After three days at the LDS Film Festival in Orem, I’ve come up with a new movie ranking system — one based on my personal propensity to doze off at the most inconvenient time.
This is the result of chronic sleep deprivation, the result of spending half my life as the editor of weekly newspapers and the erratic schedule that accompanies the job.
Put me in a comfortable chair and turn out the lights, and I’m likely to fall asleep. This is one reason I seek uncomfortable chairs during the General Conference Priesthood Session, which is usually held in darkened chapels with a projected image of talking heads. I seek those hard metal folding chairs and take notes during those sessions, and that usually does the trick.
But you can’t do that in the movie theater, where I often finding myself dozing during a film, to Sharon’s dismay and displeasure. The more we spent on movie tickets, the greater her displeasure.
I figure I can’t be the only person who is likely to drop off one he or she is seated in one of those comfortable theater seats surrounded by dark, so why not develop a ranking system for movies based on their to either keep on awake or put on asleep?
As I figure it, the ranking system would be the opposite of the more common star system. The way it works is a movie that keeps me awake would get zero Z’s and a movie that puts me to sleep and keeps me there gets five Z’s.
Under the system, “The King’s Speech,” one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, would get a Zero — and that’s good. “The Social Network” would get a ZZ rating. It was OK, but I dozed off a couple of times and ended up losing some major plot points.
With that explanation given, here are my reviews of the films we have seen this week at the LDS Film Festival.
Midway to Heaven – Zero Z’s
This film by Michael Flynn was good enough to keep me awake from start to finish. great production values, often-witty dialogue, good acting, and perfect characters. Maybe too perfect — perfect daughter, perfect daughter’s boyfriend, perfect dead wife, perfect love interest. Only the lead, played by Curt Doussett, wasn’t perfect, but Doussett played the part very well. The film only failed because it was so very, very predictable. Still it was warm and fun and would play very well on the Hallmark Channel.
Can’t recommend it. Slept clear through it. What little I did see, I didn’t understand what was going, nor did I care. I just wanted to go back to sleep. I’d put in more Z’s, but I limited myself to five, and it’s only an hour long.
The Book of Life – Z
This Italian film by Italian comedian/actor Marco Lui is the first foreign film to play at the the film festival because, well, how many foreign Mormon films are there? The movie is a showcase of Lui’s comedic talents, and they are many, interspersed with Mormon doctrine, although it’s never made clear in the film that the doctrine being espoused in Mormon. Still, it dragged in places and so did I. Couldn’t help myself.
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend – Zero Z’s
Directed by Daryn Tufts and starring Alyssa Milano, this was one of the highlights of the festival. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Yeah, it’s a chick flick, but it has enough going for it that I found it interesting throughout. And well-acted, too. It was great.
Jonah and the Great Fish – ZZZ
I tried to stay awake through this because I know several of the actors in the film. And I saw the stage play they used as a basis for much of the movie. They put on the play in the SCERA, and shot scenes for the movie during the day while presenting the play at night. I thought the performances were very good, but the production is aimed at 5-year-old girls, with lots of music. I mean, lots and lots of music. I enjoyed what I saw, but I couldn’t keep from dozing off.
Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates – Zero Z’s
Wow! I mean, wow! This is LDS Church history the way it was meant to be told. I was riveted from start to finish. I think Christian Vuissa has created a masterpiece, and did it on a budget that many would consider shoestring — $250,000. The feel is authentic. The costumes are authentic,. The haircuts are authentic (really bad, but in 1820, bad haircuts were the order of the day). And the story is authentic. The films is still a work in progress, although what we saw was a mostly finished product. And it tells the story around the months during the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon with an eye to historical accuracy I’ve never seen before.
So there you have it — the Z-ranking. Look for more as soon I’ll be snoozing at a theater near me.