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LAFF Mid-Fest Report: Reviews, Exclusive Clips and Ursula Meier Talks Oscar-Worthy 'Sister' (VIDEO)

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 19, 2012 at 7:17PM

Halfway through Film Independent's LA Film Fest, we've sampled a spectrum of films, among them a gala premiere ("Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"), an indie debut ("Pincus"), indie gems ("Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Gimme the Loot"), a foreign stunner ("Sister") and powerful docs ("The Invisible War," "Birth Story").

David Fenster's "Pincus"

Seeking A Friend for the end of the World

This surprisingly moving drama reads like a documentary because of its gritty video quality and use of found-footage. Director Fenster uses his own father (living with Parkinson's disease) and late pal Dietmar, an alcoholic German builder, philosopher and avid reader, to infuse the story with undeniable authenticity as it follows its titular lead character through an often hilarious personal journey. "21 Jump Street" director Phil Lord executive produced and joined Fenster and leading man David Nordstrom at the LAFF premiere. He admitted he's not used to his work being judged on its artistic merit, but is clearly proud to be getting some indie cred. ThePlaylist has an exclusive clip; and here's the trailer.

Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"

The high point of this odd film is when someone shouts that they want to do heroin to Radiohead, because why not? The world is ending. The apocalyptic romantic comedy is a tonal misfire, with tired pacing and redundant close-ups. Keira Knightley continues her over-acting streak, while Steve Carell plays his pathetic insurance salesman with the same likeability that infuses all his work. The actual apocalypse is secondary and mostly unseen, while the relationship between their Penny and Dodge characters casually develops as they accept the end as nigh. Its premise sets the movie up to go in a countless number of directions, and sadly it chooses the dullest, and most cliched.

Here's a deeper analysis and trailers for "People Like Us" and "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World."

This article is related to: Festivals, Reviews, Video, Interviews, Los Angeles Film Festival, Critics, Trailers

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.