As you can read here . . .
. . . NBFF awards have been dished out for the weeklong cinextravaganza that ended Thursday night. But, like American television producers, I feel even more awards need to be bestowed. So I came up with my own. Call them the Matties or Shmatties or Cokscars, if you will.
But first, keep in mind these were compiled after the send off for the Songs for Amy Irish/Scottish/English cast and crew at Muldoon's Pub in Newport Center, where songwriter Jim Mckee and composer/co-songwriter Ultan Conlon armed themselves with acoustic guitars to perform soulful music from the dark dramedy.
By the way, sitting next to director Konrad Begg and writer-producer Fiona Graham Thursday night as they dropped shots of something into their black stouts with handy mixed-drink and Coors Light chasers by their sides (a ritual which would be repeated . . . repeatedly), it hit me: Irish people can drink. Who knew?
From Muldoon's and the Celtic serenade, it was on to the waning moments of the festival's official closing night party at a Via Lido Plaza sticky with spilled Absolut Citron, oozin' with schmoozin' and pounding to DVUET-DVUET-DVUET tuneage that shook the barnacles off tubs in the adjacent harbor.
So, yeah, keep my frame of head in mind while scanning these awards for . . .
Worst Use of Cher's New Lips
Before Ted Turner and Meryl Streep conspired to make us forget what a great actress Jane Fonda was, she did On Golden Pond with her dad. The 1981 weepie comes to mind while watching Bruce Beresford's Peace, Love and Misunderstanding,
where an elderly parent who lives in an idyllic spot next to a pool of
water is visited by a long estranged daughter with kids. The difference
is Henry Fonda had a spouse and his daughter only had one child. Hank
played a retired college professor who aged gracefully. Jane plays a
hippie grandma/ craftmaker/pot grower whose plastic surgery took me
right out of the picture. I mean, what kind of Earth muffin goes under the knife? Worse, Fonda's over-acting had me screaming at the screen.
Best Use of Larry Miller and/or Janeane Garofalo
and co-written by Tom Morris and co-produced by former Irvine resident
Kevin Liang, this effective comedy packs a lead actor who resembles my
cousin Lance (Chris Sheffield), high school students played by people
who appear to be 27 and a familiar face behind the teacher's desk,
Elaine Hendrix of Superstar, The Parent Trap and TV's most recent 90210.
It's the story of a guy about to lose his tennis scholarship because he
failed physical science and must make it up in summer school after he
was supposed to graduate. As his parents, Larry Miller and Janeane
Garofalo might have been expected to phone it in, but to their credit they gave their all. You had to love seeing Garofalo, the pride of Air America here playing a homemaker with an ever-present white wine. There are hilarious scenes without the
veteran comic-actors, but the movie is all the better with them in
Most Pretentious Film
Daniel Gillies directs himself as an American children's book author dealing with
writer's block, emotional pain and a 14-year-old prostitute in Bogata,
Columbia. Their story intersects with that of an LA daycare teacher played by Gillies' real-life wife and Broken Kingdom's
executive producer Rachael Leigh Cook, who gets way too close to a
student and his father.
There is interesting camerawork, actor interplay and totally unnecessary
poetry breaks. If a stooge like me can figure out in the first act the
plot twist that
will be revealed in the third, the kingdom isn't the only thing that's
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Funny, philosophical, menacing, Duane Peters is that and more in the short Day at the Pool.
When the skateboarder and U.S. Bombs/Die Hunns frontman out of
Huntington Beach talks of fucking up the fictional character Benton at
the center of this mockumentary, you actually fret for the dude's
safety. Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta also turn up to extend
the legend and/or cover up Benton's unequaled swimming pool skating
feat. Special kudos to writer Josh Gold and directors Ian Douglass and
Eric Fulford for milking the bit just long enough. Saturday Night Live could learn from those guys.
Best Movie Without Any Promotion
Hicks on Sticks
not the lack of promotion for this action-sports documentary that made
its world premiere at NBFF being lauded here, but that of
writer-director Soren Johnstone's subjects: skateboarders who
set across western Canada in 1999 to mount music and skate showcases
with a portable stage and ramp. Unfortunately, no one seemed to think
ahead to tell anyone in the towns being visited they were coming,
leading to them being largely ignored. That someone held onto all that
footage without taping over it is even more amazing achievement.
Best Commercial Interludes
hopes this comedy's writer-star Christy Scott Cashman and directors
David Pomes and Derek Estlin Purvis attended the Saturday Night
Centerpiece screening at Triangle Square and not the Tuesday evening
second run at Island Cinemas. If they had, they would have noticed the
audience laughed louder and longer at the fake commercials for the Cut the Crap reality show hosted by new agey Angela Lovecraft (Parker Posey) than they did the actual main story.
