Monday, August 16

2021 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Sunday, August 15th

 Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2021 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.



By Emery Snyder - @leeroy711

TEENAGE BADASS – Directed by Grant McCord


 This is the story of Stylo and the Murder Dogs, a Tempe local band led by Kirk Stylo (Evan Ultra). The film treats us to a look at the quest for stardom as a band in spite of Stylo’s megalomaniacal eccentricities and drug abuse. The film is set in 2006 and was shot in the Phoenix/Tempe area.

This one has a lot going for it. In a lot of ways, it feels like a love letter to the area. It’s written, produced and directed by one of its ensemble stars, Grant McCord and the film’s music was written by Ultra. You can feel the locality here. As someone that’s spent the past four decades in this Valley, I loved things like Welcome Diner and Zia Records. They play their first set at The Rebel Lounge. When I was younger, it was called The Mason Jar but it’s no less iconic today. One of the characters is perpetually wearing a Dirty Drummer t-shirt. My uncle used to take me there for chicken wings about thirty years ago. Even Jimmy Eats World’s Jimmy Atkins’s cameo feels more like scenery than anything else. To be clear, I was here for all of this. As a cinefile that grew up in an area that hasn’t always been that friendly to its local art scene, it was wonderful to see a legit feature film that expressed some of the love I’ve always felt for my home. From my experience, this story almost perfectly epitomized the local rock band scene. Of course, I’ve never heard of an overabundance of drummers in this scene. I think the it’s more typical to find about a 4 to 1 ratio of Tempe bands to Tempe drummers.

All of this is great, but the real star of the film is the screenplay. Co-written by McCord and Matthew Dho, the jokes hit on every beat. The audience I was with was laughing out loud and so was I. This was the film’s most successful aspect and I hope to get the opportunity to revisit it.


TEENAGE BADASS is available for digital purchase and rental from Freestyle Digital Media.


 FALLING FOR FIGARO – Directed by Ben Lewin


 Millie (Danielle Macdonald) is a rising young star in her career as a fund manager when she decides to give it all up to become an opera singer. She moves into a small village in the Scottish Highlands to study under the tutelage of former star, Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley) where she meets Meghan’s only other pupil, Max, (Hugh Skinner). Eyes meet, sparks fly, but is this the path that’s right for Millie?

I know nothing of the opera. Honestly, it’s an art form that will likely never interest me. I came here to see the progression of Danielle Macdonald’s career. I’ve been interested in her since 2017’s PATTI CAKES in which she plays an aspiring New Jersey rapper, an art form that I can fully support. Her performance here was good, maybe great, but it’s hard to critique considering what she was working with. At times, throughout the second act, it seemed as though the film was working its way towards fully developed and interesting characters. But it ultimately fell short, even with Millie. Other than, she loves opera, I never got a sense of why she was so driven to change her life. The same issue arises, even more apparently with the supporting characters.

The scenery of the film was shot beautifully, although with that setting, I’m not sure how it wouldn’t have. And I found most of the dialogue to be well written. But for a romantic comedy, it was very short on actual laughs. I would also add that I found it to be quite unfortunate that the screenplay felt it necessary to revert back to some old and predictable rom-com tropes that didn’t seem to be supported at all by the characters we had been spending this time with. I found this to be cheap and very disappointing.

Sometimes a movie can appeal to a niche audience when it takes place in a world of a certain subject matter. I don’t know, maybe the opera-heads will love this one. It just wasn’t for me.


FALLING FOR FIGARO opens wide, Friday, October 1st

Follow us on Twitter 


No comments:

Post a Comment