The charms of The Book of Starsare of a kind that is very difficult to describe second-hand. A picture in which D.B. Sweeney turns up as a poetry-spouting convict sounds like something one should avoid in principle, but in practice, it's something rather marvelous. A picture in which a girl is shown coughing up sticky lumps of phlegm in close-up—twice—also sounds like a sorry way to spend an evening, but the fact that the picture does include such vile stuff only makes its sweet side that much sweeter. After all, which is more satisfying: a fine meal or the first fine meal you've had after a week of being too sick to eat? The picture's director grouses elsewhere in these pages that a vastly inferior, truncated version of the picture is now making the rounds, and this screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival is pretty much the only chance you'll have to see The Book of Stars as its makers intended it. Do them—and yourself—a favor, and savor this shooting star while you have the chance.
Solitude was written and directed by Susan Kraker and Pi Ware; produced by Hilary Six; and stars Patrick Belton, Mary Thornton and Ronne Orenna. Screening as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival at Edwards Island Cinemas, 999 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 253-2880. www.newportbeach filmfest.com. April 7, 3:30 p.m. $8; The Book of Stars was directed by Michael Miner; written by Tasca Shadix; produced by Marie Cantin; and stars Mary Stuart Masterson, Jena Malone, Karl Geary and D.B. Sweeney. Screens April 6, 5 p.m. $8.