Tag Archives: 3RFF

Hello, Weekend

2 Nov

How did we get to November already? 

Well we’ve got a few social plans this weekend, but I’m going to spend a lot of the time trying to catch up on things I couldn’t get done during the week. Work is busy busy right now. 

Pittsburgh is busy busy, too, with lots of fun things coming up soon!  Remember that next Thursday, November 8 I will be co-hosting BlogMob at the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and Construction Junction.  Even if you’re not big into social media, it would be fun to have you there for a tour, a craft, and a potluck!  Drop me a comment if you’d like to join us!

And of course, one of my favorite annual events kicks off this weekend– The Three Rivers Film Festival!! I’ve already scoped out my favorites.  With things being so crazy busy at work, it’ll be hard to get away for a movie, but maybe just maybe Mr. Beez and I can snag a babysitter for a couple hours and catch a double feature!  My picks from the festival’s film descriptions are:

17 Girls
Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin | France | 2011 | 86min
Harris Theater
Sun, Nov 4 – 4:30pm Tickets
Fri, Nov 9 – 7:00pm Tickets

Inspired by events that took place in Massachusetts, Delphine and Muriel Coulin’s provocative directing debut focuses on a group of bored teenage girls who all make an irrevocable pact. When Camille (Louise Grinberg, The Class) accidentally becomes pregnant, she encourages her friends and fellow high school classmates to follow suit. It’s only a matter of time, before 17 girls in the high school are pregnant and the town is thrown into a world of chaos. Set in the writer/directors’ small, seaside hometown of Lorient in France, the drama is a reflection on adolescence, body image, friendship and the perplexing realities of growing up.

3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom
Jordan Roberts | USA | 2012 | 89min
Short Before: The Other Dave by Pasquale Anthony Greco
Regent Square Theater
Sat, Nov 3 – 9:15pm Tickets
Melwood Screening Room
Wed, Nov 7 – 9:15pm Tickets

In this modern day comedy, Frank Bartlett has been tortured, embarrassed, and humiliated by his brother Bruce – usually caught on camera – for his entire life. This is a story of sibling rivalry to end all rivalries. It involves sex, lies, videotape, a little romance and lots of gross-out humor. A few great cameos (Ron Perlman as an elegant transsexual, and a jock-strapped Chris Noth on a treadmill) make this one big laugh riot. Chris O’Dowd – the adorable Irish cop in Bridesmaids – does an amazing 180 here as Bruce.

Holy Motors
Leos Carax | France | 2012 | 115min
Harris Theater
Wed, Nov 14 – 7:30 Tickets

Straight from the 50th New York Film Festival is this mind-blowing film about a shadowy character who travels between parallel lives. Played by Denis Levant, Carax’s longtime collaborator, he is by turns, an assassin, a captain of industry, family man, beggar, monster. The envelope-pushing director’s first feature since 1999, it competed at this year’s Cannes Film Fest to stunned audiences. The Guardian called it, “weird and wonderful, rich and strange – barking mad, in fact.” Features Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue. (2012; 115 min)

Pittsburgh Dad & Mercury Men
Chris Pretska | USA | 80min
Harris Theater
Thur, Nov 15 – 7:30pm Tickets

Local filmmaker Chris Pretska (and Pittsburgh Filmmaker’s alum) first met actor Curt Wootton on the set of the 2005 web series Captain Blasto. From there, the two collaborated on Mercury Men, a Pittsburgh-based retro online sci-fi series whose episodes are now playing on the SyFy Network. More recently, Wootton has become famous as Pittsburgh Dad, perfectly capturing the traditional, blue-collar everyman who lives and breaths “the stillers,” goes to Kennywood every year, and partakes in most things Pittsburgh. The one-man online series became an overnight Internet sensation, generating millions of hits. For this event, Pretska and Wootton will screen clips from both series and discuss online film exhibition.

Rust and Bone
Jacques Audiard | France/Belgium | 2012 | 120min
Harris Theater
Fri, Nov 2 – 7:30pm Tickets
Opening Night Film w/ reception Trailer

“…marvelous movie, gorgeous, thoughtful and deeply felt.” – NPR. Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead) star in this emotionally raw love story from Cannes Grand Prix winner Jacques Audiard (A Prophet). It’s about a broke, homeless, and drifting young dad who scrambles to make a living for himself and his young son and moves to the French Riviera as a back-alley boxer. Taking work as a nightclub bouncer, he crosses paths with Stéphanie, who works as a killer-whale trainer at an amusement park. After she suffers a terrible accident, the unlikely pair falls into a tender, tentative courtship. Oscar buzz is building for this unflinching film and its bold performances. Print courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell | USA | 2012 | 120min
Regent Square Theater
Nov 2 – 7:30pm Tickets
Opening Night Film w/ reception Trailer

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Pat (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything — his house, his job, his wife. He now finds himself back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after being institutionalized. But Pat is determined to rebuild his life and remain positive. His parents want to support him, but mostly want him to share their obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Hilarious as well as touching, this audience hit from this year’s Toronto Film Fest has Oscar written all over it. Print courtesy of The Weinstein Company.Of all of these, I want to see Silver Linings Playbook the most. Unfortunately, it’s only showing tonight, and I don’t think I can make it there tonight. 

