Friday, April 20, 2007

NaFF: Ten Picks

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2007 at 12:56 PM

So many movies, so little time. Where to start? Here are 10 movies you shouldn't miss at this year's Nashville Film Festival—now underway at Green Hills through next Thursday—whether for entertainment, importance or an event you won't see duplicated anywhere else.

Excerpts from our capsule reviews (and in some cases, trailers) are included after the jump. Full coverage and more recommendations are available in the cover package in this week's Scene. For tickets, check the festival box office downstairs at Green Hills. ՠIt's About Steppin' in the Hood (6:45 p.m. tonight) "This promises to be one of the fest's emotional highlights: the premiere of a short film written and performed by teens at Nashville's Preston Taylor Boys and Girls Club, made last summer with Black Snake Moan director Craig Brewer, along with a documentary about the often volatile production process. Both Brewer and the young actors will be on hand."

ՠExiled (10 p.m. tonight) "A knockout Hong Kong homage to Sam Peckinpah from the gifted Johnnie To (The Heroic Trio), who honors the HK action movie by refusing to coast on the familiar fluttering doves and two-handed gun ballets. Director To sets his egg-noodle Western in 1998 Macau, where assassins move on a former associate; the men's tangled codes of professionalism, friendship and masculine honor lead them to put off the hit, to the fury of slimy Boss Fay (Simon Yam)." The trailer:

ՠMatthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey (3 p.m. Saturday; also 2:15 p.m. Wednesday) "Kennedy, the director emeritus of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, endured a lifetime of racism in the South, in the Army and on the road with his singers. But if he holds a grudge, he's too decent to admit it. Besides, there's barely enough room in his ample heart to contain his profound love of music." Kennedy and his daughter Nina will attend the screening, which will include a performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers; a reception honoring African American filmmakers will follow.

ՠManufactured Landscapes (4:30 p.m. Saturday) "Highly recommended to fans of Koyaanisqatsi and An Inconvenient Truth, and no less important than either. The focus is photographer Edward Burtynsky, whose specialty is macroscopic panoramas that show how industry has altered the environment. But it's the terrifying vastness of his subjects—a mountainous computer graveyard, the monstrous Yangtze River Three Gorges Dam project shown in Jia Zhangke's Still Life—that gives the stunningly photographed film the hypnotic alien strangeness of science fiction." The trailer:

ՠIn the Shadow of the Moon (7 p.m. Saturday) "Even if you know the story of the Apollo space program, David Sington's stirring documentary restores the thrill, the terror and the heroism of man hurling himself into the unknown. In part, that's because the archival footage (much of it unseen and/or synched up with sound for the first time) is of astonishing quality, capturing the you-are-there-in-space effect Tom Wolfe strove for so mightily in The Right Stuff."

ՠEnd of the Line (10 p.m. Saturday) "A religious cult uses premonitions of the apocalypse as an excuse to start a kill-spree in the Toronto subway. Silly? Sure. But damned if Maurice Devereaux's slick little gorefest isn't genuinely scary as well, with a twisty script that throws in a few devilishly ironic reversals." The trailer:

ՠAdrenaline (10 p.m. Sunday) "For their first feature, Nashville director Robert Archer Lynn and co-screenwriter-star David Alford did their own unbroken shot—and it lasts for 88 minutes. The real feat, though, is that this gripping real-time nail-biter about a suburban dad forced to follow an unseen kidnapper's bizarre instructions (voiced by former Homicide regular Reed Diamond) transcends its gimmicky premise."

ՠLake of Fire (6:45 p.m. Monday) "Beautifully (and ironically) shot in black-and-white over 17 years by director Tony Kaye, best known for the Edward Norton neo-Nazi drama American History X, this staggering documentary about the abortion debate leaves no position unchallenged—yet both sides may likely feel that it proves their point."

ՠColossal Youth (6:30 p.m. Wednesday) "One of the hottest topics going in cinema journals and online discussion groups over the past year, Portuguese director Pedro Costa's film is so uncompromising, so singular in its vision, that it divides critics and audiences alike into warring camps of admirers and haters. Costa's film is a patient, meditative gaze at near-homeless outcasts in a Lisbon housing project slated for demolition. Costa's formal achievements are undeniable, using digital video and natural lighting to turn poverty into a kind of picturesque, street-level splendor.... Rest assured, you will either walk out after 20 minutes, or emerge from its two-and-a-half hours forever changed." The trailer:

ՠGreat World of Sound (9:15 Wednesday; also 7:30 p.m. April 26) "Set partially (and inevitably) in Nashville, Craig Zobel's stinging comedy-drama delves into the underbelly of the music biz, where hustlers thrive on an endless supply of starry-eyed, talent-impaired suckers. Two song-sharking salesmen—one a rudderless young idealist (Pat Healy), the other a garrulous aging cutup (Kene Holliday)—roam the South signing up singers and musicians for a shady Ҭabel' that pockets the dreamers' cash. The movie's observation is as keen as its sympathy is deep." A preview:

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