By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
The May 2 Closing Night Spotlight returns us back to the States with the buzzed-about The Way, Way Back, the directorial debut of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who also co-wrote the screenplay (as well as that 2012 Oscar-winning one, with Alexander Payne, for The Descendants). The Way, Way Back is about the unlikely friendship that develops between a laidback water-park manager (Sam Rockwell) and a 14-year-old boy (Liam James) experiencing a difficult summer. Said to be an homage to Meatballs, the comedy boasts supporting players with Little Miss Sunshine/Juno/Bridesmaids cred (Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph). If you want to see this, you'd be advised to step away from this story to score your tickets now because the fest closers invariably sell out fast.
The best part about seeing the closer at the historic Lido in Newport Beach is you can stumble right into the Closing Night Gala that overtakes Via Lido Plaza, just as Coachella does to tumbleweed land. These are the second-steepest tickets ($70 for film and party). All the above-referenced Spotlight films have associated parties, generally at Fashion Island or a nearby restaurant. In some instances, you have to drive or take a taxi from the theater to the affair.
* * *
There is not enough room in this print edition/virtual receptacle to blab on about the rest of the festival features, documentaries and shorts. So here's a quick rundown of 19 titles that caught my eye (with fest categories in parentheses). Missing are local films, which are covered in the Film section.
B-Side (music): Amos Posner's small indie has a radio DJ wisecracking about a second-tier pop songstress, who hears the broadcast, confronts the putz and sparks an unlikely romance.
Cavedigger (art/architecture): Jeffrey Karoff's Best Non-European Documentary winner at the 2013 European Independent Film Festival is about an artist who carves caves into New Mexico cliffs.
Critical Mass (environmental): Mike Freedman calls on authors, academics and scientists to tell us how fucked the Earth will get thanks to human overpopulation.
The East (feature): Zaj Batmanglij has Brit Marling playing a corporate sleuth infiltrating an anarchist collective, where she finds Ellen Page, Jason Ritter, Alexander Skarsgård and conflicted feelings.
Greetings From Tim Buckley (music): Daniel Algrant's drama re-creates Anaheim-born Jeff Buckley's (Penn Badgley) staging of a 1991 tribute concert to his late folky father, Tim Buckley (Ben Rosenfeld, in flashbacks).
The Secret Disco Revolution (music): Jamie Kastner grooves with a tongue-in-cheek cultural exhumation of the 1970s craze.
Space Milkshake (feature): Blue-collar astronauts stuck on a sanitation station try to figure out where Earth went and why a rubber duck is attacking them in Armen Evrensel's intentionally very-B sci-fi.
Terms and Conditions May Apply (documentary): Cullen Hoback actually reads the fine print we ignore to discover we won't like what we've signed. (Screens with NSFW; see the Film section.)
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