The Phoenix Film Festival awarded the 2022 Copper Wing Awards as part of the closing night events for this year’s film festival.
Coming out films are often stories filled with struggle and pain. The writers and directors generally fill the hearts and minds of their audiences with some of the trauma that a person who’s in love with the same sex oftentimes goes through. This isn’t the case with ‘Lez Bomb.’ This is a comedic take on how Lauren, played by the writer/director herself, Jenna Laurenzo, marches up that hill with a family who simply won’t listen. She’s nervous. She’s scared. However, she also feels confident enough in their acceptance that she chooses Thanksgiving to tell them the big news. Maybe she figures the tryptophan will relax them enough. If that doesn’t work, there’s plenty of wine.
On Thanksgiving morning, before other arrivals, Lauren finds a moment alone with her mother, Rose (O’Connell), to tell her who she really is. Rose, playing a caring mother with naïve tendencies, doesn’t really give Rose any reason to fear telling her but she’s simply too busy to give her daughter any of her attention. She’s running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off. Very much like a television sitcom, this scene along with many others following, felt contrived. Lauren finds out that her parents have been looking at her social media accounts and have short-sightedly mistaken a friendship with her male roommate, Austin (Brandon Micheal Hall), as the relationship she’s trying to hide. They also believe she’s pregnant. Even though Lauren is an adult and they like Austin, this suddenly becomes a problem, one of which her father, George (Pollak), threatens Austin’s life unless he officially brings the relationship to light. As the movie continues, what is revealed isn’t what poor Lauren is trying so desperately to shed light on, but instead how insane her family is. They stumble over one another, refusing to hear the other and throughout the film, and sabotage what Lauren wants to accomplish.
There are funny moments; you’ll laugh and you can thank Bruce Dern, who plays Lauren’s grandpa, and Cloris Leachman, who plays Josephine, for a lot of that. However, for the most part, the comedy feels less instinctive than forced and strained rather than composed. In ‘Lez Bomb,’ we have a comedy but often a comedy of errors. A woman is desperately trying to come out to her parents and is stopped at every turn. She tries over and over to inform them that the friend she has with her means much more to her than they realize and as she quietly takes it, you want to be her voice. It’s frustrating to watch. I wanted to like it more but I thought the characters were weak and some of the situations they were put in too sophomoric to accept.
*Opens Friday, November 9 In Theatres and on VOD
In Phoenix at AMC Arizona Center 24
The film ‘Measure of a Man’ is an adaptation of the book ‘One Fat Summer’ by Robert Lipsyte. It’s directed by Jim Loach, whose father Ken Loach has been working in the film business for over fifty years. Seeing this movie makes me certain Jim will have the same kind of staying power. Jim had writer David Scearce write the screenplay and make some changes to it to create a more relatable world for him to work with. Doing this has made his twenty-second directing achievement a triumph. His casting choices also helped. Topping off a fabulous cast of young actors whom you may not know quite yet is Judy Greer, Luke Wilson and the crème de la crème, Donald Sutherland.
‘Measure of a Man’ is set in the 1970’s and is a story about an awkward teenager, Bobby Marks (Cooper), trying to fight bullies and his own lack of confidence to grow up and become a man. Depending on how one interprets that, what he wants to do is be helpful to those around him and be a good person but has so much anxiety, he can barely help himself. He’s overweight, uncomfortable in his own skin and outside of his mother (Greer) and sister Michelle (Liberato), is too nervous to talk to girls, save one, Joanie (Danielle Rose Russell), who he grew up knowing. He knows Joanie because his family gets together every year with hers after upstate travel for summer vacation brings them together for picnics, swimming and county fairs. The chubby kid certain that one day her acceptance of him over summer break will blossom into love.
