The 20th edition of the Newport Beach Film Festival presented by Pacific Sales is now up and running. Films are shown at several venues, including Starlight Cinemas, Edward’s Big Newport Cinemas, the historic Lido Theater, and The Lot in Fashion Island. If you’re in the area, schedule and tickets can be found at the festival website.
I started my festival viewing with a Canadian film, Happy Face, by director Alexandre Franchi. A 19 year old young man named Stan (Robin L’Houmeau) whose mother is dealing with cancer disguises himself to join a support group for people with severe deformities. He thinks he’s trying to understand her better, but he’s subconsciously trying to avoid the reality of her disease. The group leader wants to focus on dealing with feelings, but Stan brings an “in your face” approach to the group. With a strange (but effective) mixture of Don Quixote and Dungeons and Dragons, Stan empowers the group members to confront the world that finds them hideous. He also finds in them the strength to face his mother’s death. On my ballot for audience awards (ratings: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor) I gave it a Good (I’m fairly stingy with Excellent).
One of the Spotlight films for Friday night was The Tomorrow Man, from director Noble Jones. It is a senior RomCom (although it’s a bit light on the Com) focusing on survivalist Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) and Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner). As they get to know each other we watch as they go through some teenage-like awkwardness, and slowly develop their relationship, Ed thinks the world as we know it will soon end. He’s stockpiled everything he’ll need at home. Ronnie has a secret she wants to keep hidden from Ed. Both of their hidden lifestyles are ways they are trying to cope with loss and insecurities. Maybe coming together will fill the holes each has in their lives. The relationship never quite worked for me, so I only gave this a Fair on my ballot. The Tomorrow Man is due out in theaters later in May.