Monday, November 09, 2009

32nd Starz Denver Film Festival - Pre-Festival Documentary Reviews


So far, I've seen three of the documentaries screening at this year's Starz Denver Film Festival (the 32nd one (beginning Nov 12, 2009 (this Thursday))). Each of them was well worth seeing. As is my wont, I will tell you that you should see each of them. And, yes, I am the boss of you, so go buy tickets now.

Garbage Dreams

I've written many times about my recommendation of the film "Garbage Dreams". I saw it this year at the Vail Film Festival and have sung its praise ever since. That praise shall not be quieted. You will watch this movie and realize how much more you can be doing, and how much every country should be doing to better recycle and reuse our garbage. This film from Egypt is an inspiration (and you shouldn't scoff at that). The Saturday screening is already sold out, so you'd be wise to buy tickets for Sunday so I don't have to shake my head, disappointed, at your laziness and indifference (I'm using guilt as a tool to market this film, because I'm willing to stoop so low to make sure you see it (you owe it to yourself (and to me (a stranger you're likely to never meet)))).

Con Artist

What I cannot figure out after watching the documentary Con Artist by director Michael Sládek is whether the subject, artist Mark Kostabi, is actually insane. So many of his antics, both present and past, are obviously those of a manufactured (and highly entertaining) persona. His eagerness for fame (which he defines as love) drove him to the heights of the art world, to an amassed fortune, and ultimately to ostracization. You will see, when watching this film, the innate talent and perspective in his works, and how he took that talent, coupled with his over-the-top character, and created a brand that is more about the name than the work. Kostabi World is his conglomerate of artists, all working to present new works of art in the Kostabi name and style, guided and approved by the man, though not actually painted by Kostabi himself. It is one of the many ways he has striven to turn the art world on it's head, mocking those who invest in his works and even producing a public access game show where his host of celebrity panelists vie to name his newest Kostabi brand painting. Sládek captures both the manic persona and the man behind, yet leaves the interpretation to us, the viewers. I am undecided. While I am in awe of the ambitious drive and fierce self-promotion, I am also slightly terrified of the man in his tortured quiet moments. I didn't want to look away, for fear of what I may miss.

Best Worst Movie

Best Worst Movie is a great movie, well-crafted with a compelling story and engaging characters, unlike the film its based on, "Troll 2", which has become a cult classic due to it's sincerity and, at the same time, ridiculousness. From the earnest and likable dentist turned actor returned to dentist, George Hardy, to the child star mortified and ashamed upon first viewing of his perfomance in Troll 2 yet fully embracing it in cult status, Michael Paul Stephenson (also the director of this documentary), to the Italian director, Claudio Fragasso, who refuses to understand the amusement audiences get from his film and aggressively derides his actors for lambasting it's production, to the one hold-out in participating in fan events, the mother in the film, Margo Prey, whose homelife must be seen to be believed, the cadre of actors and filmmakers involved in the original movie make up such a cast of interesting studies that at times, "Best Worst Movie" felt like a mockumentary (a la a Christopher Guest's film), with scenarios and reactions so seemingly staged, yet not. The documentary aspect makes this movie just that much better. Without giving too much away, the journey George and Michael go on together to follow the path the die hard fans of Troll 2 lay out for them 17 years after it's release is just incredible. See this movie. Even if you haven't seen the film it is based upon, you will enjoy Best Worst Movie. Both George Hardy and Michael Paul Stephenson will be present at the screenings, so take the opportunity to meet them. They seem like really great, fun, guys.

Don't forget, the festival starts this Thursday, November 12, 2009, with the Opening Night film "Precious".

More reviews to come.


No comments: