Mill Valley Film Festival Preview, Part 2

Here are five more films (mostly documentaries) that will screen at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival. As usual, they’re in order from best to worst.

A Circus Kid

Lorenzo Pisoni grew up as part of the Pickle Family Circus–the son of Pickle founder and director Larry Pisoni. It was not a happy childhood. In this very personal documentary, Lorenzo (named after his father’s clown character) discusses his upbringing and interviews his family and other Pickle veterans. As I watched it, I found greater understanding about Buster Keaton’s similar childhood. A sad story about the difficult work of slapstick comedy.

A- A Man Called Ove

Here we have the cliché of the crotchety old man who hates everybody, and the good-hearted people melt his resistance and bring him back to the human race. Writer/director Hannes Holm makes this worn-out plot new by adding a deep understanding of the inevitable tragedy of human life, without losing the humor of the situation. Filled with comic suicide attempts and flashbacks of love and loss, A Man Called Ove manages to be both dark and heartwarming.

B Rolling Papers

Director Mitch Dickman found the perfect way to examine Colorado’s first year of recreational marijuana. As the Denver Post newspaper set up a team of writers and editors to cover the new pot industry, Dickman followed those intrepid (but often stoned) reporters as they followed their stories and reviewed the various strains of weed. The topics covered (or at least glanced at) include pothead parents, the taste and smell of the smoke, edibles with no discernable THC content, and Uruguay–the first country to legalize marijuana nationally. At times it gets too jokey and upbeat.

  • Sequoia, Saturday, October 8, 12:30. PANEL DISCUSSION AFTER THE SCREENING.
  • Sequoia, Monday, October 10, 2:15

C The Last Dalai Lama?

Don’t expect an objective examination of the 14th Dalai Lama or Tibetan Buddhism. Director Mickey Lemle clearly adores both of them. That’s not entirely bad; the current Dalai Lama has some wise lessons for the human race, and while just about everyone in the movie treats him like a living god, the man himself comes off as a humble mortal (although not humble enough to stop people from calling him “Your Holiness”). Follow his advice about forgiveness and compassion…if you can. But expect a movie that drags on with praise from all sorts of people, including George W. Bush.

  • Rafael, Saturday, October 8, 11:30AM
  • Lark, Sunday, October 9, 5:00

D+ Baden Baden

The movie opens well, in a long-running, very tight shot of Ana (Salomé Richard) messing up horribly on a job. After that, there’s little to recommend it. Ana visits her grandmother in the hospital. She has sex several times with a boy who’s supposed to be just a friend (he can’t always resist her advances). She takes on the chore of replacing her grandmother’s bathtub with the help of a man who knows only slightly more about this sort of work than she does. She doesn’t grow much. She doesn’t learn anything. And frankly, she’s not that interesting a person.

  • Sequoia, Sunday, October 9, 8:30
  • Rafael, Monday, October 10, 2:00
  • Rafael, Tuesday, October 11, 12:00 noon