SARASOTA (WWSB) - The Sarasota Film Festival has been screening nonstop for film fans across the Suncoast, so let’s take a look at a few of the films our Suncoast View Movie Guy, Matthew Liddell, has seen!
MIKE WALLACE IS HERE
Kicking off this year’s fest was Mike Wallace is Here, a new documentary focused on the 60 Minutes journalist and how he shifted the entire television news game. What’s unique for this documentary is that all of Wallace’s life is told in his own words, through interviews prior to his death in 2012.
At first, that decision feels a little devoid of emotion, violently whipping the viewer from one period of time to another. Once the audience falls into its groove, though, the flow begins to take form. After Wallace finishes one answer, the next shot may find him 20 years later with no warning, being asked a follow-up question strikingly similar to what came before. All of these edits bring together a story not limited by time or scope, and able to cover a surprising amount ground.
The film also does a great of job contextualizing Wallace’s impact on today’s climate, and it’s far from a positive outlook. Viewers interested in an in-depth look at Wallace may not find quite what they’re looking for, but what’s here is a swift, calculated experience that never lets up.
A BREAD FACTORY: PARTS 1 & 2
This two-part, collectively four-hour-long epic comes from writer/director Patrick Wang, as he shows us the inner workings of an art collective and their struggle to repel gentrification in their hometown. Tyne Daly and Elisabeth Henry-Macari star as two of The Bread Factory’s operators, struggling to find a modern audience to embrace the art they showcase, as the rest world seems to be either in art for the wrong reasons, or content to let art pass them by.
Some of the jabs at the townsfolk still sleepwalking through life devoid of that creative energy can feel a bit obvious (i.e. selfie sticks, youth glued to their smartphones), but at least tries to verbalize an ultimately altruistic message. Saying you are not a writer, not an actor, not a journalist is often the first step in actually becoming these things, and it can just be another piece of you, not your whole identity.
The heavy length of this two-parter wore on me at times, and it’s execution sometimes questionable, but the themes certainly resonate. The only hurdle is that for the audiences who actually dive into A Bread Factory, it may be preaching to the choir.
THE COLD BLUE
Not unlike last year’s Peter Jackson WWI documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, here we have a movie that is almost entirely comprised of archival footage, spruced up by modern tech. The footage is unused shots and scenes from the documentary The Memphis Belle, and still follows B-17 pilots in the European Theatre of WWII.
Similar to Jackson’s film, its narrative framework is built of audio recordings with veterans to make a more general story of life in battle, but the result here is very different. Instead of an image so pristine that it nearly becomes painterly, the visuals here are unequivocally “film.” Scratches, edges of the film reel, even cinematographers stumbling around to get their shot are all present here, and give it an almost perilous quality.
While not entirely fresh, it is another great showcase of film preservation, for both the medium’s power and its flaws.