Film and TV

Starz Denver Film Festival 2014: Keep On Keepin' On Highlights Fest's Closing Week

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Keep On Keepin' On was one of two documentaries given the red-carpet treatment at the Buell Theatre during Saturday afternoons, with the first being the November 16 local debut of Touch the Wall, a film about Colorado Olympic hero Missy Franklin, who retweeted this pic from 9News' Cheryl Preheim:

Keep On Keepin' On drew a considerably smaller crowd on November 22; once again, the upper levels of the Buell were closed off, as was the case for the opening night bow of the underwhelming 5 to 7. And the situation was repeated that evening for Like Sunday, Like Rain, one of the weakest-ever picks designated for a closing night showcase-- a misnomer given that Sunday featured a full slate of additional screenings, but never mind.

Directed by Frank Whaley, who's best known as a character actor (he has a small but key role in Pulp Fiction), Like Sunday, Like Rain is the tale of a twelve-year-old genius who grows close to his troubled nanny.

Julian Shatkin, the unknown young actor in the central role, is the highlight of the film; Whaley, who also wrote the script, presents him as a less tortured but still needy variation on Max Fischer from Rushmore, with idiosyncrasies that include a gourmet vegetarian palate and a casual mastery of every academic subject. But the nanny, portrayed by ex-Gossip Girl Leighton Meester, is essentially a blank despite add-ons like a terrible family and a dipshit boyfriend -- Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong in a portrayal so amateurish that it's unclear if he could competently play himself.

Meester's interplay with Shatkin works on occasion, but Whaley's desire to play with sexual tension, epitomized by Meester's willingness to share a motel with the boy and a number of other creepily touchy-feely moments, feels more awkward than brave. Worse are the slack pacing (nearly every scene goes on too long, to no discernible purpose), the uninteresting visuals, and the continuity errors; both the boy and the nanny are supposed to be accomplished musicians, but the sequences in which they play are staged with laughable ineptitude.

No wonder so many members of the modest crowd chose to split rather than listen to Whaley chat with film critic Robert Denerstein for a Q&A afterward.

The percentage of ticket buyers who stuck around for the post-screening bonus after Keep on Keepin' On, was much higher, as were the number of smiles.

Continue for more of our Starz Denver Film Festival 2014 wrap-up, including more photos.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts