The Palm Beach International Film Festival runs April 23 to May 3 and features 120-plus movies playing in five venues — plus parties, filmmaking and marketing seminars, and, for some reason, an appearance by the kindly-eyed human from Babe, film actor James Cromwell. To find out more, check out pbfilmfest.org. Below, we offer three reviews of PBIFF films.
The Stone of Destiny
7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at Sunrise Cinemas Mizner Park, 301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-368-7744.
In 1950, Ian Hamilton and three other young nationalists stole Scotland's Stone of Scone from the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. The stone, which had been taken from Scotland by the English seven centuries earlier, was meant to confer king- or queenhood upon those whose asses sat upon it.
There was a profound history of oppression and rebellion behind the heist, which is evoked not at all in The Stone of Destiny, director Charles Martin Smith's slight adaptation of Hamilton's memoir. When the pouty young stars talk politics, they display all the nuance of drunken Michael Moore fans.
Character development is minimal and handled by a series of creaky tropes and set pieces. The portrayal of Hamilton's stern, hard-working father, who disapproves of his son's pie-in-the-sky politicking, is particularly galling.
The only thing worth recommending about The Stone of Destiny is Scotland itself. The film begins with a moving shot of the Scottish moors, comprised of big rocks with their stubble of shocking green. Kudos to the cinematographer. Find some new friends.
The Day After Peace
Noon Saturday, April 25, at Florida Atlantic University's DeSantis Center, inside the College of Business, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-297-2980.
In 1999, Jeremy Gilley was a 29-year-old English actor who found himself disquieted by the world's violence. He had an idea: If there can't be peace all the time, why not peace for one day? Gilley settled on the 21st of September. Then Gilley began trying to make it happen.
The Day After Peace documents his efforts, starting with the underattended launch of his "Peace One Day" initiative at the Globe Theatre. The self-directed film follows him through his successful petitioning of the Taliban in 2007 to allow UNICEF workers to immunize children in war-torn areas of Afghanistan.
It'd be easy to be cynical about The Day After Peace before seeing it, because documentaries filmed by their own putative subjects often deserve skepticism. But within 30 minutes, it's clear cynicism is the mortal enemy of the Peace One Day initiative and the primary obstacle to its success. Throughout the film, people famous and obscure gradually ditch their cynicism, and as they do, the initiative bears fruit. Stars including Angelina Jolie and Jude Law earn newfound respect for lending a hand. It's somewhat embarrassing that it takes famous people to draw attention to good works that, in a smarter world, would need no boosters. And, hey, while we're on the subject, why not check out peaceoneday.org? It can't hurt.
How I Got Lost
9 p.m. Friday, April 24, at Florida Atlantic University's DeSantis Center, inside the College of Business, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-297-2980.
How I Got Lost begins with hip New York 20-somethings, sexy and stubbly in their rumpled suits, awash in ennui. They are drunken and sad and look as much like hell as possible while remaining fuckably urbane. They are burnt-out. You worry for a moment that you're about to see a movie about the bullshit worries of bullshit young people of means. But How I Got Lost is better than that.
This is a film about the way life tends to rip people out of their poses, and the hip young people of How I Got Lost spend the whole movie getting ripped out of theirs. The "real life" in the film begins with 9/11 and includes a father dying and his bereaved son making a terrible scene at the funeral, careers sputtering and expiring, and people failing to live up to their own biggest dreams.
The film's two leading men follow opposite trajectories to adulthood: Aaron Stanford ("Pyro" from X-Men) never takes his hand off a bottle, and his growing bevy of worldly wisdom brings him nothing but misery. The ever-darkening half-moons beneath his eyes are a minor masterpiece of modern movie makeup, as scene by scene he morphs into a zombified version of the archetypal, sleepless, pallid New Yorker.
Jacob Fishel, who plays Aaron's best friend, is sanguine. All hard edges and cynicism in New York, his face grows notably softer after he flees the city as director Joe Leonard's gray and claustrophobic cityscape cinematography opens up, takes on color, and lingers over the beauty of the country.