Here’s my first set of capsule movie reviews of films playing at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival. Some of these capsules are unusually short; the festival requires many of the films to be reviewed in 50 words or less. You’ll probably guess which ones.
A- Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres
If you’re a baby boomer and love ock, you’ve probably read articles by the great music journalist Ben Fong-Torres. This documentary catches the feel of exciting times (the ’60s and ’70s), talking to Elton John or Paul McCartney, and the story of this son of Chinese immigrants.
B+ The Drover’s Wife
This Australia feminist western packs a powerful punch, dealing with race, childbirth, and the fightto stay alivec while raising children. With her husband gone, the wifemust take care of herseland her children – often with a rifle. But when an aboriginal needs her help, she needs his.
B Courtroom 3H
This fly-on-the-wall documentary shows what happens in Family Court. Who gets the children when parents can’t handle them? Luckily, judge Antonio Méndez seems to have a great deal of empathy. Locked-down cameras capture parents, guardians, and lawyers argue over the future of those who have the least power.
D- My Dead Dad
What we’ve got here is a collection of clichés. A handsome young slacker inherits an apartment complex from the father he always hated. The obvious solution is to sell the complex, but that would involve throwing out the current tenants. With the help of the kindly and empathetic superintendent, the new owner gets to know the people living there. Even in the rare scenes that surprise you, the surprise isn’t much. For no reason I can figure out, the film appears to be set in the 1990s.