ENTERTAINMENT
Follow the Entertainment section on Facebook!
ENVELOPE
ENTERTAINMENT ENVELOPE

Cheat Sheet: Los Angeles Film Festival 2012

Los Angeles Film Festival 2012 cheat sheet

Los Angeles Film Festival 2012

The 18th Los Angeles Film Festival has embraced diversity in a number of ways. The selections were culled from more than 5,000 submissions and come from 30 countries, eight of which are in Latin America. The lineup spotlights films that feature African Americans, includes 19 feature films directed by women, and the festival also will convene a special panel discussion among women in the animation business. Here's a sampling of topics and films of interest. Complete coverage on 24 Frames.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Stories
  • 'It's a Disaster'

    Blame the Mayan calendar if you like, but apocalyptic comedies appear to be emerging as a trendy new subgenre (see also: "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"). In this ensemble piece featuring David Cross, Julia Stiles and America Ferrera, four blase Los Angeles couples meet for brunch and spend so much time bickering and navel-gazing that they scarcely notice the destruction of the world is nigh. (June 20, 7:10 p.m.; June 23, 9:40 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'It's a Disaster'
  • 'Middle of Nowhere'

    Earlier this year, publicist-turned-filmmaker Ava DuVernay became the first black woman to win best director at the Sundance Film Festival with this restrained L.A.-set drama about a nurse (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who puts her plans to attend medical school on hold when her husband (Omari Hardwick) is sentenced to eight years in prison. The film also stars rising black British actor David Oyelowo, of "The Help," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Red Tails." (June 20, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance 2012: Meaty roles for black actors in 'Middle of Nowhere'

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Middle of Nowhere'
  • 'Celeste and Jessie Forever'

    "Parks and Recreation" star Rashida Jones and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Andy Samberg portray the title characters in this romantic dramedy about an Angeleno couple who married young and are trying to carry out an amicable divorce. Despite Jones and Samberg's association with television comedy, "Celeste and Jesse" offsets its laughs with emotion and heartbreak. The film also marks Jones' screenwriting debut; she co-wrote with Will McCormack. (June 21, 7:30 p.m.; June 22, 5:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

    'Celeste and Jessie Forever'
  • 'G-Dog'

    Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest and native Angeleno, is many things to many people, but he's perhaps best known as the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention program in the country. For 20 years G-Dog, as he is affectionately known, has toiled to provide former gang members and at-risk youths a way out according to his motto, "Jobs not jails." Freida Mock's film shadows Boyle as he tries to keep Homeboy afloat during a period of economic hardship. (June 17, 4:20 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'G-Dog'
  • 'Vampira and Me'

    The first raven-haired, pale-skinned, playfully macabre bombshell to hit the airwaves in Los Angeles wasn't Elvira but rather Vampira, the alter ego of Finnish actress Maila Nurmi. This documentary portrait by R.H. Greene, who knew Nurmi well, chronicles her rise to fame as the host of a late-night horror show in the mid-'50s, her disappearance from the limelight, her lawsuit against Elvira and her life beyond the character. (June 16, 10 p.m.; June 23, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Vampira and Me'
Star Power
  • 'To Rome With Love'

    Woody Allen opens the festival with his seventh film set in a major European city in as many years. Time will tell if this multi-stranded comedy -- starring Alec Baldwin as an architect reliving his youth, Roberto Benigni as an ordinary Roman who finds himself inexplicably famous, Penelope Cruz as a high-class escort masquerading as a stranger's wife and Jesse Eisenberg as a young man caught in a love triangle -- can match the success of last year's "Midnight in Paris." (June 14, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

    'To Rome With Love'
  • 'Magic Mike'

    Art imitates life in Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper comedy "Magic Mike," which draws inspiration from the life of star Channing Tatum in his pre-Hollywood days. Tatum, who displayed a knack for self-aware humor in "21 Jump Street" (and dance moves in "Step Up"), plays a seasoned stripper who takes a young protege (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing while contemplating his own future. Making its world premiere, the closing-night film also stars Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer. (June 24, 7 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: Warner Bros.

    'Magic Mike'
  • 'People Like Us'

    Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman has made his name penning sci-fi blockbusters such as "Transformers" and "Star Trek," but his directorial debut is decidedly more down to Earth: a family drama about a self-absorbed young salesman (Chris Pine) who learns upon his father's death of a half-sister he never knew he had (Elizabeth Banks). Kurtzman and co-writers Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert each incorporated elements from their own lives into the story. (June 15, 8 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    A long-lost sister and the spark of an idea

    Photo credit: DreamWorks Pictures

    'People Like Us'
  • 'Celeste and Jessie Forever'

