From April 10-19, the Enzian Theater hosts the 24th annual Florida Film Festival. For 10 days, more than 170 films, including documentaries, narrative features and shorts programs, screen at Enzian Theater (1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-629-1088) and Regal Winter Park Village (510 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0035). In addition, Enzian hosts a handful of free panel discussions, the Locally Fresh farmers market, a block party, industry party and more. Check out the website at floridafilmfestival.com for a complete lineup of films and events. In the meantime, here are the movies we reviewed in advance of the festival that we think you might be interested in checking out. For more reviews and up-to-date festival information, keep up on our website at orlandoweekly.com.
Across the Sea ★★☆☆☆
Damla and Kevin are New York newlyweds expecting a baby she doesn’t seem to want. Hoping to better understand his wife’s upbringing in Turkey, Kevin proposes a trip to the Aegean Sea resort where Damla spent her childhood summers. What he doesn’t anticipate are the ghosts of an old relationship, which may doom their future. Across the Sea, an unrelentingly depressing, though well-acted, drama in both Turkish and English, is a story of painful regret. It’s filled with moody, music-filled, handheld shots of contemplative characters walking the beach or strolling city streets – and almost nothing else, at least until the final emotional minutes. Directors Nisan Dag and Esra Saydam try to overwhelm us with atmospheric longing and thereby create a movie that is greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps they want to bathe us in the light of lost love and conjure up an image of Jay Gatsby, transfixed by the metaphorical light at the end of Daisy’s dock. But the only light here is the green one that this film should not have gotten. – Cameron Meier
Screenings: 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at Regal Winter Park Village and 6:45 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Enzian Theater
Aspie Seeks Love
David Matthews is 46 years old, lives outside Pittsburgh, is perpetually single despite his mildly successful writing career, and, oh, he has Asperger’s. If that last tidbit sounds like a casual add-on, it sort of is, as he wasn’t diagnosed with the highly functioning form of autism until he was 41, despite years of social awkwardness and odd behavior that included posting flyers on trees and buildings advertising his interest in dating women. “I really do want to share my creative output with the world,” he says, “but, on the other hand, I feel self-conscious about presenting myself.” Those feelings are normal for David and others who suffer from the same neurological condition, but instead of presenting a figure isolated from the world, Aspie Seeks Love, an ambitious, multi-year documentary project from director Julie Sokolow, reminds us that we’re all quirky and unbalanced in our own unique way. Shot amateurishly and too reliant on the everyday events and chatter of David’s life, Aspie is still a sweet and startlingly intimate examination of one man’s quest for companionship and acceptance. The doc struggles to find a style to fit the quirkiness of its subject – Crumb it is not – but it ultimately succeeds by honestly embracing its odd humanity. – CM
Screenings: 7 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at Regal Winter Park Village and 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at Regal Winter Park Village
Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound
If you’ve ever tapped your toes to a Buck Owens tune, you can blame Billy Mize for the wear in your soles. Credited as a founder of what became known and widely embraced as the Bakersfield Sound, Mize became a huge personality and influential performer in country music (like the country music equivalent to Carson Daly, if anyone still paid attention to music television) from the ’50s to the ’80s. In Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound, you are teleported through the stages of his career (and flashy fitted suits that made even Elvis swoon) and the personal tragedies that become a focal point of the documentary: Is there anything more authentic than a down-on-his-luck country singer? Mize’s career came to a halt in the ’90s following a stroke that rendered Mize mute for years. The film intersperses old clips from hit shows like Town Hall Party (California’s Grand Ole Opry), interviews with massive stars like Merle Haggard (who owes his first time onstage and his first time on television to Mize, both of which you get to see in the doc) and an emotional account of Mize’s continual struggle with painful, earth-shaking life events. It’s a story country music fans should hear. At times the film drags, but with a glimpse into the Crystal Palace and a heartfelt underdog angle, it’s a nice video collage of an exciting scene in a “little podunk town in the Valley” that launched chart-topping smash hits. – Ashley Belanger
Screenings: 9:15 p.m. Monday, April 13, at Enzian Theater and 2:45 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Regal Winter Park Village
To say a film is bad is one thing; to say it’s unnecessary may be an even deeper cut. Yet that’s the word that comes to mind when watching Body, a wanna-be Hitchcockian thriller that, despite nice pacing and a refreshingly no-nonsense structure, feels unoriginal and tiresome from the get-go, relying too much on its score to deliver chills. Growing weary of their pot smoking, three 20-something valley-girl types are seeking fun on Christmas Eve. Their quest leads them to a deserted mansion that two of the women believe is the abode of the third woman’s wealthy uncle. When they learn the truth, it’s too late, and predictable trouble ensues, leading to, of course, bloodshed and infighting. To successfully use the “innocent everyman in trouble” formula that the master of suspense perfected, the innocents in question must be, well, innocent. Even more importantly, they must be somewhat likeable and in a predicament that seems plausible. But after a healthy dose of unbelievability, a fairly large plot hole and such classic Hitchcock lines as “This place is fucking sick” and “Christmas is fucking awesome,” it matters little that first-time writer-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen actually have some interesting things to say about morality and decision-making in a time of crisis. “What was it like, him dying? Was it fast?” one girl ponders. “Yeah, it just sort of happened,” another responds. If only the death of this film could have been as quick. – CM
Screenings: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Enzian Theater and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at Regal Winter Park Village
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