I’ll be back in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and the first thing I’ll be jumping into will be the L.A. Film Festival (6.1 thru 6.9). So far I’ve noticed three or four films of passing interest but nothing that really heats the blood. Just a lot of indie titles of marginal interest. No hot premieres, minor Sundance repeaters, none of the Cannes headliners…flatline. I shared this view with a film-savvy friend and he said “my impression is the same as yours. I felt like last year’s LAFF had almost no buzz, and this year it has even less.”
The only LAFF film that feels even slightly intriguing is 11:55, a High Noon-inspired drama about neighborhood violence. (It’s screening here in Manhattan tomorrow night.) There’s also Amber Tamblyn‘s Paint It Black — her debut effort as a director. John Krasinki‘s The Hollars, which didn’t fare all that well at Sundance ’16, is an attraction. Ditto Meera Menon‘s Equity, another Sundance premiere. There’s also Political Animals, a doc about LGBT legislators.
I’m assuming that the LAFF programmers deliberately decided to focus on smaller-scale American indie films that nobody has heard of, and didn’t even try to land the hot titles that people would actually like to see. Or maybe they did but the distributors of the hotties said “no dice” because they’re waiting for the start of awards season.
If I was running LAFF I still would’ve tried to book films with at least a semblance of heat.
It may be that the Cannes ’16 films were completely out of the question, but can you imagine the excitement if LAFF had somehow landed Olivier Assayas‘ Personal Shopper, David Mackenzie‘s Hell or High Water, Andrea Arnold‘s Wild Honey or Jim Jarmusch‘s Paterson?
Or if they had managed to book a few more Sundance attractions like Antonio Campos‘ Christine (which contains a first-rate, Spirit-nomination-deserving performance by Rebecca Hall) about the late Sarasota newscaster Christine Chubbuck? Or had tried for Richard Tanne‘s Southside With You (Miramax/Roadside, 8.26), the first-date-between-Barack-and-Michele flick that everyone loved at Sundance. Or James Schamus‘s Indignation, which opens on 7.29.
I just don’t understand the lack of voltage. Maybe someone in the loop can explain things to me. Obviously there are reasons.