NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 RECAP REVIEWS

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Thrilled, honoured and excited to be able to cover Nashville Film Festival in it’s 52nd year, which ran from September 30 – October 6 and had some lovely films, sadly a few I didn’t get to, some weren’t available virtually, and a few I might be hesitant to recommend. I always find a gem or two though!

That all being said – this was my first time covering this lovely festival in the vibrant city of Nashville – although yes, I did it virtually – though at times I felt I could taste the great food, and feel the vibrancy of the city itself while watching!  While I’ve had some great films to choose from, I am only human and can only review so much – and I will not be doing my usual ‘grading’ system as honestly, while some of these Independent Films might be better than others, they ALL deserve respect for just getting themselves made and created jobs for those doing so. Giving someone 200 million dollars for a film deserves getting rated, giving someone who made a film on a shoestring budget while barely making rent/bills, just out of the sheer love of wanting to put in their heart and soul – just deserves accolades period. And with that being said… here we go!

PORCUPINE

In this drama from writer/director M. Cahill, we find Audrey (Jena Malone), a seemingly hard working young woman that is just getting fired from her collection agency job. She is also overdue on rent, had her electricity cut off, doesn’t have any friends, and to top it off, a boyfriend who tells her he’s ‘not coming over anymore’. While she doesn’t seem like a screw up, she has lived in 4 different places and had 7 jobs all in a short time period. We aren’t really sure why she doesn’t talk to her parents anymore, but it’s clear this is mutual decision is mostly because as we can see she beats to the sound of her own drum, something we can clearly tell through the one phone call we hear. Basically she went left when they wanted her to go right.

And Audrey does what many end up doing everyday to keep themselves occupied, she watches endless YouTube videos. On one of them she sees an ad for adult adoption and decides to look into it, eventually being matched up with Sunny (Emily Kuroda) and her gruff German husband Otto (Robert Hunger-Bühler) who have their own odd relationship issues already. While the relationship with the three is tentative at first, they do end up warming up to each other.  The way Cahill wrote this story – which is based on a true one – makes it relatable on so many levels and what Malone brings to the character of Audrey makes it feel even more personal.

THE MURDER PODCAST

This decently fun, very campy little horror indie directed by William Bagely is about two guys, Chad (Andrew McDermott), and Eddie (Cooper Bucha), who are wanting to become amateur podcasters. Crazily enough a murder happens in their small hometown and they start investigating it, clearly very badly, and of course become wrapped up in a full on terrifying adventure full of paranormal activity while people keep getting killed. Upon the investigation, we find out this has all happened before.

This movie falls off the rails in parts, but has it’s comical and gory moments and generally, it’s a pretty good watch considering what month we are in.

GREEN SEA

As noted, I always find a few gems and ‘Green Sea’ was just that for me. Set in a small Greek fishing village, we find Anna (Angeliki Papoulia), who has lost her memory completely and finds herself working in a small tavern ran by Roula (Yannis Tsortekis). It seems that Roula has gone through quite a few terrible cooks, and the regulars think it will be more of the same with Anna. But to everyone’s surprise, including her own, she is a fantastic cook and her meals become experiences that bring memories flooding back of lives lived to each of the regulars, making a bond between herself and them become close. Roula and a few of the wives of these men, aren’t liking it much and while she has flashes here and there of memories, and once the wives see Anna and taste the food, things are better.

There is a lot of story in here and it digs deep into each character lives and most especially Roula’s, which as we find out is not always so pleasant. When Anna has a memory flash and it leads her to a book Roula was reading, is where the complete picture of all her amnesia comes into frame. To give this away would be depriving you of not only a great performance by Papoulia, but an excellent ending to this seaside tale – one that I would highly recommend you take the time to see if possible.

