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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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HONEY BOY Will Mess You UP, But FORD V FERRARI Is a Great Chaser at FF919

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

You know it’s a great film festival when you lose track of the calendar count on your daily coverage, meaning today is Day Three, hopefully? Blame Shia LaBeouf’s autobiography-coaster HONEY BOY.

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Film Fest 919 in Chapel Hill, NC, is showing Shia’s written testament to a Hollywood Childhood on the same bill wit Matt Damon and Christian Bale in FORD V FERRARI, thankfully, because the way HONEY seeps into your soul (especially if you are a parent), you’ll need to get your spark plugs burning clean again with a mantastic car movie.

But the spectrum of male emotion across these two films is a whipsaw.

Daniel Matti from superblog Blurt Magazine is kind enough to depict this striking contrast of macho and hipster against a Hendrick-donated Porsche on display outside the SilverSpot.Mattiblurt Both movies in question share the bill with some other hand-curated shot-to-the-heart through the eyes (can you say that?) films.

And you know these films are affecting real people, because here are Caleb Clarke and Kri Schaefer taking a fest lunch break.

Clarke is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, and was not paid to say this, lol, in other words - a real person, who even volunteered last year.

He got “to be a part of FilmFest 919 as a volunteer, and had the incredible experience of seeing ROMA while the two leading actors were present at the screening.” That’s quite a launch memory, and this year he paid for a ticket because?

“It’s exciting to a lot of the big films ahead of awards season." Kir Schaefer texts me a selfie of them (as requested), even though they are too cool for this kind of thing but figure the fest is worth it. CalebnKriFF919 Kri tags it #FF919, slinging the official hashtag like a pro.

And they are like, Lindsey Dunn, who has a dream job at Novelist but took time off to be here for the run of the fest. Dunn will be locked out of her car with a flat tire at 2 am, but right now she’s headed for the adult male synchronized pool-related film SINK OR SWIM.

She keeps track of the 919 schedule like a veteran, even though this is her first buying a VIP pass for the festival.

Dunn loves movies; FF919 is the perfect place for her level of intelligence and commitment to film, and she has blog.

Even later at 2 am in the parking lot when Roadside assistance is canceled, and two guys named Matthew and Jodi go the extra mile to change her CRV tire, Lindsey Dunn says “what are you guys seeing tomorrow?” Jodi just saw GEMINI MAN, and Matthew was blown away by PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, says he will even give her a ride back in the morning if she wants to leave her car.

These are chemistry-of-the-moment scenes that result from a moving, stand-out slate of films. FF919 CEO Randi Emerman said it almost like a warning on Opening Day: “we want you to see all of these films.” ClaireClaudia

Programmer Claudia Puig (shown here on the red carpet with willowy festival greeter Claire) mentioned that “every one of these films is in here for a reason.”

Which leads us to barn-burner from France, and apparently not even their Official Oscar Entry, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE.

You can not believe what this film does in glances and silence, which ironically, resulted in the Best Screenplay at Cannes earlier this year.

Silences, glances, in a film so (how to say this?) tactile, that the distance between the two women who inhabit the frame shortens and lengthens as we are drawn into this period piece that is anything but rigid.

This is Celine Sciamma and Adele Haenel schooling us in 121 minutes of wonder.

It’s so paradigm-shifting, that you want to grab some other random viewer to confirm how Best Picture this thing is - and when you do grab a random 20-something guy with a brush cut, he literally reports the following: “Portrait of a a Lady on Fire?" "I’ve seen it three times, well this was my third time. I love it. It’s my favorite thing that came out this year.”

Unbelievable. The Xbox demographic even loves this film. Celine Sciamma’s film is followed by a Q & A with a local screenwriting teacher, but you have to float out into the parking lot to decompress because you’ve just seen Art on Screen.

Revving of engines brings you back to reality. This is Hollywood’s Finest, folks, Matt Damon as car designer extraordinaire Caroll Shelby, and Christian Bale - with his native accent gone Cockney a bit to play the legendary driver Ken Miles.



OMG, people clap so spontaneously through this FORD V FERRARI, and really clap hard through the entire credits. Matt Damon’s name is thrown around like The Greatest Man Hollywood Invented, and it’s funny because when you left LAX, Jimmy Kimmel had a “welcome to Los Angeles” voice-over before boarding the flight here, and he said, paraphrasing “if you have any problems in LA, blame Matt Damon.”

Circularity is always interesting, and that is the concentric and eccentric downer spiral in HONEY BOY. JoeAwardsCircuitFP

At the Q & A after, fest goers will literally stay past the witching hour, midnight, to ask the Moderator Chris Bergoch (screenwriter of "The Florida Project" shown here with Joey Magdison from Awards Circuit) about the ending of said Florida Project - but not until they have exhausted all the Shia questions…

The why’s and how’s and what-for’s of a Hollywood actor turned performance artist, or child laborer who became self-aware like the robot kid in Spielberg’s AI. An atttened child who found a soul while part of the machinery of blockbusters - but you’ll have to see HONEY BOY for yourself, and savor it. PBFalconShiaZack

It's not like PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, Shia's other movie out this year - but Peanut Butter Falcon is where he lost the plot.. that became the grist for this movie.

Or so say some FF919 audiences members, in a whisper amongst themselves in the dark, in this particular moment in time, and life.


Stay tuned for Day Four tomorrow from Film Fest 919, Chapel Hill, NC, right here, courtesy of FilmFestivals...

@Filmfest919 thru Oct. 13. #FF919


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About Quendrith Johnson

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