Nashville Film Festival Capsule Reviews


Acidman - Dianna Agron and Thomas Haden Church star in this low-stakes domestic drama. She's Maggie, who has made a lengthy trek to check in on her estranged father. He's Lloyd, the dad who lives in the middle of nowhere with just his dog and a local diner waitress for companionship. Over the course of a few days, they get to know each other again. Agron and Church give beautiful performances in Acidman. They're easily the high point. Otherwise, the movie doesn't have a whole lot of dramatic heft. It's talky and lacking a theme or idea to really draw you in. (The recent A Love Song is a better example of how to pull off a two-character drama.) Lloyd's quirks, including making homemade EDM music and believing that he can communicate with UFOs hiding in the sky nearby, are the kind of eccentricities indie movies have when they aren't sure how to create a three-dimensional character. Again, though, the two leads are sufficiently good to carry the flawed Acidman at least a little way.

Butterfly in the Sky - This feature-length documentary looks at the creation and history of Reading Rainbow, the popular TV show that inspired a generation of children to read books. The people behind the show appear to talk about how they wanted to manipulate television, convincing kids to turn it off and pick up a book instead. Early on, publishers didn't want their books covered on the show, believing the experiment would never work. Once it was proven that it would work, they got more submissions than they could handle. Host Levar Burton is also here, reminiscing about his experiences, including realizing that having a Black host had a profound impact on children of color in the viewing audience. The producers freaked out when he came back for a new season with a beard, though, leading to a struggle between their quest for continuity and his desire to be himself onscreen. Butterfly in the Sky is an entertaining encapsulation of what Reading Rainbow was, why it succeeded, and what its legacy has been.


F^¢k 'Em R!ght B@¢k - Director Harris Doran turns in a zippy 12-minute short film about a queer Black aspiring rapper (energetically played by Emmanuel "DDm" Williams) who accidentally eats an edible and then tries various ways to flush the THC out of his system before his vengeful boss administers a drug test. Filmed in Baltimore, it has some good laughs to match its offbeat visual style, which includes musical interludes from the main character.

Creature Comforts - In just 11 minutes, director Ryan Oligmueller creates a sad, yet touching experience that left me with a lump in my throat. This stop-motion animated short focuses on a profoundly depressed teenage boy. No one seems to recognize his suffering, nor the cuts he makes all over his body. After going into the forest to commit suicide, he encounters a one-eyed woodland creature, and a connection between them is revealed. Creature Comforts addresses depression and anxiety in a potent manner, specifically serving as a reminder of how many people are out there suffering in silence. This is a deeply affecting work.