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Florida Film Festival 2014 movie reviews

Not sure what flicks to catch at this year’s fest? Use our reviews as your guide

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'American Jesus'

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'The Babadook'

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It’s clearly time to give up the mafia life, his old friend and lawyer Ben (Chazz Palminteri, in a strangely brief role) tells him.

“He was the man, but not anymore,” agrees his devoted neighbor and friend, Bobby, played compassionately by Michael Rapaport. “Now he’s just a regular Joe Citizen.”

Writer-director David Rodriguez’s film would be nothing without Sorvino, as the veteran actor seems born to play this part. He draws you in and holds you for the duration, almost making you forget the less believable moments and slightly clunky script. But if that half-hearted endorsement seems unimpressive, play it safe by skipping the film and instead seeing Sorvino at a screening of Goodfellas on April 12. – CM

Led Zeppelin Played Here
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Program: Special screenings, music film
JJeff Krulik of Heavy Metal Parking Lot fame sets himself a greater challenge of pop-cultural stenography in Led Zeppelin Played Here, a probing inquiry into the suburban legend that the mighty Zep once performed before an audience of 50 or so teens at a youth center in Maryland. The idea is just improbable enough to be intriguing, yet has enough of a precedent to be possible: The center apparently played host to all manner of national acts, including Iggy and the Stooges.

Complicating things, no physical evidence of the Zeppelin gig exists – just the conflicting recollections of people who admit they were smoking a whole lot of weed back then.

Krulik spends an inordinate amount of time tracing the history of the D.C.-area concert scene, giving the movie more context than it probably needs; I’m not convinced he couldn’t have told his story just as well in a 30- or 40-minute short. Yet no matter how monotonous Led Zeppelin Played Here sometimes is, it ends up a reassuringly nostalgic paean to a vanished era in popular entertainment. Since the advent of the cell-phone camera, the point of concert attendance has been to obsessively document your presence at an event to which you’re paying only scant attention. These kids, in contrast, were too busy living life to worry about leaving an ironclad record of it. Maybe. – SS

Levitated Mass
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Program: Documentary features
The biggest rock star to ever visit Los Angeles arrived in 2012. The celebrity journeyed a circuitous 105-mile route from a quarry in Riverside, Calif., through four counties and 22 cities, at a cost of $10 million. Why all the fuss for just one trip? Because this rock star is a literal rock, a 340-ton, 900-million-year-old granite boulder that is now “Levitated Mass,” an art exhibit outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In his documentary of the same name, director Doug Pray competently and entertainingly captures the logistical nightmare of transporting the boulder, which created a media frenzy. Thousands of people lined the route to catch a glimpse. Some even attached religious significance to it, while others gave it its own Twitter account. The simple story of the rock’s trip is interesting, but Levitated Mass is best when it examines the project’s meaning – and the meaning of art itself – as seen through the eyes of the public and the artist, Michael Heizer.

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