Times Colonist movie writer Michael D. Reid is covering the Victoria Film Festival, which continues until Feb. 12. Ratings are out of five stars. Go to timescolonist.com/entertainment/film-festival for updates.
Don’t Blink: Robert Frank
When: Today, 4 p.m., Feb. 7, 6:15 p.m.
Rating: Two stars
In an apparent attempt to reflect the edgy spontaneity and improvisational, rough-hewn style of her title character, Laura Israel has crafted an intriguing, messy and off-putting portrait of the influential American photographer and experimental filmmaker Robert Frank, best known for The Americans, a 1958 collection of images capturing everyday experiences on the road.
Israel’s busy, unconventional and selective biographical portrait does capture the spirit of her Swiss-born mentor, now in his 90s. She intercuts images taken by her subject with archival footage of colleagues, such as Beat generation icons Alan Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac, and snippets from Frank’s unreleased 1972 Rolling Stones tour film Cocksucker Blues. While Israel effectively incorporates present-day input from the creative pioneer, his wife June Leaf and other collaborators, her jumpy, rapid-fire tribute will soon wear thin for all but the avant-gardist’s most ardent admirers.
The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
Where: Star Cinema/Vic Theatre
When: Tonight, 7 p.m./Feb. 7, 4 p.m.
Rating: Four stars
If you’re a musical-theatre geek who once listened endlessly to Stephen Sondheim showtunes while gazing at framed playbills on your bedroom wall, this is the movie for you.
You’ll likely forgive the rough edges in Lonny Price’s affectionate flashback to Merrily We Roll Along, the unconventional 1981 musical that closed after 16 performances despite the creative genius of dream duo Sondheim and director Hal Prince, his longtime collaborator.
While this fabulous flop has since become a cult hit, its failure was a cautionary tale about how tough it is to create a Broadway smash. What this documentary from one of its original co-stars, theatre director Lonny Price, lacks in technical sophistication, it makes up in affection and nostalgic appeal.
Price effectively combines fascinating footage from an abandoned documentary about the beloved musical, time-released footage of musical highlights, input from theatrical titans such as former New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich — who is surprisingly mournful — and witty and bittersweet recollections from this beloved musical’s colourful original cast then and now, notably Jason Alexander. Alexander made his Broadway debut in Merrily We Roll Along before Seinfeld made him a star. Who knew George Costanza could sing and dance?
Where: Vic Theatre
When: Tonight, 9 p.m.
Rating: Three stars
Style consistently trumps substance in Italian writer-director Edoardo de Angelis’s intriguing, empathetic and surreal portrait of twin musical sisters who are literally joined at the hip.
They are exploited by their father, who views them as his meal ticket and gambles away proceeds from their freakish novelty act at weddings, christenings and first communion celebrations.
Yet the duo’s natural bond and endearing spirit infuses this fable with warmth and hope.
Real-life twins Angela and Marianna Fontana deliver nuanced performances and are physically convincing as the conjoined teenaged twins, whose differing outlooks on life gradually upstage their carefully calibrated inter-dependence, and whose bizarre physical union turns out to be far less grotesque than many characters in their orbit.
What this stylized diversion lacks in narrative depth and originality, it makes up with a dreamlike glow, courtesy of Ferran Rubio’s stellar camerawork, and some colourful sequences that recall a Fellini movie.