Poor Perry. The first time he locks eyes on lovely Leslie, he is smitten. And the longer he is around her, the stronger his longing becomes. Too bad he's engaged to someone else--and sitting in a juror's box as Leslie Van Houten and two other young ladies stand trial alongside Charlie Manson for the Tate/La Bianca murders.
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And so we have the proverbial rub of Leslie, My Name is Evil, a goofy-ass Canadian import from writer-director Reginald Harkema. Uptight conservative spawn Perry (Gregory Smith, who was Ephram Brown on Everwood) and damaged free-spirit Leslie (Kristen Hager, who is Sophie Gracen on MTV's Valemont) each embody the two Americas that emerged from the Eisenhower era and collided head on amid Vietnam, the rise of L.S.D. and the Kennedy and King assassinations. As the pair flirt with one another with their eyes, Perry pulls away from his intended (Kristin Adams), the domination of his Nixon-loving father (Peter Keleghan, whose Jim Walcott was the dimmest anchorman north of Ted Baxter on The Newsroom) and his fellow "square" jurors. Will Perry save his crush from the gas chamber? Leslie, My Name is Evil is full of nods to Mansonisms, America's blood lust and over-the-top symbolism that will likely offend half this country and amuse everyone else. I found it hilarious, and, if nothing else, it gives a strong indication of how we are viewed from the Great White North. A special shout-oot (that's "out" in Canadian) to whoever designed the sets. Like an earlier festival film from Canada, Machotaildrop, someone very cleverly made the most of out very little.
The long list (today's entries that sound promising): Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story; Air Doll; Bran Nue Dae; Case 219; 8: The Mormon Proposition; L'Affaire Farewell; Private Eye; Sophie's Revenge.
Theaters: Regency Lido Theatre, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach; Regency South Coast Village Theatre, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana; The Studio at Sage Hill School, 20402 Newport Coast Dr., Newport Beach. Visit newportbeachfilmfest.com for times, theaters and ticket information.