Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Last Film Festival (3½ Stars)

This is the 31st film starring Leelee Sobieski. It's also her final film. It was filmed in 2009, but not released until September 2016. The film ran out of money and couldn't be completed (editing, post-production, etc). The death of the film's lead actor, Dennis Hopper, in 2010 further complicated matters. No studios, large or small, were willing to invest money into completing the film. Eventually the director, Linda Yellen, decided to use the Kickstarter web site to raise money. She asked for $90,000 and received it. Eventually.

Dennis Hopper plays the part of a director called Nick Twain. He's made a film called "Barium Enigma", but he can't find a distributor willing to release it. He tries to get it shown at film festivals, but due to his lack of success in the past they all turn him down. All but one. The town of O'Hi in Ohio (where else?) is holding its first international film festival. It considers itself to be the wool shearing capital of the world, so the awards are called Spindles. The highest award at the festival is the Golden Spindle, which will be awarded to the best film.

Nick leaves nothing to chance. He bribes the judges to vote for his film in every category. Unfortunately food poisoning breaks out, and all the judges fall sick or die. Nick doesn't have enough money left to bribe the replacement judges. Things are further complicated when the film is shown and the projectionist shows the reels in the wrong order. This isn't without a precedent. When Alfred Hitchcock premiered his film "Notorious" at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival the projectionist showed the reels in the wrong order.

Leelee Sobieski plays a relatively small role in the film as a woman stalking the director. She claims to be his illegitimate daughter. Whether it's true or not isn't revealed, but when was a triviality like truth ever important for a stalker?

The film is good fun to watch, but it's certainly no masterpiece. It's mildly entertaining, full of ironic jabs at the film industry, but Leelee Sobieski spends most of the film hidden in the background.

This is a list of Leelee's 30 films that I've reviewed this year. The only film missing is "Acts of Violence", co-starring Ron Perlman, which hasn't yet been released on DVD or Blu-ray.

1. Reunion (1994)
2. A Horse for Danny (1995)
3. Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)
4. Deep Impact (1998)
5. A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998)
6. Never been kissed (1999)
7. Joan of Arc (1999)
8. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
9. Here on Earth (2000)
10. My first Mister (2001)
11. Joy Ride (2001)
12. The Glass House (2001)
13. Uprising (2001)
14. The Idol (2002)
15. Max (2002)
16. Hercules (2005)
17. Lying (2006)
18. Heavens Fall (2006)
19. In a dark place (2006)
20. The Wicker Man (2006)
21. The Elder Son (2006)
22. 88 Minutes (2007)
23. In the name of the king (2007)
24. Walk all over me (2007)
25. Finding Bliss (2009)
26. Night Train (2009)
27. Public Enemies (2009)
28. Acts of Violence (2010)
29. Branded (2012)
30. The Last Film Festival (2016)

As I've already mentioned, Leelee Sobieski has retired from acting. This is for two reasons. The first reason is that she wants to devote her time to her two young children, born in 2009 and 2014. The second reason is that she considers that films today require too much sexual stuff, which she doesn't want to do as a married woman. She says, "Ninety percent of acting roles involve so much sexual stuff with other people, and I don’t want to do that".

Concerning her first reason, I have full respect for it. Children are a wonderful gift, and they deserve to be put first, especially when they're young. However, this is no reason to quit acting altogether, only to take a short break. Millions of women throughout the world manage to balance family and career. For actresses it's easier than for other women. An actress doesn't have to be busy all year long, so Leelee only needs to spend a few months each year working, at most. When her children are a few years old she can take them onto film sets, which might inspire them to become actors at an early age, just like Leelee who started acting at 11.

As for her other reason, it's absolutely ridiculous. 90% of acting roles involve sexual stuff? Has she already forgotten what's happened in her own career? Only two of her films ("The Idol" and "Branded") contain sex scenes. That's only 6%, and even these two scenes aren't particularly explicit. Why does she exaggerate the importance of sexual stuff in films? I honestly don't understand her. Six percent is far below the ninety percent, and she could even have avoided these two films if she had wanted to.

There are another six films in which she kisses someone passionately. I don't consider that to be a problem, but let's assume that Leelee really does love her husband so much that she doesn't want to kiss other men. Eight out of 30 films is still only 26%, far below the 90% that she talks about.

If it were anyone else I would just laugh at her, but we're talking about Leelee Sobieski, the most talented actress who has ever lived. She's turned her back on a career which she does perfectly. She's missing out in her own life, and millions of fans world wide are suffering from her absence from the big screens. As a top actress she can pick and choose her roles. She can wait for casting directors to bang on her door begging her to join their films. It's easy for her to spend the next 40 years doing films without sexual stuff. She can play a character in Marvel films. No sexual stuff. She can appear in Steven Spielberg's films. No sexual stuff. She can specialise in horror films. Mostly no sexual stuff. She can appear in science fiction films. Mostly no sexual stuff. If she starts again now, while she's still young, Leelee should have her first Oscar soon. From then on her career can only sky rocket.

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