    "Parks and Recreation" star Rashida Jones and "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg portray the title characters in this romantic dramedy about an Angeleno couple who married young and are trying to carry out an amicable divorce. Despite Jones and Samberg's association with television comedy, "Celeste and Jesse" offsets its laughs with emotion and heartbreak. The film also marks Jones' screenwriting debut; she co-wrote with Will McCormack. (June 21, 7:30 p.m.; June 22, 5:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance: Rashida Jones does romantic dramedy in 'Celeste and Jesse Forever'

    Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

    'Celeste and Jessie Forever'
  • 'Robot & Frank'

    Frank Langella's charming costar in this unconventional buddy movie and heist flick is a diminutive robot voiced by Peter Sarsgaard. In the film, which was a hit at Sundance, Langella plays an gruff widower (and former cat burglar) named Frank, whose son buys a home-care robot to look after the old man. Despite his initial resistance to model UGC-60L, Frank soon finds the robot to be a capable companion with a few tricks up his sleeve. (June 21, 5 p.m.; June 23, 7:10 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance Film Festival: Frank Langella happy to have a robot costar

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Robot & Frank'
Documentaries
  • 'The Invisible War'

    Filmmaker Kirby Dick is no stranger to serious subject matter, having explored sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in "Twist of Faith" and political hypocrisy in the gay-rights debate in "Outrage." His latest film investigates widespread rape within the U.S. military and could prove one of the year's most talked-about documentaries. Upon seeing the film at Sundance, Times film critic Kenneth Turan called it "exceptional -- both for its scandalous nature as well as its emotional impact." (June 16, 1:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance: 'The Invisible War' sheds light on rape in the military

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'The Invisible War'
  • 'The Iran Job'

    Though the title sounds like the sequel to a heist movie, "The Iran Job" is in fact a fish-out-of-water tale about an American basketball player (point guard Kevin Sheppard) who signs up with the upstart Iranian Super League team A.S. Shiraz. Once there, Sheppard forms unexpected friendships with three outspoken Iranian women, and his apartment becomes an unlikely have for free speech. The film makes its world premiere at the festival. (June 15, 7:10 p.m.; June 17, 6:50 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'The Iran Job'
  • 'Sun Kissed'

    Life under the unforgiving New Mexico sun presents exceptional challenges for husband and wife Dorey and Yolanda Nez and, most of all, their teenage daughter, Leanndra, who was born with a rare genetic disorder that makes exposure to sunlight fatal. Maya Stark and Adi Lavy's documentary follows a family pulled between Navajo traditions and Western medicine as they grapple with deep-rooted taboos and the long shadow of history. (June 16, 1:40 p.m.; June 18, 7:40 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Sun Kissed'
  • 'Vampira and Me'

    The first raven-haired, pale-skinned, playfully macabre bombshell to hit the airwaves in Los Angeles wasn't Elvira but rather Vampira, the alter ego of Finnish actress Maila Nurmi. This documentary portrait by R.H. Greene, who knew Nurmi well, chronicles her rise to fame as the host of a late-night horror show in the mid-'50s, her disappearance from the limelight, her lawsuit against Elvira and her life beyond the character. (June 16, 10 p.m.; June 23, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Vampira and Me'
  • 'Words of Witness'

    Set against the popular revolution that overthrew former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year and its aftermath, this documentary follows 22-year-old journalist Heba Afify as she covers the upheaval using text messages, tweets and Facebook posts. At the same time, Afify has her own personal and political coming of age, bristling at cultural norms and family expectations as she and her country both face an uncertain future. (June 17, 2:40 p.m.; June 20, 7:40 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Words of Witness'
Female Directors
  • 'Middle of Nowhere'

    Earlier this year, publicist-turned-filmmaker Ava DuVernay became the first black woman to win best director at the Sundance Film Festival with this restrained L.A.-set drama about a nurse (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who puts her plans to attend medical school on hold when her husband (Omari Hardwick) is sentenced to eight years in a Victorville prison. The film also stars rising black British actor David Oyelowo, of "The Help," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Red Tails." (June 20, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance 2012: Meaty roles for black actors in 'Middle of Nowhere'

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Middle of Nowhere'
  • 'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'

    The apocalypse might seem an unlikely background for a romantic comedy, but what better time to focus on what's really important in life? In writer and first-time director Lorene Scafaria's film, making its world premiere, Steve Carell plays a newly deserted husband who decides to track down a long lost love; he's joined by Keira Knightley, playing his free-spirited neighbor who's worried that she's missed her last chance to see her family in England. (June 18, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    The Writer-director: Upending the end of the world

    Photo credit: Focus Features

    'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'
  • 'Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives'

    Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore's documentary chronicles the life and work of Ina May Gaskin, the mother of the modern midwifery movement and founder of a commune in rural Tennessee known as the Farm. Since establishing the Farm in the 1970s, Gaskin and her midwives have attended some 3,000 births, the great majority of which have been performed without C-section procedures or epidural anesthesia. (June 16, 4:40 pm.; June 22, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives'
  • 'Call Me Kuchu'

