Here’s a quick preview of two films I’ve been able to preview for the Mill Valley Film Festival:
B- Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, Sequoia, Saturday, October 8, 4:00; Rafael, Monday, October 10, 9:00. Sarah, a young, very pregnant technology geek (Anna Margaret Hollyman), sets out to find her estranged, irresponsible living-off-the-grid mother. Sarah’s unique personality and Hollyman’s infectious performance are almost enough to carry this modest trifle. Here is a woman who sits on the toilet, admiring how a disposable pregnancy test works as it gives her the news that will change her life. But she isn’t a stereotypical nerd, either; she mixes well with people and has a loving partner whom the filmmakers fail to flesh out as a character. But as this short (73 minutes) feature reaches its half-way point, I began to suspect that it wasn’t really going anywhere. And it wasn’t.
C California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown, Rafael, Tuesday, October 11, 8:00. Do you know who shouldn’t make a documentary about an important politician? That politician’s grandchild. Director and narrator Sascha Rice is the granddaughter of former California Governor Pat Brown, the niece of former and current Governor Jerry Brown, and the daughter of one-time candidate-for-governor Kathleen Brown. She’s very close to the subject, and seems reluctant to say much that might be negative about grandpa (although, to her credit, she occasionally does —very briefly). She paints his first term as heroic triumph of late New Dealism, and his second as heroic tragedy in the face of rising conservatism. Every so often, she’ll fast forward to more recent Brown victories and defeats. There’s some interesting history here, but she never looks at things deeply enough to be insightful. With one exception, every Democratic governor we’ve had in this state in the last 70 years has been a Brown (the exception was a Gray); I would have enjoyed some discussion of why.