Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF): It Takes a Tough Tailbone

I know the 18th Hamptons International Film Festival ran for five days, but if you saw my recent tweet, you know I got shanghaied into jury duty and spent two days in the East Hampton Justice Court listening to a NYC attorney trying to weasel out of his 6 AM DWI arrest. “The breathalyzer was faulty; the cops were out to get me.” Right.

9 Feature-Length Movies, 4 Shorts in 3 Days

Nonetheless, I managed to make it to a first-day reception by sponsor RoC Skincare at The Hedges Inn in East Hampton, where, on the porch, I breathed the same rarified air as Alec Baldwin, Marcia Gay Harden and Isabella Rosellini; indulged myself at the open bar; and snared a big, quilted, gold-colored tote bag containing RoC Skincare “Deep Wrinkle Night Cream” and “Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer,” all before plunging into the darkness of the local United Artist Cinema in East Hampton Village.

    Hedges Inn

    Huey, Dewey & Louie it Ain’t – Film Shorts Force-Fed

  • Striking a Chord: About 20 years ago an article in The New York Times reported on the power of music to lift clinical depression. When I mentioned this article to my father, a psychiatrist and neurologist who always kept his jumper cables close at hand on the off-chance that he might be asked to apply some electro shock therapy, he remarked that if it were true that music had such therapeutic properties, that could be the most important discovery in psychiatric medicine in his lifetime. Striking a Chord, a 38 minute film short about US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, tears your heart out, even while you’re tapping your toes to Nell Bryden and her band as they entertain the troops. Through the “healing power” of music, the band transports the troops out of the danger zone and back to the safety of United States and home, if only for the duration of the concert. [Director Susan Cohn Rockefeller]
  • Mary Last Seen: Thirteen minutes of me silently screaming at the teenage girl in the film: “GET AWAY FROM THIS GUY. DO NOT TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF AND GO SWIMMING WITH HIM. DO NOT WALK IN THE WOODS WITH HIM.” [Director Sean Durkin]
  • Loop Planes: I have no idea what that title means. Eleven minutes of a Columbia University graduate thesis film with an “awesome twist” as per 16 year old Ryan Cassata who scored the film and helped introduce this oh-so politically correct film about Nick, er, Nicole. [Director Robin Wilby]
  • Further Lane: Well, if you know where Further Lane is in The Hamptons, you know it’s all about grand shingled homes and big — some would say inappropriate — white box homes designed by the likes of architect Richard Meier (who now lives in a grand shingled home). I “know” the kid in this 13-minute film. By that I mean I’ve lived in The Hamptons long enough to have seen local kids who literally press their faces to the picture window of the big homes, look into grand rooms, and then resume mowing the lawns of the wealthy summer residents. Noah Fleiss, playing Brick, works all the sexual angles in response to Further Lane’s enticements. [Director Mesh Flinders]

Films of Conflict & Resolution, Spotlight Films, World Cinema Narrative Films, World Cinema Documentary Films

If you want it, HIFF has it . . . and I saw it.

Just Drag Him Out and Shoot Him Film

  • Accidental Terrorist: (No, not “tourist.”) Forty minutes of “is he or isn’t he” a terrorist. Why would a smart Danish young man, raised in a modern Muslim family, take to extremist activities that result in a six year jail sentence?  Guilty? Not guilty? Justly sentenced? Unjustly sentenced? Wrong place at the wrong time? More important: do I care? Abdul Kadir, interviewed in his cell, is a just a bit too sanctimonious and annoying to earn my sympathy. During the Q&A after the film, the director spoke about a kid’s need to “belong” as a motivating factor. Lost soul? Please! We’ve got plenty of that ilk in the US worrying about self-actualization and hunkering down in smoke houses. But they aren’t strapping on suicide vests. [Directors Miki Mistrati & Nagieb Khaja]

Modern Gothic Crime Tale Film

  • Small Town Murder Songs: We’re immersed in a small Mennonite town in Ontario for 75 minutes in this noir film. I spent the entire time wondering whether the local chief of police would crack and revert to his violent ways before the end of the film. The chief, hardly a romantic type, is somehow involved with two pretty women, and gives off vibes just as revolting as those of the snaggle-toothed killer. Lots of anguish sprinkled with darty-eyed praying. [Director & Screenwriter Ed Gass-Donnelly]


