The 10th Las Vegas Film Festival kicks off on Tuesday, June 6 with “Lemon,” which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
In Lemon, Isaac Lachmann has seen better days. His acting career is tanking, while his colleagues succeed; his blind girlfriend of 10 years plans to leave him; and his own family singles him out as a constant disappointment at their latest reunion. Even as he takes a chance on new romance, Isaac struggles to define his place in a world that has seemingly turned against him. Director Janicza Bravo’s (the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Award winner for “Gregory Go Boom”) description-defying debut feature promises to delight and unsettle audiences in equal measure with its unique brand of discomforting humor. Bravo unflinchingly strips down her stellar lead and co-writer, Brett Gelman, to appalling levels of vulnerability, emphasized by idiosyncratic supporting turns from Michael Cera, Judy Greer, Nia Long, Martin Starr and Gillian Jacobs. Bursting with meticulous unease and loving contempt, Bravo questions what it means to truly unravel.
Closing out the Festival on Sunday, June 11 is another Sundance Film Festival 2017 premiere, “Landline,” starting Jenny Slate, John Turturro, Edie Falco, Abby Quinn, Jay Duplass and Finn Wittrock. The Manhattan of 1995: a land without cell phones, but abundant in CD listening stations, bar smoke, and family dysfunction. Enter the Jacobs. Eldest daughter Dana’s looming marriage to straight-laced Ben prompts a willful dive into her wild side, while her younger sister, Ali, is still in high school but leads a covert life of sex, drugs, and clubbing. After discovering love letters penned by their father, the sisters try to expose his apparent affair while keeping it from their all-too-composed mother. Director Gillian Robespierre’s follow-up to “Obvious Child” reprises her talent for subversive comedy and explores how family bonds grow sturdier through lying, cheating, and strife. Compelled by the emotional snarl of people’s poor choices, “Landline” relishes in the dark humor of life’s low points while basking in ’90s nostalgia. An honest, observant portrait of sibling rivalry stumbling awkwardly toward friendship, and of children realizing that parents are people too, there’s no attempt at concealing the indulgences and insecurities of its characters—all of which make them endearing and human.
Additional special screenings include:
Person to Person (part of CINEVEGAS PRESENTS AT LVFF)
Friday, June 9 at 8 p.m.
Director: Dustin Guy Defa
During a single day in New York City, a variety of characters grapple with the mundane, the unexpected, and the larger questions permeating their lives. An investigative reporter struggles with her first day on the job, despite help from her misguided boss; a rebellious teen attempts to balance her feminist ideals with other desires; and a young man seeks to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend, even as her brother threatens revenge. Meanwhile, an avid music lover traverses the city in search of a rare record for his vinyl collection. Director Dustin Guy Defa’s hotly-anticipated second feature (his first, “Bad Fever,” was named one of the best films of 2012 by The New Yorker), is a playful ode to the analog, the unassuming, and to New York itself. Shot entirely in 16mm, “Person to Person” effortlessly humanizes its characters, invoking an earnest realism in the performances of its ensemble cast: Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson, Tavi Gevinson, Philip Baker Hall, George Sample III, and Bene Coopersmith.
Are You Really My Friend? The Movie
Saturday, June 10 at 2 p.m.
Director: Robin Greenspun
In 2011, photographer Tanja Hollander decided to visit each one of her Facebook “friends” (all 626 of them) in their homes and make formal portraits of each of them. Armed with her cameras and iPhone, Tanja traveled throughout the U.S. and around the world for 5 years, meticulously documenting her experiences in real time and creating a historical narrative, both visual and written, along the way. Her project is an exploration of friendships, the effects of social networks, the intimate places we call home and the communities in which we live. “Are You Really My Friend? The Movie” is part of Tanja Hollander’s current exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art which documents her entire project through photographs, portraits and ephemera The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Robin Greenspun and Tanja Hollander.
Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m.
Directors: Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom
The festival will also feature a special screening of the HBO documentary, “Bright Lights,” starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The story of a family’s complicated love, this hilarious and heart-rending film is an intimate portrait of a unique mother/daughter relationship and Hollywood royalty in all its eccentricity. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Todd Fisher.