Day two of the 2012 Kansas City Film Festival got started in a big way with the French film Intouchables, which follows a physically disabled member of the French nobility and his untraditional caretaker. Due to scheduling conflicts neither Trey Hock nor myself were able to attend the screening, opting instead to this Saturday’s showing at 1:15 p.m. Instead, I made it to a couple of truly independent movies that the festival is built around — small, narrow market films with eager casts and directors that have to fight for their ideas.
QWERTY directed by Bill Sebastian
QWERTY is as offbeat and lively as it is endearing. A sort of hipster romantic comedy, the film follows two wayward souls in Chicago, Marty and Zoe who run into each other lives and change each other for the better. Written by Juliet McDaniel, the movie places its protagonists — Marty a shiftless loser, self-described in one scene as “pathetic” and Zoe, a lonely, geek to a fault — against the backdrop of competitive Scrabble playing. The movie is convenient and almost quirky to a fault, but Dana Pupkin as Zoe makes a likable recluse and makes up for Eric Hailey’s somewhat lackluster turn as Marty.
On a technical level, the film was shot entirely on a Canon DSLR and features a warm, inviting color palette that matches the kind-hearted characters. The soundtrack also does a great job of enhancing scenes without overriding or distracting. If you missed the film, you can catch it again on Saturday at8 p.m. at the AMC Ward Parkway.
Love Stalker directed by Matt Glasson and Bowls MacLean
Love Stalker bills itself as an “unromantic comedy” and it certainly is that. The film, which also stars Glasson as Pete, an aging barfly who bounces from woman to woman and wouldn’t have it any other way. But when Pete meets and eventually falls for Stephanie, played by Rachel Chapman, things change and what starts as an infatuation turns into an obsession.
Love Stalker is clearly a labor of love for the writer/directing duo of Glasson and MacLean. Half of the budget was raised on IndieGoGo, the film was shot entirely in south St. Louis and St. Louis movie producer and press agent Billy Baxter lent his name and advice to creators during the project. It’s unfortunate, then, that not all of the excitement from the creative team translates to the screen. Also shot on a DSLR, the film is at times grainy or washed out. The narrative also seems a bit rushed, especially toward the end and some of the early jokes, especially during the films graphic, intended-to-be-funny sex scenes don’t land.
In all, Love Stalker has some fun moments but needed a little more time to gestate. Or maybe I’m completely wrong at it’s the funniest film of the showcase. Find out for yourself with an encore screening this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the AMC Ward Parkway.