The only problem with a 10-day, 100-film international flick fest like the Miami International Film Festival invading our beautiful city is knowing where to begin. (Well, that and the risk of losing your golden tan as a consequence of holing up in movie theaters for a week and a half.)
But film madness happens here just once a year, and it's worth sacrificing a little vitamin D for a hefty dose of vitamin C ("C" for culture, naturally) that will immunize you against reality show idiocy the whole year through.
Here's where to start:
Mariachi Gringo, Friday 7 p.m. at the Gusman Theater
This is hands down the place to be Friday night - especially since it offers its own after-party/MIFF kickoff party, right across the street after the event. The film itself is about a sheltered and pasty Kansas native-turned aspiring Mexican mariachi musician, and it's a real stand-out. For some added gawker appeal, stars of the film, including Shawn Ashmore of X-Men fame, will be there, parading around on the red carpet. The film may be sold out, in which case tough break! You can still show up for the after-party, where a slew of movie-goers, drunk on Patron cocktails and the glamour of it all, will be happy to give you a run-down of the flick. Tickets to the film cost $25.
Pescador, Saturday 6:30 p.m. at Regal Cinemas South Beach
This is an unlikely, genre-bending comedy from award-winning Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastian Cordero. In it, Blanquito (Andres Crespo), a fisherman whose mother has deluded him into thinking he's of elevated birth, has a stroke of "luck" when boxes of cocaine wash up on the shore. He and his fishermen buddies sell the drugs back to the cartel at $5,000 a brick. High on his sudden wealth, our protagonist hatches an even "cleverer" plan to make more money off his remaining powdery sea bounty, and to get his dream girl in the process. Sure beats fishing for, well, fish! Tickets cost $12.
Wynwood Walls Screenings, Saturday through Friday March 9 at 6 p.m. (2506 NW 2nd Ave)
If you'd rather take in a show al fresco and el cheapo, come to the free screenings at Wynwood Walls, where 20 short films will be shown in random order, totaling 240 minutes of cinephiliac bliss. Titles include Canadian film Blind Spot, which follows an ordinary guy on an ordinary day and shows how mundane day-to-day distractions obscure life's bigger picture; and Melt, in which dancers perched on a wall and wrapped in sculptural beeswax and lanolin move in euphoria and exhaustion.
Lemon, Saturday 9:30 p.m. at Coral Gables Art Cinema
First generation Puerto Rican American Lemon Andersen is a Tony Award-winning poet. He's also a three-time convicted felon. This Russell Simmons and Dandelion Films documentary is a captivating portrait of the man and his struggle between two polarized drives -- in his own words, "Love or the money? Money or the love?" The film tracks Andersen's deliberate, determined struggle back to the top as he attempts to take his one-man show, County of Kings, to prominence. The film also screens Sunday at 3:15 at South Beach Regal Cinemas. Tickets cost $12.
Jeff Who Lives at Home, Sunday 9:15 p.m. South Beach Regal Cinema
Jason Segel stars as Jeff, a 30-year-old loafer who sits around his mother's basement, all day, pondering the meaning of life. Weary and enabling mom (Susan Sarandon) is a nine-to-fiver who, in exasperation, asks her older son Pat (Ed Helms) to help get Jeff "unstuck." The brothers soon find themselves in the middle of an existential journey neither one of them could have anticipated. Tickets cost $12.
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