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(2:30 p.m.; also 5:30 p.m. April 18)
Have you ever seen a movie at a film festival that was so lousy, it made you wonder if the fest just needed to fill space? That's how you'll feel if you see this ball-itcher. James McAvoy lookalike Gregory Smith stars as Nicholas, an uber-neurotic, ex-Mormon missionary who tracks down his parents at their seaside home and crashes in their barn for a month. He passes the time by having an affair with their next-door neighbor, a cougary wife and mother who seems to be more lost, selfish and self-destructive than he is. While the movie's supposed to be a cute, offbeat take on adults running away from adulthood, it ultimately turns out to be one of those annoyingly quirky, incessantly boneheaded indies that infuriates more than satisfies. —CRAIG D. LINDSEY
★AIN’T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM
(3 p.m.; also 7:45 p.m. April 18)
Levon Helm's musical influence is enormous, still echoing loudly in dozens of Americana and roots acts recording today. But instead of trotting out the highlights of Helm's considerable legacy, most notably with The Band, director Jacob Hartley focuses on the man he is today. The pride of Turkey Scratch, Ark., is now 70 years old, and he looks a decade older, but his backwoods charm, homespun humor and impish grin are as strong as ever, whether he's crooning an old country ballad, toking on a joint or discussing the venomous spurs of the duckbill platypus. That's not to say the past is ignored: Band fans will be thrilled by several rarely seen clips, including a raucous early-'70s "Chest Fever" before a stadium crowd. But Hartley's film is ultimately the tale of a gritty, irrepressible survivor — of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, betrayal, bankruptcy, even throat cancer. And despite his advanced years, when Helm manages to get enough air vibrating through those ravaged vocal cords to carry a tune — an iffy proposition on any given day — it's positively spine-tingling. —JACK SILVERMAN
SUMMER OF GOLIATH
Mexican-Canadian director Nicolás Pereda's fiction/documentary hybrid has been a fixture on the festival circuit since its debut late last year, and not without reason. Goliath entails a substantial degree of mystery and a not inconsiderable dollop of humor. But this fractured puzzle-tale, about the members of a family in rural Oaxaca struggling to cope after the paterfamilias abandons them, is frustrating, obdurate, and seems intent on withholding surface pleasures like color and composition. Major ideas (including the one that lends the film its title) are left hanging, and Pereda's structural conceits, such as having "performers" re-create ostensibly real-life events, seem to have little purpose beyond their own "Hi there!" formalism. Fans say the more of this guy's films you see, the more sense they make. I say, see The Arbor instead. In Spanish with subtitles. —MICHAEL SICINSKI
A BAG OF HAMMERS
(7:30 p.m.; also 12:15 p.m. April 18)
Brian Crano's debut feature, starring Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig and Rebecca Hall, is — well, a mixed bag. Sandvig and Ritter play buddies who ward off adulthood by posing as valets to steal cars — at funerals. Knowing that, you may not be shocked to find out that A Bag of Hammers is somewhat hamstrung by its premise. About halfway through, when things start to get serious, the film's farcical elements are pressed awkwardly against some real substance. Chemistry among the actors allows for occasional success in both areas, but as a whole, A Bag of Hammers is more like a bottle of oil and water. Crano will attend. —STEVEN HALE
★IT’S ABOUT YOU
Even casual fans of John Mellencamp shouldn't pass up the chance to see him in this — shot perfectly on Super 8, smoking through vocal takes, and singing about death and reckoning in minor-league ball parks across America. But It's About You is as much about the filmmakers, Kurt Markus and his son Ian, as the film's subject. The elder Markus narrates as we follow Mellencamp through his 2009 summer tour and the recording of No Better Than This, an album full of songs that sound the way It's About You looks. I don't believe I'd rather hear, or see, the subject any other way. The Markuses will attend. —STEVEN HALE
JUST LIKE US
(8 p.m.; also 12:30 p.m. April 18)
Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed's heart was in the right place when he set out to make Just Like Us. Creating a cultural understanding between Americans and Arabs through stand-up comedy is an admirable goal (you don't need to travel far from Nashville to see why). On celluloid, however, it's a slog. Opening with a 10-minute parade of "man on the street" sub-Average Joes cracking racist jokes about women in burqas and whatnot, the film plods along using the formula from Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show without deciding what it wants to say or whom it's addressing. The comics are funny, the culture shock is interesting, but the movie suffers from repetitive narration, sentimentality and lack of focus. Ahmed will attend. —LANCE CONZETT
HEAVY METAL PICNIC
If at any point between the years 1980 and 1990 you were caught on camera shirtless, in a mullet, bombed on PBRs or hollering "PREEEESST!!!" while making devil horns, the danger exists that Jeff Krulik has you somewhere on tape. Here, the "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" auteur (with partner John Heyn) commemorates a 10th-rate 1985 Maryland metal festival that attracted a few drunken headbangers and a little media notoriety, then was promptly forgotten about five minutes later. Or it would have been, had it not survived in camcorder footage shot using a CBS microphone filched from the Reagan inauguration. The movie's built-in limitation — who cares? — is also its beauty: It's like a document of that utterly inconsequential time, y'know, when we all got drunk out there at — where was it again? To be shown with the 25th anniversary version of the undimmed "Heavy Metal Parking Lot," with Krulik attending. —JIM RIDLEY
WOW! Funny Betsy, but feeding the trolls straight lines? Who really wondered IF that TROLL…
AWP, I'm surprised you talked about length in millimeters. Don't true Americans use inches?
talking about inter
stinal fortitude....Was Councilman Stites there...
Can we take a poll...Would you buy a used car from Mr. Ward??....See those results…
I didn't know states had human attributes.