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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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Those are the kinds of problems that plague Be Good, a narrative feature about the difficulties of modern parenthood. New mom Mary just wants to stay home and care for her 6-month-old daughter, Pearl, but her husband, Paul, is an unemployed screenwriter. So she goes back to work while Paul learns to balance being a stay-at-home dad with the pursuit of his barely there career.

Little murmurings of intimate conversation and familiar bickering between Paul and Mary should make the couple seem intertwined in their frustrations and alienation – instead, their interactions are more like those of poorly matched college roommates who hold grudges than of a struggling couple trying to navigate the troubled waters of work, child-rearing and unrealized dreams. – ES

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BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON

★★★

You shouldn’t have to like a documentary’s subject to appreciate the doc itself. Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton sure puts that theory to the test, though, as directors Stephen Silha, Eric Slade and Dawn Logsdon have fallen under the spell of experimental filmmaker and poet Broughton, believing almost everything he created was pure magic instead of the pretentious garbage some claim it to be.
Broughton was the product of post-war West Coast bohemia, and he greatly influenced the San Francisco performance-poetry scene and the gay movement. (As the doc reminds us, “Even in San Francisco it [was] dangerous to be queer in the 1950s.”) Yet Broughton’s greatest fame came as an experimental filmmaker and director of such well-known shorts at The Potted Psalm (1946) and The Pleasure Garden (1953).

Whether you love or hate Broughton’s work, the filmmaker makes a worthy subject, and this movie, in just its second U.S. showing, embraces his own special celebration of life in all its self-indulgent, crazy, joyous incarnations. But by refusing to step away from its subject and examine the purpose and merit of experimental film, it squanders an opportunity to become more meaningful.

One interviewee goes as far as to claim that Broughton “in a sense, invented and perfected the poetic cinema.” That’s an outrageous exaggeration and briefly gives the film the feel of a Christopher Guest mock-umentary. Yet, thankfully, it’s Broughton himself, toward the end of the doc and the end of his own life, who finally makes sense of the “big joy” he so passionately projects to the world:

“Everything is an act,” he admits. “When people ask how you are, always say you’re fine. It makes your friends happy and your enemies furious.” – Cameron Meier

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BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME

★★★

This necessary documentary tells a story through the speckled old photographs of “a reluctant rock band with an ironic name.” Most of the joy in Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me comes from nostalgic critics who helped Big Star to become a band known for their devotion to creating new sounds that put to shame today’s lazier laptop musicians. The film’s narrative is treated like a child torn between divorced parents – its time is divided between influential lead singer Alex Chilton and founding member Chris Bell, who left Big Star after the release of their first album. Chilton offers the film a quirky energy and allows it to focus on a wider selection of releases (and footage from the Cramps!), but it’s Bell’s comeback at the end of the film that will make you want to drive straight home and attentively listen to “You and Your Sister” on repeat.

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