Freshly squeezed favorites from the Florida Film Festival

Scene & Heard took a trip to the Florida Film Festival in Orlando for the past two weekends to create a rundown of some of the festival’s best entries. Most of these will never see the Tampa skyline, but that shouldn’t stop you from finding them soon on DVD and Blu-ray.


Frank D’Arbo (“The Office” star Rain Wilson) is obsessed with winning back the wife who left him for a seedy drug dealer played by Kevin Bacon (“Mystic River”), even if that means donning a superhero costume and fighting off any evil that stands in his way.

Director James Gunn’s “Super” certainly doesn’t pander to its audience, and while the film may have its share of laughs, the bleak ending and ultraviolent nature will leave many theatergoers feeling cold.

With a great supporting cast featuring Ellen Page (“Juno”) and Liv Tyler, who plays Frank’s wife, the film has plenty to offer and is ultimately a rewarding watch.

–Benjamin Wright


Director and writer Clay Liford delivers an entertaining, but ultimately clichd independent drama with “Wuss.”

“Wuss” follows a high school teacher named Mitch who’s stuck working at the same school he attended in his own adolescence. After a run-in with the school’s aspiring drug kingpin Jamal, Mitch enlists the help of 16-year-old Maddie to put a stop to the school’s ongoing problem with juvenile delinquents.

“Wuss” tries to create an involving story of Mitch’s yearning for revenge on Jamal, as well as wanting to protect Maddie from many of the school’s vices. While it has a few shining moments, it’s ultimately too much like other independent dramas to truly stand on its own.

— Benjamin Wright

“The People Vs. George Lucas”

Anyone who spent time watching “Star Wars” in their childhood has probably fallen victim to the series’ billionaire creator George Lucas and his constant retooling of the beloved sci-fi series at some point in their movie-going lives.

“The People Vs. George Lucas,” from acclaimed documentary director Alexandre O. Philippe, offers just as much adoration for “Star Wars” and its bearded mastermind as it does scathing criticism.

Through a series of interviews with critics, fans and popular creative types like “Coraline” writer Neil Gaiman, “The People Vs. George Lucas” exquisitely builds the case to let the viewer decide whether Lucas deserves to be treasured, or disposed of like the cardboard boxes of millions of Darth Vader action figures.

–Benjamin Wright

“Meek’s Cutoff”

Kelly Reichardt’s sparse slow-burning portrait of pioneers losing their way in 1845 Oregon leaves a haunting impression on viewers.

The film follows a covered wagon caravan of Western settlers who find themselves lost after being misled through a barren offshoot of the Oregon Trail by their guide, a shifty outdoorsman named Meek (Bruce Greenwood). The settlers, especially one of the young wives (Michelle Williams), become highly suspicious of Meek and come to terms with the seeming hopelessness of the situation.

The film is a beautifully shot impressionistic take on a Western. Using natural lighting and a meandering camera, Reichardt makes you feel just as isolated as the travelers and makes no effort to make any kind of statement with the narrative. The sparse nature of the film, especially the ambiguous ending, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for some it will prove to be a powerful trip into the past.

–Damon Lord

“13 Assassins”

Takashi Miike leaves behind the gross-out exploitation of “Ichi the Killer” and “Audition” to make an old-fashioned samurai epic.

Based on actual events, the movie follows 13 samurai warriors in 19th century feudal Japan as they try to kill a corrupt and sadistic feudal lord before he reaches a higher political position that would place him even further above the law.

The whole movie serves as a buildup to a massive, 45-minute old-school action sequence with enough blood spurts and rolling heads to satisfy any Miike fan.

Despite being beautifully crafted and having a truly standout first hour, the action centerpiece can prove to be repetitive, especially considering a lack of investment towards any of the titular assassins. Some will be happy with the endless ebb of sword swinging, but others will just be begging for a samurai to jump off the screen and end their misery.

–Damon Lord