Best Infomercial Interlude
Our only repeat winner gets the nod for the rednecky how-to video on converting a diesel car engine to run on bio-diesel. This involves a plot point surrounding a used Mercedes, and I must admit to bias here: my son went through the same thing, twice, changing out the filter, getting used vegetable oil from restaurants, etc., before blowing out the engine in the Benz. Twice.
Best Use of a Penis
Phil Daniels in Vinyl
the Welsh rocker at the center of Sara Sugarman's rip-roaring punk rock
comedy, the actor-singer didn't need the Viagra scene to steal the
show, having nicked it long before that point in the picture. But his bare-ass reading
of "I've got a boner!”–say it like a kid who found a Willy Wonka golden ticket–is still a hoot.
Best Actress in a Mixed Racetionship
In ABC's Happy Endings,
Eliza Coupe's Jane is married to a character played by Damon Wayans
Jr., who is African American. In the NBFF's closing night
picture and world premiere screening of Shanghai Calling at the
Lido and Big Newport, Coupe's Amanda is pursued by Daniel Henney, who is
Chinese American. Not that there's anything wrong with either relationship; love is love. But anyone not evolved enough to consider such pairings controversial should know Shanghai Calling is a very tame rom-com as a whole, even thought it's about a guy who
loses his job, his love and his ethics after getting caught up in
shadiness involving a Chinese manufacturer of new cell phones bound for
the U.S. Like so tame it hurts.
Trippiest Feature Film
Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy
Based on acclaimed author Irvine Welsh's 1996 novel Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance,
Rob Heydon's film zeroes in on an aging
clubber and drug mule (brilliantly played by Adam Sinclair) falling in
love with an unsatisfied wife and office drone (Kristen Kreuk) just as
dark forces are making the man's life a living hell in an Edinburgh,
Scotland. We already know the place is bleak, thanks to Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting and the smash movie adaptation. But where heroin intensified the scuzziness, ecstasy makes it all warm
puppies and sunshine, baby. Heydon and his
crew blend intense electronica with cinematic tricks that make you feel as if you're using as effectively as Marty Scorsese did in Harvey Keitel's
swirling drunk scene in Mean Streets.
story is about extreme skiers and their realization that what they do
leaves a carbon footprint. To drive this message home, directors Dave
Mossop and Eric Crosland cut into impossible ski porn several shots of
nature–flowing lava and ice floes, steam rising from seas, a bright
yellow moon dropping like the Times Square New Year's Eve ball, snow,
snowflakes and snow banks that appear to be created by artists, and
orange, purple and yellow skies at sunset. As in Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, All.i.can also relies on a vigorous soundtrack to render your mind blown.
Best Double Take
Flynn directs, co-edit, adapts and stars solo in this eight or so
minute short based on a monologue from the stage play of the same name
by Jerusalem-born Australian playwright Ron Elisha. It's about a grown
woman dealing with her upbringing by a Nazi SS officer and Jewish woman.
As she looks into the mirror, the daughter speaks of grief
over her mother's suffering at the hands of her father. But the image looking
back defends dad and shames momma. Borrowing a German
accent, Flynn's haunting performance proves your family's
dysfunction was nothing.
Best Spaghetti Western Face-Off
Ernest Borgnine and Barry Corbin
The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez is
an uneven comedy–it's about an elderly man (Borgnine) who never
realized his dream of becoming a famous actor finding fame among Latino
nursing home workers because he once locked mitts with a certain Mexican
singer-actor. But give writer-director Elia Petridis credit for not only
pulling out a solid performance from 95-year-old Borgnine–who
appears in nearly every scene of the movie–but of squaring him off against another veteran
actor primed for the challenge, 71-year-old Barry Corbin. The quality of the film
rises several notches in their scenes, which coupled with goofy spaghetti western cues, show that Petridis was at least on to something.
Best Reason Not to Panic, It's You-Know-What
In Organic We Trust
Angeles commercial and filmmaker R. Kiplin Pastor travels the country
to find out whether organic truly means something or is just a marketing
term. I won't give away the final answer, except to say you won't be
wrong whichever one you choose. Pastor's amazingly packs several topics
into 81 minutes, although while presenting the film at Island Cinemas he
did say an In Organic We Trust II is in the works, and I don't
think he was kidding. Fun fact: the sister and brother-in-law of the
first farmer interviewed on screen fired me from an editing job a few
years ago. Oh, and screening attendees learned more about organics,
growing your own and donating overflow backyard crops to the needy at a
after-drinks-and-munchies party at Sage Restaurant in Corona del Mar
sponsored by OC Food Access. Learn more about what that nonprofit is up
to at ocfoodaccess.org.
Best Supporting Players of All
Newport Beach Film Festival volunteers
Without them, I'd have nothing to blog about. Oh, jeez, but please don't take it out on them.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before "graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.