The Reel Less Traveled – August 2019


Dragons to Dangerfield, Sublime to Ridiculous

    This is a big month for the Lamorinda community for one very simple reason: The California Independent Film Festival will descend upon us at the end of this month (Aug. 23-31) and with it will come all the fanfare, hoopla and glitter that has come to define this event for the past 21 years. But more of that later.
    Let’s turn our attention to more immediate concerns, starting right off the bat with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. This is the third film in the series and it is also the most colorful. Filled with the same ingenuity, wonder and wit that propelled the first two, this one ups the stakes, not just due to the conflict the villain provides — and make no mistake, this guy is nasty — but also for a more complete sense of history for human and dragon alike.
    It is the visuals, though, that make this a standout and it would be a cold-hearted theater goer indeed who would not be impressed at the detail and imagination on display. Even better is the environment where Dragon will be shown — surrounded by the beautiful Orinda hills. The film starts as dusk claims the Orinda Park on Aug. 1.    
    From the sublime we will galumph over to the ridiculous as the Orinda Theatre presents Caddyshack. This was made during a time when anything went. Not since the ‘60s was there this much…experimentation. But I suppose it’s wise to remember that the studio system was, to put it as tactfully as I can, fueled by a lifestyle that allowed for the kind of wild abandon on display here.
    The good news is that it gave Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight something of a career boost, proving that humor definitely was not the sole province of the young, though the brashness of some Saturday Night Live alumni, especially Bill Murray, does manage to leave a memorable impression.
    The plot, such as it is, centers around an exclusive golf club and its eccentric members, staff and, most especially, its groundskeeper. If you like your comedy down to earth, then this is the film for you. It shows 7 p.m. Aug. 8. Admission is free.
    And onto more serious matters, the International Film Showcase brings us a film from Estonia and I cannot stress enough the importance of this film’s message. The Little Comrade tells the story of Leelo, 6, who becomes the victim of conflicting ideologies.
    Taking place right in the midst of the time in history known as Stalin’s Terror, she finds herself conflicted between the wishes of her parents and the greater, sociological events happening around her, especially as they relate directly to her.
    This film will be particularly valuable if you know someone who adheres blindly to a philosophy, opinion or perceived fact as it demonstrates how easily someone can be swayed, even if it acts against their own interest. It will have a one-week run at the Orinda Theatre starting at 7 p.m. Aug. 9. For additional information and previews of this and coming attractions, go to
    Now, let’s talk about the main event that will take up pretty much the whole end of August. Even if you’re not a hard-core film buff, you owe it to yourself to make your way out to the Orinda Theatre or Castro Theatre in San Francisco (preferably both) to see the very best of what the cinematic world has to offer at the Film Festival.
    Details are still being ironed out but what is known is that there will still be the musical scoring contest, the Iron Filmmakers competition and plenty of short and feature films of all stripes. Check for details. 
    As ever, I urge you to also check out or call 925-254-9065 for additional information just as I encourage you to stay in the dark for that’s where the reel magic lies.  

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