rock band. They lasted for four years, but remained in obscurity until a 2009 New York Times article praised their “For the Whole World to See” LP.

The film is stocked with new interviews with the Hackney brothers and some celebrity cameos. One thing the film lacks, however, is an explanation of why Death wasn’t welcomed into the thriving ‘70s Motor City rock scene. How did this stellar band not get any attention back then? Plot holes aside, this is a captivating story of suffering, tragedy, integrity and eventual triumph.

-Rich Tupica


“Red Obsession”

This fascinating and illuminating documentary explores the history of Bordeaux and its wines, juxtaposed against the transformation of Chinese culture and economy. Narration by Russell Crowe is understated, yet lends the film a certain gravitas. For those who enjoy the wines of Bordeaux, or just want to learn, it is a must see.

Interviews with Bordeaux’s preeminent winery proprietors, and the world’s greatest wine critics, blend seamlessly with stunning cinematography ranging from sweeping aerial shots of vineyards and chateaux, to Hong Kong cityscapes, the Gobi desert and the Great Wall of China.

Deft editing highlights the passion and respect held by the Bordelais as the caretakers of centuries old winemaking traditions, while adapting to the commoditization of wine by a burgeoning entrepreneurial Chinese market with a thirst for collecting and consuming. And if the wine doesn’t keep the viewer coming back for more, the perfectly matched the soundtrack will keep the listener engaged. This film earns a strong 93 points and should cellar well.

-Michael Brenton

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