Florida Film Festival:4-10-2010

April 10

The Secret of Kells (***) Last year's surprise nominee for Best Animated Feature is an undeniably gorgeous film, but the true-life tale behind the ornate Book of Kells has been too eagerly molded to include Irish forest sprites who never speak above a grating whisper, a multi-culti band of sidekick monks, and daddy issues involving Brendan Gleeson's abbot. Still, it does look gorgeous. — WG (11:30 a.m. at Regal Winter Park; also 11 a.m., Enzian Theater)

How to Fold a Flag (***) There is little that can prepare you for the reality of hearing a soldier skipping over the company line to say he wasn't prepared to die for his country, as Javorn Drummond does here. While this documentary struggles to find a strong narrative focus, it's continually redeemed by individual moments of deep humanity. — RB (noon, Regal Winter Park; also 6:30 p.m., April 13 at Enzian Theater)

Homewrecker (*****) In their debut feature, co-writer-directors Brad and Todd Barnes have proclaimed their existence, and thank goodness they're here. Their tale of an ex-con locksmith and his self-abducted mental case (Anslem Richardson and Ana Reeder, respectively; two faces that electrify the screen) is wildly original, compelling and laugh out loud endearing. In a scant 88 minutes, the Barnes brothers craft, from the bottom up, a world that's both grounded and magical, and that's before Chicago's "Saturday in the Park" becomes a plot point. — JS (2:15 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 9:30 p.m., April 14 at Enzian Theater)

What's ‘Organic' About Organic? (***) The title might lead you to believe you're about to see an expose on the shocking practices of the organic food industry. But in reality, if you've seen Food, Inc., or read any of Michael Pollan's books, you already know this story. The industrialization of food is a tale worth repeating, however, and this is a capable look at sustainable food production. — BW (3:30 p.m., Enzian Theater)

My Suicide (****) Archie Williams (the stellar Gabriel Sunday) is like a human RSS feed. Camera perpetually in hand, his daily life snipped into parcels of detached trauma and filtered through Archie's encyclopedic pop-culture memory, he defines himself by being indefinable, merely existing as the manipulative editor of his own reality show. For the first (and difficult) half hour of My Suicide (executive produced by Harold Ramis), we seem to be headed toward a cautionary tale of adolescent media overload told in annoying ADD fashion. But then Archie finds a partner in the school's Miss Perfect (Brooke Nevin) and the film takes heel. Suddenly, Sunday's bravura mania is in service of something greater, helped along by the appearance of mentor whose real-life authority on the subject matter elevates My Suicide to genuine testimony. — JS (4:15 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 9:30 p.m., April 15 at Regal Winter Park)

Winter's Bone (***) There's bleak, and then there's this sophomore feature from writer-director Debra Granik. In her pitch-gray story of a teenager (the impressive Jennifer Lawrence) raising her younger siblings and checked-out mother while searching for her deadbeat dad, Granik substitutes Ozark verisimilitude for a propulsive narrative. While this opens the door for unbearably tense and hopeless twists and turns, the style too often leads to long passages of atmospheric nothingness. JS (6 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 3:30 p.m., April 14 at Enzian Theater)

The Tiger Next Door (****) Dennis Hill is either a compassionate caretaker of exotic lions, tigers and, yes, bears, or a damaged ex-meth addict who imprisons wild creatures for his own financial gain. The answer depends on whether you're asking Hill's Indiana neighbors, or the guy who runs a tiger rescue center. Whichever it is, this documentary takes you inside an industry you probably didn't know existed. BW (6:30 p.m., Enzian Theater; also 3:30 p.m., April 14, Regal Winter Park)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (****) Based on the first in an immensely popular trilogy of crime novels by the late Stieg Larsson, the eponymous heroine is Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a bisexual goth hacker who teams up with a disgraced journalist (Michael Nyqvist) to help him find the long-missing daughter of an industry titan. Even if Larsson was, himself, a notorious muckraker, the real star of the story is Rapace, whose steely resolve brings edge to an otherwise serviceable mystery. WG (8:30 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 9:30 p.m., April 14 at Regal Winter Park)

Drones (***) The workplace is weird, and trying to explain most interactions around the office would be seen as alien, even to contemporaries. That's especially true if those contemporaries are aliens. Jonathan M. Woodward plays "uncomplicated" Brian, trying to deal with the recent info that his best friend and his new girlfriend aren't earthlings. The dialogue is quirky and quick; so quick that it sometimes forgets who has what attitude. The awkward situations go on too long, but you're bound to chuckle throughout. TF (9:15 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 4:30 p.m. April 16 at Enzian Theater)

Cleanflix (***) I'll never say this again in my life, but I'm with the Mormons. This balanced documentary focuses on the battle between Hollywood (represented here by a pompous Steven Soderbergh and Curtis Hanson) and a Salt Lake City chain that edited out the "bad stuff" from popular films so that Mormons can watch The Matrix without poisoning their eyes. The philosophy is that as long as the customer buys their own copy, who cares what they pay Cleanflix to do to it? After all, films are chopped and screwed all the time for airplanes and network TV. It's a reasonable philosophy, at least until some business owners start duplicating the DVDs en masse to help their bottom line, and Mormon proponents' high ground is taken from underneath them by an alleged pervert in their ranks. It's Paradise Lost with magic underwear! JS (9:15 p.m. at Enzian Theater; also 4 p.m. April 16 at Regal Winter Park)

The Revenant (****) Joey (Chris Wylde) may have been grieving the death of best friend Bart (David Anders), but now that Bart's back from Iraq, he's also back from the grave — nocturnal and thirsting for blood, but not exactly a vampire or zombie either. Writer-director D. Kerry Prior's film only gets funnier and more twisted from there, as the two fashion themselves as Boondock Saints-like vigilantes, only to taper off a bit in a predictable third act. WG (11:30 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 11:59 p.m., April 16 at Regal Winter Park)

Cropsey (****) Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio's doc initially sets out to tackle the concept of the boogeyman as persistent urban legend, before dropping that conceit in favor of a more tangible, conventional but compelling tale of a Staten Island pariah who may or may not have been responsible for a series of child abductions in the 1980s. WG (11:59 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 10 p.m. April 11 at Regal Winter Park)

Select a date below to read the reviews on the corresponding films

Films on 4/9

Paper Man

Films on 4/10

The Secret of Kells, How to Fold a Flag, Homewrecker, What's ‘Organic' About Organic?, My Suicide, Winter's Bone, The Tiger Next Door,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Drones, Cleanflix, The Revenant and Cropsey

Films on 4/11

Don't Let Me Drown, The Lottery, Dumbstruck, Cooking with Stella, The Young Composers Challenge, Obselidia, No. 4 Street of Our Lady, Lovely, Still, Con Artist, Cummings Farm and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Films on 4/12

Lost Sparrow, Mid-August Lunch, Bomber, Best Worst Movie, I Am Love and Punching the Clown

Films on 4/13

The Wind Journeys and Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields

Films on 4/14

Racing Dreams, Harry Brown and The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Films on 4/15

Waking Sleeping Beauty, New Low and K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces

Films on 4/16

The Sun Came Out, A Million in the Morning, Space Tourists, Welcome, Leaves of Grass, and Solitary Man

Films on 4/17

The Warlords

Films on 4/18

Wild Grass Not screened for critics. (6 p.m., Regal Winter Park)
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