Jones BBQ and Foot Massage

Back from the Los Angeles Film Festival. Good selection this year.

Don't Think Twice
Writer/Director: Mike Birbiglia
Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher

When a member of a New York City improv troupe gets a huge break, the rest of the group – all best friends – start to realize that not everyone is going to make it after all.

Unexpected Appearances: Pete Holmes, Adam Pally, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Josh Rabinowitz

After the screening, I overheard an Asian fella say that he wasn't old enough to relate to the characters in this film. Never mind that he looked forty-something, what adult can't relate to experiencing failure?

Writer/Director: Ryon Baxter
Cast: Ryon Baxter, Jimmy Baxter

A 13-year-old boy is forced to live with his estranged brother after their father is sent to prison. Their relationship is soon tested when the older brother's occupation as a marijuana dealer infringes on his ability not only to raise his kid brother, but even to take care of himself. However, through constant tribulations, they discover the only way to get through the difficulties of life is to work together and try to beat the odds.

This film plays much better than its makeshift trailer.

The brothers are played by actual brothers.

Won the Audience Award for Fiction Feature Film.

They Call Us Monsters
Director: Ben Lear [Norman's son]

In California, juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17 can be tried as adults for violent crimes. Behind the walls of The Compound, they await their trials—and the accompanying adult sentencing. Juan, Jarad, and Antonio are three such inmates. To their advocates, they're kids. To the system, they're adults. To their victims, they're monsters. Who are they to you?

With unprecedented access to the juvenile facility, this documentary allows audiences to get to know these young men through a screenwriting workshop in which they collectively fictionalize their lives and dreams.

Features a spectacularly cringeworthy performance by Jarad's attorney.

Unexpected Appearance: Nate Corddry, who visits The Compound to perform scenes from Juan, Jarad, and Antonio's screenplay under their direction.

Officer Downe
Director: [Slipknot percussionist] M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan
Producer: Mark Neveldine [half of the duo behind the Crank films]
Cast: Kim Coates, Tyler Ross, Lauren Luna Velez, Alison Lohman, [Slipknot frontman] Corey Taylor

An adaptation of the cult graphic novel about an LAPD officer who is repeatedly brought back to life using telekinetics.

A young rookie cop is tasked with shadowing Officer Downe, whose foes include the criminal syndicate of humanoid beasts dubbed the Fortune 500, Mother Supreme and her gun-toting nuns, and kung fu overlord Zen Master Flash.

The violence in this film is difficult to follow.

Unexpected Appearance: Glenn Howerton, whose only film work seems to be in films produced by his mate Mark Neveldine.

Who is this actor playing the rookie cop? I like him.

During the end credits, I realized that the actor who plays the rookie cop is the lead in American Milkshake, a terrible film in which he is terrible. Quite a turnaround.

Director: Justin Tipping
Cast: Jahking Guillory, CJ Wallace, Christopher Meyer, Mahershala Ali

15-year-old Brandon is ignored by girls and is always getting picked on for his tired sneakers. Sinking all of his money in a coveted pair of Air Jordans, Brandon gets a renewed sense of confidence and hope—until the shoes are snatched away. Brandon and his friends go on an epic journey to Oakland to get back what's his.

It's divided into chapters and its chapter titles are rap songs.

Unexpected "Appearance": Mac Dre

Before the screening, I saw a dude in khaki overall shorts and pink sneakers hanging out outside the cineplex.

Turns out that dude was The Notorious B.I.G.'s son, who, along with Christopher Meyer, are wonderful in Kicks as the lead's besties.

Little Biggie

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