jonathan groff

Film Review: Frozen

by Chad Liffmann on November 27, 2013

It’s worth visiting Frozen’s musical winter wonderland.

Characters chill in Disney's "Frozen"

Characters chill in Disney’s “Frozen”

Disney made a lot of smart moves with Frozen, the new animated family film being released just in time for the holiday season.  With snow/wintery elements at the core of its story, Frozen’s release is not only timed well at the beginning of the holidays, but is thematically (and seasonally) relevant.  Also, Disney had been toying with an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen for over a decade, and rather than rush it out the gate, it appears that the studio took careful consideration for a worthwhile script and stellar musical accompaniment.  Finally, speaking of the music, Disney made a brilliant move by bringing in Robert Lopez, the Tony award winning composer behind the music for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon.  With a Broadway style of musical energy driving the story along (at least for the first three quarters), Frozen is heartwarming fun with a very powerful feminine voice…one that would pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.

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C.O.G. writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez

C.O.G. writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez

For the first time, a David Sedaris work has been adapted for the big screen.  Kyle Patrick Alvarez, the young filmmaker that helmed the acclaimed indie, Easier With Practice (2010), received the great (and very first) honor of a green light from Sedaris and co. to move forward on an adaptation of the short story, C.O.G.  I met up with Mr. Alvarez at Luca in West Hollywood to discuss C.O.G.’s journey to the big screen.  After some tea and pleasantries, and some friendly banter about other summer flicks like The To Do List and Kings of Summer, we dove in…

How has the festival circuit been treating you?

It’s been good.  It’s been different.  My first movie didn’t get into any major festivals at all.  We really had to fight for it to get into festivals and fight for people to see it.  And this time around, getting into Sundance just set a precedent and made it a little easier.  The festivals that are going to be interested in your movie will seek you out.  Not to say I haven’t inquired about some festivals I’ve wanted to be a part of, but, it does take a little bit of the leg work out of it.  So it’s been good.  It’s been weird too, a lot of young filmmakers think ‘well you know, it’s a movie so it should play at festivals’ but they don’t ever ask themselves, which festivals and why.  Having sold our film out of Sundance, it became about making sure we’re playing the right cities, where we’ll open the movie later down the line, so that people can see it there and be aware of it.  It’s just a different strategy, but it’s been great!

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From June 20-30, Frameline: The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival is showing an eclectic lineup of films steeped in social, political, and sexual themes, pushing the boundaries and bringing audiences closer to the incredible stories of numerous individuals and communities, both fictional and real.  Tickets for screenings are available at http://ticketing.frameline.org/festival/.  Here is a glance at two of this year’s festival entries:

C.O.G. (USA, 2013)

Jonathan Groff is a sour apple in C.O.G.

Jonathan Groff is a sour apple in C.O.G.

Based on the unassuming essay by David Sedaris and under the steady direction of Kyle Patrick Alvarez, C.O.G. is the piercingly honest tale of a young man’s escape from his privileged Ivy-league world into the apple orchards and Christian community of a small town outside Portland, OR.  The sold out audience at the Castro Theatre laughed, cheered, sat silent, and gasped, and left with a welcome sense of renewal, as if the film’s flawed characters had challenged each of us to examine ourselves in a way we hadn’t considered for some time.

C.O.G. screened on Saturday, June 22nd.  For more info on the film, visit the film’s festival page or C.O.G.’s official website at http://www.cog-movie.com/

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