I’m sorry but nothing has changed my initial impression about the L.A. Film Festival being a no-buzz flatliner. When an event of any artistic or cultural importance is about to happen my insect antennae can always sense the hoo-hah vibes. Right now I’m feeling only their absence. That said I might catch an LA Film Festival feature tonight — Amber Tamblyn‘s Paint It Black. Not at the Culver City Arclight but at LACMA. If all goes well, I mean. I haven’t picked up the pass or anything. It all feels like such a chore.

Boilerplate descriptions of Paint It Black make it sound like another grief recovery drama. Which naturally scares me. (The only grief recovery film I’ve really liked so far has been Manchester By The Sea, in part because it’s not about “recovery.”) The notes call it “startlingly visceral.” Directed and co-written by Tamblyn, it costars Janet McTeer, Alia Shawkat, Alfred Molina, Emily Rios and Rhys Wakefield.

I’ve been a fan of Tamblyn’s acting and poetry-writing for a decade or so. I was floored by her performance in a summer 2014 Geffen Playhouse production of Neil Labute‘s Reasons To Be Pretty. Here’s a piece of my review:

“I’ve said repeatedly that you never know how much an actor can deliver until you’ve seen him or her in a strong play. Well, I found out last night how exacting and passionate and super-dimensional Amber Tamblyn, Shawn Hatosy, Alicia Witt and Nick Gehlfuss are when push comes to shove. It happened during a two-hour-and-40-minute performance of Neil Labute‘s Reasons To Be Pretty, which I saw at the Geffen theatre in Westwood. It’s running until 8.31, and I’m telling you that…okay, a semi-pricey ticket to Randall Arney‘s production (mine cost $85) is worth its weight in gold. The writing, acting, emotion…forget it. Far more potent than 90% if not 95% of the films and cable fare out there. Really. I felt alive, taken. A kind of throbby, buzzy feeling in my veins.

“Tamblyn’s performance as Steph, a hairdresser who goes ballistic when her live-in, factory-employed boyfriend, Greg (Hatosy), is overheard describing her looks as ‘regular’ — a bullet to the heart — has to be the best thing she’s ever done. She’s startling, heartbreaking…everything you can imagine that a gifted, live-wire actress could be in a you-are-there, holy-shit realm.”