What’s It Going to Take to Get Them to Leave Home Film

  • Tiny Furniture: If you relate to self-entitled college graduates going no place fast (perhaps they are in your house, eating your food even as we speak), this is the film for you. If your 22 year old spawn still wants to crawl in bed with you and call you mommy, you don’t need to buy a ticket to this 98 minute film: you’re already living the life, 24/7. Slackers, layabouts, mooches. I found this film a scathing indictment of indulgent, non-confrontational, spineless parents. This film was billed as being in the tradition of a Woody Allen movie. OK, if you say so. [Director Lena Dunham, who also stars in the film]


Sometimes It’s Just Over Film

  • Blue Valentine: A sell-out crowd jammed this theatre to watch Michelle Williams’ and Ryan Gosling’s characters go through what probably half the audience has already endured (if divorce stats bear out), the disintegration of a once optimistic and good marriage. It’s a harrowing feature film in the “Spotlight” category at HIFF. I couldn’t help thinking that the only difference between the very blue-collar characters in the movie and those of us watching it was that we could afford a divorce attorney and a knock-down drag-out fight for assets. 114 minutes that fly right by. Polished, professional film. [Director Derek Cianfrance]


A Horror Film for White Collar Men over 50 (Title stolen from Erik Davis’s review on Cinematical)

  • The Company Men: I’m crying my eyes out when Ben Affleck watches his Porsche being driven away by its new owner. Whaaaaa! Whaaaa! Affleck plays a fast track, cocky manager who gets derailed during the greatest economic downturn in the US since The Great Depression. This star-studded, big screen movie includes Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, and Craig T. Nelson as “swinging Dicks” (Wall Street argot!) in the ship building business and, surprise, Kevin Costner, as a good guy construction company owner. It’s tough to feel sympathy for people who have everything and lose some, as opposed to people who have little and lose all. [Director John Wells]


The Only-One-Good-Line Film

  • Kisses Chloe: “Turnaround and bend over.” A 94 minute chamber drama, which, by definition, is a dramatic piece that is played out on a single, usually claustrophobic, set. What woman in her right mind would bring her boyfriend into the house of a known relationship wrecker, even if the crackpot, loser wench is her friend? And how much vodka can three people drink without acting drunk? Beautiful Hamptons’ scenery as a backdrop for endless vacuous dialog about personal sexual histories. Like I care. Check, please! [Director Stephen Padilla]

My tailbone is killing me. But my face is positively glowing. Thanks, RoC for the anti-wrinkle cream! And thanks 18th Hamptons International Film Festival for the press pass.

Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Is it possible that the economy is picking up a bit? I’m noticing a flurry of activity over at my Get Published Web site. If you are ready to step back into the publishing fray with your book, click over to the Get Published site and pick up some hints. I’ve been really busy the past few months in anticipation of a step up in the publishing marketplace. Did you see the AOL Travel article in which my book The Cure for Jet Lag gets a BIG mention? My philosophy is to work harder and faster and relentlessly in order to be ready when the market is ready for you.

19 Responses to “Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF): It Takes a Tough Tailbone”

  1. Angel R. Says:

    Thanks for such a detailed review of the movies. It seems most of the reporters went to the panels and the parties, and forgot to go to the movies.

  2. Carol Saxe Says:

    Too bad you missed King of the Hamptons. We loved it!

    Carol Saxe Saxe Book

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Carol, thanks for dropping by. (Carol’s one-person shows include the Rockefeller Townhouse in New York and the Gregg Galleries of the National Arts Club. Group shows include the Newark Museum, The National Arts Club, Art Expo New York. She also received the Joel E. Smilow Foundation award for painting from the Silvermine Guild Juried Annual and the Salmagundi Club Award for representational Painting from C.L.W.A.C. Annual Exhibit at the National Arts Club.)

  3. The Curmudgeon Says:

    I am so sorry that you had to have the events spoiled by the presence of Alec Baldwin. Why doesn’t he remain in his burrow?

  4. Tom Clavin Says:

    Good reading.

    I had the same reaction to “The Company Men.” The big turning point for Affleck’s character is being told his son had to sell his X-Box. I mostly liked the film, but I expect it will get raked over the coals by critics. For once, Affleck strikes out in Boston.

    Tom Black Magic

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Tom Clavin is the author or co-author of eleven books. For fourteen years he covered sports, business, and entertainment for The New York Times, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Child, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Parade, Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Golf, Men’s Journal and other publications. Tom was also editor-in-chief of The Independent weekly newspaper chain for ten years.

  5. Lynne Says:

    Frank Wilson has just linked his excellent blog Books, Inq. to this posting. Thank you, Frank!

    Books Inq

  6. Arlene Says:

    Lynne,

    Wow, you covered a lot.
    Great writing!

