Thursday, December 08, 2011

AIFF 2011: An Ordinary Family - Audience Reactions

[NOTE: I'd recommend An Ordinary Family for people looking for something good to see tonight. But read more to see if this is for you.]

I'd decided to just stay at Out North after watching Give Up Tomorrow - a very compelling Filipino documentary about framed convictions on kidnap, rape, and murder.  [The film focused on one of the convicted and identified the film maker as a distant relative.  I assume the film is accurate, but I really know nothing about the case other than what I saw.]

But another festival junkie said she'd heard An Ordinary Family was one of the best films at the festival and the Out North offering was a Polish movie, Odd One Out [Nie ten człowiek], that had the word surreal in the description.  Ordinarily that would be an attraction, but I was tired and thought something I didn't have to work hard at was more appealing.

An Ordinary Family plays again tonight (Thursday).

The video has some audience reaction:

An Ordinary Family turned out to be a good, easy to watch (good characters, fairly predictable plot) film about a man coming to a family vacation with his male lover.  His brother, a minister, doesn't know they're coming.  The film's press kit (pdf) says the family has no clue about the boy friend or that Seth is gay, though it's not that clear in the movie. There are lots of ways a film can be categorized and most probably drive film makers crazy.  That said (and apologies to film maker Mike Akel, who wasn't able to make it last night) the basic theme - adjustments in people's heads to the new realities created by GLBT folks being more open and visible reminded me of the movie The Kids Are Allright without the star power of Annette Bening and Juliane Moore.  In terms of audience appeal, while The Kids, in my memory was technically better [slicker], I think this film would have a similar appeal if it had the same sort of advertising budget and its leads had the same sort of name recognition.  I suspect if you compared budgets and evaluated the two in terms of quality/cost, An Ordinary Family would come out way ahead. (One of the audience reactors  in the video said the photography was "a couple of steps above home video," I didn't notice that at all.)

I was particularly struck by the kids in the movie.  My guess is that they just left the camera running during down time and then used some of that footage of the kids just being kids. [It turns out that the son was the real son of the actor playing Thomas, Troy Schremmer.]

I'd now love to see the very same movie with the actors Troy Schremmer and Greg Wise switching roles (they played the two brothers Thomas and Seth).  It would be interesting to see how that would change the movie.  That thought just popped into my mind near the end of the film.

One question people had after the movie was:  where was it shot?  The director is from Austin, so that was suggested.  Going through the press kit, New York is mentioned several times, but I finally found a few references to the shoot being in Texas.  But nothing more specific.

Other interesting notes:  The character Thomas and his on-screen wife, are off screen husband and wife.  The actor, Troy Schremmer, is quoted making a fascinating observation in the press kit:
On working with his real-life wife on screen: “Fighting with Jonny (Janelle) is much, much more fun with a room full of cameras than it is in real life. Itʼs safer, for one thing, because of all the witnesses. Plus, weʼve got a director in the room to tell us when to stop or when weʼre getting too dull. And if we screw up and say something really out of line, we can just go back and start over again. I highly recommend it to any couple whoʼs looking for a little therapy or to spice things up a little bit”

There's a lot of interesting back story about creating the film in the press kit.
And if anyone is interested, you can get a Grandma ringtone.  (That will make sense after you see the movie.)

Here's the trailer:

AN ORDINARY FAMILY - Official Film Trailer! from Matt Patterson on Vimeo.

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