Posts Tagged '2012 Festival Picks'

Last Round of Eric’s Festival Programming Highlights: DARK HORSE

Today is the final day of MFF 2012, and we have films running on all 5 screens of The Charles as well as MICA’s Brown Center and Windup Space. MFF Director of Programming Eric Hatch has been sharing “programmer’s picks” with us all week. Today, fittingly, he turns his attention to our closing-night film: DARK HORSE.

*Please note that tonight’s 7pm screening of DARK HORSE at the Charles Theater has been placed on STANDBY.  If you want to see the film and don’t have a ticket or All-Access pass, a standby line will form outside the Charles Theater 30 minutes prior to the screening.  Once ticketed patrons and pass holders are seated, we will sell the remaining seats to patrons in standby.  We promise to do our best to get as many standby patrons seated as possible!


Todd Solondz’s films have always felt very, well, Baltimore to me. When I moved here in 1996, Solondz’s breakthrough “sad comedy” (the director’s preferred term for his genre) WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE was enjoying an extended run at The Charles Theater. I saw it more than once, and was blown away. Even more of an impression was made by his 1998 masterpiece, HAPPINESS, which I took in at least three times at The Charles and The Orpheum (R.I.P.).  Yes, his films are sometimes a little sick, dark, and twisted—but how appropriate for the city that produced John Waters, not to mention the festival that has adopted Bobcat Goldthwait as an honorary citizen of sorts.

DARK HORSE is Solondz’s best film since those early sad-comedy masterpieces, as well as his most accessible film yet. Abe (Jordan Gelber) is a petulant and selfish man-child who, firmly on the far side of 30, still lives at home, working for his father and collecting toys. Deeply lonely yet full of blustery delusions of grandeur, Abe aggressively pursues troubled beauty Miranda (Selma Blair). In a moment of weakness, she goes along with his advances, built around his grandiose vision of a life together in his room full of collectibles. This stroke of good fortune surprises no one more than Abe’s long-suffering parents (a note-perfect pairing of Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken)—until, that is, things begin to unravel.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Solondz once (a memorable phoner for Baltimore City Paper circa STORYTELLING) as well as seeing him introduce many a film at the Toronto International Film Festival. His films are a gift, and so is his charming public presence, comparable only to the pleasure of seeing John Waters introduce a film. We couldn’t be more proud to have both Solondz and star Jordan Gelber here for our Closing Night!

A ticket to this film also gets you into our always-fun Closing Night Party (across the street in our tent village) directly after the screening. I hope you enjoy our 2012 Closing Night selection. If I were a festival-goer instead of a festival-maker, I’d be first in line for this one!

Thanks for reading these programmer’s picks this week. I hope you all had a fantastic festival, and discovered a lot of great new films.

-Eric Hatch, Director of Programming

Festival Programming Highlights #2: ATTENBERG and THE PATRON SAINTS

Each day leading up to the festival, director of programming Eric Hatch is highlighting a pair of titles in our line-up for your consideration.

Ariane Labed and Evangelia Randou star in ATTENBERG.

ATTENBERG – One of the biggest surprise hits in MFF history was 2010’s Greek dark comedy DOGTOOTH, which went on to an Academy Award nomination for best foreign picture and had one of its best theatrical runs in the country right here in Baltimore. Much of that team (including DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lanthimos, who co-stars here) is back for Athina Rachel Tsangari’s ATTENBERG, an appropriately offbeat drama about a woman with a lot of distance between herself and “normal” social behavior. As she sits with her dying father, trading philosophies and plotting to fulfill his dying wish, she begins to reconsider the ways she’s approached friendship and romance. Citing inspirations as quirky as Monty Python and nature documentaries, we think we detect some notes of early Fassbinder here as well.

THE PATRON SAINTS gives us a poignant look into the daily lives of residents of a home for the aged and disabled.

THE PATRON SAINTS – This one won’t be for everyone, but many of you will absolutely love it; it’s unquestionably among the very best and most provocative two or three films I saw at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in 2011—and I watched 30 movies there, so that’s saying something. A documentary that looks at residents of a nursing home—most, but not all, elderly—the film becomes an essay of sorts on the human mind, and the strange, wonderful, horrible things that it produces when it’s in an unfettered and compromised state. It’s a sad and unnerving film at moments, humorous at others, but with a very compassionate tone running underneath it all from start to finish. The directing duo behind this film have had a busy year, and will also be presenting FRANCINE, their brand new Melissa Leo-starring drama, for a single screening within MFF 2012.

– Eric Hatch, Director of Programming