IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Indy International Film Fest favorites worth the weight

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

Working as an independent filmmaker must be something akin to being a Flying Wallenda. Like that famed wire-walking family, movie makers require a combination of balance, originality and tradition in order to satisfy audiences.

No surprise, then, that one of the better films on display at this year’s Indianapolis International Film Festival (July 19-29) is “The Show Must Go On,” a documentary about the Wallenda clan.
 

ae-showmustgoon-15col.jpg “The Show Must Go On” reveals the humanity behind the extraordinary. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis International Film Festival)

The Wallendas have been both masters of the high wire and the Kennedy family of circus life—with tragedies killing or paralyzing family members. But filmmaker Paula Froehle wisely doesn’t milk those tragic moments. Instead, she uses them to lay the groundwork for a more recent set of issues—specifically how the latest patriarch, Tino Wallenda-Zoppe, tries to deal with being one wire-walker short of the family’s signature seven-person pyramid. And how a newcomer’s weakness brings a crisis of confidence to Tino.

The move that pays the most dividends, however, is Froehle’s decision to have Tino wear a mic while up on the wire, turning a stunt that seems, from the ground, to be performed

with confidence into a nerve-wracking, second-by-second survival walk.

Those with extraordinary powers are also the subject of the documentary “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.” A timely look at the depiction—or lack thereof—of powerful women in comic book culture, it’s packed with historic tidbits (including the way even the iconic Wonder Woman was devalued and reduced in power post-World War II).

I’m thankful to say the filmmakers have the perspective and humor to appreciate the mixed messages of buxom, fetishized heroines becoming symbols of feminism. Of course, Lindsay “Bionic Woman” Wagner and Lynda “Wonder Woman” Carter make appearances.

Some films are stronger when seen in pairs. “Brothers on the Line” tells the story of the rise of the American labor movement through the stories of the Reuther brothers, who led the United Auto Workers. When a film is narrated by Martin Sheen, though, you shouldn’t go in looking for a multi-sided portrait. The fact that this one is directed by a grandson of one of the subjects is also worthy of note. Still, it’s a rare lesson about an important time in American history—one with strong ramifications today.

Another Detroit-focused doc, “Detropia,” tells of a more contemporary city in crisis. And while the filmmakers seem to have fallen in love with footage that should be trimmed, it provides a strong bookend to “Brothers on the Line.” The pair of documentaries is greater than the sum of the two parts.


ae-somebodyupthere-15col.jpg In a lesser film, Nick Offerman’s off-beat performance might stick out. But it fits perfectly in the one-of-a-kind comedy “Someone Up There Likes Me.” (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis International Film Festival)

After screening a few too many fiction films about people I had no interest in whose problems weren’t particularly interesting and didn’t resolve in satisfying ways, I was thrilled to find “Someone Up There Likes Me.”

Taking its main character on five-year leaps through his bumbling life—without ever aging the lead actor—Bob Byington’s film might seem at first like just another “Juno”-esque quirk-fest. But there is much more going on here. I can’t recall a film-fest flick I’ve seen in recent years that left me both this satisfied and with a strong desire to see it again almost immediately.

It’s certainly a plus that Byington has such a strong cast to carry out his loopy vision. Keith Poulson is dead-on as the hapless hero. Jess Weixler and Stephanie Hunt shine from their first screen moments as the women in his life. And Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” gives a performance that, in a just world, would achieve the cult status of John Goodman’s turn in “The Big Lebowski.”


ae-mainphoto-15col.jpg Kim Kold is ideal as the gentle giant in “Teddy Bear.” (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis International Film Festival)

I was also won over—for very different reasons—by the terribly titled “Teddy Bear.” I’m just happy the script wasn’t written 20 years ago and acquired by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Actually, the American movie its capsuled plot description most resembles is the John Candy vehicle “Only the Lonely,” which also focused on a big guy hiding his love life from his controlling mother. But “Teddy Bear” never goes for obvious laughs or cheap sentiment. It concerns a low-key bodybuilder who goes to Thailand with thoughts of finding a for-hire bride. The film takes a clear-eyed view of the sex trade in Thailand without ever being exploitative itself or losing track of its core, character-focused story.

While time will tell whether Kim Kold has acting chops beyond this tailor-made role, he’s ideal as the gentle giant. And Lamaiporn Hougaard is fresh and truthful as a woman he eventually meets.


ae-sidebyside-15col.jpg Keanu Reeves is the curious host choice for the documentary “Side by Side,” focusing on the film to digital transition. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis International Film Festival)

There’s pleasure, too, in “Tilt,” a romance between a small-scale Belgian criminal and a police officer’s daughter; “Late Summer,” a gentle film about the impending separation of a mother and daughter who are also best friends; and “Side by Side,” a look at the transition of film to digital as the standard format for moviemaking. Interesting questions abound in “Side by Side,” particularly for film buffs. What are we gaining in the phasing out of celluloid? What are we losing? And how did Keanu Reeves become the interviewer for a documentary on the subject?

Tradition at IBJ is for me to invite other news staffers here to screen some of the films I don’t have time to get to. This time, the only one with a strong recommendation came from intern Ellen Kobe, who found “The Woman in the Septic Tank” to be a “witty, sarcastic film depicting the stark contrast between the rich and the poor in a Filipino satire about three struggling indie filmmakers depicting slum life through a dull documentary, a soap opera-like drama and a musical. If you can keep up with the quick and difficult-to-read subtitles, you’re in for some big laughs.”

For showtimes and a full schedule, visit www.indyfilmfest.org.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

ADVERTISEMENT