While weary from an intense three-week festival of screenings, red carpets and special events, the volunteers, staff and journalists closed the 30th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF30) on a triumphant note at The Ritz Carlton Hotel on A1A in Fort Lauderdale. Given the theme of history emphasized by George Hamilton’s return appearance to FLiFF, it was appropriate to end the festival near the beach where Where the Boys Are was filmed 55 years ago, which Hamilton was in.
FLiFF was only three years old when bassist Jaco Pastorious was beaten to death by a bouncer in a Wilton Manor’s bar. Much like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, [blues singer] Robert Johnson and Amy Winehouse, Jaco’s talent was not truly appreciated until his demise. To acknowledge his life, Cinema Paradiso will present an encore screening of the documentary Jaco this Thanksgiving weekend. Check Jaco out on the big screen with a nuanced sound system; you will enjoy seeing home movies of the Pastorius Family frolicking on Deerfield Beach during the 1970s.
Direct from Italy with English subtitles, The Wonders opens tomorrow. It is a bucolic film about a family of beekeepers in Tuscany. Despite living in a heavenly countryside, the parents struggle to live the simple life as their children become distracted by appearing on a reality television show. With gorgeous cinematography and Italian neoclassic realism, The Wonders is a quiet alternative to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Creed.
In my 16 years of writing a film column for Thanksgiving, this year’s current news headlines make it difficult to find things to be grateful for. Yet, one can find peace in history. During the bloodiest days of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving,” and the United States of America has been celebrating this holiday for 152 years, now THAT is something to feel grateful for. (See more about Thanksgiving history on pg. 6).