Sunday I saw two movies and then finally got to chill at home. Heh.

Flight of the Cardinal: There are some things to dislike about this movie, among them a pretty heavy-handed fake accent done by one of the characters and a climax that feels bizarrely slapped together. However, there are many more things to like about this, including really great performances by all the actors. What feels for the first half like a skillfully executed if by-the-numbers story of “local kid on the take cons the out-of-towners” suddenly takes a very, very clever twist and becomes a whole different kind of movie. Even if the end feels like something someone slammed home for a NaNoWriMo entry in the last hours of 30 November, what’s good is very good and the more I reflect on this movie the more I like it. That it was filmed not that far from where I grew up is a bonus, yes, but that isn’t what puts it over the edge. I would absolutely watch it again. One of the best suspense films I’ve seen at NCGLFF.

My last film going experience of the weekend was the shorts collection Mother Nature Does the Rest:

Mother of the Year: Really genuinely funny and warm and very good. The audience laughed with real gusto and I was pleased with myself for getting one of the better gags way ahead of everyone else.

Gay Baby: You know exactly the arc of this short but it’s well done and funny and it features a cameo by Richard Riehle, possibly my absolute favorite hey-it’s-that-guy guy. You’ve seen him in something, I assure you, whether it’s Office Space, Star Trek or an old movie. He is always hilarious and his twenty seconds on-screen at the beginning of this short don’t fail that standard. I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the messages of this short, to be honest, but it’s so short it doesn’t have time to give too great offense.

Judgment Day: Really truly a beautiful little short. This is why I love NCGLFF. I loved this film from start to finish. It got fast and resounding applause. I can’t talk about the content because that would be like trying to describe a poem. It was just really good.

Lost Hills, California: Speaking of a poem, that’s what this film is. Again, I loved it. It brought tears to the eyes. This and Judgment Day were distinctly unlike any other film I saw at the festival this year and in a very, very good way. I really enjoyed this one.

Mothers: Surprising in its resolution if completely predictable up to that point. It surprised me by how much it resonated with me given that it’s about a circumstance I don’t ever expect to be in – fatherhood.

Second Guessing Grandma: Absolutely fantastic. I loved this film and so did the rest of the audience. Great writing, great acting, really magnificent cinematography, direction, editing – this one had it all. It didn’t look like the ’80s, but whatever. It’s a really, really good film.