17 Days of FLIFF 2019

Posted on 21 November 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

An epic tale can be told in 17 days. That is the major lesson that was learned in the 2 ½ weeks of the 34th Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), which featured a strong beginning, middle and a grand finale.  There were heroes and villains, featuring close calls and thrilling escapes. There was also an acknowledgement that regardless of race, color or creed, there is a community of individuals who love stories told on the big screen.

Winner of the best ensemble award,Working Man, is a film that symbolizes the themes of FLIFF 2019. Ten years in preparation, Robert Jury molded his script into a 1 hour and 49 minute drama that touches upon all the elements of Aristotelian drama: sadness, penance, comedy and redemption. Yet, for all of the academic touch points, Working Man is a contemporary movie that taps into modern sensibilities. The production values of this film reflect upon a little independent film that costar Talia Shire was involved in 43 years ago — Rocky.

Forty-three years ago, the biggest star on the set of Rocky was Burgess Meredith, an actor who was known to one generation as Batman’s nemesis “The Penguin,” to another generation he was “George” to Lon Chaney Jr.’s “Lennie” in John Steinbeck’s adaption Of Mice and Men.  The production values of Rocky were far more depressed than the previous mentioned Burgess Meredith productions. In fact, the actor’s dressing room was a shared van on the streets of Philadelphia.

Instead of missing the glory of salad days gone by, Talia Shire saw him (in his Long Johns, in the dressing room) proclaiming, “Isn’t this great?” Meredith garnered an Oscar nomination for Rocky and steady work in the industry for another 30 years. This is a lesson that the then 29 year-old Talia Shire embraced.

Being trained in theater with the gravitas that “the show must go on,” Shire flew into Ft. Lauderdale on a red eye jet, later than expected, despite an injured index finger and waves of throbbing pain. She would have made Burgess Meredith proud. 

Shire provided expert analysis of Working Man (Videos will be downloaded on my blog — https://cinemadave.livejournal.com this weekend.)  She was generous with the press, signing autographs and posing with fans for photographs.  Shire is a movie star, but she prefers to be known as a character actress.

As an Italian child from Long Island, the film From the Vine helped me recapture moments of my youth.  Starring Joe Pantoliano in a rare leading role, this filmis the story of an overworked executive who discovers the bucolic joy of making wine. 

In 17 days, the climate changed from tropic heat to November chill.  As a double feature, Working Man and From the Vine were great Sunday afternoon matinee fun.

FLIFF 2019 has closed. Many of the backstage angels and class acts are limping home from a job well done.  In fact, 17 days is a great benchmark in the motion picture industry. For Working Man and Rocky were filmed within a similar time period.   Hmm … Cinema Dave has an idea for a film project in 2020 Anno Domini …

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