Disorder/Maryland: Day 2 at the 2016 Sarasota Film Festival

Day 2 at the Sarasota Film Festival was Saturday April 2nd. The feature film tonight was from France, and in France, the film was called Maryland – which was the name of a grand estate villa located in the south of France near Antibes.

For American consumption, the title was changed to Disorder, and technically speaking, the film had nothing to do with our own state of Maryland, so a new title was created for the American market to help avoid confusion.

Written and directed by Alice Winocour, the film stars Matthias Schoenaerts, who you likely have seen in such films as Rust and Bone, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Drop, and The Danish Girl. His co-star is Diane Kruger who was the inscrutable Sonya Cross in the US TV version of The Bridge.

Schoenaerts plays Vincent, a French soldier (he served in Afghanistan) who is currently home in the south of France and is being treated for PTSD. He’s on certain meds and is a somewhat alienated combat veteran who has found it difficult back at home.

Between missions, or until Vincent is cleared to return to action, he and this group of French soldiers are free to pick up free-lance security work. Vincent gets a call and is more than eager to serve in a security detail for a huge party at this estate called Maryland. The state is owned by a Lebanese called Imad Whalid.

Diane Kruger plays Whalid’s wife Jessie.

Okay as the film gets up some speed (and it takes a while), we get the impression that Vincent knows what he’s doing, has sharp instincts, and is quite likely to be excellent is a security detail.

This particular assignment will be using a five man security detail. Whalid is hosting a huge soiree and the terms tres chic definitely fit. Security will cover the grounds, the front gate, and various points within the house itself in a kind of revolving manner.

While we don’t see much of the party, we know that there are many moguls, ministers, and other movers and shakers in attendance. Most of the time we are either trailing Vincent or seeing what he sees in a standard point-of-view perspective. Plus there’s the eaves-dropping, intentional or otherwise, that we (and Vincent) overhear.

Vincent is edgy and effective, and yet he seems both scary and serious. People arrive who are not on the guest list provided to security. But a phone call, possibly to Whalid, gets them in. We overhear bits and pieces or snippets of conversations. We watch as groups of men splinter off to the sides, away from the main ebb and flow of the party, to talk; and seemingly they’re aware of being overheard, and don’t wish to be.

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Al Pacino as Manglehorn – 2015 Sarasota Film Festival: Day Eight

When you’re alone, who cares for starlit skies
When you’re alone, the magic moonlight dies
At break of dawn, there is no sunrise
When your lover has gone

Those lyrics come from the jazz standard, When Your Lover Has Gone, written by Einar Aaron Swan in 1931. From Billie Holliday to Frank Sinatra, and from Ray Charles to Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong, this song has attracted many well-known as well as unknown singers. You can generally expect to hear this song, in a smokey club, with a solo singer, with a big or small group of musicians laying down the tracks.

It is a song with a universal theme. Hearts are broken in all cultures and in all languages. And that very theme is the subject of the film Manglehorn. I caught this film on Day Eight of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival.

Al Pacino is the lead. He plays Angelo Manglehorn, a forlorn locksmith, in a small town near Austin, Texas. He lives alone, or rather with a long-haired white cat called Fannie, and his memories. Truly, for him, even as his alarm clock goes off every morning at seven AM, there is no sunrise for Manglehorn.

Simply, he’s a man living in the present but one who is a prisoner of his past.

Despite the fact that he has a rather successful son, and a granddaughter that he loves, Manglehorn’s life, is as nondescript as can be. Opening locked cars to rescue a child, opening doors, or safes, along with duplicating keys is his day job – or at least the one that pays the bills – is all the same to him. Nothing in his line of work seems satisfying. He doesn’t turn away business, he’s just rather unenthused about it.

Things go on in the real world and almost all of them seem unremarkable to Manglehorn. Even a minor earthquake which results in a framed picture falling off the wall after a few seconds of the tremors leaves him unfazed. As does a deadly six car pileup on a nearby road.

