Our Nixon, Short Term 12, In A World…

My second day at the LA Film Fest started with Our Nixon at 1:40pm. This was a very cool film. Penny Lane, the director, sifted through 500 hours of Super 8 reels that was confiscated by government and kept in a vault for 40 years. Besides the score, nothing in the film was created. They also recycled audio, and probably the coolest part about the film, Vanderbilt’s TV library. Since 1968, Vanderbilt has been recording every news program from every major news network. Every single one. SO COOL. Since it’s a library, it’s available to everyone and it didn’t cost the filmmakers boat loads of money to use the material. I loved listening to the Q&A and learned more about a subject that I’m not all that familiar with. Still, I did get the impression that the film was meant for someone who has more knowledge on the subject of Watergate and Nixon’s presidency as a whole. I wish I was more informed. She also tried to portray Nixon in the most neutral way that she could, and I think she succeeded. Between the super 8 footage and found audio, there were only 2 cases of synced audio throughout the film (besides the television news sequences). One was a concert and another was a rally. To sync these two scenes, they found the date of the concert and a date of the rally and searched and then searched for the audio with those dates. They only managed to succeed with those two scenes, but I think the film is better that way. She also pointed out that home videos do not depict everyday life. Home videos depict special events and that’s something most people forget. All in all, anyone who is interested in American history or found footage filmmaking in general would enjoy this piece of art.

Next was Short Term 12. This film won both the Grand Jury and Audience Award at SXSW, so of course it was going to be popular. To be honest, the film hit a little too close to home. Brie Larson played Grace, a twenty something working in a foster care center. Her boyfriend also works there. She has gone through a very rough childhood. A new child is brought into the facility and she goes through similar problems that Grace felt growing up. This prompts Grace to attempt to “save” this girl, while also bringing these issues that she never truly dealt with to the surface.  Just in time for a proposal and an unexpected pregnancy. The situations that these children are facing are all too similar to situations I’ve seen children struggle with while working at camp. The stories are the same, but camp was real and this film was fake. I hope this film gives the impression to its viewers that these situations are really happening and it’s not just a fantasy created by the film. It was hard to watch because of the memories it brought back. All in all, the film was a little depressing, but well made. I’m not positive that I would recommend it or see it again, but it was a great way to spend two hours. The film followed with a Q&A with the director and a collection of the actors.

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After the media mixer at the filmmaker lounge, I went to a screening of In A World… A film that is written and directed by its own star Lake Bell. She was there, and her Q&A was fantastic. The film, however, not so much. I was really tired, not only because the film started at 9pm, but maybe I had one too many glasses of wine at the mixer. Either way, I was not impressed. The film, which premiered at Sundance, was about a vocal coach who was trying to make it as a voice-over artist in trailers. Her dad is one of the best in the business and it becomes a competition film between father and daughter.

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