Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 Newport Beach Film Festival

 Of the films that played recently at the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival, I was able to view and review the following:

North of Known [2017] (directed by Bryan Smith) is a visually spectacular extreme sport documentary about Gavin McClurg [wikip] and Dave Turner traversing (over 37 days) the whole of the remote 480 mile Alaska Range (which includes Mt Denali the tallest mountain in North America) largely be means of paraglider.  Beautiful, simply beautiful.  I honestly never would have thought of the idea of doing this, but, oh my, what a remarkable Odyssey.  Who knows, one day astronauts on mars may travel that planet in this way as well.

In preparation for the trip, the two had dropped off by helicopter several caches of food, spacing them along the route at regular intervals (basically at where they expected to find themselves at the beginning of each week of travel).  They did this so that they wouldn't have to carry all their supplies for the whole month with them.  Then, of course, a film crew would helicopter-in to film them, though some of the footage included that taken by helmet cams and cameras otherwise mounted to their (paraglider) gear.

I left the film absolutely exhilarated.  Honestly, what's possible these days, and what a beautiful world we (still) have! -- 3 1/2 Stars

Good after Bad [2016] (written and directed by Anne Marie Hess) is a small indie film about a somewhat bullied/put-upon high schooler named Shelley (played quite excellently by Maddie Hadson) with _lots of issues at home_ who gets helped-out by a somewhat "dropped out of the sky" random wealthy man named Wes (played again quite excellently by Billy Burke) who was a relative of one of Shelley's "sort of" (but not particularly good...) high school friends.  Yes, a film like this today raises eyebrows.  Yet, the film is quite unapologetic.  Shelley's quite realistically portrayed teenage life was often (not always) veering precariously to the edge and her single mom had a great deal of difficulty dealing with her own difficulties.  So Wes became something of a godsend.  Are all rich older men good?  No, certainly not.  But are they _all_ (somehow) self-absorbed / bad?  Certainly _not_ as well.  In my six months here at my new assignment in Southern California, I've met a truly large number of richer middle-aged+ people (people my age plus), both men and women, who are by any standard good, concerned and generous people.  What Wes did for this teenager-at-risk is certainly quite interesting and discussion producing.  Yes, this film probably would have been easier-to-watch if some other character took interest and helped this girl.  But, what if (as is often the case...) there is simply no one else around to do so?   Do we let people drop-off the edge / fall through the cracks (just) to be PC? -- 3 1/2 Stars

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