Ten for the Money

There are more than 182 features at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Here are 10 weve seen

SINNER. As the opening credits of Sinner unfurl, we hear audio snippets from numerous clergy-abuse scandals, including that of Oliver O'Grady, profiled in the documentary Deliver Us From Evil. But this isn't a pedo-priest flick at all, really; the intro seems designed purely so that when we first catch sight of Father Romano (Nick Chinlund) jerking off under the bed sheets, we're immediately inclined to hate him, and his oily demeanor certainly doesn't alleviate those emotions. His straight-arrow colleague Stephen (Michael E. Rodgers) seems by far the better bet, though both are exiled in a church with no parishioners. But when a scantily clad and obviously quite damaged young lady (Georgina Cates) drives into town and starts pushing a few buttons, director Marc Bernardout engages in some neat sleight of hand to gradually shift our sympathies around, which wouldn't be possible if not for the layered, standout performance by Chinlund that gets better and better as the movie goes along. It's unfortunate, then, that the storytelling is so awkward—whether by error of scripting or editing, it frequently seems like there are scenes missing, with time sometimes substantially passing or key moments only alluded to. What initially feels like deliberate ambiguity ultimately only frustrates. Still, David Kerr's moody cinematography and Chinlund's work are reason enough to love the Sinner—even while we hate its sins. (Tues., 5:30 p.m. at Edwards Island)

THE WONDER OF IT ALL. You all know the name of Neil Armstrong and maybe even Alan Shepard, but what about the other guys who went to the moon? They're all here, on camera and still full of life, having, as they put it, lived the achievements of several lifetimes already. Some, like John Young, regret we haven't done more since, as he was hoping for a moon base, which he surmises might have increased the chances for world peace somehow. Buzz Aldrin talks about his family struggle with depression and his own post-mission alcoholism. An impressive collection of color and black-and-white photos from the era serve as transitions, along with actual moon-walk footage you probably haven't seen all of before. This isn't fancy filmmaking, but it gets the job done, and you could learn something—the real reason to see it at the Newport Beach Film Festival, however, is that some of the astronauts will be in attendance. Meet the men who made history and pick their brains; judging by the movie, that's what they're hoping for. (Fri., 6:30 p.m. at Edwards Island)

EDWARDS ISLAND CINEMAS, 999 NEWPORT CENTER DR., NEWPORT BEACH; REGENCY LIDO, 3459 VIA LIDO, NEWPORT BEACH, (866) NBFF-TIX; NEWPORTBEACHFILMFEST.COM. $10 PER SCREENING.

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Check The Blotter for blog updates from the festival throughout the week.

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