The 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival got off to a BANG June 19th premiering the action-packed thriller Wanted, as it's Opening Night Film and Gala. Wanted stars Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Common and veteran actor Morgan Freeman. This very stylized film is directed by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, known for his successful Nightwatch series of movies. Based upon the darkly humorous comic book, Wanted tells the story of an apathetic office drone ( James McAvoy) whose father is murdered. When he crosses paths with an assassin (aptly named) Fox ( Angelina Joley), his life takes a huge U-turn. It turns out Fox works for a secret order of assassins who live (and kill) by an ancient code according to fate's orders. When Wes (McAvoy) is welcomed into the fold to avenge his father's death, he discovers hidden reflexes he never knew he had and transforms into a deadly killer himself. Wes quickly learns there is more to his Associates than meets the eye, and must decide in the end whether or not to take control of his own destiny.
The opening of the festival also brought with it some of the hottest weather LA in recent history with some temperatures reaching 109 degrees. However, when the sun goes down and the weather cools off, the festival heats up. AFTER DARK is the nightime scene at The LA Film Festival complete with special events, parties, and FREE screenings under the stars. The highlight of the After Dark nightlife however, is The Red Room, a VIP Cocktail Lounge Hosted by Target. The Target Red Room not only boasts free flowing cocktails, but gourmet cookies, health bars and fruit strips. This is the place to chill out (literally), the air-conditioned party room was a welcome change from the unusually warm nights. In addition to a "cool" environment, The Target Red Room features music and dancing by an eclectic group of DJ's showcasing their talent on different nights. These included such renowned names as C-Town, Wendy City, and Frankie Chan to name a few. It's the perfect place to mix and mingle and discuss the festival films with other patrons and filmmakers alike.
Saturday June 21st I had the pleasure of viewing the original classic film Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston. Not only was it a fitting tribute to the late actor, it also celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the film. The screening was viewed by three hundred plus on a giant outdoor screen. The film is directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a screenplay by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) based upon his original short story. The music was aptly composed by Jerry Goldsmith who made the film that much more frightening with his use of drums, ominous piano riffs, and primitive sounding flutes and horns. Planet of the Apes is a forboding tale of what could happen in the future if man doesn't take care of his world today. Sound familiar? The film is more poignant today than it was when it was released in 1968. It was eerie watching this film about space travel and being able look at the stars overhead. It was very reminiscent of Friday nights at the Drive-In without the popcorn or the car. Check the festival listings for other outdoor screenings on Broxton. It's a real treat!
Closing the festival is the much anticipated new action film Hellboy II: The Golden Army written and Directed by Oscar Nominee Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth). Hellboy II is a sequel based on the popular Dark Horse comic book of the same name. Ron Perlman (Alien: Resurrection) reprises his role as Hellboy, alongside sultry Selma Blair (The Fog) and Doug Jones (The Silver Surfer) as his amphibeous sidekick Abe Sapien. A few new characters are also thrown into the mix in this sci-fi, action, fantasy film. When a mythical world starts a rebellion against Humanity in order to rule the Earth, it's up to Hellboy and his team to save the world from the rebellious creatures. Now, as the creatures who inhabit the spiritual realm gear-up for an all out attack on the human plane, the only one capable of saving the Earth is a tough-talking hellspawn rejected by both worlds. Guess who?
For a complete listing of all the screenings, parties and special events, go to the website www.LAFilmFest.com