Do you plan to go to the 3RFF? Which films do you plan to see?

Quill: The Life of a Seeing Eye Dog (2004) and Take Shelter (2011) #3RFF

12 Nov

Even though I picked 4 movies to see at the 3 Rivers Film Festival, it felt like I would just be going to the movies a whole lot, instead of really “going” to a film festival.  I have a shopping trip on sunday that may overlap with seeing Karen Cries on the Bus, so instead I decided to see two movies last night at the Regent Square Theater.

  Quill: The Life of a Seeing Eye Dog is everything you’d expect from a movie all about doggies.  The first part of the movie was about Quill’s puppyhood, and there were plenty of audible “AWWWW’s!” from the crowd.  As Quill gets older, he remains unbelievably cute.  This movie made me want to get up and SQUEEZE the puppies in the screen.

The film follows Quill throughout his entire life, from playful puppyhood, to his dutiful years as a seeing eye dog.  It sweetly depicts Quills devotion to his master, Watanabe.  The relationship starts as a rocky one, as Watanabe is extremely stubborn and reluctant to have a seeing eye dog, but Watanabe’s affection, and that of his family, for Quill, progressively grows until Quill is truly one of the family.  The film depicts Quills entire life, including his passing at 12 years and 25 days.  The final scenes seemed to last forever, and a touch melodramatic, but they were touching and there were plenty of whimpers and sniffles from the crowd.

There were a few kids in the crowd, and I think this movie would be a great movie for animal-loving kids to watch (bonus: lots of cute puppies, but no annoying songs to get stuck in your head).  If I can find it on DVD, I will probably by it.  Baby Beez loves puppies, and I think she’d have a lot of fun watching this film.

The absolute best part of the film is this darling little scene where Quill is told to “stay,” because the trainer has to take a call.  The trainer ends up takign a long time (and actually forgets he left Quill mid-training), and Quill takes a little snooze.  The audience then gets a glimpse into Quill’s dream (of his favorite squeaky toy), and IT IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER.

So yes, two thumbs (or paws?) up.  Quill: The Life of a Seeing Eye Dog is unbelievably, unbelievably cute.  I love puppies and cute things, so of course, I LOVED it.

The second movie I saw, Take Shelter, is a completely different kind of film, but equally excellent.

Michael Shannon plays Curtis, an Ohio father devoted to his wife and six-year-old deaf daughter, and who works hard at his blue collar job.  Jessica Chastain artfully plays Curtis’ wife, Samantha.  She is sweet but stern, and handles her trials with grace.  Curtis begins having terrifying nightmares and delusions of apocalyptic storms.  He discovers a storm shelter in his back yard, and obsessively undertakes the task of building out the shelter.

What sets this tale of mental illness apart from other films is Curtis’ awareness and concern about his condition.  Curtis doesn’t *SNAP* lose it, his illness progresses over time.  His mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia in her early 30s, and Curtis painfully remembers the incident leading to her diagnosis.  She has been in treatment and assisted living ever since.

Curtis is aware of his family history, and he has promised himself that he will never put his family in the position that his mother’s illness did.  He researches mental illness, he goes to his doctor, he does counseling, he knows there is something wrong and he desperately wants to have it treated.  There is a fascinating tension between his awareness of the illness, and its horrible effects on him.

The most striking part of the film is its depiction of Curtis’ dreams.  The storms are dark and booming. Even though you’re watching from a safe theater, you feel like you are at the mercy of angry mother nature.

Take Shelter won the Critics Week award at Cannes, as well as many other film accolades.  It is easy to see why.

Natural Selection (2011)

6 Nov

Natural Selection swept the prizes at the SXSW film festival, and I was super excited to have a movie night out to the 3 Rivers Film Festival with Sandy and Mr. Beez to see it!

Rachael Harris (who I know I’ve seen in a million things before, I just can’t remember what) plays Linda White, who is an ultra-religious Christian, and tragically barren.  Unbeknownst to her, her husband has been secretly visiting a sperm bank for years.  He has a stroke during a visit there, and she learns of his secret.  As he lies in the hospital with grim prospects, he asks her to find his biological son.  Linda sets off to fulfill his dying wish, and disaster of course ensues.  The son is a drug addict on the lam, and the two make for an unlikely but comic pairing.

