Here’s my last batch of Mill Valley Film Festival previews. As usual, their listed from best to worst.
A- The Florida Project
Cheap motels, filled with desperate people, abound on the edge of Disney World. Sean Baker’s touching film concentrates on children staying in these motels – especially Moonie (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince), a little girl living with her fun, free-spirited, but irresponsible mother. The kids run around unsupervised, and every time they run through the parking lot or a busy street, your heart misses a beat. The motel manager (Willem Defoe) watches over the kids the best he can, which isn’t much. An amazing journey into a part of America you’ve probably never experienced.
The Florida Project will have a regular theatrical run after the Festival.
B+ Horn from the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story
This rock-and-roll documentary doesn’t just tell you about the music – it lets you hear it – often in long stretches. The people interviewed seem both knowledgeable about the great bluesman and emotionally close to him. Butterfield was a unique talent, and the film shows how he developed and improved that talent throughout his professional career. In many ways, this film reflects the cliched rock star fame-than-burnout tragedy, but the affection in those who knew him make it special. So does the music.
Both screenings are sold out, but rush tickets may be available.
B Owls & Mice
This upbeat children’s musical from the Netherlands follows the new kid in town as she struggles to make friends. Most of the story takes place on a field trip in the woods. And yes, there’s an owl and, more importantly, a mouse. There’s a big shock about halfway through that may briefly horrify young children; let’s just say it deals a bit with the darker aspects of the food chain. But it will teach them something important about nature. The songs aren’t exceptional.
This is a movie for 10-year-olds, and I don’t know how many there are in this country that know Dutch or can read English fast enough for subtitles. Luckily, those subtitles will be read aloud in the Festival screenings. I’m not sure how that will affect the songs.
C Porcupine Lake
Just another coming-of-age movie, and not a particularly interesting one. Bea, a shy girl from Toronto, goes into the country for the summer with her parents and dog. Her father inherited and is running a small rural restaurant, and her parents are figuring out if they can stay together. Bea finds a new best friend, and there’s a hint of lesbian attraction. The friend’s family comes off as stereotypical poor white trash. Something dramatic and highly unlikely happens to give the movie some suspense in the third act.
F Mary Janes: The Women of Weed
At the beginning of this dull and preachy documentary, filmmaker Windy Borman states that she has never tried pot. Nevertheless, she runs around the country, camera in hand, interviewing women in the cannabis industry, mostly running companies or non-profits. She also interviews Melissa Etheridge and thinks herself clever by coining the word puffragette. I’m generally pro-cannabis, but this film goes too far, celebrating the weed as a wonder drug that will cure all your problems. At the end, Borman gets stoned and we’re supposed to think that means something.
- Sequoia, Sunday, October 8, 6:00
- Rafael, Monday, October 9, 2:30 PM
- Century Larkspur, Thursday, October 12, 9:00