Filmfest DC is here! I love film festivals because A. You get to see movies, and who doesn't love a good indie flick? B. You get to meet people involved with movie making and feel accomplished by association (most of my life is spent living vicariously through others). C. You are supporting the arts.
When I can, I like to volunteer for film festivals because I am a good person who is going to heaven. Well that, and I get complimentary movie tickets. So this year, I volunteered at Washington D.C., International Film Festival and got to meet some of the people involved, as well as see some of the films. My two favorites were Kings of Summer and The Deep.
Kings of Summer
Kings of Summer premiered at Sundance 2013 and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and stars people like Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. It is the coming of age story of three boys, fed up with their humdrum lives and intrusive parents, who decide to build their own house in the wild as "the ultimate act of defiance." The film follows the trials and tribulations of the boys as they attempt to navigate the rocky waters of independent life and their relationships with themselves, each other, girls and families. While still maintaining a tone reminiscent of old classics like The Goonies or The Sandlot, Kings of Summer addresses the very serious question of what it means to be a "man."
I thought this movie did an excellent job doing what it set out to do -- to be awesome. I laughed, I cried, I went through the whole spectrum of emotions with the three main characters I felt invested in. There were top-notch performances by the cast, and though Nick Robinson played a 14-year-old (Joe Toy), I wanted to, really wanted to (like more than I should have wanted to) date him. Anyway, the movie transported me to a time when my youth felt magical, and it also made me wish I had been born a boy with really good carpentry skills. Watching the characters struggle with basic survival was funny, and it made their small triumphs feel momentous and real by comparison. In the words of the late Roger Ebert, I give it a "two thumbs up."
The Deep (Djúpið)
The Deep is a Nordic film, directed by Baltasar Kormákur and stars Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as the protagonist, Gulli. When Gulli's fishing boat capsizes off the coast of Iceland, he survives against all odds. He is able to swim for hours in the freezing waters, when others die in just minutes. After reaching land and climbing and walking in unbearable temperatures, he makes it to civilization. His tale of survival makes him both a hero and scientific phenomenon, since the human body is not meant to withstand such extreme conditions.
I went into this film knowing nothing about it, but was immediately intrigued by the "based on true events" tagline. Even if the cinematography, sound and acting had been awful, it probably would've been fine, since the jaw-dropping storyline alone was enough to carry the movie. Luckily, all of the above elements worked together to make a movie that was engaging the whole way through. Watching Gulli drift in the dark icy waters of Iceland was "chilling," but begged a comparison to movies like Open Water (also based on true events), and Gulli's dialogue with a seagull made me wonder what he might have said to volleyball. Wilson!! Overall, this movie made me not want to travel to Iceland, since it looked really dark and cold, but it did make me want to test the limits of my own body in an ice-filled bathtub. Two thumbs up.
Filmfest DC is almost over, so hurry up and grab a friend, some popcorn, and buy a ticket to support the arts!