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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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Meanwhile, the wiser souls around Wood urge him to just be grateful he has a good day job and an easygoing wife, and to downgrade the band to an emotionally rewarding hobby.

Filmmaker Paul Devlin is normally a sturdy documentarian (Slam Nation, Power Trip), but he allows Wood to mug for the camera incessantly and insufferably, as if the movie represents his last chance to show America how irresistible he is. As a result, it’s hard to really care which life path he’s going to choose. The Front Man is a thoroughly adequate cautionary tale for the new media economy, but it’s little else. – SS

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Program: Special screenings
Goldfinger is practically the template for the modern action blockbuster, yet still it’s impossible to hate. In fact, it’s deucedly hard not to love, simply because everything it does, it does so much better than its inheritors. All the tropes are genre highs, from the iconic title song to the archetypal cool car to the endlessly quotable sadistic one-liners. And don’t forget a script that moves so fast you almost don’t notice that nothing going on in it makes a lick of sense. The moment the glittering opening-credits sequence segues into that sweeping aerial shot of Miami and John Barry’s dizzying traveling music, you know you’re in the hands of people who understand that a movie like this is supposed to deliver thrills and glamour at 90 miles per hour. (This is what it feels like in Don Draper’s head ALL THE TIME.) A handful of other Bond flicks qualify as more “serious” suspense, and one (Skyfall) even borders on Art. But Goldfinger will always be the best, for the same reason the Beatles will always be the best rock act and Peanuts will always be the best American comic strip: It’s a phenomenon that defines its category. Diamonds? Forever? Nah, that’s gold. – SS

I Believe in Unicorns
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Program: Narrative features
Leah Meyerhoff’s debut feature ought to be stamped with an expiration date, it’s so fresh and sweet. Or maybe it should come with an age limit, because I’m not sure anyone over 30 is capable of being lulled by this montage of dreamy girliness enough to ignore the predictable plot.

Sixteen-year-old Davina (Natalia Dyer, looking maybe 13) floats in a mental fairy-tale land of cupcakes and tutus and glitter and, yes, unicorns until she meets the cutest skater boy, Sterling (Peter Vack), and it’s young love, true love, until they run away together and things go bad on the road. What’s frustrating about the after-school-special feel of the narrative is that there’s meatier conflict to be dug into. Davina’s excursions into cloud-cuckoo-land are understandable when contrasted with her day-to-day life: Her mother is badly disabled with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair; when she falls out, it’s up to this 86-pound teen to deal with it, because her father is out of the picture. (The filmmaker’s mother, who is in fact wheelchair-bound with MS, plays Davina’s mother.)

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