Manglehorn is self-contained. He ventures into the real world to earn his living, but he’s really chosen to seal himself off from emotions – at least the kind that arrive through interacting with his grown son , played by Chris Messina, or his local bank teller, played by Holly Hunter, or even a now grown man who once played on a baseball team that Manglehorn coached.

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Jane Seymour and Bereave at Day Eight at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival

Garvey (Malcolm McDowell) and Evelyn (Jane Seymour) have been married for 40 years, and today is their anniversary. Only Garvey has a secret that he’s been keeping from Evelyn – and he’s determined to keep it from her – even if it means ending their marriage – today.

So begins the film Bereave which played at the Sarasota Opera House on Day Eight of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival. For the record, Jane Seymour was feted by the SFF with a special tribute event called A Lunch With Jane Seymour earlier in the day. This was held at the prestigious Sarasota Yacht Club. Then before the film screened there was a Red Carpet entrance for Jane and one of the film’s Directors Evangelos Giovanis, plus they were introduced on stage. George Giovanis, who co-directed was off in Peru shooting a film so he could not attend the SFF.

As for Seymour, isn’t she gorgeous? And who doesn’t recall Jane as Solitaire in the James Bond thriller Live and Let Die which came out in 1973. Or a bit more recently Jane played Dr. Quinn – Medicine Woman which was a well-loved TV series running from 1993 to 1998.

Bereave is about a couple who have experienced and are experiencing bumps in the road which is a natural turn of events in any marriage.

In this film, both of them are forced to try to deal with and understand something which we all must do – which is to face our own mortality. Given that as a premise, the film does have lots of lighter humorous moments.

Most of the humor comes from Keith Carradine who is playing the President of the United States on the CBS TV Series Madam Secretary. Here he plays the younger brother of Garvey. Watch for Christine Kelly, who plays Laura, a beautiful young woman who Garvey meets in the park. She’s pretty enough to get him focused on what he must do rather than what he thinks he should do.

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The End of the Tour – Day Six of the 2015 Sarasta Film Festival

“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” – Infinite Jest

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That’s a quote from David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest, which was published in 1996. Following was the highest of acclaim for Mr. Wallace. On his book tour for Infinite Jest, Wallace spent a few days with a staff writer for Rolling Stone. His name was David Lipsky. Although Lipsky did conduct this interview, it was never published.

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However, Mr. Lipsky published a book called Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself in 2010. This book told about these five days or so at the end of Wallace’s book tour. This movie, The End of the Tour, is an adaption of that book. The film is directed by James Ponsoldt, and the screenplay was written by David Margulies.

I saw this film on Day Six of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival.

Essentially, this film is a two-hander meaning two actors dominate the screen. Unlike an interview that you might see or have seen on TV with Charlie Rose, Mike Wallace, Oprah, or Barbara Walters – where the interview is on a single set – this film is out and about. Wallace and Lipsky were on a book tour so there was travel involved. Meaning there was a rather large supporting cast – but really, the supporting players were not of consequence.

David Lipsky is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg. I’ve not a lot of experience with Eisenberg in the movies but two films come to mind – To Rome With Love (from Woody Allen) and The Social Network. I guess I’ll always recall early on in The Social Network when Rooney Mara called Eisenberg (as Mark Zuckerberg) an asshole.

While Eisenberg can excel in characters that are frustrating, annoying, or awkward, apparently he has reigned in most of those traits to appear as David Lipsky. Lipsky is smart, competitive, in awe of Wallace, and a person who will forever hope he can attain the same acclaim as did David Foster Wallace. Yet, Eisenberg as Lipsky, breathes life into a character we may be predisposed to dislike. Of course this is an inherent and unavoidable situation in the world of celebrities and those who use celebrities.

David Lipsky

David Lipsky

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Love & Mercy – Day Five at the Sarasota Film Festival

 

Love & Mercy screened on Day Five of the Sarasota Film Festival. The film is under tight wraps. According to SFF Creative & Program Director Mike Dunaway, the Festival was only permitted one screening of the film rather than the usual two showings. There was a further restriction and that was the film could NOT be screened at the Sarasota Opera House. It had to play at one of the Regal theaters. Likely because the movie theater is a smaller venue.

