Continuing my screening of films of the LA Film Fest

Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)


Music producer Quincy Jones, actress Rashida Jones and actor Andy Samberg attend the after party for ‘Celeste And Jesse Forever’ at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival held at Luxe Hotel on June 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

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Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samburg) seem to be the perfect couple. They love each other and they have funny, little routines they play out with each other, just like two best friends. There is only one problem – they are separated and are just a few months away from getting a divorce. Their friends think they need to move on, but Celeste and Jesse are reluctant to end their relationship that started when they were kids. Jones co-wrote the screenplay with fellow actor, Will McCormack, who plays one of their friends, and the film mainly emphasizes Celeste’s side of the story. Jones played the part of Celeste with great aplomb, but I found Samburg lacking a bit, as an actor playing Jesse’s character. He does okay when the script asks him to be the funnyman, but when Samburg has to play the serious role, he is just not up to the part. While I felt, at times, the film went for the easy laugh or the cliché, the film is worth seeing for the winning performance of Jones, someone I want to see more of in films. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Celeste and Jesse Forever IMDB page

Dead Man’s Burden (2012)

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Set in New Mexico right after the Civil War, Wade (Barlow Jacobs) returns home to find that his family has been decimated by the war. His brothers and parents are dead, and only his sister (Clare Bowen) is left to run the family farm with her husband (David Call). Wade discovers that things are not quite right, as his sister wants to sell the farm to a shady mining company, and his father may have not died falling from a horse. He may have been murdered. This is a highly enjoyable western with beautiful cinematography and strong acting, especially from Jacobs and Bowen.  It makes it a film you know won’t end well for the characters but could be an excellent experience for the viewer. My Rating: Full Price Dead Man’s Burden IMDB page

The Last Elvis (2012)

This drama, from Argentina, is about Carlos, an Elvis impersonator, who performs at small nightclubs and weddings. He has a wife and daughter whom he neglects, a job at a factory that he hates and an apartment that is little more than a room with a bed. Carlos has put his whole life into impersonating Elvis, listening or watching non-stop performances by Elvis and he lives for being on-stage in front of an audience. He is so wrapped up in impersonating Elvis that, at times, he believes he is the 50’s icon. This is a fascinating character study.  John McInerny is perfect as the man who sings and acts like the rock star. And, even better, the man can sing like Elvis! Rating: Full Price The Last Elvis IMDB page

Juan of the Dead (2012)

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This horror/comedy is from Cuba and is about a group of friends in Havana who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas) and his friends are just trying to survive. Life is already difficult, but it becomes harder when your neighbor is turned into a zombie and wants to eat your brains. This film is mostly a comedy.   There are very few parts of it that are scary, but it’s a blast to watch. Juan and his friends, having lived in the harsh conditions of the Cuban life, just accept the fact that attacking zombies are just another aspect of living in Havana. Juan even figures out a way to make some money from the situation and opens up a zombie killing business. If you liked Evil Dead or Shaun of the Dead, you will love this film. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Juan of the Dead IMDB page