2018 TCFF Red Carpet Interview + Review of ‘When Jeff Tried to Save the World’

Wow, can’t believe we’ve pretty much the halfway point of TCFF already! But hey, there are still five more days of film festivities… great movies to see, film stuff to learn and more filmmakers to meet!

Well, one of the highlights of TCFF coverage happened on Friday night, just before the festive INDUSTRY NIGHT began at the TCFF Can Can Wonder-Lounge. My dear friend and longtime FlixChatter contributor Holly Peterson was FC’s media correspondent for the night! She interviewed filmmaker Kendall Goldberg & actor Jon Heder (remember Napoleon Dynamite back in 2014?) about their new film When Jeff Tried to Save the World on the red carpet!


Here are some pics from Day 3 of TCFF – including INDUSTRY NIGHT

 

TCFF Lounge is sponsored by the fabulous Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul, MN.


When Jeff Tried to Save the World

It’s weird to call a movie about a grown man a coming of age film, but in a lot of ways, When Jeff Tried to Save the World feels like exactly that. Jeff (played very charmingly by Jon Heder) is a bowling alley manager who must come to terms with his future when the owner decides to sell the bowling alley. The stress of losing the one steady thing in his life is exacerbated by his sister’s unannounced visit – which might just wind up being exactly what he needed.

This is a fun movie. The writing is full of one-liners that had our entire theater giggling constantly. Steve Berg, Maya Erskine, and Brendan Meyer all had especially fun roles, which all three of them leaned into really well. Jim O’Heir was very miscast as the jerk owner who is closing down the bowling alley. There is too much Jerry Gergich in that man’s face for him to play the villain – no matter how tame that villain may be.

Taos Whittaker created some amazing visual effects for this film, which are most brilliantly showcased in one of Jeff’s dreams when he’s suddenly walking through a Tron themed version of the bowling alley. It is absolutely gorgeous. Whittaker also played a huge role in creating the underlying tone of anxiety in several scenes with nifty tricks like turning Heder’s hands yellow.

Personally, I disliked the romantic side-story. It was a little too “man and woman who have never met before cannot exist in the same room without falling in love for no reason” and, although it fit in with the general coming of age theme of the movie, it felt forced.

This is one of Kendall Goldberg’s first features, and it is a solid first. Goldberg has a strong comedic voice and the ability to reinvent an old trope in a new, relevant way. I think that as Goldberg grows as a storyteller the less neat elements (the fact that she caved in on that unnecessarily romantic side-story, the neat summary three quarters of the way through the movie that took place in a completely unnecessary argument, and her tendency to approach sentimental moments in the most conventional way possible) will likely improve as she continues to write and direct and is increasingly able to use her own voice. I’m excited to see what she makes next.


Thanks Holly for the review and interview,
and for TCFF + Allied Global Marketing for the opportunity!

Spotlight on The Dust Storm movie & interview with co-director Ryan Lacen + actress Kristen Gutoskie

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Last Thursday, I got to hang out with the filmmakers of The Dust Storm, Ryan Lacen and Anthony Baldino and chat about their film. The intimate romance drama is set in Nashville, starring ABC’s Once Upon A Time‘s Colin O’Donoghue and The CW’s Containment‘s Kristen Gutoskie. Both Anthony & Ryan are so friendly and fun to be around, two of the nicest people one would’ve had the privilege to hang out with! We went to Cooper’s Irish Pub across the street from Showplace ICON Theater, which is the kind of pub I’m sure the lead actor Colin, an Irishman, would surely love!

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Me w/ Ryan (with the baseball hat) & Anthony


TCFF Screening Time(s): 
10/24/2015  (9:15 PM)

Check out the trailer:


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Romantic films are tricky because it’s SO easy to get into corny and mushy territory when it’s not handled well (*cough* Nicholas Sparks *cough*). But the smaller, more intimate romance dramas like the Before Sunrise trilogy, John Carney’s Once, can be truly moving and heartfelt.

The Dust Storm follows that similar formula, focusing more on the characters and how the sudden presence in each other’s life irrefutably change them. I also love the premise of lost love, the idea that there’s a history between the characters and how tough it can be for someone to let go.

I’m not going to go into the story as it’s best that you discover Brennan and Nora when you see it for yourself. I do want to comment on the performances and the wonderful chemistry of the two actors. I’ve only seen Colin in a few episodes of Once Upon A Time where he plays this swashbuckling, sexy pirate, so it’s interesting to see him display his vulnerable side. Brennan wears his heart on his sleeve so much he may seem rather weak or even clingy, but you can’t help but sympathize with him. It’s apparent that he was hurt deeply in the past and the more I spend time with the two characters, it’s easy to see why. Nora is this beautiful, carefree and confident woman who’s effortlessly dominant in a relationship. I have to admit I don’t always like either characters, but yet I still find myself drawn into their whirlwind time together.

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One thing I noticed is there’s a TON of drinking in this movie, I guess as I don’t like alcohol it’s hard to relate to that but in a way it explains to the state of mind of the characters. Some drink for fun, and some drink to escape and I think in the case for Brennan & Nora, it’s the latter. The film certainly works largely thanks to the wonderful casting of Colin and Kristen, and Jim O’Heir also provide a great supporting turn as Brennan’s colleague. He’s definitely the comic relief here.

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I think Colin’s fans would love seeing him here, given that he’s pretty much on every scene and he also gets to sing & play guitar. He’s clean cut in most of the film, but don’t worry, there are scenes of him w/ some scruff as well 😉 Both he and Kristen have such a lovely voice and the musical aspect is used well in the film. Nashville itself is pretty much a character in itself too, taking advantage of the city’s vibrant music scene in the way Dublin was in Once. The title is definitely perfect to describe how something or someone in this case can come into your life unexpectedly and you can’t control the effect it has in your life. Brennan is definitely engulfed, if you will, in the emotion he has for Nora. The story is definitely relatable as who hasn’t dealt with a broken heart in their life.

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Interview with Kristen Gutoskie

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