Finally, Dunaway, rather than just telling the audience to keep their cell phones on ‘silent mode’, he specifically requested that all cell phones be completely turned off. The reasoning was that the owners of the film were specifically concerned about film piracy.

I know this for a fact, because the gentleman I sat next to told me that he had been hired by the film company to ensure that piracy did not occur. Dunaway closed his introduction by saying that there were film security people in the audience. Which I had never heard before at any of the previous film festivals that I have attended.

So what was Love & Mercy about?

In the simplest of descriptions, it is a music-bio film about Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. But this is not a straight linear bio.

In fact the film begins in late 1965 when the Beach Boys were preparing for a tour. Brian Wilson (Paul Dano plays the younger Wilson) begged off on joining his fellow Beach Boys on tour, stating that he wanted to stay behind and work on their next album. The record label was demanding the product, and Brian was never comfortable performing on stage.

Mike Love and Brian’s brother Carl Wilson begged him to join them, but in the end, he stayed behind to work on the album. He said he heard things in his head. and they had to come out.

The album that he worked on while his band mates were on tour, playing in Shibuya, Japan on January 7th, 1966, would eventually become Pet Sounds. When Love and the rest of the band returned home, and the band set down to rehearse before recording, Brian found that the band hated the new style songs. Love claimed that this album would never sell as it was so far from their very successful ‘formula’ music.

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In Conversation with Film Director Oren Moverman – Sarasota Film Festival 2015: Day Two

In Conversation with Oren Moverman

On my schedule for The Sarasota Film Festival’s second day was an afternoon In Discussion with Film Director Oren Moverman who had directed the festival’s opening night feature film – Time Out of Mind. The venue was the John C Court Cabaret Theater which is a part of the Florida Studio Theater located at Coconut and First Street, within a few blocks of the Sarasota Opera House.

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It is an intimate setting with tables and chairs, rather than theater style seating.

You can see how close I was to the stage from my photos.

Moverman was going to be interviewed by Mike Dunaway, the Festival’s Creative & Programming Director, which would be followed by a short Q & A.

Oren Moverman seems to be on the fast track in the movie business. He was born in 1966 in Tel Aviv, Israel, His father worked for an Israeli bank, and in 1978, the elder Moverman was transferred to work for the bank in New York. They settled in Brooklyn. Oren was 12 years.

Dunaway is in the white shirt and beard. Moverman is clean shaven and wearing dark clothes.

Dunaway is in the white shirt and beard. Moverman is clean shaven and wearing dark clothes.

With some prodding from Mike Dunaway, Moverman told us that the first film he ever saw, beyond that which aired on Israeli TV was The Wizard of Oz. This is the one that captured his imagination, giving him his first clue about what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Moverman went to Brooklyn College and managed to get some non-paying jobs on movie sets – you know like the assistant to the assistant of the Assistant Movie Director. As we all know and have heard repeatedly, some of the most successful people in the movie biz started at the bottom.

Moverman has now directed three feature Films – The Messenger in 2009 was nominated for two Oscars – Woody Harrelson for Best Supporting Actor, and Mr. Moverman along with Alessandro Camon as the co-writers of the Original Screenplay. His second directorial effort was the feature film, Ramparts, also starred Woody Harrelson. And now, Time Out of Mind starring Richard Gere.

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Time Out of Mind with Richard Gere Opens the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival

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The 17th Sarasota Film Festival opened on Friday night with Oren Moverman’s film Time Out of Mind. Moverman was on hand – that’s him on the red carpet being interviewed, as well as Ben Vereen who was in the film as a supporting actor.

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I parked on Main street in downtown Sarasota around 5:45 PM. I was looking at about a ten minute walk to the venue – the Sarasota Opera House. The Red Carpet had been called for 5:30.

I milled around for a bit ,taking in the sights, the Red Carpet, the television crews, and the glamorous crowd. I also was feeling the buzz of excitement that was in the air.

But the theater was expected to be sold out, and my Press Pass and Press Comp Ticket would get me in for a balcony seat so I did not tarry outside for too long..

Mark Famiglio, the President of the SSF Board of Directors made an introductory speech, as did spokespersons from SRQ Magazine and SRQBacklot.com and SNN. Then Mike Dunaway, the new creative director for the Festival came out to rev up the crowd, to thank his staff, as well as the army of volunteers who help make the festival work.

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Finally, he introduced Oren Moverman, the film’s director who then introduced Ben Vereen.

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The Sarasota Film Festival 2015

The Sarasota Film Festival will start in about two weeks. Beginning April 10th, the festival opens its doors for the 17th time. Celebrating the art of film making while showing the best in new cinema in the categories of narrative features, shorts, documentaries, and even kid friendly film fare – the festival is a key event in the world of movies.

Tonight I attended the Press Kick-Off Party held at the fabulous Selby Gardens. on S. Palm Avenue in Sarasota.

So,e millimg about merged with socializing - an all in one photo op

After a lengthy session of milling around also known as socializing, imbibing drinks, and dabbling in finger foods,

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others engaged in marketing until Mark Famiglio took the stage to welcome the gathered folks and then he turned the festivities over to Mark Dunaway, the new SFF Creative Director.The full schedule of more than 180 films was released tonight with the Sarasota folks in attendance, being the first of any people in the world to get the news. Dunaway told us that when Indie Wire called him today, they were told to call back tomorrow. When the New York Times called today, they were also told to call back tomorrow. The announcements today came out just a few days after the festival’s Opening and Closing Night Features were announced.

The Opening Night film, to be screened on April 10th at 6:30 PM at the Sarasota Opera House at 611 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota will be Time Out of Mind. This is a story of a homeless New Yorker who will struggle to find stability and purpose to his life, all while attempting to restore and rekindle a relationship with his estranged daughter.

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The One I Love – Day Nine at the Sarasota Film Festival

The Closing Night Feature Film at the 2014 Sarasota Film Festival was The One I Love. Directed by first-timer Charlie McDowell, and written by feature film first timer Justin Lader, the film is basically a two-hander starring Elisabeth Moss (Top of the Lake, Mad Men, Darling Companion) and Mark Duplass (The Mindy Project, Zero Dark Thirty, Darling Companion & Your Sister’s Sister). Acting vet Ted Danson has a small role as a marriage therapist.

Now this is a very, very new film. There’s not a poster, nor a trailer to be found. But there is a clip out there. Prior to Sarasota, the film has screened only at Sundance this past January. Further festivals on the horizon include Newport Beach, Tribeca, Montclair, and San Francisco. So the film makers will be on the move.

By the way, all the images that you’ll see in this review, with the exception of the two above this line – are stills pulled from the clip.

ZZZ - ZZZZ -This man spent the night on the sofa

ZZZ – ZZZZ -This man spent the night on the sofa

Here’s the skinny. Moss as Sophia, and Duplass as Ethan, play thirty-somethings. They’ve been married long enough for Ethan to have strayed, and so their marriage is on the rocks, at a crossroad, about to hemorrhage, or burst at the seams. Pick one or all of the above as all apply. So they’ve chosen to consult with a marriage counselor, played by Danson.

Danson elects to send them off on a weekend retreat – away from their familiar surroundings, a place where they can just concentrate on finding the spark they once had. Or as Streisand and Redford once called it – The Way We Were. But this new film isn’t anything like that one. It all takes place over one weekend. Years don’t fly by. There’s just one brief flashback and it basically opens the film.

Good Morning, handsome

Good Morning, handsome

So off they go, to an unnamed in the film, location which turns out to be up in the hills above Ojai, California. You won’t find that fact on IMDB, but McDowell, Lader, and Moss were on hand at the SFF for a post-screening Q & A, and that’s how I know. More on the Q & A later.

Suffice it to say, things go smoothly for a while. It’s a lovely home – fully stocked, fully equipped, and it even has its own separate guest house which is slightly smaller than the main house, but as fully loaded as it needs to be. They have the whole place to themselves.

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