What to See this Weekend @ The IFF Boston
The Independent Film Festival Boston kicked off its 11th year in style: with Casey Affleck, with a sold-out crowd at the Somerville Theater's largest auditorium, and with a fantastic movie, "The Spectacular Now." This weekend, the hits keep on coming.
Friday night features screenings as star-studded as the opener; and none more so than the latest from America's pre-eminent stoner-poet, David Gordon Green. He's had an interesting career: his first works, like "George Washington" and "All the Real Girls," earned him comparisons to the great Terrence Malick. His last few films - "Pineapple Express," "Your Highness," "The Sitter" - felt like they came from Judd Apatow after a few hits of LSD. His latest, Prince Avalanche, starring Emile Hirsch, Paul Rudd, and playing Friday night at 8pm; supposedly melds his two incredibly divisive aesthetics. I've been told it's both lyrical and overloaded with fart jokes.
Later at 9pm (also at the Somerville Theatre) is Sightseers, the latest from cult British auteur Ben Wheatley. Much like his last two films, "Down Terrace" and "Kill List;" "Sightseers" tears into British class anxiety with murderous abandon. Out on a camping trip, two middle-class lovebirds begin to annihilate every embodiment of societal ills that can occur. Bad manners, improper parking, incorrect social mores - all deserving of death to their eyes. It’s a very British film, if you can’t tell. And the addition of Edgar Wright’s name as a producer (he of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz") should pack in the crowds.
Saturday features the festivals biggest tickets - but also its biggest sleepers. Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia is one such undervalued picture, drumming up mountains of discourse among the festival critics. What’s promised is "a portrait of a man unwilling to censor himself and eager to stimulate conversation," and if early word is any indication, "The United States of Amnesia" delivers on that promise and then some.
Later that night, at 9:15PM, comes what could end up being one of the most divisive indie films in many a moon. The Dirties - a metatextual teen film that engages with movie-obsession, genre clichés, and school shootings - is likely to leave many filmgoers walking out in fury. It’s an audacious, throw-caution-to-the-wind experiment; a film that bites off more than it can chew; that risks making crass generalizations in order to throw you for as many loops as possible. Village Voice film critic Calum Marsh’s comparisons to the early works of Brian De Palma - like "Greetings," or "Hi, Mom!" - are not undeserving.
General admission tickets are sold out for the next two shows, but for badgeholders (and for anyone else who can get their hands on a rush ticket,) these are the festival draws: Noah Baumbach’s black-and-white Frances Ha, starring Greta Gerwig, plays at 7:00 Saturday evening (Gerwig is Baumbach’s significant other, and the film - shot on location, on the cheap - has drawn comparisons to Jean-Luc Godard’s cinematic valentines to his then-love, Anna Karina.)
And then there’s Joss Whedon. You may not have expected one of the most financially successful filmmakers in the world to follow-up a superhero smash ("The Avengers") with an independent film, but Whedon swapped out for a much smaller budget with the Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing." Featuring his stock cast of "Angel" and "Buffy" regulars, this Bard adaptation - shot on the super cheap in Whedon’s own west coast home - is sure to be the festival’s hottest ticket.
Things start to slow down on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still some must-see programming. One of this summer’s hottest indie releases will be "The East," an environmentally minded terrorism thriller riffing on ’Anonymous’, the BP Oil spill, and a fair few other front page headlines. It screens Sunday at 4pm. Then there’s Berberian Sound Studio, a riff on Italian giallo films starring Toby Jones as a culture clashed sound engineer (think "Irma Vep" meets "Blow Out.")
But Sunday’s hottest ticket may be Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell. The director has followed up her "Take This Waltz" with an incredibly personal documentary, the exact details of which remain shrouded in secrecy. I can’t wait to see what she’s been up to.
But EDGE readers may be most interested in one of our favorites, Xaiver Dolan, premiering his latest film. At a few minutes shy of three hours, Laurence Anyways is the longest film of the festival. It also may be the most ambitious. The French Canadian twentysomething’s latest follows a young couple’s love affair as the male starts to take steps towards a sex change. It’s daring, audacious, made without reserve, and will be unendingly divisive. It’s what independent film festivals are all about.