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All virtual screenings courtesy of Nashville Film Festival and their affiliates

KATE NASH: UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL (2020)

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Remember MySpace? yeah, it barely registers on what it was anymore – yet that is where the world found Kate Nash or more to the point – where she found the world back in 2008. From this she essentially became what is commonly referred to as a ‘one-hit’ wonder – and all of it because of a broken leg suffered while working at Nando’s, a fantastically delicious chicken restaurant chain not known in the States.

More recently others may know her as Rhonda Richardson, AKA Britannica, on the critically acclaimed Netflix series GLOW. As someone familiar with the latter version of Kate Nash, I didn’t have a clue of the story behind the actress, which makes the viewing experience all the more compelling. Like her character Rhonda, Nash has battled her way out of dire circumstances on more than one occasion, and has found herself at the center of something extraordinary, both in the music industry and on the screen.

Essentially this is her side of the story of how to be a one hit wonder and survive it. This is a documentary about surviving the pop industry after you have been dropped by the record label and savaged by critics, trying to kick-start your music career back into gear by playing to small venues paying it all herself from her savings, which doesn’t go well. Something learned those in the music industry a long time ago is, you don’t make money from touring, the money is made in the merchandise – but we aren’t shown any of that here. We are shown how she gets a major big boost by her new manager who has supposedly has ‘big plans’ for her, that really don’t seem to pan out as we see an awkward little show during lunch hour at a PR company of sorts. And then somewhere along the line, we also find out that same manager has been using Kate’s credit card to fund his own wedding. But hold on for a hot minute as has he really been appearing in the filming of a documentary about his artist all the while he was scamming her? What was he thinking?

Well we find out as we see Kate not only be completely devastated by this revelation, but also takes legal action against him and would have gotten a settlement from him had his lawyers not wanted her to sign a non-disclosure agreement. And while the outcome of all this is of course a sweet story, there is something about this documentary that just misses it’s mark a little. Whether it’s the part where she decides she wants to be a singer and actress, without any acting training/skills etc.. or where we never really see any of her actual life. While we see family, we really never see friends or boyfriends, or ever know is she is getting support from people in her life besides just her band & family. So it misses the mark there with me not only there but the Nando’s comment at the beginning almost lost me for good right there and then. As someone who has worked the food service industry for many years, it was truly a put-down of spoiled brat pisser comment to me.  There are many, many people who are having to work in the fast food industry and they don’t all have parents to be buy them electric guitars, or the like so note to Kate, be a bit more appreciative of people who didn’t get ‘discovered’ on MySpace, and serve a big purpose in everyone’s lives as we have come to realize, at least I hope you have now.

I think Kate Nash wanted this whole story to fit her narrative about a plucky British girl that fought against the odds to come back. Down to her last penny and got a role in a Netflix show, and viola’! life is good.  In that way it does succeed, unless you look at it deeply, and then it might raise more questions about it being a little bit of fluff. Either way you look at it, it is worth a watch.

Grade: C+

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Media Review Screening ~ Courtesy of K.O. PR

KATE NASH: UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL IS AVAILABLE ON ALAMO ON DEMAND

INSTA-REVIEW: “ARCTIC” (2019) ARMORY FILMS

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Saw #Arctic today with MadsMikkleson as Overgård – a man who is stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash. We never see his plane crash, only that he is there and has been for some time based on his daily routine. Finally, as he is on the verge of rescue, that helicopter crashes with one survivor, a young woman pilot.

From that point on we watch as Overgård has to make the decision to leave the safety of his camp and plane to embark on a deadly trek through the unknowns of the Artic world, with only the remotest of hope of making it out alive. If any of you remember RobertRedfords’ amazing turn as a person who’s did the solo survivor role in All is Lost – this one is comparable except think snow/ice/freezing cold. I enjoyed it as I never got bored even though there is probably less than 30 spoken words in the whole film. Mads seems to love doing movies in the cold snow and they do him well back as this film is entirely on him and he holds his own.

Grade: B
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“ARCTIC” IS IN LIMITED RELEASE IN THE US – LOOK FOR WORLDWIDE RELEASE IN THE COMING MONTHS