Dances with Films hosted a superlative and diverse mix of films this year – nothing unusual for a fest that’s increasingly become one of L.A’s must-attend events – and I was lucky enough to check out a few films. Here are those that deserve both momentous applause and a large audience.
D : William Dickerson
Based on his 2012 book, a powerful coming-of-age tale about the enduring struggles that hit most of us once we turn double digits (while serving as love letter to the grunge music scene he surrounded himself in in the ‘90s), writer-director William Dickerson’s ‘’No Alternative’’ serves – first and foremost – a showreel for the up-and-coming filmmaker, as well as the film’s leads Michaela Cavazos and Conor Proft, who authentically echo the voices of, well, many of us. There’s a mirror in this movie and most of us will see ourselves reflected back in it.
The film plays nothing but authentic – further indication that Dickerson is writing what he knows about. Here, he unleashes a confronting, captivating and ultimately unforgettable piece about teenage struggles, mental illness and the power of music – the best weapon for that over-thinking mind, those sullen eyes and hurting heart.
D : Daniel Campbell
A terrific companion piece to Brad Silberling’s ‘’Moonlight Mile’’ (2002), which also studied the effects of human loss sometime after the fact, ‘’Antiquities’’ gives “Walking Dead” alum Andrew J.West his finest part to date – that of a young man, grieving the loss of his father, who decides to move back home to not only learn more about his late pop but immerse himself in the new world (including working his father’s old job, at an antiques emporium).
Writers Campbell and Graham Gordy put pen to paper on a very unique, extremely well-written character piece that beautifully depicts the various eccentricities of human behaviour (the film diverts its attention from West here and there to focus on the various townsfolk) while serving up a sweet slice of pie so dearly needed in these troubled, tragic times.
At the Drive In
D: Alexander Monelli
A documentary about a group of passionate film buffs assisting the long-time owner of a drive-in theatre – that’s running short on dollars – in his quest to get people through the gates again? Yes, you do want to see that… you just mightn’t be aware of it. There’s more humor, charm, emotion, drama and thrills in director Alexander Monelli’s love letter to – well, the small drive-in in rural Pennsylvania t the center of the movie – the love of film and the treasured places we see them in, than there is in most of Hollywood’s big studio blockbusters of late! This is a film to treasure, remember and spread the word about – – just like the drive-in itself. They’re both very special things.
Look for this one on my ‘top films of the year’ list towards the end of 2018.
I am Famous
D : Ismaël Lotz
A short film fixing not so much on the career of Thomas F.Wilson (‘Biff’) after his role in the smash-hit “Back to the Future” films than the actor and comedian’s other interest – pop art.
With his charming and insightful film, Ismaël Lotz reintroduces audiences to a man that, though he may always be associated with his iconic role in one of the biggest films of all time, gets to demonstrate another of his talents.
You’ll appreciate the gifts of Tom Wilson even more after “I Am Famous”.