However, this summer, things are different. A lot has changed. Bobby hasn’t changed but other things have and he’s even more uncomfortable. The people upstate have finally let the vacationers know what they think of their visitors, the locals are harsher and less tolerant of the mess they leave and find an easy target in Bobby to take it out on. Joanie frightens Bobby more than anything a thug could do to him. She has matured and is now taking off for a month and won’t explain to him why. Heartbroken, he gets a summer job helping Dr. Kahn (Sutherland) with his lawn and basic yard maintenance. It’s this relationship that becomes the turning point of the film. Kahn is a rich elite who you think is being severe but you come to realize, through his own experience, he’s guiding him into manhood. Kahn also accidentally stumbles onto a sort of friendship he wasn’t quite expecting.
The characters in the film are well thought out and the acting is convincing. Bobby and Michelle’s relationship as brother and sister is hateful yet compassionate and Cooper and Liberato’s performances are spot on. Loach is largely to thank for pulling performances out of his young cast that keep you both amused and captivated. When feeling for the poor youngster, you’ll also feel inflamed when he’s confronted with more than he can handle. I like the movie and believe you will, too. Jim Loach knows how to handle a story. This movie is potent and effective and one not to miss. Include ‘Measure of a Man’ in YOUR summer vacation films.
Everyone knows independent film is where it’s at these days. You can’t argue the facts. Their creators aren’t inhibited like filmmakers working on big budget films. They have all creative control over their art. If you want something unique, indie has the pickle for your palette.
Today, are you looking for an interesting indie film that can give you a good chuckle? If ‘yes’, then I have the perfect film for you to add to your list of must-sees. Odd Brodsky. It’s… odd… and that’s its charm.
It’s not impossible to believe that every single one of us has found ourselves in a situation where we feel a little out of place; a bit uncomfortable where we stand or who we are surrounded by at a given moment. Oftentimes we are facing a position that doesn’t give us the level of comfort we’d prefer to have and we’re troubled by that. Well, imagine this is the norm in your life; that this IS your life. Meet Audrey “Odd” Brodsky, the spirit for which filmmaker Cindy Baer introduces you to such an existence.
Odd Brodsky is a comedic story loosely inspired by some of Baer’s own journeys on this planet, and if you’re a filmmaker you’ll especially appreciate the whimsical musings of these familiar attempts at making it in the business.”
Aud… Odd is a woman who has made it her life’s work not to fit in and has accepted her fate… or has she? In what feels like a one hour and thirty-three minute SNL skit, Odd and her gang of friends are trying their best to make something of themselves.
Working in Hollywood and being an actress seems to not only be Odd’s passion but also the only thing with which she excels, ‘Acting makes me braver than I really am.’
Audrey’s friend Sammy is producing a play that gives writers Baer and Matthew Irving an opportunity to bring on the silly. For instance, when Sammy is looking for a particular actor to be on stage who is playing the part of God in her stage show Hell is Here, she shouts for him, and the way this whole scene plays out… I almost choked on my chips. It’s hysterical.
Now thinking maybe behind the scenes is best for her, Odd decides to produce a reality show. Again with the laughs… of using scenes to their fullest; labeling people such as Photolab guy and Camera One. It’s great! Odd moves from building to building and as she moves back and forth, painted on the wall, literally on the wall, are the paths she’s choosing. The symbolism is great fun. Very clever.
Tegan Ashton Cohan is so wonderful as Audrey, and with her, Camera One, is perfectly cast. Matthew Kevin Anderson shows the perfect emotion for what he’s going through and the feelings he’s starting to have for Odd. Grand kudos goes to Baer for handling the role of Sammy and keeping her fellow actors in mind at the same time. She handled this set well and it is abundantly clear that she has the product to prove she… made it.
Warning to you, however. You’ll want to find Cindy Baer and give her a big hug after watching this movie, because not only did she entertain you, but you can’t help but wonder how much of this is reality and how much pressure had she truly felt deep down growing up? Did her family support her? Well, if they didn’t, she proves them wrong with this winning film. Not only that, she makes fun of it so you know that if the pain was there… it certainly isn’t now.
Impressive job, Cindy Baer! Genuinely delightful film. I cannot wait to see what you, even Audrey, has in store for us next… until then, may I borrow Camera One?
Here are VOD links for you to watch Odd Brodsky!