Closing Thoughts on the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival
Weeks have passed since the Newport Beach Film Festival came to a close. It was a fun, new experience for me. It does kind of suck the life out of you trying to catch up with as many films as you can. What follows are my thoughts on some of the films I saw on the last day of the festival.
“The Elephant in the Living Room” is a documentary by Michael Webber that shows us the underground world of exotic animal ownership in the U.S. This documentary is the best thing I saw at the Newport Beach Film Festival. The documentary was informative, interesting and touching as well. The film follows Tim Harrison, a man who makes it his job to protect exotic animals living in the country. The other person the film follows is a man named Terry who keeps a male and female lion in his backyard.
I found the film an incredibly fascinating look at an entire society of people who keep wild, exotic animals as pets. It could have been easy for the filmmakers to condemn these people, but instead it gives people like Terry a fair chance to state their opinion. Even though I think that people like him are nuts, we do learn that he does genuinely care for his animals. There are some really beautiful, touching moments involving the lions in the film. Everyone should definitely catch up with this film. I can’t recommend it enough.
I also caught up with “True Adolescents” from director Craig Johnson. I caught up with this film because of the film’s star, Mark Duplass. Duplass made a splash last year with “Humpday”. I really liked that film and was impressed with his performance. In this film Duplass plays a 30-something wannabe rock star who is not going anywhere in life. When his girlfriend dumps him, he has no choice but to move in with his Aunt, played by Melissa Leo. Duplass ends up getting stuck taking his cousin and his friend on a camping trip, which doesn’t go according to plan.
I wasn’t sure what the film wanted to be at first. Some of the humor in the beginning of the film didn’t work for me or the audience. I think everyone expected the film to be more of a comedy than it was. I wasn’t sure if I could accept Duplass playing a semi-serious role after his great comedic turn in “Humpday”. But by the end of the film I was impressed with the dramatic chops that he was able to deliver. Duplass delivers a great moment where he takes a hard look at himself in the mirror. Issues of belonging, and sexual identity are handled extremely well in the film. This is a coming of age film for both the young kids and the Duplass character.
The last film I saw at the festival was the premiere of a film called “Tug” directed by Abram Makowka. The film is a nice little picture, that is a bit unfocused. Sam Huntington plays the film’s unnamed lead character, who is a wannabe screenwriter living in Michigan. He has a good relationship with his girlfriend, played by Sarah Drew, but his relationship is threatened by an ex-girlfriend who won’t leave him alone. This crazy ex-girlfriend only increases Huntington’s uncertain life and the film follows him as he tries to gets his life in order.
The best thing about the film is the performance of Sam Huntington. He is a very relatable presence on-screen. You do feel like you could be his character. Zachary King also delivers a good comedic performance as Huntington’s best friend in the film. One problem with the film is that I didn’t feel that there were any life changing stakes involved in the story. Some of the major plot changing scenes in the film are tired out; we have seen these scenes before in other films done better. Towards the end of the film I grew frustrated and just wanted this guy to make a decision and move on with his life. I liked the performances better than the film’s story.
I had a very enjoyable time at the Newport Beach Film Festival. My only regret is that I wish I was able to catch more films that were of better quality.