    The story of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, a tireless advocate for LGBT men and women (or "kuchus"), is that of a person who refused to be marginalized. "They kept on saying we are not here," he says in the film. "But as of late, we are here." Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall's film is both a testament to Kato's bravery and chilling evidence of the risks of being openly gay in a country ruled by a homophobic government. (June 16, 7:50 p.m.; June 17, 4:10 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Call Me Kuchu'
  • 'The Queen of Versailles'

    Photographer and documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has long explored American values through the lenses of wealth and class, and in "The Queen of Versailles" she was graced with ideal subjects and fortuitous timing. The film follows time-share billionaire David Siegel and wife Jackie as they set out to build a 90,000-square-foot mega-mansion modeled on the palace of Versailles. The Siegels' plans are interrupted, however, by the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. (June 15, 5 p.m.; June 16, 9:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance: 'Queen of Versailles' keenly eyes the rich and struggling

    Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

    'The Queen of Versailles'
Portraits of Mexico
  • 'The Compass Is Carried by the Dead Man'

    Hitching a ride across the border from Mexico all the way to Chicago on a mule-driven wagon sounds like a dicey proposition, particularly when the elderly driver expires mid-journey, but that's the predicament in which 13-year-old Chencho finds himself in Arturo Pons' absurdist allegorical road movie. Along the way, the boy is joined by such motley travelers as a trio of mourners with no one left to bury, a soldier who accidentally killed his general and an accused goat thief. (June 16, 4:20 p.m.; June 18, 7:20 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'The Compass Is Carried by the Dead Man'
  • 'Drought'

    Documentary filmmaker Everardo Gonzalez's verite portrait of a cattle-ranching community in arid northeast Mexico glimpses a way of life on the verge of extinction. The cowboys and farmers of the peculiarly named town of Cuates de Australia find simple joys amid their hardscrabble existence -- family dinners, weddings, baptisms, the occasional village fiesta -- but their livelihood is unsustainable without the most basic of requirements: water. (June 17, 5:20 p.m.; June 20, 7:20 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Drought'
  • 'Canicula'

    The title of the lyrical documentary "Canicula" refers to the dog days, the hottest period of the year, a spiritually significant time for the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico. Director Jose Alvarez trains his camera on a group of women crafting graceful traditional ceramics and a group of men carrying out a striking religious ceremony in which they climb a large pole and dive from it while suspended by thick ropes. (June 16, 1:50 p.m.; June 17, 7:10 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Canicula'
  • 'Reportero'

    According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 40 Mexican journalists have died or disappeared in the last five years in connection with their investigating and reporting on corruption and drug trafficking. Thus far reporter and photojournalist Sergio Haro, of the Tijuana-based newsweekly Zeta, has managed to avoid the same fate, and Bernardo Ruiz's documentary shows the dedication and danger that characterizes his and his colleagues' daily existence. (June 16, 7:40 p.m.; June 18, 7:50 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Reportero'
Musical Stories
  • 'A Band Called Death'

    Growing up surrounded by the sounds of Motown, brothers David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney started playing R&B in their parents' garage in the early '70s. After getting a taste of hard rock at a fateful Alice Cooper show, the trio switched to an electrifying proto-punk sound and christened themselves Death. This documentary by Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino traces their brush with fame, their lapse into obscurity and their recent revival. (June 16, 7:20 p.m.; June 19, 7:10 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'A Band Called Death'
  • 'Big Easy Express'

    Veteran music video director Emmett Malloy follows up his 2009 White Stripes documentary "Under Great Northern Lights" with this combination concert film and road movie tagging along with three indie-folk bands -- Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes -- as they board an antique train for a whistle-stop tour from Oakland to New Orleans. The film won an audience award at the South by Southwest Festival in March. (June 22, 10 p.m.; June 23, 4 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

    'Big Easy Express'
  • 'Searching for Sugar Man'

    An unexpected crowd pleaser at Sundance, Malik Bendjelloul's documentary tells the remarkable story of Mexican American folk singer Sixto Rodriguez. Although Rodriguez's career stalled out in the U.S. in the 1970s, a bootleg of one of his albums made its way to South Africa and his songs became wildly popular there -- even as fans knew little about the man behind the music and he knew nothing of his overseas popularity. (June 19, 7:40 p.m.; June 20, 5:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Sundance 2012: On the trail of a mysterious star, Rodriguez

    Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

    'Searching for Sugar Man'
  • 'Neil Young Journeys'

    For their third documentary together, filmmaker Jonathan Demme follows singer-songwriter Neil Young on a trip from his hometown of Omemee, Canada, to Toronto's Massey Hall, where Young plays two shows to close his 2011 solo world tour. Young's performance, which includes classics such as "Ohio" and "After the Gold Rush" as well as new material, is interwoven with his recounting and reminiscing about stories from his youth. (June 18, 8 p.m.; June 19, 5 p.m., Regal Cinemas)

    Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

    'Neil Young Journeys'
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Comments
Loading
74°