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Film Reviews by Lisa Blanck
Florida Film Festival 2022 Continued....
| Saturday, 04.16.2022, 01:19 AM |   (549 views)

Bill Plympton’s animations and the Florida Film Festival go hand in glove.  And for 2022, his delightful “lonely chair” animation opens every program.  Sometimes it’s narrated by a male voice, sometimes a female, but, as is the case with Plympton, always gratifying.

So here are some additional gratifying films I enjoyed in previews this season, starting with The Territory.  In this documentary, the indigenous Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau are being decimated by pro-Bolsonaro Brazilian forces.  They live within the Amazon rainforest and vow to protect their land, and the planet, with their very lives.  Bolsonaro has pledged to take all the land from the tribe and give it over to developers. The developers believe that “God has blessed us” and that they must “liberate” the land.  From whom?  In 2021, deforestation is at its highest rate in 15 years.  Without the rainforest, we will all die sooner than later.  Unfortunately for all of us, the land rapists are winning, as the body count of tortured and murdered peoples rises. 

Pitched this fest as a movie for kids, Marvelous and the Black Hole is a treat for kids of all ages.  13-year-old Sammy’s mom has passed away, her dad has moved on to another relationship, and Sammy (Miya Cech) is headed for the dreaded “Camp Sparrowplace” if she doesn’t stop acting out.  She’s a cutter, creating patterns of X’s on her skin with a blade.  Her luck, and her attitude, begins to change when she crosses paths with Rhea Pearlman’s Margo, a magician on the kid’s party circuit.  Margo feels the sadness coming off Sammy and takes her under her cape, so to speak.  It’s 81 minutes of sweet movie magic. 

Fanny: The Right To Rock, is a more than your typical “where are they now?” look back on a band from the early 70’s.  They released five albums.  They’re respected, and revered, by musical groundbreakers such as Bowie, Bonnie Raitt and Cherie Currie.  But the industry, and the public, just weren’t ready to embrace an all-women, partially queer, Filipina-American band. Especially ones who didn’t release songs that were radio-friendly.  Great live shows don’t translate into sales or hits in the US or the UK. As Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot puts it, “It is always the ones that start ‘it’ who get f-d”.  The bandmembers have reunited after decades, still aiming to ‘be as good as possible’.  But fate is fickle.


In what could easily have become maudlin but was pushed into heartfelt and tender by star Essie Davis (The Babadook), The Justice of Bunny King had me hooked in the first fifteen minutes.  Bunny, a down-on-her luck Aussie mom who has lost custody of her kids, has promised the younger one that they will be together for her birthday.  The wheels of society have ground Bunny down to the point where you simply see no way of this coming out ok, even though Bunny herself is determined to make everything better.  With no job, no prospects, no money and no home, Bunny is making promises you’re sure she will be unable to keep.  Temporarily living with her sister and troubled niece (Thomasin McKenzie, Last Night in Soho) in the sister’s sketchy boyfriend’s home, you’re still rooting for Bunny.  And then the abuse she witnessed in the past comes knocking once more, and she’s forced to take a stand, threatening to upend the one promise she made.

Within the first ten minutes of Hanna Bergholm’s sci-fi thriller The Hatching, you know that something is very wrong in this picture-perfect Finnish family.  Mother (Sophia Heikklia, a dead-ringer for Elisabeth Moss) is pushing daughter Tinja to be the best gymnast in the competition, even though Tinja obviously does not enjoy the sport, or the pressure.  Mother is also openly having an affair, with Father’s consent.  Mother fake smiles through hours of posted family videos.  Mother strangles animals who find their way into their home.  Mother and Father barely notice Tinja, so consumed in their own lives.  One night, Tinja finds a mysterious egg in the woods, swaddles it, and brings it home.  She mothers the egg, mothers the thing that hatches in her bed, and mothers the terrifying thing it evolves into.  Creepy doesn’t begin to describe the deliciousness.

Soon to be a deservedly big hit is The Phantom of the Open.  Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ilfans star in this film ostensibly about golf, but really about so much more.  Rylance portrays Maurice Flitcroft, a man who had big dreams when younger, but who has drifted into middle age without achieving any of them.  He does have a loving family, and wife Jean (Hawkins), always by his side, has chosen to support him to help him achieve his new dream: to play in the 1976 British Open. Flitcroft has never played golf.  But the chance of winning a huge pot, let alone the notoriety that comes with it, is too much for this character to resist.  The hijinks Flitcroft gets into on and off the course will have you chuckling, if not laughing out loud.  And who doesn’t like an underdog, especially when the story is true? The soundtrack is wonderful as well, filled with popular, AM radio hits from the 1970’s.      

Not so enjoyable: Wild Men.  A man obviously suffering a psychotic break commits a number of petty crimes and then crosses paths with drug runners in the Norwegian wilderness.  What could have been a pleasing farce quickly becomes messy and unwatchable.  When the best you can say is “nice scenery”, that’s saying quite a bit.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor for In Focus Magazine.  She's been a News Editor at NBC affiliate WESH2 in Orlando for more than a decade. She was formerly with WKMG6 for 14 years as a News Editor. She spent nine years in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite and MTV Networks. She also worked as an on-air host for local cable access programs. Lisa has covered the Florida Film Festival for the past 30 years as well as the World Peace Film Festival. She was a columnist for Lady Freethinker, and  She has been a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper and now for In Focus Magazine.  

Lisa Blanck can be reached at: [email protected] 

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