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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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This is the first feature by director Jay Gammill and writer Jim Beggarly, and it shows. Perhaps, as with those glossy food photos in restaurant menus, this ice cream looked better on paper. How else does one explain the involvement of Jesse Eisenberg, who is both miscast and underused as Jillian’s potential love interest, and Tippi Hedren as one of the customers?

Playing Jillian is the quirky Jess Weixler, who is trying her best to overcome the material. But at just 80 minutes and with some misplaced sincerity toward the end, the film just doesn’t give her enough to work with. After all, sometimes in art, as in life, less really is less.

The fact that I, your friendly festival reviewer, was able to see this film as a free sample made it somewhat palatable. If you’re stuck having to pay for this concoction, though, you may be left with buyer’s remorse.

“You’re the best-looking woman I would never, ever consider having sex with,” a friend tells Jillian. Sadly, judging just by Free Samples, Weixler is the best-looking woman I would never, ever consider seeing in a movie. So stay away and instead see the other Tippi Hedren film playing this year’s fest: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, on April 12, if you can manage a stand-by ticket. And as an added bonus, Hedren herself will be there. – CM

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I AM DIVINE

★★★★★

Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz is apparently on a mission to make a documentary about everyone who has ever been the subject of a chapter in one of John Waters’ books. On the heels of Schwarz’s charming Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (FFF 2008) comes I Am Divine, an affectionate, even triumphant bio of Waters’ immortal leading “lady.” Via a treasure trove of film and video footage, still photos and talking-head interviews with Divine’s enamored contemporaries, Schwarz takes us through the beyond-unlikely process by which one Harris Glenn Milstead made childhood ostracization the fuel for an outrageous persona that turned drag on its head before most people had even heard of such a thing.

With this story of revenge via living well acting as the doc’s main “melody,” Divine’s many addictions become a sort of Jaws theme underneath, portending the heart attack that would claim his life at the age of only 42. Yet the doc is the opposite of a downer: It’s laugh-out-loud funny and eminently quotable (perhaps unsurprising, given the personalities involved). It also happens to be genuinely moving as it describes Divine’s eventual reconciliation with the parents who had once disowned him. In that sense, the movie is right on time, presenting us with the ennobling example of one family’s victory over pressures mainstream society is only beginning to understand.

“He could never pass as normal,” Waters says of his lifelong friend; I Am Divine points us toward a time when nobody will have to try. – Steve Schneider

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