Well, it’s that time of year again . . . time for the Hawaii International Film Festival. While we haven’t been as active as we’ve been in the past in the days leading up to the festival, this year we will be busier than ever trying to cover it while it is going on. In fact, with the festival kicking off tonight; we’d be remiss if we didn’t throw out our own two cents on some of the stuff we’d like to see as well as make a few notes on other stuff you might want to check out. So here it is, with the festival unspooling just hours away, I give you the Red Band Project’s HIFF 32 Must See Preview!
#1 Silver Linings Playbook
Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet – and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.
Why I Want to See It:
Before all the hype, before it won the audience award at TIFF, and before it debuted in Toronto last month; the trailer for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook was released early this summer. The trailer showcased Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss from The Hunger Games) and Bradley Cooper (that guy from The Hangover movies) in a dramedy of sorts and it looked to be a pretty fun film. I was definitely feeling what the trailer was selling me about the film, but absolutely sold me on it wasn’t that this film was from the dude that gave us The Fighter or the two big leads . . . it was Chris Tucker. Yes, the dude that played Smokey in Friday and made fun of Jackie Chan in the Rush Hour movies, he’s in this movie. After having a great run in the late 90s the dude just dropped off the Hollywood map–until now. I’m not sure how much of a supporting role he has in this film, but it definitely looks like he has a bit more serious role in Silver Linings; which I think could signal his comeback. The fact that this movie tore it up at Toronto and won the audience award only got me more excited to see it and I can’t wait!
#2 The Sessions
Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California–based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined – at age 38 – to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.
Why I Want to See It:
There were two films that generated a ton of buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. One of them was Beasts of the Southern Wild (which I wasn’t all that over the moon for). The other was The Sessions. The premise itself is funny enough, but with a pretty stacked cast (John Hawkes as the lead with Helen Hunt, William H. Macey, and Moon Bloodgood) and being picked up after a heavy bidding war; I’m hoping that where there’s smoke there’s fire. More so than with Beasts. The movie has a comedic drama angle to it so I think it’ll definitely be more accessible to a wider audience. Word is that Hawkes could have another potential Oscar nominated role on his hands with the film. With all of this swirling about, it’s definitely a no brainer for me wanting to check out.
#3 Holy Motors
From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man… He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part – but where are the cameras? Monsieur Oscar is alone, accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports him through and around Paris. He’s like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit. In pursuit of the beautiful gesture, the mysterious driving force, the women and the ghosts of past lives. But where is his true home, his family, his rest?
Why I Want to See It:
I still don’t exactly know what it is about Holy Motors that intrigues me, but there’s enough going on there that I want to see the film to find out what it is. I saw the trailer shortly after the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May and at the time I wasn’t too impressed. As the film has played the festival circuit it has garnered somewhat mixed reviews; though more of them have been on the favorable side. What sold me on seeing the film is that it won the critic’s award at this year’s Fantastic Fest (the largest genre film festival in the world) just a week ago. With a lot of fanboy journalists/bloggers behind it how can I go wrong?
#4 Rust & Bone
Ali, a man of formidable size and strength, gets a job as a bouncer in a nightclub. He comes to the aid of Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) during a nightclub brawl. Aloof and beautiful, Stephanie seems unattainable, but in his frank manner Ali leaves her his phone number anyway. Stephanie trains orca whales at Marineland. When a performance ends in tragedy, a call in the night again brings them together. When Ali sees her next, Stephanie is confined to a wheel chair : she has lost her legs and quite a few illusions. Ali’s direct, unpitying physicality becomes Stephanie’s lifeline, but Ali, too, is transformed by Stephanie’s tough resilience. And Stephanie comes alive again. As their stories intersect and diverge, they navigate a world where strength, beauty, youth and blood are commodities— but where trust, truth, loyalty and love cannot be bought and sold, and courage comes in many forms.
Why I Want to See It:
The film original got on my radar after it got some pretty good buzz coming off of its premiere at Cannes. What got my attention though were the two leads, Marion Cotillard of course most us may know her from The Dark Knight Rises, but also Matthias Schoenaerts; who broke onto the scene in last year’s Oscar nominated film Bullhead. Together these two seem to have some strong chemistry and I’m itching to see how it all plays out. The setup for the film seems tailor made for tragedy and I think it’ll definitely showcase their acting talents.
#5 Hang Loose
HANG LOOSE turns on the manic vs. medium cool performances of actors Dante Basco (THE DEBUT, Festival 2000) and Kevin Wu (aka KevJumba), here playing slightly dialed-up versions of themselves. Wu is newly-single Kevin who, having been dumped by his longtime girlfriend the week he graduates from high school, flies out to Hawaii to attend his big sister’s wedding. Upon his arrival into Honolulu, he meets his future brother-in-law Dante (Basco) and his crazy groomsmen Ben (Benjamin Arthur) and Dion (Dion Basco). Clearly out of his element, Kevin lets himself get talked into tagging along for Dante’s bachelor party, a soiree that quickly goes wrong in so many ways
Why I Want to See It:
Hang Loose is directed by Ryan Kawamoto and produced by James Sereno . . . two of the guys behind Kinetic Productions and who’s feature arm (Kinetic Films) made last year’s Paradise Broken (One of the best films that I saw at HIFF last year). After watching Paradise Broken and their anthology series 6B I am sold on anything these guys do and I’m definitely looking forward to their lighter comedic offering in this year’s Hang Loose.
Other Films of Note
This preview wouldn’t be complete without us tossing out a few more recommendations on cool and interesting things that you could possibly check out at this year’s festival. Here are a few things for the high and/or family minded . . .
Potential Oscar Candidates
The word “international” in Hawaii International Film Festival is there for a reason . . . the festival is showcasing some of the best films from around the world. Seven films playing at this year’s festival have been submitted by their respective countries as their entry to potentially become nominated in the Foreign Language Film category . . . aka The Oscars. Though a crowded field to be sure, you might be able to get a jump on your Oscar ballot by checking out these films:
- A Royal Affair (Denmark)
- Barbara (Germany)
- Barfi! (India)
- Caesar Must Die (Italy)
- Bwakaw (Phillipines)
- Beyond the Hills (Romania)
- Sister (Switzerland)
Studio Ghibli Retrospective
Though I came late to the party on the Hayao Miyazaki bandwagon (the first film that I saw was Princess Mononoke), once I was on board . . . I was on board. The Studio Ghibli Retrospective has been touring the country for the past year and now it makes a stop right here in Hawaii for HIFF. It’s definitely a great opportunity for you to catch up on some of these classics, or if you’re like me, see them for the first time in a theater with other like-minded people. The highlight of the retrospective will definitely be this weekend when HIFF, in conjunction with Our Kaka‘ako, present Spirited Away on Saturday night under the stars at the Kaka‘ako Gateway Park. There’s going to be food trucks, cosplay contest, and should be a lot of fun for the entire family.
Are you going to be checking out HIFF this year? If you are, let us know in the comments and tell us what films you’re interested in seeing.