Picks and previews from this year's Florida Film Festival 

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Homeless ★★★☆☆
This movie, made by husband-and-wife team Clay and Tif Hassler, is a distressingly depressing piece about a teenager named Gosh who travels to North Carolina after the death of his grandmother. With no resources and no family to help him (his father is in prison), he ends up living in a homeless shelter, searches for work and tries to figure out who he can trust. This movie was shot in a homeless shelter and correctional facility in Winston-Salem, and among the actors are actual staff members and residents of the shelter. This gives the film an epic heaping of realism that makes it feel super bleak, uncomfortable and unfair. However, it also makes those moments when the movie tries to tell a story or hint at the motivations of its characters feel too forced and empty, making it tough to empathize (in more than in a detached way) with Gosh as he tries to navigate his cold, unwelcoming world. – Erin Sullivan

Screenings: 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 13, at Regal Winter Park Village and 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, at Enzian Theater

click to enlarge 'I Am a Knife With Legs'
  • 'I Am a Knife With Legs'

I Am a Knife With Legs ★★★☆☆
What is this monstrous mound of low-budget primitive absurdism called I Am a Knife With Legs? It’s part-animated, part-musical, part – wait, what is this thing with letters and numbers I’m typing on? It’s not really a typewriter and it’s not really a keyboard. It’s weird. I digress. So, “I’m a knife with legs and special pants and a cat with a bag of eggs,” pop superstar Bené (writer-director-musician Bennett Jones) sings to us amid halfhearted jump cuts, dream sequences, music videos and intentionally bad mixes of looping and live sound. He’s struggling to get over the death of his girlfriend Baguette at the hands of a suicide bomber while dodging a random fatwa. Yet he still finds time to croon such classics as “Changes Make Things Different,” “Sexy Love” and “All Religion Is Stupid, Especially Yours.” Accompanying Bené is his “manager/security/DJ/foil character/drinking buddy” Beefy (Will Crest) who, in a metaphor for the film, asks his abhole-shirt-wearing, Tommy Wiseau-acting friend, “Where are we going with this?” The answer: absolutely nowhere. Yet if you love folk-art cinema, long for an even-lower-budget Borat or have recently been beaten severely about the head and face with a custard-filled éclair while watching Harrison Ford fend off a bear and converse with a tiny Frankenstein’s monster, see this movie. Because movie. – CM

Screenings: 4:15 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at Regal Winter Park Village and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at Regal Winter Park Village

I Am Thor ★★★★☆
One thing the Florida Film Festival is unfailingly good for: introducing audiences to oddball has-been types like Jon Mikl Thor, a bodybuilder/actor/metal musician who fronted the band Thor beginning in the 1970s. The movie recounts Thor’s early days working as a buff blond sex symbol who let women give him blowjobs on stage, follows him through the highlights and low points of his music career (the band tours, finds itself on the cover of metal fanzines, then eventually goes down the tubes and disappears), and eventually morphs into a movie star. But the fame is fleeting, and Thor (the man, not the band) recounts how he burned out: The stress gets to him, he has a nervous breakdown, and he tries to commit suicide. After recovering, he gets out of the business and tries to become normal, but a decade later, he decides to revive his music career. These days, the band Thor is back together, touring and trying to recapture some of the notoriety they used to enjoy. The film follows the band as they travel to shows and cons, playing as mostly a novelty act. They dress in elaborate getups and practice ridiculous stage moves in which the aged Thor conquers monsters while the metal band plays in the background. Diehard fans eat it up. It’s equal parts hilarious and depressing. If you remember Thor from when the band played in the ’70s and ’80s, go see this movie. If you don’t remember Thor, but you enjoy those “where are they now” docs about B-list (or even C-list) celebs, go see this movie. – ES

Screenings: 5 p.m., Sunday, April 12, at Enzian Theater and 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, at Regal Winter Park Village

click to enlarge 'Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter'
  • 'Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter'

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter ★★★★☆
As an unmarried, misunderstood 29-year-old office worker in Tokyo, Kumiko (the extraordinary Rinko Kikuchi) leads a depressing, lonely life, eschewing everything and everyone except her pet rabbit, Bunzo. Her only joy is her obsession with the movie Fargo, which she perceives as real and, therefore, assumes that the money Steve Buscemi’s character buries in the snow is ripe for her plucking, if only she can traverse the 5,000 miles that separate her from the treasure. “I am like a Spanish conquistador,” she says. “Recently I’ve learned of untold riches hidden deep in the Americas. Long ago, Spanish conquistadors learned of such things from American Indians. Now I have learned from an American motion picture.” Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter could have been a ridiculous comedy substituting spoof for heart, but in the mature hands of David and Nathan Zellner – and executive producer Alexander Payne – it becomes a haunting homage to the Coen brothers and to every troubled soul who has been cinematically inspired to dream an impossible dream. – CM

Screenings: 7 p.m. Friday, April 17, at Regal Winter Park Village and 9 p.m. Sunday, April 19, at Regal Winter Park Village

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