The 13 and a Half Nerdiest Film Picks at AFI Fest 2013

By Luke Y. Thompson in Daily Lists, Movies
Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 6:00 am

7. The Sacrament

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Ti West's horror movies usually tend to be really slow burns that only reveal the true danger very late in the game, but this time, the threat is upfront - a Mississippi cult leader who's like a modern-day Jim Jones. When the cult leaves the country to start again in a remote jungle, the brother of one of its converts decides to try and make a documentary about what happened to them.

Total tangent, but if there were any justice in the world, the Kool-Aid man would come busting through a wall and kick the crap out of Jim Jones. If there is a hell, that should be what happens there on a continuous loop. Oh yeah.

And yes, I know it was actually Flavor-Aid. But the Kool-Aid man got smeared by association, so he still has a valid grudge.

8. The Wind Rises

In what will apparently be his final film, Hayao Miyazaki continues his obsession with flying, but with less fantasy elements this time out, controversially telling the sympathetic tale of Jiro Horikoshi, a man who designed planes used by the Japanese military during World War II.

Controversial? Well, yeah, you'd expect a mixed reaction to any film that doesn't automatically demonize a guy who made weapons for the wrong side. But what's equally bad, apparently, is that he smokes.

Maybe next the naysayers would like a historical war movie without guns, too.

9. When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism

A Romanian movie shot entirely in long takes, all about the conversations that ensue when a director tries to convince his actress to do nudity onscreen. I've always wondered what such talks entail, but I just figured bribery happens at some point. Maybe not in this one.

10. Moebius

One wonders, perhaps, how many people impressed by the Jodorowsky documentary are anxious to see more from artist Moebius, and end up mistakenly walking into this film, about a woman who tries to cut her husband's penis off, but ends up doing it to her son instead. Then, as per the official festival synopsis, "So begins an odyssey that elevates horrifying acts of gang rape, mutilation and other taboo-busting atrocities into the level of high art."

Well, if you say so. Directed by Kim Ki-duk, who can do totally zen films suitable for all ages, but then makes other movies like The Isle, in which fishhooks boldly go where none should ever have gone before.

11. The Last Emperor 3D

I get why there are post-conversion Star Wars movies. I understand the impulse to make Predator pop out at you on Blu-ray. But The Last Emperor? Really? The never-ending biopic of China's child emperor who grows up through war and ends up as an old man on a bike in the communist age? We need glasses now for that?

Show me one person - who didn't work on the film - who both loves The Last Emperor and does not periodically go on rants about how 3-D is a stupid, overpriced gimmick ruining movies. It's like finding a Topless Robot commenter who thinks Michael Bay movies are great. Doable, but worth it?

So naturally, I'm slightly curious. This is a thing that should not be.

12. Nebraska

I have seen Nebraska and I kinda love it. Would you believe that Will Forte, MacGruber himself, gives an award-worthy semi-dramatic performance here?

Well, it is an Alexander Payne movie (The Descendants, About Schmidt, Sideways), so it's pretty damn funny too. Bruce Dern plays a crazy old man who gets a Publisher's Clearinghouse letter in the mail, is convinced he won a million dollars, and plans to walk all the way into the next state to claim it. Forte is his poor kid, a speaker salesman who decides it's better to drive the old man there than try to talk him out of it. Along the way, everyone they meet believes the father's claim of being a millionaire, and angles to get a piece of it.

Anyone with a stubborn, crazy dad should relate. And that's pretty much everyone, right?

13. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller plays a sad-sack, delusional type who believes himself to be much greater and more talented than he is.

But enough about real life. He also made a movie called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

13.5 "An Evening With David O. Russell"

David O. Russell's new movie about con men, American Hustle, wasn't ready for the festival in time - so instead, he's going to show up in person to introduce a few clips of this and his other movies. If everyone in the movie brought their superhero alter egos, this would be one amazing crossover: Batman, Lois Lane, Katniss, Hawkeye and Rocket Raccoon all scamming people together. Instead, they brought '70s wigs and incredibly fake beards.

I bet it'll still be pretty good though.

AFI Fest runs through Nov. 14th; be sure to check the official AFI site for more details, including showtimes.


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