Spring has come and so has the 2009 Independent Film Festival of Boston

by Beacon Staff • April 22, 2009

After a long, wet winter, the people of Boston deserve some sunshine. But if you can afford to sacrifice some Vitamin D this weekend, chances are you won't regret it. The Independent Film Festival of Boston has finally arrived, screening dozens of feature length films, documentaries and short films that are premiering or have already made their rounds through the most prestigious of film festivals; from Sundance to Cannes. From April 23 through April 27, the IFFB will be showing movies at The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, The Somerville Theater, The Institute of Contemporary Art and the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline. Tickets range from 9 to 10 dollars. Rush tickets for each show are also available. You can get more information on ticket sales and calendar events online at iffboston.org.

biIn the Loop/i

Feature Film

April 24, Somerville Theater

9:30 p.m./b

Director Armando Iannucci brings his satire of British-U.S. international relations and governmental bureaucracy to Boston with iIn the Loop/i, a loose adaptation of his British television show iThe Thick of It/i.

Not only is it a British comedy full of hilariously witty and dry one-liners, it is also a commentary on the heated politics of war. Although the specific site of an impending conflict goes unnamed, the period of time covered by the film is the tense stretch right before the Iraq invasion. When Simon Foster, a British cabinet minister, declares in an interview with the BBC that he thinks war is "unforeseeable," Malcolm Tucker, the prime minister's war-happy right hand man, decides to use him as a pawn in a political game.

Simon, played by Tom Hollander, is sent to Washington, where he meets a US State Department official, Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy), and General Miller (James Gandolfini). The two, who are currently fighting their own battle with US hawks determined to start a fight with the Middle East, see a chance to build a partnership against war with Foster.

Foster refuses to take a side and decides to play both ends of the argument. Yes, it sounds confusing, but any film that references Bugsy Malone, Julie Andrews and Simon Cowell in one go is definitely worth a shot. b- Kate Andrews/b

biThe Missing Person/i

Feature Film

April 23, Somerville Theater

9:45 p.m./b

Fresh off his Academy Award nomination for his role as a troubled man in iRevolutionary Road/i, Michael Shannon has finally achieved leading man status in his next project: iThe Missing Person/i. Shannon is John Rosow, a private eye that spends more time drinking than doing work. However, one morning he is visited by Miss Charley, played by Amy Ryan (also an Oscar nominee for her portrayal of the mother of a kidnapped girl in iGone Baby Gone/i), the assistant of a big-time attorney. Miss Charley tells Rosow that her boss, Drexler Hewitt, wants to hire Rosow to tail a mysterious middle-aged man traveling from Chicago to the West Coast with a Mexican boy. Rosow takes the job but finds himself in over his head. He follows the duo to Santa Monica and is given his next task to bring the man back to New York. Although he would rather not return to the Big Apple, a place that holds bad memories for the reclusive Rosow, he agrees to continue for his fee of half a million dollars. Closely following some of the classic noir films of the past, iThe Missing Person/i goes to great lengths to blend suspense and character development into one powerful and moving concoction. b- KA/b

ibWorld's Greatest Dad/i

Feature Film

April 28, Coolidge Corner Theater

8:00 p.m./b

While teaching poetry to a group of unenthusiastic students, Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) has the unpleasant realization that he is a failed writer and an uninspiring teacher.

His son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is also unpleasant and underachieving in both his studies and in his relationship with his father. Lance sacrifices most of himself to give his son's future some hope, and finds not much comes of it.

Then Kyle dies in a freak masturbation accident. Lance, confused and ashamed, tries to protect his family by forging his son's suicide note, soon discovering that his son's death could advance his own career. Being the world's greatest dad, Lance jumps at the opportunity without looking back.

William's character in iWorld's Greatest Dad/i has remnants of his role in the dark comedy iDeath to Smoochy/i and the oddball film iOne Hour Photo/i. Both films, to varying degrees, showcased the creepy-crawly brilliance of an actor usually known for making shamelessly upbeat films (iPatch Adams/i, iWhat Dreams May Come/i). Let's hope iWorld's Greatest Dad/i brings the madness out of this Oscar winning actor. b- Terri Ciccone/b

biWe Live in Public/i

Documentary

April 24, Somerville Theater

9:45 p.m./b

"Years ago, lions and tigers were kings of the jungle, then one day they end up in zoos," said Josh Harris, the subject of director Ondi Timoner's chilling new documentary, in the film's trailer. "I suspect we're on the same track."

In the film, Harris's prediction about the future of our culture becomes a twisted sort of reality. He creates an experiment that proves much more real than iThe Real World/i, in which he puts a group of people under scrutinizing surveillance, revealing their most normal moments, as well as their most private. With cameras installed in places like refrigerators, toilets and bedrooms, the ordinary and the gruesome aspects of human life are exposed.

This is supposed to be a prediction of what will come of our Youtube, MySpace, and Facebook nation, and the effects of constant surveillance on the subjects turns ugly fast. Their world is turned upside down as their psyches spiral out of control from the pressure of being watched all of the time every single day of their lives. b- TC/b

bi500 Days of Summer/i

Feature Film

April 24, Somerville Theater

7:00 p.m./b

The film i500 Days of Summer/i has all the ingredients of a traditional romantic comedy: good looking individuals who are complete opposites thrown together in a work-place setting. And no, there aren't actually 500 days of summer, but rather this movie recounts the 500 days of Tom and Summer's topsy-turvy relationship in which boy falls in love with girl but girl doesn't believe in true love.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a greeting card copywriter and hopeless romantic who falls head over heels for the temp in his office, Summer, played by the quirky but charming Zooey Deschanel.

The film is directed by former music video director Marc Webb, who employs split screens and nonlinear time to examine the differences and difficulties of the apparently mismatched couple. But even with the cleverly written script and talented "it" actors, what makes this film so swoon-worthy is the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt dances and Zooey Deschanel sings-enough said. b-KA/b

ibSmall Collection/i

Short Film

April 24, Somerville Theater

9:00 p.m./b

Jeremiah Crowell's iSmall Collection/i proves that length is not required to make a moving and emotional film. The five-minute movie stings and resonates w

ith all that people have loved and lost.

A crumpled bed sheet, a long corridor, a park bench at dusk and the glimpse of the side of a woman's face are some of the images shown to us in the film. Crowell's contemplative piece shows a variety of metaphors that portrays a dream-like quality, as if his camera was a mind trying to pull something from a memory that faded long ago.

The images seem to tell a story, perhaps of a lost lover, friend or spouse that was ripped from the loveliness of a relationship far too soon. iSmall Collection/i seems to combine the art of photography and film, and though it is sad it has a comforting appeal that makes the viewer wish it went on longer.

In the end, iSmall Collection/i seems to be too small of a collection, and the viewer wishes to see the big collection and the rest of the story. b-TC/b