Highlighting film festivals in this column is a joy. These events help to defy the current state of film culture as passive, isolated and inactive. Yes, you spend plenty of time at film festivals sitting by yourself in the dark, but the edges are active and social.
The FLY Festival, Aug. 9-11 in Enid, pushes the active elements of film festivals to the forefront … with a fun twist. One of the main components of the festival is a series of workshops, for adults and kids, on filmmaking. These workshops occur before the movies start to run, but the films produced at the teens’ camp debut at the festival. This direct connection between production and distribution should reinforce the power of the audience for these young filmmakers, and help introduce the audience to a rising generation of Oklahoma talent.
If you’re around my age – one of those much-discussed millennials – you may have acquired a taste for intentionally watching bad films. I fancy myself something of a connoisseur of film dreck, and one of the most famous, and still oddest, bad films of all time is getting a collector’s edition DVD release from Shout! Factory this month. Mac and Me looks, on the surface, like an unscrupulous knock off of E.T., which it absolutely is. But it’s much more – a Pandora’s box of awful that keeps offering treasures to behold. The film ratchets up the product placement of E.T. by making Coca-Cola a lifesaver for its alien creature, and it sets an indescribably bizarre dance sequence inside a McDonald’s. And that’s still not the most inexplicable moment in the film; that honor belongs to an infamous scene where a wheelchair-bound child falls off a cliff. To the uninitiated, Mac and Me might appear baffling, but, to those who cannot resist the allure of cinematic trash, there’s a whole landfill to savor here.
Unlikely double-features are the purpose of this section – anything to get people out to watch films in theaters. This month’s pairing is a Disney film set in jolly old England with a work from one of America’s most vital indie filmmakers.
Christopher Robin tackles the beloved Pooh stories of A.A. Milne. Imagining a world where the title character has grown up and left his stuffed animals behind, the film looks to capture the bittersweet tone of the final Pooh stories, and the DIY aesthetic makes the CGI seem bear-able (so to speak).
Adults may enjoy Christopher Robin, but they should keep their kids away from Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, the true story of a black cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Lee’s films are always divisive, with difficult subject matter and wild tonal swings, but I tend to love them, and BlacKkKlansman looks like a perfect story for his strengths as a filmmaker.