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Orlando Weekly's guide to the 2013 Florida Film Festival

Central Florida’s annual festival of film and food returns for its 22nd year

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Mud may not be a true five-star film, but it is the best of the 15 features I screened for this year’s festival, and for that, it deserves the highest mark. But if you miss it at the festival, don’t worry, as it’s almost certain to play the Enzian or Regal Cinemas again soon. – CM

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NANCY, PLEASE

★★★

Nancy, Please tries to replicate the paranoia of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and the creepy claustrophobia of Roman Polanski’s The Tenant. If you haven’t seen those films, that’s OK, since all you need in order to understand this film is an ounce of OCD. It reeks of obsession more than Calvin Klein.

Will Rogers – the alive, less-famous one – plays Paul, an anal-retentive Ph.D. candidate at Yale who has just moved into a new house with his overly sensible girlfriend, Jen (Rebecca Lawrence). His dissertation work and, indeed, his entire life is brought to a crashing halt when he realizes he’s left his cherished copy of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit at his previous residence, where his former roommate Nancy (Eléonore Hendricks) still lives. The book contains his crucial, hand-written notes, and he needs it back, desperately. Adding to Paul’s frustration is an invasion of squirrels in the walls of his new house, eating away at his property and, seemingly, his sanity.

For his first feature, director-writer Andrew Semans has fashioned an odd, tedious study in minutiae that may bore you to death during the first 40 minutes. Don’t be surprised to hear some groans and see a walk-out or two in the early going. But then the story starts to annoy you, then intrigue you, and finally fascinate you. Why won’t Nancy just give us, I mean Paul, back the book!? “It’s like she’s holding me hostage!” Paul screams. Like Edvard Munch, Semans makes his audience feel that scream, if only for the final few minutes of the film. – CM

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PIETÀ

★★★★

The pietà is the Christian depiction of Mary cradling her dying son following his crucifixion. Its most famous rendition is Michelangelo’s sculpture in St. Peter’s Basilica, and it’s no stretch to say that South Korean writer-director Kim Ki-duk considers himself a Michelangelo of film, proudly proclaiming in Pietà’s opening credits, a la Quentin Tarantino, that this is his 18th film. But he certainly does his best to back up that bravado with his shockingly depraved twist on religious iconography.

Though surprisingly non-graphic visually, Pietà is nevertheless brutally disturbing, and over the top at times. We should all be appalled by its subjects – violence, poverty, rape, cannibalism, implied incest and animal cruelty – but if those subjects disgust you so much that you are unable to see them onscreen, stay away from this movie. However, if you want a unique experience, a sort of macabre celluloid poem, treat yourself to the most memorable film of the festival.

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