Thursday, April 23, 2015

Monteverde's Little Boy tugs at the heartstrings if only you let it

The not so little boy

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 4:33 PM

I did not have high hopes for Alejandro Monteverde’s Little Boy (PG-13), a film tagged as a comedy, drama, and war production. Really — all of those things? So when I found myself wiping away tears several times throughout the film, I was more than a little surprised. Somehow, that comedy, drama, war combo was working.

The film, set in World War II California after Pearl Harbor, is about Pepper Busbee (Jakob Salvati), an eight-year-old boy defined by his doctor (Kevin James) as a “little boy” because of growth development issues. This theme runs strong throughout the film, presenting Pepper as an outcast without any friends. Pepper’s only pal is his “partner,” his dad (Michael Rapaport) who takes him on imaginary adventures where the two fight crime as cowboys, pirates, etc. And, of course, Pepper’s father must go to war.

He leaves behind his wife (Emily Watson), older son London (David Henrie), Little Boy, and a barely-acknowledged car service repair shop (seriously, not sure where this family gets their income). After the Busbees get the news that their father is a POW, Pepper goes into over-drive trying to get his father back. Little Boy’s a big fan of the magician Ben Eagle and when he visits the town to do a live show, Little Boy ends up on stage, moving a bottle across a table by the sheer force of his will. Well, that’s the idea at least. With the refrain “I believe that I can do this,” Little Boy embarks on a journey to bring his father home from the war. He enlists the help of Father Oliver and the town’s one Japanese inhabitant, Hasimoto, who, because of his country of origin, is also an outcast.
Little Boy thinks that he can bring his father back from WWII. - YOUTUBE
  • Youtube
  • Little Boy thinks that he can bring his father back from WWII.
Hasimoto and Little Boy learn from one another, Little Boy’s hot-headed brother doesn’t want him hanging around a “jap,” and Dr. Fox (James playing the same version of the character he always plays) is trying to weasel his way into Mrs. Busbee’s heart. It’s all predictable, and cutesy, and almost too saccharine. But it’s not. Hasimoto and Little Boy have an endearing chemistry, bolstered by Little Boy’s earnest innocence. Their relationship develops naturally. Not so natural is the relationship London has with Hasimoto; he and his old-men cronies spew hate at Hasimoto with the kind of exaggerated force suitable only for slapstick. This surprisingly menacing town gang is a sharp and unbelievable contrast to Little Boy’s budding relationship with Hasimoto.

Some people may not find Little Boy as endearing as I did. My film-viewing partner assured me that he cringed more than he cried during the film, and that Little Boy “screamed a lot, didn’t he?” He did. I’m willing to look past the flaws of young actors though, if only because they can’t help their high-pitched voices. I found his sobbing poignant and touching. My friend found it annoying.

The movie doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of America during WWII. If anything, it reminded me of Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, a film that shows a young boy in the Holocaust spiriting himself away from the horrors of concentration camps with the force of his will and imagination. Both films tell tragic tales from a refreshingly different perspective — the world of war made bittersweet through the eyes of a child.

In a slightly uncomfortable plot twist, Little Boy has a greater effect on the war's outcome than he could have imagined (history buffs know what I'm talking about).

The movie boils down to a lesson of love, faith, and the power of one’s own mind. Father Oliver thinks that God can help Little Boy solve his problems, if only Little Boy has strong faith. Hasimoto thinks Little Boy can accomplish anything he puts his mind to, a la a Japanese samurai. Little Boy is banking on a combo of the two.

I liked the movie. I had to squint my eyes and cock my head a few times to tilt the characters back into the places I thought they best fit (obnoxious London falls flat at his attempt to turn into a good guy), but all in all, the film accomplished what it needed to with just enough comedy, drama, and, well, war. Check it out in theaters tomorrow. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

CofC Italian film fest hosting 'Spaghetti Western Party'

Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival celebrates eighth year

Posted by Viraj Naik on Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 3:53 PM

Promotional poster for Spaghetti Western Party. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Promotional poster for Spaghetti Western Party.
Are you a bit of a cinephile? Have you got loads of film posters plastered on your walls? If so, you’re in luck — the College of Charleston’s Italian Film Festival will be hosting a screening of the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in the West, Thurs. April 9 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The highly influential film — inspiring acclaimed filmmakers from Quentin Tarantino to Stanley Kubrick — centers on a complex revenge plot, as a treacherous railroad baron seeks vengeance on two hired hit men turned heroes. “It’s very well-loved in cinematic circles and general audiences,” says Nike Kern, one of the fest’s advisory board members. “The film’s aged very well, and is still very pertinent today.”

Attendees are also encouraged to wear their best western-themed clothing as part of the event’s costume contest, with the winner receiving free tickets to the festival. In addition to this, the event will also feature a silent auction as well as adult drinks, Italian and Mexican cuisine and plenty of music.

Advance tickets are $65 and $75 at the door. The event’s proceeds will go towards funding the film festival in the fall.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Columbia Film Festival Gains National Attention

No Instant Grits

Posted by Rebecca Stanley on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

For those of us not in the Columbia-know, the Nickelodeon Theater may sound like a Universal Theme Park attraction, but this weekend it hosts an attraction of a different kind. The “Nick” is home to the Indie Grits Film Festival, which has been named one of Movie Maker magazine's Top 20 Coolest Film Fests in the world for the second time. Now in its eighth year, Indie Grits focuses on bringing the best films related to the South to South Carolina’s capital. But Grits is more than just film screenings; it also involves music, education, and local collaborations.

