Lesbian Family, Christopher Nolan & Colombian Drug Lords: Los Angeles Film Festival

Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening, Julianne Moore in lesbian comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right

Downtown Los Angeles every day: traffic jams, pollution, more traffic jams.

Downtown Los Angeles today: traffic jams, pollution, more traffic jams, a National Basketball Association Championship game, the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival, (many?) more traffic jams. (I wish the LA Film Festival had remained on the Westside.)

LAFF kicks off at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Regal Cinemas, with a screening of Lisa Cholodenko's acclaimed family comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right. By “family,” I mean the movie itself is about a family – not that it's aimed at five-year-olds and their $obliging$ parents/guardians or what have you.

Written by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a couple whose two children (Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) – conceived by artificial insemination – have tracked down and brought home their biological father (Mark Ruffalo).

The Kids Are All Right, which opened at the Sundance Film Festival, has been getting a lot of good buzz, especially for Bening and Moore, both of whom have (inevitably) already been mentioned as possible awards season contenders.

More information here.

The synopsis below is from the LAFF's website:

In Lisa Cholodenko's intoxicating and deeply touching comedy, Annette Bening's Nic—a Type A doctor with a tongue that can get tart on her third glass of wine—and Julianne Moore's Jules—the warmer, flakier partner—are going through a rough patch in their relationship. Matters are further complicated when their teenaged kids, Joni and Laser (wonderfully played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson), track down their biological father. Played by a very seductive Mark Ruffalo, he's a cool, laid-back, motorcycle-riding restaurant owner who's happy to insinuate himself into the family circle, whether the kids' “"momzies"” like it or not. One does (a lot) and one doesn't.

Cholodenko, who wrote the wise, sparkling screenplay with Stuart Blumberg, fuses classic Hollywood craftsmanship with a generous and sophisticated indie spirit in this irresistible exploration of the true meaning of family. Bening and Moore, two of our finest actors, are at the top of their game here: their chemistry is delicious. Unpredictable, un-polemical, and un-politically correct, The Kids Are All Right is a crowd-pleaser in the most honorable sense of the term.
David Ansen

Photo: Focus Features

Andres Escobar, The Two Escobars
Guy Marchand, L'Arbre et la Foret, Family Tree
The House of the Angel, La Casa del Angel, Elsa Daniel, Leopoldo Torre Nilsson
Andres Escobar in Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist's The Two Escobars (top); Guy Marchand in Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastel's Family Tree (middle); Elsa Daniel in Leopoldo Torre Nilsson's The House of the Angel (bottom)

Below are a few highlights at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Friday, June 18:

Following a screening ofPink Floyd: The Wall, The Dark Knight's and the upcoming Inception's filmmaker Christopher Nolan will talk with film critic Elvis Mitchell about the influence of Alan Parker's 1982 feature/music video on his work.

John Kastner's Canadian documentary Life with Murder shows how the parents of a murdered young woman do what they can to protect their son, the accused murderer, while Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist's documentary The Two Escobars shows how sports, big money, and tribalism can be an explosive mix.

The two Escobars in question are Colombian drug lord and soccer financier Pablo Escobar, and Colombian soccer player Andres Escobar, who scored a goal against his own team at the World Cup in Los Angeles in 1994. That goal led to Colombia's elimination from the Cup and Escobar's point blank murder a couple of weeks later. (Sports are a unifying force only as long as your team wins.)

More at LAFF: Veterans Guy Marchand and Françoise Fabian can be found in Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastel's family drama – featuring deep, dark gay secrets – L'Arbre et la Foret / Family Tree (literally, “The Tree and the Forest”), while Natacha Regnier and Bruno Todeschini are the stars of Angela Schanelec's drama Orly, set at the Paris airport.

And finally, there's Leopoldo Torre Nilsson's 1957 classic La casa del ángel / The House of the Angel, about the repressively puritanical and hypocritical mores of upper class Argentinean society in the 1920s.

Synopses from the LAFF website. For more information/buy tickets, click here.

The Two Escobars

Directed By: Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist

Pablo Escobar was the richest, most powerful drug kingpin in the world, ruling the Medellín Cartel with an iron fist. Andres Escobar was the biggest soccer star in Colombia. The two were not related, but their fates were inextricably—and fatally—intertwined. Pablo's drug money had turned Andres' national team into South American champions, favored to win the 1994 World Cup in Los Angeles. It was there, in a game against the U.S., that Andres committed one of the most shocking mistakes in soccer history, scoring an “own goal” that eliminated his team from the competition and ultimately cost him his life.

The Two Escobars is a riveting examination of the intersection of sports, crime, and politics. For Colombians, soccer was far more than a game: their entire national identity rode on the success or failure of their team. Jeff and Michael Zimbalist's fast and furious documentary plays out on an ever-expanding canvas, painting a fascinating portrait of Pablo, Andres, and a country in the grips of a violent, escalating civil war. David Ansen


Directed By: Angela Schanelec

Cast: Natacha Regnier, Bruno Todeschini, Mireille Perrier, Emile Berling, Jirka Zett

Set in the waiting-hall limbo of Paris' bustling Orly Airport, Angela Schanelec's tightly focused, keenly observed film examines the fleeting connections of lives in transit. Placing her actors amidst actual passengers, Schanelec gives us the experience of wandering among strangers, eavesdropping on their intimate moments and private conversations. The atmosphere, however, is not one of voyeurism, but of intimacy—in spite of the thousands of passengers milling about, little pockets of privacy are created.

A director in total command of her craft, Schanelec creates a mosaic of tiny epiphanies: a mother and son sharing long delayed intimacies; a woman reading a letter from her former lover; two French expats forging a connection as they wait to board flights that will bear them in opposite directions; a young, backpacking German couple about to embark on their first big trip. Throughout all this, the silent character of Orly Airport itself shapes each scene, its wide horizontal spaces captured in the filmmaker's fascinating compositions. Orly explores the experience of waiting, the freedom and the powerlessness of being in limbo, the evanescence of life. Hebe Tabachnik

La casa del ángel / The House of the Angel

Directed By: Leopoldo Torre Nilsson

Cast: Elsa Daniel, Lautaro Murúa, Guillermo Battaglia, Bárbara Mujica, Berta Ortegosa

Shown at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival, this is the movie that made Leopoldo Torre Nilsson an international art house star. Based on a novel by his wife and usual screenwriter, Beatriz Guido, The House of the Angel focuses on the ruling class in 1920s Argentina, a deeply repressive society where political arguments were often settled in a duel and young women—such as the cloistered teenaged Ana, played by Elsa Daniel—were expected to be totally ignorant of sex.

With dark expressionistic camera angles that have been compared to Orson Welles' and dissonant blasts of music, Torre Nilsson unfolds the story of young Ana, suffocating under her mother's fanatically enforced purity. Her fall from grace comes at the hands of a dashing politician—a friend of her father's—who visits the family's imposing home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. (Architecture plays a crucial role in the director's films.) Appropriately, when it was first released in the U.S., this striking story of political hypocrisy, sexual discovery, and Catholic guilt was re-titled End of Innocence. David Ansen

Photos: LAFF

Lesbian Family, Christopher Nolan & Colombian Drug Lords: Los Angeles Film Festival © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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1 Comment to Lesbian Family, Christopher Nolan & Colombian Drug Lords: Los Angeles Film Festival

  1. James Baker

    Wasnt the festival in Downtown this year? I thought Isaw a sign for it.