Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Ten Must-See Films at FLIFF

Late last week, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival announced its lineup of 200 films for its 27thannual festival, slated for Oct. 19 to Nov. 11 – a monthlong extravaganza that will include parties, celebrity appearances and 78 premieres at several Broward County theaters. It would take a Herculean effort (and a lot of free time) to see them all, so I thought I’d count down my 10 don’t-miss movies screening at FLIFF. Mark your calendars. For the full schedule,

10. Sex, Lies and Surgery. Proof that America hasn’t trademarked the feature-length parody, “Sex, Lies and Surgery” looks like an inspired riff on medical dramas like “ER,” “Gray’s Anatomy,” and, presumably, their French counterparts. The humor moves at a breakneck, slapstick pace; if you don’t like a joke, just wait 30 seconds for another one. (5:45 p.m. Oct. 20 at Sunrise Civic Center Theatre, 2 p.m. Oct. 21 at Cinema Paradiso, and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Muvico Pompano)

9. The Sapphires. OK, so it’s yet another movie about an all-female singing group. But this one has a pedigree from the Cannes Film Festival and is expected to be one of FLIFF’s biggest crowd-pleasers. It’s about a group of aboriginal singers in late Sixties Australia who become the unexpected hits of a USO Tour in Vietnam after they are discovered by a talent scout (Chris O’Dowd). (7 p.m. Oct. 20 and 3:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at Muvico Pompano)

8. The Kitchen. Laura Prepon of “That ‘70s Show” fame leads an ensemble cast as a newly minted 30-year-old who receives some bombshell news the day of her birthday party. A pulsating indie-rock soundtrack and a hip young cast highlight an ambitious concept: the entire story takes place in the Prepon character’s kitchen. (6:15 p.m. Nov. 2 at Sunrise Civic Center Theatre, 7:15 p.m. Nov. 3 at Muvico Pompano and 1 p.m. Nov. 4 at Cinema Paradiso)

7. The Sessions. “The Sessions” was arguably the biggest hit at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The great character actor John Hawkes, known for portraying skeevy creeps, plays against type as a virgin strapped in an iron lung for the entire picture who contacts a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) following the go-ahead from his accommodating priest (William H. Macy). (5:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at Muvico Pompano)

6. Shadow Dancer. A major Oscar-season thriller from Paramount, “Shadow Dancer” is notable for being award-winning documentary filmmaker James Marsh’s (“Man on Wire”) return to narrative directing. It stars Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and Gillian Anderson, and centers on an Irish Republican Army member who becomes a spy in 1990s Belfast. (5 p.m. Oct. 28 at Muvico Pompano)

5. Mr. Cao Goes to Washington. This documentary follows the controversial success story of Joseph Cao, who in 2009 became the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress in New Orleans. He achieved this feat as a Republican in a district that had been Democratic since 1891. The film documents his struggles for acceptance in a racially, culturally and ideologically fraught environment. (6 p.m. Nov. 6 at Muvico Pompano, Cinema Paradiso and Sunrise Civic Center Theatre)

4. Deadfall. German director Stefan Ruzowitzky, who won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2007’s “The Counterfeiters,” returns with his second English-language thriller, a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” about robbers-on-the-run (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) whose latest heist does not go as planned. Kate Mara, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson costar. (9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Muvico Pompano and 7:45 p.m. Oct. 21 at Sunrise Civic Center Theatre)

3. Una Noche. Here’s a drama that hits home. A hit at major festivals in Berlin and Tribeca, “Una Noche” is set in Cuba, where two teenagers, stifled in their home country while watching tourists roam free, decide to flee on a dangerous underground journey to Miami. Sensitive, moving and shocking, “Una Noche” has been praised for its naturalistic style, evocation of Havana street life and the performances of its nonprofessional cast. (3 p.m. Oct. 20 at Muvico Pompano and 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Cinema Paradiso)

2. The Silver Linings Playbook. Oscar is already buzzing around “The Silver Linings Playbook,” the closest chance yet for a Best Picture for eccentric auteur David O. Russell (“I Heart Huckabees”). This is a huge premiere for FLIFF, a dark comedy starring Bradley Cooper as recently released mental patient who tries to rebuild his life with another damaged soul played by Jennifer Lawrence. (6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Cinema Paradiso)

1. Room 514. Now this is cinema. “Room 514” is set in the titular room in an army compound, where a female Israeli soldier is ordered to interrogate a fellow Israeli officer accused of abusing an Arab family. An expose of brutality, xenophobia and sexism in the Israeli Army, “Room 514” has its pulse on the world’s biggest ticking time bomb – Arab-Israeli conflict – and it has been praised for its hyper-realism. (6 p.m. Oct. 28 at Muvico Pompano and 6:15 p.m. Oct. 30 at Cinema Paradiso)

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