Thoughts about Week 2 of The Loft Film Fest – and a bonus ‘Julia’ review

By JAVIER DOSAMANTES
Pima Post

“Julia”

Directed by: Julie Cohen and Betsy West

Rating: PG -13

Run time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Opens at The Loft Cinema Nov. 24

Ending parties is a cross between an artform and a sport — it’s social gymnastics — and you have to stick the landing. 

Everything can go wrong, and if it does, people will remember the end instead of the rest of the festivities.

Parties run the risk of going on for too long and plateau, someone can get into a fight or argument, you can start playing the wrong kind of music and people will fall asleep or walk out, etc.

Hosts have to perfectly execute the move of telling guests it’s over in a way they leave with a smile and good memories. 

Party hosts also have to walk the thin line of choosing the right playlist to ease in the end. It can’t be overly upbeat nor depressing — it has to be nostalgically cheerful.

The Loft Film Fest was able to stick the landing.

One week was the perfect amount of time to spend going to a film festival, and the different types of movies and genres helped avoid monotony. 

Mixing it up with an outdoor cinema for some movies was also a fun way to freshen up the experience for people who attended all or most days.

Before the Tucson premiere of “Julia” to close out the festival, Peggy Johnson (executive director), walked on stage and gave some closing remarks to the audience.

Johnson thanked everyone in attendance, the staff and volunteers, sponsors and board members of The Loft for making the return of The Loft Film Fest possible. 

Then announced the winners of the Audience and CICAE Art Cinema Awards and passed the microphone to Jeff Yanc, the program director.

Yanc took the stage to thank everyone as well, gave the final festival toast and over cheers and applause, presented “Julia.”

It was the perfect movie to conclude the festivities … the documentary about the trailblazing Julia Child was nostalgically cheerful and everyone left with a smile and good memories.

“Julia” is everything “Roadrunner” should’ve been. It celebrates Child’s life, the paths she helped pave and the impact she had in people’s lives.

“Roadrunner” instead obsesses on Anthony Bourdain’s demons and his demise, with an intense focus on his suicide that makes it feel like a true-crime Netflix documentary. It ignores the cultural impact he had and all the lives he touched.

Documentarian Ken Burns, gatekeeper of historical accuracy and tedious storytelling, must still be shaking his fist in the air after watching this movie, because it glosses over some of Child’s life events.

However, this choice wasn’t made to shy away or ignore conversations about certain aspects of Child’s life. The documentary does touch on them and moves on to avoid getting stuck in a mind-numbing rhythm.

I do wish the Oscar-nominated directors, Julie Cohen and Betsy West, would’ve spent time on how Child helped develop shark repellant during her time with the CIA, but that’s a different documentary.

Cohen and West made the conscious choice of portraying her life as the pioneer of the celebrity chef in the US, her impact in the American culinary arts and how she popularized cooking shows.

Most importantly, how she inspired generations of people of all walks of life to be chefs and entrepreneurs — including chef José Andrés.

The film was tastefully edited and had literally mouthwatering scenes for window dressing, but also had great interviews for a more substantial look into Child’s life.

She was a less self-serious version of Bourdain before Bourdain, and she was a more sophisticated version of Guy Fieri and Emeril Lagasse — she was the archetype of the superstar chef.

She was a culinary outlaw and she romanticized food, life, the arts and love. Child lived a life worth celebrating and cheering for, and “Julia” helps audiences to do so.