Newport Beach Film Festival: Schedule of events

Compiled by Greg Stacy

MONDAY, APRIL 19

Her Majesty. See April 17, 9 a.m. (10:45 a.m., Edwards Island 5) Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. See Sunday, April 18. (11 a.m., Edwards Island 3) Sex, Drugs, and Rockin' Shorts. See Saturday, April 17. (11 a.m., Edwards Island 4) Short Term Commitments. See Friday, April 16. (11:30 a.m., Edwards Island 6) Eila. Finnish docudrama about a timid woman who is so incensed when the government illegally fires a bunch of employees that she becomes a crusader for public change. (12:30 p.m., Lido Theater) Em & Me. Jim Langlois' quirky romance stars Alan Young as Ernie Biglow, an 80-something gent hell-bent on getting across the country in time to celebrate his anniversary with his wife. (12:45 p.m., Edwards Island 5) Khachaturian. Documentary portrait of Aram Khachaturian, an Armenian composer who worked in the former Soviet Union. The film examines whether Khachaturian was a tool of the soviets or whether he was using his talents to critique the soviet regime. (1:30 p.m., Edwards Island 3) On Golden Shorts. This title puts all sorts of unwholesome images in my mind. I want them out. (1:30 p.m., Edwards Island 4) Time of the Wolf. Burt Reynolds and Jason Priestley both show up in this tiny little Canadian/French/German co-production, the story of a kid who takes in an injured wolf but risks having his secret exposed by a local bully. (1:45 p.m., Edwards Island 6) Devils Are Dreaming. Michael Sladek's strange and irritating but potent directorial debut follows Joseph (Stephan Donovan), a 30-year-old, wannabe artist who finds himself ping-ponging around in various alternate realities, getting glimpses of other paths his life could have taken. Devils are Dreaming is a clumsy and off-putting film, but it has a strange power that sneaks up on you. For the first few reels I dismissed it as simply amateurish and paid more active attention to the affecting mope-rock soundtrack by the New York band Stupid, but gradually I was drawn in to poor Joseph's plight. Donovan starts the film as a charmless lump but his performance just seems to get better and better the more frantic Joseph becomes; by the film's conclusion, you may be surprised how much you've grown to worry about where Joseph will eventually wind up. He can't seem to find contentment in any of these realities, and there is something genuine and affecting about the plight of this schlubby, depressed everyman adrift in a potentially infinite number of suburban hells. Joseph's story is a perfect sci-fi allegory for the dilemmas faced by many men of a certain age: What happened to my dreams? How did I get this crappy job? How did I end up married to this strange woman? Where the hell did these kids come from? For a while Joseph is allowed to just ride each scenario out, safe in the knowledge that at least a new reality will probably come along soon. But, as with all of us, as time goes by it becomes more difficult for Joseph to pick up and start his life over. What strange forces are toying with Joseph this way? What strange forces are guiding your life? (3 p.m., Lido Theater) Handful of Bullets. 18-year-old Ivars moves from the Latvian countryside to the big city and finds himself living in poverty and caught up in an unusual love triangle with a tempestuous local beauty and his uncle Fredis. (3 p.m., Edwards Island 5) Fossil. Neal Nellans' docudrama investigates the case of an anthropologist who disappeared in the African Congo while investigating a mythical creature. Did he perish by some conventional means, or did the creature get him? (3:30 p.m., Edwards Island 3) Les Chiefs. See Friday, April 16. (4 p.m., Edwards Island 6) Shorts-ploitation. See Friday, April 16. (4 p.m., Edwards Island 4) Playing for Change. Documentary look at street musicians across the USA, from Venice Beach to New York City. Despite being hassled by the authorities, these plucky souls never stop trying to brighten the world with music . . . and hopefully make a living for themselves in the process. (5 p.m., Orange County Museum of Art) Screen Door Jesus. Jesus makes an appearance on the screen door of an elderly woman's home in East Texas. Or does He? In Kirk Davis' drama, tensions flare all over town when some of the locals insist they can see the image of Christ on the door and others are equally insistent that they can't. (5 p.m., Edwards Island 5) The Five Stages of Beer. Local boy Brian Mix's affable little ensemble picture The Five Stages of Beer is a romantic comedy with plenty of snark to ground it in reality and keep it interesting. It's not the kind of movie that rocks anybody's world, but the dialogue has the lazy charm of Kevin Smith on a good day, and it's certainly refreshing to see a contemporary American comedy that looks at love from the straight dude point of view without including a few dozen fart gags. (5:30 p.m., Lido Theater) A Peck on the Cheek (Kannathil Muthamittal). When Amudha, a 9-year-old Sri Lankan child, is informed by her parents that she is adopted, she is anguished but also deeply curious about her birth parents. (5:30 p.m., Edwards Island 3) Noise. Recently divorced, Joyce Chandler moves to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. But the strain of her new life and living alone in a small apartment begin to wear on her, and her sanity unravels. Former Brat-Pack'er Ally Sheedy stars. (6:15 p.m., Edwards Island 6) In Tune With Our Shorts. Shorts with a certain musical quality, including Steve Johnson's Everloving, a pairing of the paintings of Beksinski and the music of Moby. (6:30 p.m., Edwards Island 4) Fandom. Documentary about Gordon Coleman, a naïve young man who has never left the small town where he was raised. All seems well when he is invited to Boston to meet his favorite celebrity, but the closer he gets to Boston, the more tenuous his grasp on reality becomes. (7:30 p.m., Orange County Museum of Art) Moi Cesar. Richard Berry's French comedy follows Cesar, a precocious 10-year-old boy, as he journeys to London with his two pals to find the mysterious father of Cesar's friend Morgan. (7:30 p.m., Edwards Island 5) Red Roses and Petrol. In Tamar Simon Hoffs' comedy, all hell breaks loose as an Irish family gathers from around the globe for the wake of the clan's stern, moody father. Old grudges surface, new ones form, and dad manages to stir things up even beyond the grave with a few scandalous videotapes he left behind. Even as a corpse, the great Malcolm McDowell predictably steals the show. (8 p.m., Edwards Island 3) She Said. Young ladies muse, gripe and rejoice about the state of the modern American woman in this documentary. A cross-section of women in their twenties speak out frankly on work, food, fashion, relationships with those pesky guys, and whatever else is on their minds. Now and then there are also some digital art pieces and still photographs and whatnot. (8 p.m., Lido Theater) Life In Shorts. See Sunday, April 18. (8:30 p.m., Edwards Island 6) Pot Luck Shorts. Who knows what you'll find in this selection of shorts? Maybe drama, maybe comedy, maybe coleslaw. (Somebody always brings coleslaw to a potluck.) (9 p.m., Edwards Island 4)
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