The St. Louis International Film Festival (www.cinemastlouis.org) continues through this Sunday, which means you still have time to catch a movie or four. The RFT staff recommends the following:
Sorry We Missed You
Directed by Ken Loach
7:10 p.m. Thu., Nov. 14
Ken Loach famously announced his retirement in 2014, only to change his mind, making the brilliant I, Daniel Blake when political events made him too angry to stay silent. Three years later, he's still not happy. Sorry We Missed You is Loach's view of the state of labor in 2019 — the so-called gig economy — and its devastating effect on working-class families. It's not a pretty picture. Ricky Turner (Kris Hitchen) takes a job as a driver for a delivery service where he's told that he's his own boss — which means he's responsible for providing transportation but is subject to excessive fines for missing deadlines or taking time off. His wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) makes house calls providing assistance to elderly patients whose needs don't correspond to a tidy 9 to 5 schedule. Their children, a teenaged son at risk of being thrown out of school and a younger daughter sensitive to the family's struggle, are becoming isolated and sullen. Written by Loach's frequent collaborator Paul Laverty, the film is a snapshot of a family sinking into the quicksand of economic exploitation. Where I, Daniel Blake evoked a kind of quiet heroism by way of its stubborn protagonist, Sorry We Missed You is more pessimistic and even painful to watch at times, yet Loach's respect for the characters and his righteous anger are unmistakable. Just as you start to think this is an admirable but minor effort from Loach, his fiery brand of humanism and outrage subtly fall into place. For days after seeing the film, I found myself thinking about the Turner family and wondering how things were turning out for them.
The Ghost Who Walks
Directed by Cody Stokes
9:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 15
In The Ghost Who Walks, St. Louis native director/writer Cody Stokes transforms the streets and landmarks of St. Louis into the gritty backdrop for a noir thriller that traces the desperate path of recently released inmate, Nolan (Garland Scott), whose decision to rat out his former criminal colleagues comes back to haunt him. Complicating things, Nolan's former boss (Gil Darnell), is married to his ex and raising the daughter he's never met — and all of this takes place on Christmas, no less. That melodrama, though, is contained in a relentlessly paced action film, one that rarely slows as its trench coat-clad protagonist careens from one violent set piece to another. There is little time wasted here, and Nolan's quest bursts with clipped dialogue, memorable characters and chaotic chase scenes shot in real-life St. Louis locations, including bars like Brennan's and the Bastille. Although the plot sits firmly in the well-trod archetypes of its genre, The Ghost Who Walks leans into those tropes and ends up perfectly executing the narrative beats and brutal beatdowns of an action movie that punches impressively high — and delivers on every blow.
Directed by Harry Charalambos Mavromichalis
5 p.m. Sat. Nov. 16
Webster University Moore Auditorium
Olympia is driven by the heart and wit of the documentary's subject, the unfiltered and vulnerable Olympia Dukakis. The Academy Award winning actress talks about the trifecta of topics: death, love and hard pricks. Director Harry Charalambos Mavromichalis follows Dukakis as she attends Pride parades, ventures to her ancestral home in Greece and has an aggravated conversation with Siri that even the cameraman can't help but laugh at. Mavromichalis takes a dive into the actress' work in theater and film but keeps the focus on her life today at 88 years old. Her honest reflection of her early years in the business and her struggle of being, as she puts it, "too ethnic," are combined with intimate moments of joy, fear and absurdity with the people around her. With anecdotes from her late husband, the actor Louis Zorich, fellow actors and students, the audience gets a glimpse at the force of nature that is Olympia Dukakis. Follow Dukakis on the wild journey that is her life and enjoy her superabundance of wisdom. If you walk away with anything, just remember the Olympia Dukakis mantra, "I am an octogenarian motherfucker!"
- (c) GHOST WALKERS LLC
- Garland Scott stars in Cody Stokes' thriller, The Ghost Who Walks.
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl
Directed by Amy Goldstein
6 p.m. Sat., Nov. 16
Stage at KDHX
Kate Nash's life changed forever in 2007. She achieved the kind of success that year that most musicians only dream about when her single, "Foundations," spent five weeks at No. 2 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Nash, just twenty years old at the time, was an overnight sensation in her native Britain and abroad, gaining attention for her unique vocals, lyrics and piano playing. In Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl, a confessional Nash shares the struggles of that time, from bullying tabloid media to record execs who wanted to control her sound and image. She toured the world and released two studio albums yet never managed to recapture the commercial success of "Foundations," and her label dropped her. Nash was already experimenting with a new, punkier sound, drawing inspiration from riot grrrl icons and trading in her keyboard for a bass guitar. The documentary charts the struggles that Nash experienced as an independent artist and the huge amount of money and risk involved in self-releasing her own records and touring in support of them. Nash, who has found crossover success as an actor (most notably on Netflix's GLOW), is captivating on screen, and her story is one of growth, sacrifice and dedication to her art above all else.
My Summer as a Goth
Directed by Tara Johnson-Medinger
3:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 17
Shortly after the unexpected death of her father, sixteen-year-old Joey (Natalie Shershow) is sent to her grandparents for the summer while her mother goes on another book tour. Joey's low-key depression and simmering resentment at her mother make her a perfect project for Victor (Jack Levis), the goth kid in the neighborhood. Tall, slightly fey and conceited beyond belief, Victor inducts Joey into the goth community with a quick makeover. Shershow is convincing as a young woman who's still working through grief and finds delight in becoming someone else for a while, while Levis gives Victor a shifting personality that hints he's more of an asshole than a Joey suspects. Pacing problems dog the story at times, but the addition of Pen and Cob (Jenny White and Carter Allen) as a goth couple who embrace all life has to offer — even camping — helps smooth things over.