CJ’s Visit to the Boulder International Film Festival

Went to Colorado to see these docs, Indies, and famous people.

I first visited the Boulder International Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado back in 2020 literally a week before you know what locked everything down. Three years later, I finally came back with some insights. I didn’t see every film at this specific festival, and I had to cancel my screening of the upcoming “Chevalier” to watch an F. Murray Abraham interview (courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter), but I can talk to you about the ones I have seen here or there or anywhere.

“Roberta” (Now Streaming on AppleTV)

Roberta Flack is the singer who shared her music during the fight for equality for gays and African-Americans back in the 60s. She also had an alter ego by the name of Rubina Flake, which she created inspired by Chopin concertos. She also married the bassist Steve Novosel, despite their different races in a certain time period. And she also sang a number of classic hits, including a cover of “Killing Me Softly with His Son” originally sung by Lisa Liebermann.

The introduction of “Roberta” is slow, but the rest proves her story needs to be told. It’s not just her songs we should praise her for, and she has the voice and magic in her Grammy winning hits; but we should also praise this singer for speaking out for other people in her work.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

“Desperate Souls, Dark City, and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy” (Release Date TBA)

This documentary focuses on the making and inspiration for “Midnight Cowboy,” the film that wouldn’t get trimmed from its original X-rating to the R-rating its given today. We even see what the late great filmmaker John Schlesinger has accomplished, despite the road blocks that have affected the late 60s-70s era. Outside that movie, is a time regarding the gay themes, sex, and the protests of the Vietnam War.

It should have extended itself, because all the elements it needs to talk about seem crammed in. But it does open our eyes and minds about how society was, and how movies were influenced by them, and their filmmakers weren’t afraid to take risks. I saw this at the Boulder Theater, and seeing all the clips from “Midnight Cowboy” (as well as other movie clips like “Far From the Madding Crowd” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” both directed by Schlesinger) makes me feel good seeing parts of a classic film in an old theater. Do not get of all the best old theaters. There’s nothing wrong with keeping them.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

“The Lost King” (Opens March 21)

Was Richard III the humped murderer that William Shakespeare made him out to be? Sally Hawkins plays a mother and Richard III fan named Phillippa Langley, who wants to prove to everyone that he wasn’t the monster. He may have been buried under a car park in Leicester, and she wants to raise the funds to dig for his remains.

The supporting cast also includes Steve Coogan (who also co-wrote it) as Phillippa’s ex-husband, who, at first, has trouble believing she can find the dead king; Harry Lloyd (“The Theory of Everything”) as an actor and the spirit of Richard III; and Mark Addy as an archaeologist at the University of Leicester-also named Richard-who overcomes the cynicisms and agrees to help her with her research.

Stephen Frears directs this film, based on a true story, and Hawkins gives an entertaining performance. While I also felt it could have had a more poignant theme on par with some of his recent entries (like “The Queen,” “Philomena,” and “Florence Foster Jenkins”), it still has its heart in the right place regarding its main heroine and its passion for the king.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

“Still Working 9 to 5” (Release Date TBA)

You all know the 1980 comedy with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as three working class women wanting revenge on their unredeemable boss played by Dabey Coleman. You all know the “9 to 5” organization dedicated to helping women get a better working environment. And you all know the hit Dolly Parton song she wrote and sung for the film. That’s why we had to see this amazing and outspoken documentary, which reminds us these issues regarding women’s pay and harassment still happens in various working places, but there are those still willing to fight against it.

When I saw this at the Boulder Theater, the audiences was laughing at the jokes, shocked at the sexist comments, and booed when Harvey Weinstein had an archival interview and when it stated that he produced the Broadway play. This is a film that you should see, and be reminded on what has happened in the past and what can still happen, unless you have the balls to fight back. I’m talking to both the men and women in this world.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

“On the Line: The Richard Williams Story” (Release Date TBA)

I’ve seen Will Smith portray the father of Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard” at the Chicago Film Festival,” and now, at BIFF, I’ve seen a documentary on him. In retrospect, I liked that film, but I’ve enjoyed this doc even more, because of the themes and representations on all the challenges this family had to face. It regards to where the come from and what class Richard and his girls were dealing with, as they entered the tennis world. And it also regards to the controversial methods the father had in making them among the greatest of all time. He could care less about the comments and more about their directions in life.

Director Stuart McClave and producer Chavoita LeSane (who is Richard’s son-the one who isn’t into tennis) express the qualities and difficulties that have affected the Williams family and how they were able to overcome them. While I felt certain scenes were pushy in “King Richard,” “On the Line” cuts back on them and keeps the life story of Richard, and where he came from. Another doc that’s one of the best of the year.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

“The Quiet Girl” (Now Playing in Select Theaters)

Disclaimer: NYFCO gave me the opportunity to see it.

It’s a powerful and sentimental Irish drama, spoken in the Irish language, about a shy little girl named Cait (newcomer Catherine Clinch), who is neglected by her family, and is sent to live with her elder cousin (Carrie Crowley) and her husband (Andrew Bennett) on their farm for the summer. She has more of a voice here than she does back at home.

In an Oscar season with “The Banshees of Inisherin” in the mix, I’m really loving how these Irish films never condescend my roots, but rather present them in truthful aspects. You don’t always have to listen to “The Irish Washerwoman” all the time. You just have to acknowledge these characters and their realities. And with such beautiful locations and clear atmospheres, there’s a strong sense of authenticity. “The Quiet Girl” is a wonder.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

“Little Richard: I Am Everything” (Opens April 21)

Disclaimer: I saw only saw it virtually at the Sundance Film Festival.

This documentary on Little Richard shows us his life and times-good, bad, and inspiring. He dressed in drag as Princess LaVonne, dealt with his queerness, found religion, and sang his heart with as much movements as he could possibly give. Despite his challenges of being gay and black in certain time periods, he became a rock icon-the “Architect of Rock and Roll” as they would describe him.

We get insightful interviews from the likes of Tom Jones, John Waters (who grew the mustache in his honor), and Paul McCartney, among others, and we get vital information about the singer’s highs and lows. Losing him in 2020 has broken the hearts of millions, but his music and spirit will live on. While it lags ins certain areas, this doc wants to help keep his spirit alive. “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!”

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Hopefully, I’ll be back for the next festival, because it’s always exciting to see such films in old theaters, and for the art they usually show.

Categories: Film Festival

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