  • Provided
Indie Grits wasn’t always an international festival. When it started eight years ago, it was highly expiriemental and unknown. “Four years ago we just started adding more and more” says festival director Seth Gadsden. Film is the centerpiece of Grits, but “it’s slowly becoming more than just a film festival,” says Gadsden, who maintains that focusing on the filmmakers has been integral to Grits’ success. This year there are 14 feature films on the roster. Most films are documentaries, focusing on everything from drag musicals to ballerinas to Florida’s environment. There are also narrative films and non-competitive films, a series of shorts produced and funded through a grant program provided by the S.C. Film Commission and Trident Technical College. With a bevy of short films lined up also, there’s no doubt that there’s a film for every taste. Prizes range from $250-$1000 for awards from Young Grit for best student film to Top Grit, the best film at the fest.

Indie Grits also has non-cinematic entertainment planned, but rest assured it all relates back to film. “We don’t willy-nilly select bands and stuff, it’s important to have a why, it needs to be rich and meaningful,” says Gadsden of Grits’ growing festivities. Indie Grits has a musical lineup, including of Montreal, a Georgia-based indie rock band headlining this year. Musicians Girls of ROCK! will be performing at the opening party on April 11, and Love, Peace, and Hip Hop will be hosting a family day filled with inspiring R&B. An adults only vaudeville puppet show, Spork in Hand Puppet Slam will be shown April 12-13. Gadsden says, “It became a marquee event, we just expanded it, every show sells out.” And we can't blame them; who wouldn’t want to watch a live band accompany puppeteers who can finally cover adult material? The Slow Food Sustainable Chef’s Showcase will take place on April 13, and all dishes will use locally sustainable ingredients. Indie Bits, a video-game showcase will take place on the latter half of April 15. One day later, there’s a pizza party at the Whig, a popular Columbia bar. On April 18, Toby David will host his Weekend Revue at the Half and Half. David’s show is historically and religiously focused, and Indie Grits will be the first time the Revue has been on the road. “It’s somewhere in between preaching and Bukowski. It’s philosophical,” says Gadsden, who met David in New Orleans before getting him to perform at the fest.  
  • Provided

There’s plenty for kids to do too. Indie Camp Remixed runs April 14-18 and gives teenagers the chance to create their own short films alongside festival filmmakers. Each day a different filmmaker will come and show their work, followed by a discussion. Then, the kids get to recreate the film. The camp is replacing Indie Grits’ usual school outreach program, as Columbia schools are having Spring Break the same week as the festival this year. The S.C. Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities is sponsoring a Kindie Grits event for kids. In addition to an animation workshop, there’s a make-your-own-video-game session. Gadsden also works with interns year long and loves to teach people about film.

Gadsden says this year’s festival is supposed to be the biggest ever. Last year over 8,000 people attended over the 10-day festivities. Gadsden is also hoping to push awareness of Indie Grits in the region. “If you ask someone regionally, they may not know who we are, but you go to L.A. and ask about Indie Grits and they know right off the bat,” he says. With thousands of attendees, alumni like documentary filmmakers the Ross Brothers, and a full spectrum of film related attractions, Indie Grits seems poised to expand every year.

For more information, click here

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Couch at a Time is coming to a theater near you

Couch Potatoes

Posted by Rebecca Stanley on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 5:06 PM

With Airbnb becoming so popular recently, it's easy to forget its predecessor Couch Surfing — where you stay on people's couches for a small fee — sometimes even for free. While it sounds sketchy and like the premise of a horror movie, it's not. And four strangers recently documented their experiences couch surfing the world in the new documentary, One Couch at a Time.

One Couch at a Time follows Alexandra Liss and three new friends across six continents and 21 countries. Each night, they stay with someone they met through until they reach their ultimate destination: Burning Man Festival. In the trailer, Liss explains that she wants to investigate sharing, and how far people will go for one another. Despite opposition from her family and friends, she sets off on her journey with a budget of $30K.

Jean-Michel Werk, the producer, points out how the documentary highlights the emerging ‘sharing’ economy, or basically that if you share something of yours it will be returned in someway in the future. In Couch Surfing speak, it's allowing someone free room and board with the expectation that you too could spend the night for free. And it's not a new idea, just one we’ve forgotten. Still, it doesn’t seem plausible that people would give up currency completely, so Liss and crew took to social media to find these places. 

One Couch at a Time screens at the Terrace Theatre on Sun. March 30 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $9 and can be purchased here

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Film Rebate Bill signed into law

More rebates!

Posted by Erica Jackson Curran on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Gear stacked outside the Cistern Yard during the taping of TODAY - SAM SPENCE
  • Sam Spence
  • Gear stacked outside the Cistern Yard during the taping of TODAY

Good news for South Carolina’s growing film industry: The Film Rebate Bill (S.163), passed by the Legislature last week, was subsequently signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley.

This means, for one thing, that when film companies buy supplies from S.C. vendors, they’ll get up to 30 percent off in rebates, as opposed to the previous 15 percent. Film companies will also receive higher rebates for wages spent — from 15 percent to 25 percent for S.C. residents and up to 20 percent for all others.

No tax increases will be required to make these adjustments, but the bill is expect to lure more productions to the Palmetto State, resulting in increased jobs and revenue.

The Carolina Film Alliance’s president expressed his support of the bill, saying, “What it says to the film industry around the world is that South Carolina values the millions of dollars that film companies will now spend here with local small business, such as hardware stores, restaurants, lumber yards, and dry cleaners — attracting millions in capital investment to grow the economy, creating jobs, and showcasing South Carolina’s geographic beauty to the world on the big screen.”

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