Most people who attend this year's San Diego Film Festival will need to wait for the lights to go down before they see this year's lineup. Me, I'm lucky. I watched almost 50 of this year's films long before opening night. There are some big names and titles, like the opening-night film, Like Dandelion Dust, with Barry Pepper and Mira Sorvino, and the Clive Owen flick The Boys Are Back, and the world premiere of Repo, starring Kevin Smith irregular Jason Mewes. But those flicks are going to get some buzz on their own. There are some pictures you might not have considered checking out, so I checked them out for you. Of course, there are plenty of others you should take a look at—like the shorts Marooned and Nowhere Kids and the documentaries Neshoba and Her Name is Steve. But don't miss these. After all, they're CityBeat approved.
I'm Not Matt Damon
What's a guy to do when his career is Jason Bourne'd by the fact that he looks like one of the most famous movie stars in the world? If you're Jim Rothman, an L.A.-based actor, you write, direct and star in a film that's all about—well, not being Matt Damon. Rothman plays Paul, a struggling actor working for a messenger service who's given a shot at a job if he can deliver a package to a producer under an impossible deadline. Yeah, he's spoofing himself, but he's so self-deprecating about the whole thing that it's impossible not to root for him. And just when you think I'm Not Matt Damon is merely a comedy, you see just how real and frustrating Rothman's real-life situation is. It's well-written, well-directed and well-acted—and ultimately tragically funny. I'm Not Matt Damon is part of the Twist Short Film Series and screens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Rothman will be in attendance.
How many arm-wrestling movies can you name? Sylvester Stallone's 1987 flick Over the Top, right? That movie fueled the competitive arm-wrestling industries in almost every country except this one, leading to this fascinating documentary about the legendary competitor John Brzenk. Skeptical? Get this—for more than 25 years after he won his first championship, Brzenk—an airline mechanic from Salt Lake City—was the world's undisputed arm-wrestling champion. He held every single title. That's Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods all wrapped up in a sport you know nothing about. Sevan Matossian and Bessie Morris' film is a look at a massive subculture made up of massive men, but it's Brzenk who keeps your attention. He's humble and respectful of the much bigger men he defeats, and the way his competitors talk about him—from the brash, upstart American to the oddly philosophical Russian—makes you realize that you're learning about a man who is much more than a contender. Pushing John screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Brzenk will be in attendance.
Adventures of Power
No, his mind is not for rent, and there's no way you could put Power down as arrogant. Ari Gold wrote, directed and stars in this comedy that feels like a cross between This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show and Napoleon Dynamite. He plays Power, a simple-minded, cereal-eating factory worker in New Mexico who lives to play drums. But there are hitches—he can't play, and his dad, a union leader played by Michael McKean, never bought him a kit. He's woefully misunderstood because of the way he dresses and his propensity to play air drums anytime, anywhere. Ridiculous? Sure. But the movie has an infectious sense of heart that's hard to avoid. So, when he ends up in New York City, (not) wailing away for the Air Drum Championship against Dallas Houston (Adrian Grenier of Entourage), a slick, country-music superstar, you'll understand why all the rough, tough union guys back home want to see him win. Watch for this one to become a staple on the midnight-movie circuit. Adventures of Power screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, and at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.
When Paul Osborne and Scott Storm finished up their independent thriller Ten 'til Noon, they immediately submitted it to all the big film festivals: Sundance. SXSW. Cannes. And, yes, they were rejected by every one, leading Osborne to create this documentary, all about the film-festival circuit. Osborne gives you the lowdown about the petty politics, the industry influence and the exorbitant costs, both financial and emotional, of applying to multiple film festivals and, more often than not, getting turned down. The adventures of actually getting in and getting your movie shown are equally as harrowing—some festivals treat filmmakers like kings and queens while others treat them like lepers and some just use struggling artists as leverage against other festivals. It's all bolstered by interviews with Bryan Singer, festival guru Chris Gore, indie maven Lloyd Kaufman and the man who owes his house to film festivals, Kevin Smith. If you're a regular festival-goer, this one is a must. Official Rejection screens at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.
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