The 2023 Nashville Film Festival is in the books! You’ll have to forgive my tardiness on getting this recap out to you guys. It has been a hectic few weeks around SoBros HQ as we’ve been working to launch this shiny new website. It didn’t come without casualties, unfortunately. I had written a nearly-thousand-word review of Country Brawlers that was lost in the transition. That was when I decided to just hold off on writing until we completed the task.
No, the timing could not have been worse. I received the notification that the site was down the Saturday morning that I had already booked myself spots at the Cora Bora and Eileen screenings. I intended to write a full review of every film I saw as apart of the festival, but that just wasn’t in the cards for me this year. So, this journal-style piece reviewing all of the films I saw will have to do for those curious about what the festival had to offer.
My 2023 Nashville Film Festival Journal
Country Brawlers – …a gritty look at a resilient group of men with Corky Salyer as a real ‘salt of the Earth’ center of this universe. Big, big heart in this documentary that highlights themes of mental toughness, economic hardship, addiction, and the legacy we leave behind. 3.5
Facing the Laughter: Minnie Pearl – A perfectly fine portrait of a Nashville legend. There’s no new revelatory insight for those who are already familiar with the cultural impact Minnie Pearl had in the grand pantheon of Americana, but sometimes, it’s nice to just sit down and relive the tale. 2.5/5.
Cora Bora – I’m not sure what’s worse, when a film is outright bad, or when you watching something and can see a good story in it despite it lacking execution. Stalter was in her bag, dialing up the cringe comedy, and I found Ayden Mayeri to be particularly good as well. But, the film waits way too late to try and add some depth and heart to the story. 1.5/5.
Eileen – The style, the performances, the mystery, the setting – this movie is intoxicating. There’s more to it than the surface would indicate, and it’s a story that had me puzzled, dare I say, haunted, for days after I saw it. 4/5.
All the Wrong Ingredients – A surreal, absurd, and fun story that exemplifies the creative spirit of the film fest circuit. I enjoyed its artistic expression while appreciating the inward reflection it encouraged. Joshua Trevilcock was great. 2.5/5.
The Tuba Thieves – I can certainly appreciate the endeavor of this ambitious piece of creative nonfiction, but man, I got lost along the way. Maybe this film is made for brains more powerful than mine. While the sweeping shots of the city and droning noises of traffic made for nice ambiance, they distracted me from finding the real story in this documentary. 1/5.
Called to the Mountains – This story of a Japanese bluegrass band, how they made it to Appalachia, and how they keep the spirit of bluegrass music alive back home is a pure delight. It’s a brisk 53 minutes, and I think there was certainly an opportunity to dig deeper into the lives of the film’s subjects. But, all in all, this was a fun fantastic documentary. 3.5/5.
Asleep in My Palm – Henry Nelson makes a hell of a directorial debut in this one. Asleep in My Palm is filled to the brim with bleak shots of northeast Ohio, existential dread, and savory dialogue that will undoubtedly provoke thought within nihilists like me. Tim Blake Nelson delivers a forceful and painful performance that resonates in a sorrowful way. Nelson explores some really rough lifestyles in a gritty way that evokes feelings of sympathy and hopelessness, and that’s all well and good. I really liked the twist at the end of the movie, but felt it was a very unsatisfying ending overall. This film ended, and I was left wanting more answers. Maybe that was by design – storytelling with the intent to mirror real life because things don’t always have a clear and concise ending. But, Nelson creates characters that are so interesting that I found myself yearning for more resolution. 3/5.
Our resident film critic, Brandon Vick, and I ran a two-part series on this year’s Nashville Film Festival. On the first episode, we dove into the documentaries we had seen. On the second, it was the features. Subscribe to The Vick’s Flicks Podcast wherever you take in your shows and check out the latest two episodes to get Brandon’s thoughts on the festival!Listen to “Ep. 137: The 2023 Nashville Film Festival, Features” on Spreaker.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.
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