LAFF Movie Reviews: COLD WEATHER, GOLDEN SLUMBER & THE WHEELER BOYS
The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival is now officially over, but there are still some movies I need to talk about. Here are some quick thoughts on a few of them: Cold Weather, Golden Slumber & The Wheeler Boys.
Synopsis: A self-styled Sherlock Holmes leads an unlikely team of irregulars in this charming comic mystery from indie auteur Aaron Katz.
After abandoning a promising academic career in forensic science, aimless Doug returns to Portland to live with his more responsible big sister Gail. He quickly lands a dead-end job in an ice factory, but his latent passion for detective work is stoked when his ex-girlfriend goes missing. Armed with a handful of arcane clues, Doug enlists Gail and co-worker Carlos in a ramshackle investigation that draws the slacker sleuths into Portland’s not-quite-seedy underground.
Thoughts: I was kind of looking forward to seeing Cold Weather, especially after seeing Trieste Kelly Dunn’s remarkable performance in The New Year (you can read some of my thoughts on the film here). Unfortunately, the film didn’t totally live up to my expectations.
Part of the reason is because I had a hard time figuring out what the film wanted to be, it started out as the typical independent slow-paced film about character study and turned into a detective story. Even though I understand that it was an attempt to be original by mixing two genres together, the blend was not done fluently. You end up this sort of dark, slow-paced film, which suddenly turns into this uplifting sort of comedic detective story. And to make matters worse, the ending didn’t really wrap up the story too well, which was frustrating. Now don’t get me wrong, even though the beginning was a little too slow for me, I enjoyed the detective parts of the film, but just wish that the whole movie had taken that tone from the beginning.
Overall, Cold Weather was enjoyable, but not something that you should absolutely see.
Synopsis: In Yoshihiro Nakamura’s seriocomic thriller, when easy-going Aoyagi meets an old friend for a fishing trip, he ends up drugged, framed for the Prime Minister’s assassination, and on the run from corrupt cops. It’s only the beginning of what quickly becomes the worst, weirdest day of his life. But he’ll get by with a little help from his friends, who include a famous pop diva, a rockabilly deliveryman, a crippled old gangster, and the world’s most cheerful serial killer.
Thoughts: Golden Slumbers was the best movie I saw at the LA Film Fest this year. It had such a great and original story, compelling characters and endearing humor throughout. This movie has US remake written all over it, but I urge you to see it in its original version if you get the chance. After seeing so many cliche conspiracy movies, it was really nice to see something refreshing. I really hope Golden Slumbers gets some sort of distribution in the US, because I for one would really love to watch it again.
The Wheeler Boys
Synopsis: With their father lost in a fog of anger and self-loathing, “Truck” Wheeler has raised his younger brother Ted as best as he could, considering he’s just a teenager himself. Now, Ted is entering high school just as Truck readies himself for his final year, and the younger boy is seeing everything-girls, life in a small town, the brother he’s always idolized-in a different light. As the post-game keggers and party-hardy bravado of Truck and his friends take on a troubling timbre, Ted must choose between following in his brother’s footsteps or finding his own way in the world.
Thoughts: I didn’t go see The Wheeler Boys at the movie theater, but saw it from the comfort of my own home courtesy of Netflix Watch instantly. The film was the winner of the “Netflix FIND Your Voice” competition which is why it was screened concurrently on Netflix during the Festival. The Wheeler Boys wasn’t really a movie that sparked my interest, but I decided to check it out none the less, and I am glad that I did. It ended up being one of my favorites at the Festival. It’s the typical coming of age independent film with some powerful performances and a captivating story. The only negative thing about it that I would say is that the ending felt a little abrupt. Other than that, if that’s the type of film that you usually enjoy, I would recommend you check it out if you get the chance.