Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Eddie Redmayne walk into Wildcat, sit down and sip on $10 whiskey sours while a crowd of Gauchos dance their faces off to “I don’t give a f*ck,” the latest ramble of sophistication from Big Sean to bless this college campus. No, this didn’t actually happen, but who knows what the very near future will hold — because it just so happens that Aniston, Carell and Redmayne will be hanging out on State Street, coming to claim their awards as victors in the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
SBIFF is the 12 days out of the year when State Street is inundated with movie stars and paparazzi, when the red carpet rolls out in front of the Arlington Theater and limousines arrive in hordes like freshmen at a fraternity party. Never-before-seen films debut at one of the seven theaters downtown, with categories including shorts, features, documentaries and the delectably titled “screen cuisine.”
Post-screening galas are accompanied by Santa Ynez Valley wine, and directors from all over the world swap stories with each other (and lucky Artsweek reporters). Competitions abound, with films from the eastern bloc, Spanish/Latin America and social justice realms going head-to-head for the win. Writers, producers and women from all stages of film production hold panel discussions for aspiring actors and anyone who happens to walk in.
2015 marks applause-worthy celebrity award ceremonies for SBIFF, with Michael Keaton (“Birdman”), Logan Lerman (“Fury”), Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) and Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”) all in attendance. So check out our mini-preview guide of the goings-on of SBIFF and see what’s in store for this one-of-a-kind, world-renowned festival that happens in our very own backyard. And who knows, maybe we will get to see Aniston turn all Rachel on us inside of Wildcat.
Cheers, Audrey Bachelder // Artsweek Editor
Partners in Crime
Phi Do, staff writer
Huang is an introvert used to bullying. Lin is an antisocial nerd. Yeh carries a tough-guy facade. The three teens have nothing in common until the death of fellow student Hsia Wei-chiao provides a chance encounter for the boys to meet. Though it is ruled a suicide, the boys’ nagging suspicion propels them to embark on a mission to uncover the true cause of her death.
As lies are told and secrets are revealed, the Taiwanese film “Partners in Crime” exposes what it means to be a teenager: students are more than just typical high school archetypes, restlessness and loneliness dominate youthful crises. The film also delves into the impact that one-word responses from adults who don’t understand can have. In this compelling mystery thriller, director Chang Jung-chi brings to light the truths of a girl’s death and the reality of the teenage character.
“Partners in Crime” will be screened on Jan. 28, Feb. 1 and Feb. 3.
Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke
Alexander Wehrung, staff writer
When you spend 12 years of your life making one film, you’re going to get some kind of award. It’s just a fact of life.
Although they actually didn’t work on Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” for that long (just a few weeks every year), Patricia Arquette and regular Linklater-collaborator Ethan Hawke are rightfully receiving the American Riviera Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The two portray the parents of protagonist Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane). Each parent is layered and unique in their own ways. Arquette portrays Olivia Evans, a woman who manages to raise two children and become a professor despite being a single mother and enduring a slew of doomed marriages, one of which was abusive.
Hawke’s turn as Mason Evans Sr. is equally powerful. He’s fun, holds strong beliefs and occasionally shows some irresponsibility, but like Olivia, his love for his children never wavers. The two actors’ portrayals are both subtle and powerful, never screaming “love me!”, but allowing the audience to see them for who they are: two people. In “Boyhood,” you don’t see Hawke and Arquette playing roles, you see Olivia and Mason Evans, separated parents who grow up just as much as their kids.
For their fantastic performances, the two will be the first pair of actors to jointly receive the American Riviera Award at the Arlington Theater on State Street on Feb. 5.
“Maps to the Stars”
Bin Nguyen, staff writer
“Maps to the Stars” is a dark, fantasy-reality-themed, satirical look on the sexy, yet dangerous world of Hollywood. Starring Academy Award Nominee Julianne Moore and “Twilight” vampire Robert Pattinson, the film focuses on the turbulent, crazy life of a Hollywood actress (Moore) and her personal chauffeur (Pattinson). Her psychotic assistant, played by Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” star Mia Wasikowska, may or may not have a troubling obsession with Moore.