  7. Bridget Says:

    Fascinating, insightful and (where merited) wittily scathing reviews. Why doesn’t some syndication service sign you up for national consumption? Style, humour and aplomb. Well done.

    From the UK — Bridget

  8. Ed McManus Says:

    Hi, Lynne. These are great reviews. I would go to see some of them now, but they never seem to make any of the theaters in my area. Maybe if they put a few packages together for pay-TV people like me would get to see them, and people like them would make some money.

    Regards, Ed McManus
    Irish Tales
    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Ed McManus is a speechwriter and publisher of The Jokesmith, a comedy newsletter for business and professional speakers. He is also the author of Irish Tales: A Collection of Irish Folklore from Mary Dunne Ware of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

  9. Les Says:

    Completely love your HIFF wrap up….WOnderful…

  10. Phil K Says:

    I think the cost of a ticket was outrageous — sometimes as high as $27.00.

    Originally, I went online to order my tickets so I could avoid standing in endless lines in town. I was shocked to find if I ordered online that

    1) I was being charged $1.50 PER ticket for a handling fee, even though I was placing ONE order for multiple tickets.
    2) I was asked to pay a $1.00 credit card transaction fee
    3) I was asked to pay $1.50 for a “print at home” ticket.

    I felt gouged.
    I wound up purchasing far fewer tickets than planned and bought them in town.

  11. Katy Gurley Says:

    As someone who couldn’t make it to HIFF this year (well, some of us have to work), I was delighted by your capsule reviews. From the tone of most of your write-ups, I got the impression you were bored by some and didn’t like the others. So did I miss anything? And I agree with Phil K.; the movie prices and add-on fees are outrageous. I wonder if you would go the festival at all if you weren’t on a press pass…. Still, I would like to have seen the docu/drama about Valerie Plame…. but at $27 I couldn’t find anyone to go with me.

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Katy writes for the East Hampton Press.

  12. John D. Says:

    Many of the movies were sold out, particularly the Spotlight movies. HIFF is not in the business of charity. Market forces drive the prices. That said, a friend complained that this year HIFF did not have a free day of movies for the local populace the day after the official ending of HIFF. Frankly, that was a nice gesture in the past, but it’s not as if people in this town can’t afford to pay for a movie.

  13. Gardiners La. Says:

    There are people in this country whose retirement is completely unfunded, and going to the movies is an extravagance. For Keith to make those types of comments is ignorant and obnoxious. I would say about half the people in Eh don’t have that kind of money.

    Not only did we wait in line for an hour, we had to sit through a short, which I could have lived with out.

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: I liked the film shorts a lot. I thought they were an unexpected treat.

  14. Julie S Says:

    I love movies, especially French.

    I always choose one at the festival every year and this time I dragged my friends to see ” Sweet Evil.” It was just Ok. Kind of strange. I don’t know who chooses these movies.

    There are a whole bunch of great ones playing in France, one called “Copacabana ” with Isabelle Hupert and one I saw in Paris in June called “La tete en Friche” with De Pardieu — just precious. There is a new one called “Of God and Men” that just came out and is a big success.

    Keep me informed if you see any of those movies playing.

    Julie

  15. Maralyn Rittenour Says:

    Bridget really said it for me; your writing sparkles with wit.

    I like the way you thank those responsible for giving press passes and anti-wrinkle cream, and especially that you describe the accomplishments, including exhibitions and publications of artists and writers who commented on your blog, giving them a marketing leg-up.

  16. Sue Rockefeller Says:

    Lynne,

    Thanks — I really appreciate your reviewing my film and understanding its power and viewpoint.Rockefeller

    All the best, and again, much gratitude for such an honest and straightforward review!
    Sue Rockefeller

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Susan Cohn Rockefeller is a documentary filmmaker whose projects have won top prizes at film festivals. Her recent efforts not only include producing and directing Striking a Chord, but Making the Crooked Straight, which aired on HBO, Spring 2010 and co-producing A Sea Change.

  17. Joan Baum Says:

    Got onto your website and am impressed by your wicked wit and sass and savvy (you got me on an imitative alliterative roll).
    Baum

    Joan Baum

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: Joan is a writer for The Independent. I believe this hilarious photo — the only one I could find of her on the Internet(!) — is from a “Donkey Award” contest at which Joan was one of six judges.

  18. JW Says:

    Great coverage of the HIFF. Just wondering who the NYC lawyer was and what the outcome was.

    Note from Lynne W. Scanlon: My guess? His Mercedes is on blocks and he is riding a bicycle.

  19. Richard Says:

    I saw Accidental Terrorist, too. I rarely get biblical, but the answer is to SMITE him.

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