In the first third of the movie, Natural Selection has several hilarious moments. I was happy to genuinely laugh out loud, because there aren’t many movies that get me to do that.  The last two thirds of the movie were more serious–it still had funny parts, but less laughter.  At a certain point, the plot turns become markedly more unlikely, but the film remains very good and had a very satisfying end.

Harris usually plays high-strung, irritated side characters, but she shows depth and relatability in this central role.  Even though her imdb biography has a mile long list of performances, the quality of her performance in “Natural Selection” explains why many critics are calling this her “breakthrough performance.”

I doubt this film will play at many other theaters in the Pittsburgh area, but it does have one more showing this week during the 3 Rivers Film Festival (I think on Tuesday).  If you’re able to see it, it is clever, and funny, and well worth your time.  There aren’t any big explosions or special effects, so if you can’t make it to the theater, nothing would be lost by seeing it on the small screen once it comes out on DVD.


25 Oct

The 30th Annual Three Rivers Film Festival is running November 4 through 19 (just in time for my birthday!)  This film fest is heavy on the foreign and artsy-drama films, with good reason since Pittsburgh Filmmakers theaters are heavy on the foreign and artsy-drama films.  I’ve picked the 3RFF as the film festival I will attend for my 30 before 30 list…mostly because it’s in Pittsburgh, I’m in Pittsburgh, and it’s easy.  I did look into the Toronto International Film Festival or the Philadelphia Film Festival, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  Getting to the movies when you have a baby is hard enough, traveling to another city to watch several days worth of movies is impossible, unless you have lots of free time and lots and lots of money to burn, and a babysitter to bring along. Someday, though, I would LOVE to go to either one of those.

On my first browse through the film list, I wasn’t too thrilled.  Once I started reading the descriptions, I got a lot more interested.  I’ve picked out four films I’d really like to see. I still have to work out the logistics of either getting a babysitter or working out schedules so Mr. Beez will be home with Baby Beez.

Here are my picks (credit to the 3RFF site for the images and summaries):

Natural Selection

This quirky comedy won seven awards at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival including: Audience and Grand Jury Awards for Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Score/Music, Best Editing, and  Breakthrough Performances (Rachael Harris, Matt O’Leary). It’s the story of a dutiful, albeit barren, housewife who discovers that her devout husband has suffered a stroke at a sperm bank where he’s been secretly donating his seed for the past 25 years, she leaves her sheltered world and starts off on a journey to find his eldest biological son. (Robbie Pickering; USA; 2011; 89 min)

Quill: The Life of a Seeing Eye Dog

This is the story of a yellow Labrador Retriever guide dog for the blind named Quill. We follow Quill from the litter, his selection to become a guide, his life with a foster family until his first birthday, followed by highly specialized schooling in guiding the sightless. He is then paired with a blind man named Watanabe Mitsuru who is at first reluctant to rely on Quill. But Quill’s great patience, gentleness and skill eventually wins him over and they become inseparable friends. Documentary-like in style, this heart-warming film is not just a cute puppy movie.  (Sai Yoichi; Japan; 2004; 100 min)

Karen Cries on the Bus

Karen discovers – after 10 years of marriage – that her dreams got lost somehow. So she leaves her macho husband and takes to the streets of Bogota in hopes of starting a new, independent life. Without friends or family to lean on, she quickly finds herself marginalized by society and stuck begging for change at the bus station. With the help of a young, empowered hairdresser, her life inches toward hope. Featuring a brave performance by Angela Carrizosa, present in every scene, the film explores contemporary social issues in Colombia in a fresh light. (Gabriel Rojas Vera; Columbia; 2011; 97 min)


He is as controversial as ever, but Von Trier’s latest film may be his most breathtaking and moving yet. The title refers both to a planet “that’s been hiding behind the sun” and the crippling depression of new bride Justine (a magnificent Kirsten Dunst, winner of Best Actress at Cannes this year) whose mental illness is so severe she drives away her groom during their disastrous wedding reception. As the extinction of the planet looms over the characters, this mesmerizing film will have you by the lapels. Melancholia’s premise may be science fiction, but the feelings of despair it plumbs are the most heart-felt human drama. Features an all-star cast including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, and John Hurt . (Lars Von Trier; Denmark/Sweden/France; 2011; 135 min)

So if you’re one of my in-real-life friends, and not a scary internet person I don’t know, and you are interested in any of these films, let me know and we can make movie plans!  I considered doing a 6 film package, but decided that is too many films in too short a time.  It would also have me going to films I am only kind of interested in, and since I don’t get to go to the movies too often anymore, I don’t want to waste my rare moviegoing experience on a film I find only marginally interesting.  Mr. Beez is interested in all of the movies except the puppy movie….what kind of person doesn’t want to see a puppy movie?!?!