We’re almost at the end of our coverage of this year’s LA Film Fest folks. Let’s hurry and finish taking a look at some of this year’s crop of flicks to give you the skinny. So check out the encapsulated reviews below in our...'Final Day Reviews!'
"Starred Up" - A unique film that’s essentially about a father and son reconciling after spending a lifetime estranged, but with both being behind bars in the same prison. So that means add bad guys, cell lovers and crooked prison guards to the mix and you got one messed up setting for father/son bonding moments. I have to admit the flick does take it’s time to get to the meat of the matter, but once it does (and with the help of stubborn but dedicated dad Ben Mendelsohn) it breaks your heart the same as a Lifetime movie. – 3 ½ stars
"The Life and Mind Of Mark DeFriest" – Here’s a documentary that has such a captivating story – Mark DeFriest initially goes into jail for stealing but after becoming an escape artist ends up in prison for life – that it needs no extras. All it needs are just people to tell the tale and an examination of the facts. When Life and Mind sticks to that style it’s a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it doc filled with fun and sadness. Unfortunately there’s also a ton of distracting actor transcript readings and animation sequences thrown in merely to be savvy, but instead of being a visual treat it ends up being sensory overload. Less is more. – 3 ½ stars
"Man From Reno" – What "Man From Reno" has going for it is an incredible well-crafted story. Weaving a complex detective tale, the film has more then enough twists and turns within the mystery framework to keep the audience at attention. It’s down side isn’t that the performances are bad, but they’re just simply okay and with a narrative so well defined it’s a tad glaring. Everyone within is very aloof and given the somber nature of the material, the talent should have matched the tone. – 3 ½ stars
"Inner Demons" – The stars for this one mostly come from the riveting work by lead gal Lara Vosburgh who’s playing a high school teen, turned heroin addict, turned demon possessed person. It’s quite a feat for an actress so young, but Vosburgh gets the job done. Unfortunately with the exception of the premise - she’s being filmed in rehab as part of an Intervention style TV show – the rest of the film is a barrage of bad clichés. From the overused and shaky found footage cam to the familiar jumping demon scares, this one should have focused on the work of Vosburgh and nothing else. Raw human uncertainty is the scary stuff. – 3 stars
"The Last Time You Had Fun" – Kind of "The Big Chill" mixed with "Take Me Home Tonight" for the older set, Mo Perkins flick about two men and two women all in mid-life crisis works well when the emotion and drama comes to town. It’s when the flick tries to be funny that it falls flat and feels somewhat out of its element. Best of the bunch though is Eliza Coupe who brings both sass and sadness to her role as the sister who’s an emotional mess. – 2 ½ stars
"Trouble Dolls" – Again, there are great reflective moments within "Trouble Dolls" that showcase the dramatic prowess of lead actor/directors Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler. But there’s also so much frivolity run amok and out of place here – Will Forte showing up as a crazed goofball, Megan Mullally playing a creepy closet lesbian – that it gets in the way of any message the flick has. (Though kudos for casting Christopher “Kid” Reid in this – haven’t seen him in a while!) – 2 ½ stars
Up next fans our famed Best of Wrap Up of all things LA Film Fest 2014 – stay tuned!