I skipped this year's opener Last Days of Left Eye because I plan to see it later in the week. I also skipped the secret screening at 11pm, mainly because I didn't have the guts to try it. They were very tight lipped about the film and I just wasn't willing to take the chance of wasting my money on what could have been a miserable film. However, the two films I did see today got my festival week off to a strong start.
THE TV SET (Jake Kasdan) is a comedy about a TV writer (David Duchovny) trying to get a pilot picked up by a network, but continually finds himself butting heads with a nasty airheaded network executive (Sigourney Weaver). This is a funny comedy with several knowing jabs at Hollywood, and will probably be funniest to those familiar with how the industry works. Duchovny pulls off an amusing slow burn throughout the movie, Weaver is over the top but hilariously demented, and it's a pleasure to see Lindsey Sloane (from another TV industry spoof GROSSE PONTE). The film loses its way with an unnecessary subplot involving a British executive and his homesick wife (Lucy Davis whose considerable talents are completely wasted.) and the abrupt ending., but it's still a pleasantly entertaining comedy.
KING OF KONG (Seth Gordon) is another in a long line of recent documentaries that follow the quirky contestants of unique competitions. Previous entries in this genre include the brilliant SPELLBOUND and the not quite as brilliant MAD HOT BALLROOM and WORD WARS. Gordon's follows a couple of people dedicated to setting the world record on the classic arcade game DONKEY KONG. The film surprisingly becomes rather one sided, although Gordon does have video evidence to support this. Still, he piles it on a bit high to make his favored subject look like a saint, eventhough we see him with some questionable parenting skills early on in the film. The most interesting personality in the film is Walter Day, a man who dedicated his life to classic video games and set up a central organization to judge and verify high scores for all video games. I would have preferred it followed him a bit more than the two competitiors.