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Vail Film Festival injects some culture into the end of the season
Actor William Mapother at the opening night soiree for the fifth annual Vail Film Festival.
By David O. Williams 

Vail Film Festival injects some culture into the end of the season

By David O. Williams

April 5, 2008 —  No matter how many times Matthew Broderick stars in films and plays such as “Glory” and the “Producers,” to a generation of film fans he’ll always be the devious Ferris Bueller taking his famous day off in downtown Chicago.

During Thursday’s opening film of the fifth annual Vail Film Festival – “Diminished Capacity” starring Broderick and Alan Alda – I desperately wanted a pudgier but somehow almost more boyish Broderick, now nearing middle age but still stuck in his perpetual persona, to jump up on a float and lip synch “Twist and Shout.”

He never does. The film meanders through his life as a newspaper editor slightly brain-damaged by a blow to the head who returns home to the sticks to deal with his equally addled uncle (Alda), who is just as stuck in his Hawkeye Pierce pigeonhole but manages a bit better to play a man haunted by the past and artfully avoiding the future.

Vail Film Festival injects some culture into the end of the season
Bobby Hernreich, Kaye Ferry and Jim Weir celebrate the opening of the Vail Film Festival Thursday at Vail's Donovan Pavilion.

The film is a mostly humorous – and at times outright witty – romp through an absurd quest to return to the Windy City and sell a rare baseball card from 1908, the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I like that the filmmakers kept it light and stayed away from the morose introspection I expected from two “diminished” characters trying to sort through life.

Not a bad start to a festival I’ve amazingly never participated in before. It started up the year I departed the local mainstream media scene and entered into the shadow world of fulltime freelance, where I never could find a market for the film festival. Five years in, I have to say I’m impressed. Click on their banner ad on our site to see the full schedule for the remainder of the weekend.

And most astonishing, the new Vail Mountain School theater has to be among the best in the valley at this point, only slightly behind the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. So it was a treat to check out that facility on Thursday.

From there the party moved to Vail’s Donovan Pavilion for the festival’s opening soiree. Musicians, dancers, a very open bar and sushi for the beautiful people ensued, and Vail looked a little like LA for a night. Although the biggest celeb I encountered was William Mapother, who’s here in support of “Mountain Top Removal,” a documentary about the impacts of strip-mining in West Virginia.

Mapother, who was in Lords of Dog Town and several episodes of Lost, narrates “Mountain Top.” He’s also Tom Cruise’s cousin, but, asked about the famed Scientologist Thursday, said only: “He’s a really nice guy.” The same could be said about Mapother, who amiably worked the opening night crowd.

Definitely an auspicious start to an awesome event.



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