Florida Film Festival:4-12-2010

April 12

Lost Sparrow(*****) "Lost sparrows" are what the Crow tribe calls children taken away by the government. Young filmmaker Chris Billing investigates an untold chapter in his strange-but-true WASP family of 10 children -— half of them adopted Native Americans. Biological son Billing exquisitely edits the footage of the discovered secrets — incest, abuse, lies, deaths — and allows them to unfold with a delicate impact to hold viewers under a spell worthy of a master storyteller. He doesn't leave his audience dangling, either, carrying us through tragedy to a resting place. LTS (6:30 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 1:30 p.m., April 16 at Regal Winter Park)

Mid-August Lunch (***) This Italian confection of a story is as sweet as the lead character, a dutiful son who takes loving care of his frail but elegant mama, even at the cost of falling years behind in rent — a situation to which he lifts a glass of wine and sighs. A neighbor with his own agenda offers to fix his problems in exchange for a day of care for his own aging mother. Soon, several displaced madonnas join the pajama party, and we share the characters' quirky interactions. LTS (6:30 p.m. at Enzian Theater; also 3:30 p.m., April 16 at Regal Winter Park)

Bomber (****) A British family fed to the teeth with each other's failings and weaknesses departs on a road trip to Germany, their interlocking dysfunctions a tightly fitted puzzle of irritation and affection. Each character is sketched out deftly in the first five minutes of the film: the feckless son who has clearly let down his wife in the past and pays for it in marriage-counseling soundbites; his ditzy English rose of a mother, and his tightly wound father, who has a secret regret gnawing at him. The desire to redress that regret is the mission Alistar (Benjamin Whitrow) undertakes. Comparisons to Little Miss Sunshine are inevitable, as plot points right down to the uncomfortable van are mirrored in Bomber, but luckily the performances here are similarly excellent. Despite the familiar formula, writer-director Paul Cotter offers no tidy endings. JBY (7 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 7:15 p.m., April 15 at Regal Winter Park)

Best Worst Movie (****) Two decades after the fact, the stars of the straight-to-video stinker Troll 2 confront the cult following their "work" has attracted … and examine the lives they've made for themselves in the interim. This doc is 7 lbs. of endearment in a 10-lb. bag, but you won't be able to resist the earnestness of its argument that making crap is preferable to doing nothing at all. SS (8:30 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 9 p.m., April 14 at Regal Winter Park)

I Am Love (***) Tilda Swinton creeps her way into an extra-marital affair while her affluent family falls apart around her. If it weren't for her subtle strife and the lush Italian backdrop, there wouldn't be much of a reason to sit through this tone-deaf, slackly paced melodrama. It's pretty, to be sure, but not very graceful, which I suppose could adequately describe most extra-marital affairs as well. WG (8:45 p.m., Enzian Theater; also 7 p.m., April 15 at Plaza Cinema Café)

Punching the Clown (*****) Wanna hear the worst story pitch in the world? "Satirical folksinger struggles in L.A." Yet Punching the Clown wrings from that premise a thoroughly entertaining vehicle for Henry Phillips, whose hilarious songs and charming underdog persona propel a show-biz send-up that's pleasantly reminiscent of past genre gems like The Big Picture and Who's the Caboose? A wry pleasure from beginning to end. SS (9 p.m., Regal Winter Park; also 4:30 p.m., April 15 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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