Using Hollywood as its personal backdrop, “Maps to the Stars” entails all the elements that a good movie needs — drama, sex and suspense. Known in the horror movie genre, director David Cronenberg often incorporates themes of personal transformation in the physicality and emotional aspects of his characters. The movie appears to have all those key qualities; good characters aren’t always good and bad characters aren’t always bad.
Judging from the film’s trailer, “Maps to the Stars” is a nonstop ride of events that could result in cringe-worthy moments for the audience. While one must need to see the film to appreciate its entire glory, its most notable award being Moore’s Best Actress win at the glamorous Cannes Film Festival in France. “Map to the Stars” is finally making its debut at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Artsweek suggests you watch it to observe the nonexistence of the famous red mane on Moore’s head, if for nothing else. Yep. Iconic ginger Julianne Moore has turned blonde.
“Maps to the Stars” is showing Feb. 5-7.
Nadine Bedwan, staff writer
Jennifer Aniston skyrocketed to fame during her time as Rachel Green on “Friends”, when her great hair and bubbly personality stole the nation’s (and world’s) heart. Since then she’s managed to maintain her superstar status through great hair and playing the lead in countless romantic comedies. That isn’t to say Aniston has limited talent — her growing repertoire alone proves she’s a great actress.
That being said, the seasoned star is now ready to showcase her skill in a new type of role. In Daniel Barnz’s “Cake,” released in late 2014, she stars alongside Anna Kendrick and William H. Macy as a dressed-down and gritty version of herself, a costume she’s never worn before. Aside from the physical difference, this film allows Aniston to portray a character dealing with emotional and physical health issues within a darker plot.
“Cake” follows Aniston as she becomes obsessed with the suicide of a woman in her support group, while simultaneously dealing with her own deep conflicts. The movie promises to be an emotional and thought-provoking journey, and it will undeniably be interesting to watch the beloved actress transfer her gifts to a different type of film.
Aniston will be honored with the Montecito Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Jan. 30.
Jane Huson, staff writer
First-time feature filmmaker Lindsay MacKay masterfully portrays the troubling teenage years of 14-year-old Sam (Julia Sarah Stone) in “Wet Bum.” Not yet physically matured into a “full woman,” Sam is mercilessly mocked for her physical attributes, or lack thereof, by her peers. Ignored and cast aside at school, Sam is forced by her mother to work at the senior assisted living home she manages. There she develops relationships with two residents in particular – Judith (Diana Leblanc), a silent woman who gives attention exclusively to Sam and Ed (Kenneth Welsh), a curmudgeon who often attempts to escape to mysterious places.
As she grows closer to these disgruntled old-timers, Sam experiences hardship and enlightenment far beyond her years. “Wet Bum” features all the fears and follies you would expect from a coming-of-age story with a wise authenticity that can only be attributed to its youthful director and star. “Wet Bum” will be screened on Jan. 28-30.
Alexander Wehrung, staff writer
He has been the 40-Year-Old Virgin, Michael Scott, Maxwell Smart, Brick Tamland, Evan Almighty and Burt Wonderstone. All of these roles have been intended to make audiences laugh, but in “Foxcatcher,” Steve Carell defied expectations and completely immersed himself in the role of John du Pont, a real-life wrestling enthusiast whose unsatisfactory life and touch with insanity destroyed his own life and the lives of others as well. For this metamorphic, shocking and career-defining performance, Carell will receive the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
In “Foxcatcher,” Carell is nigh-unrecognizable as du Pont. The manic, smiling, loud energy with which he utilized in his more famous roles, such as in “The Office” and “Anchorman” are gone. In their stead is a somber, downplayed personality, feelings ranging from torn sadness to brimming rage and noticeable mouth breathing, all coming together to recreate a man who emanates a sense of perverse uneasiness. Carell’s performance clearly portrays a very disturbed man and he does it so extremely well that all other actors in the film (including Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) pale in comparison.
Carell will be awarded the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award in a Tribute celebration at the Arlington on Feb. 6.