The titular “character” of Michael Stephenson's documentary is Troll 2, the forgettable 1990 horror flick starring Stephenson as a young boy trying to save his family from plant-eating monsters. Actually, that's inaccurate, because Troll 2 is remembered fondly by a legion of nerds who love the movie's wooden acting, senseless dialogue and lack of one goddamn troll (let alone a prequel). In his amazingly honest documentary, Stephenson tries to find out what's to love.
The film starts pretty much in the dental chair of Alabama's Dr. George Hardy, whose first and–for a very long time–only movie role was playing Stephenson's father in Troll 2. Through Hardy's eyes we travel from VHS bargain bins shortly after Troll 2 premiered to packed-house screenings today.
Stephenson and other cast members are as astounded as anyone else that a nonsensical film directed by an Italian director who spoke little English and Italian screenwriter who spoke only a little more can be so beloved by so many. But, to Stephenson's credit, he keeps his camera rolling at times that show cult fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. Here's hoping Best Worst Film has an even longer shelf life than you-know-what.
Best Worst Film screens at 10:30 tonight (and 7 p.m. Sunday), preceded by Peter Meech's Best Short Film, a shortie about a filmmaker trying to impress a Hollywood producer by claiming to be a winner at a famous film festival.
- It's About Time: The inaugural Anaheim International Film Festival will give your eyeflaps a workout
Also recommended at AIFF tonight:
Gaughan and Andrew Buckley, who play off each other like a well-oiled
Vaudeville duo, star as a pair of traveling servicemen who,
by performing something known as “The Procedure,” clean out what's
buried in people's “closets.” First-time director Nick Whitfield keeps viewers engaged
with clever sets, set-ups and visuals in this gem from the UK. 7 tonight and 10 p.m. Saturday with Gavin Keane's Irish short Cold Turkey, which is about a Foley artist on a low-budget feature experimenting with poultry to create the authentic sounds for a fight scene.
UrFrenz: “Inspired by true events” and written and directed by
veteran Hollywood screenwriter Jeff Phillips, this low-budget indie shot in Orange,
Huntington Beach and other Orange County locales is
about a nosy mom and two damaged teenage girls whose lives spin out of
control following the spread of ugly gossip and malicious social
networking. Gayla Goehl and Lily Holleman, in her feature
debut as a troubled teen, give particularly strong performances. 7 tonight and 8 p.m. Sunday with Federico Santillana's Online, a short from Argentina about two young teens engaged in cyber-romance.
Phasma Ex Machina: Matt Osterman's compelling directorial debut is about a young man who builds a machine he hopes will bring his parents back from the dead. He gets more than he bargained for. The low-budget film is held together by Sasha Andreev, as the guy, Cody, and Max Hauser, as Cody's high-school age brother. Though they look noting alike, their performances are so strong they are believable as bros. Matthew Feeney as another lost soul also gives a natural turn in the piece. 10:30 tonight and Saturday.
Short Program #3: Cupid's Greatest Hits: Two shorts alone in this batch are worth the price of admission. Justin Tan's Karma's a Bitch, which is about a battle being waged by the karmas of a couple fixing to get it on. Jayne Clement and veteran character actor Erick Avari, who embody the guy and gal's respective karmas, chew up the scenery and obviously have a ball doing so, as will you. Luke Matheny's God of Love is a goofy, hipster, black-and-white valentine about a schmuck who croons jazz while hitting bull's-eyes on dartboards
in what has to be the greatest lounge act ever. Thanks to a mysterious
gift, he goes from being lovestruck to a love-striker. Slightly Cupid would be a fitting alternative title for this flick that pulls from its holster inventive visuals, writing and performances. 7 tonight.
Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story: San Diego filmmaker Kevin Tostado explores all things Monopoly. If you really, really, really love the
75-year-old board game, you will really, really, really love this documentary. The game's
history, pop-culture significance and worldwide reach gurgle up as
Tostado builds up to the 2009 Monopoly world championships in Las Vegas.
Zachary Levi of TV's Chuck narrates. I previously wrote that it was unclear to me if Tostado intended to expose
nuts who surround the game as nuts or if he is one of them. After the story was published, the director got back to me with the answer: both. 4 p.m. today and 7 p.m. Sunday.
Short Program #4: Animation for Grown-ups: Don't miss The Lost Thing, a joint Australia/U.K. animated production directed
by Shaun Tan, who wrote the same-titled children's book, and Andrew
Ruhemann, who stumbled upon the book at a children's fair. It tells the
tale of a boy who finds a living contraption of some sort and figures it
must belong to someone. But when he tries to find the owner, he is
rewarded with societal indifference. We're all just too damn busy to see
kids or whatever the hell they drag behind them. The same shorts program features German directors Stefan Leuchtenberg and Martin Wallner's A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation, a moving animated poem about grieving that includes the vocal star power of Joseph Fiennes and Ian McKellen. 10 tonight.
Anaheim International Film Festival at UltraStar Cinemas at GardenWalk, 321 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 399-0300; www.anaheimfilm.org. Through Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. General
screenings, $5-$10; special screenings, $12; all-day pass, $15-$30.
Master classes, workshops and panels, $10-$25 each. Awards presentation
in Sequoia Ballroom at Grand Californian Hotel, 1600 S. Disneyland Dr.,
Anaheim. 5 p.m., Saturday with VIP “World of Color” show at California
Adventure, $150 (space limited). Closing festivities at GardenWalk
(gala, screening, after-party), 5 p.m. Sunday. $10-$50; all-access