For the first time in its fourteen-year long history, the Newport Beach Film Festival kicked off the year's season with a documentary film that packs as much wallop and frenetic energy as a mosh pit circle.
Director Doug Hamilton's Broadway Idiot follows world-famous punk band Green Day as their album American Idiot is transformed into a Broadway musical. Hamilton captures the process from beginning to end, juxtaposed with Green Day's own trajectory to super stardom.
The opening night red carpet affair was all a-flutter with photographers and press lined up, while the festival volunteers and staff busily attended to guests in formal attire. Big Newport has never looked lovelier in the Orange County sunset, proudly flaring its bright neon lights against the purple and pink-colored sky. The line of audience members stretched far past where I could see, but the crowd went wild at the arrival of Broadway Idiot's main protagonists, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt of Green Day. Also spotted on the red carpet: Michael Gladis, who plays Paul Kinsey on AMC's stellar "Mad Men," and stars in the festival's first Friday night showcase feature In Security.
Right before the screening, the members of Green Day were invited to deliver some opening words. "This is a big-ass theater," remarked Armstrong. It sure is, Billie Joe, and its proudly known as having the largest screen in Orange County. They don't call it Big Newport for nothing.
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Armstrong stands out from beginning to end in this documentary. In his interviews, he's remarkably insightful and witty about his music and its personal significance- each song on American Idiot draws from painful and haunting memories of his past, altogether crafting a narrative of frustration and chaos that defined the zeitgeist of post 9/11 times. Hamilton puts tremendous attention to detail in his camera shots, capturing every single aspect of the production, from dressing room banter to the joy on each performer's face. The end result is a visual collage of two worlds- punk rock and theater- coming together in a spectacular collaboration.
Following the film, guests had a confusing time navigating Fashion Island to get to the entrance of the after-party, but once inside, it was an exciting buffet of yummy treats and drinks courtesy of Absolut and Stella Artois, as well as numerous local wine vendors. No band this year, but guests threw on an impromptu dance party on the lawn to some great DJs, while Esquire provided a neat photo booth and free issues. Ain't no party like a Newport Beach Film Festival after-party!
The Newport Beach Film Festival runs until May 2nd, for tickets and full schedule, go to www.newportbeachfilmfestival.com
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