An audience decked out in full Boston Red Sox gear waits, in vain, for the appearance of star slugger, David Ortiz -- the film, it seems, was incidental. Meanwhile, Scott Caan, son of the enigmatic James Caan, gives a possible starmaking performance as a wiseguy wannabe.
Rumbo a las Grande Ligas (dir. Jared Goodman)
The anticipatory thrum of the packed house for the modest documentary, Rumbo a las Grande Ligas, was all out of proportion for the film that was set to screen. The crowd swelled as we ticked down to the start time, and people jockeyed for the best seats. As whoops went up and cameras were dragged out, you felt something big, really big, was about to go down.
There were chants from the balcony, the rise and fall of hurrying clapping -- I think I even saw a group attempt to start the wave. Most people were decked out in red and blue jerseys with the number "3"4 on the back. Most people were wearing matching baseball hats. As the lights dimmed, the women in front of me started singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". As the grainy, low budget film started to role, there was a hush, then more clapping, more boisterousness, a round of booing that greeted a person on the screen wearing a blue cap with a letter "Y" superimposed over the letter "N".
Rumbo a las Grande Ligas
Which is a shame, this resignation by the audience, because the film was actually quite charming, if too slight to be really accorded any real significance. Lean and unambitious, it tracks the fortunes and failures of a few kids in the Dominican baseball leagues, contrasting them with the huge successes of their heroes, Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. But like the kids in the film, everyone in the theatre crowd only had eyes for Ortiz, who, it was rumored and whispered for days around the fest, might -- just might -- make an appearance during the Q&A session.
Alas... The collective exhaling groan that went through the crowd after the lights went up and no Big Papi appeared was like the very Platonic Idea of disappointment. Crestfallen, many people slunk out even before the filmmakers got a chance to field questions. And yes, count me among the disappointed, though I would've seen the film anyway, Ortiz or no. Too bad, though. The IFF could've gone ended with a bang, as so many Red Sox games have over the past few years, if only Ortiz were there.
Brooklyn Rules (dir. Michael Corrente)
And further alas, though fortuitously, I guess, that wasn't the actual closing night (though it felt like it). Chosen to close the festival was Michael Corrente's Brooklyn Rules, an agreeable, if mostly forgettable, coming of age tale set on the (ahem) mean streets of Brooklyn.
Following the fortunes of three childhood friends as they try to navigate young adulthood surrounded by the Mafia, Terrence Winter's (of Sopranos fame) script gives its hand away early and often. Freddie Prinze Jr., while not a disastrous choice as the narrator and pivot point of the film, does not have the soulful depth the role requires in order to really peer deep into the darkness around him. Jerry Ferrara (Turtle of Entourage fame) is affecting as the young innocent, the hapless buddy who has a heart of gold but is an utter failure in every other aspect of life.
Rumbo de las Grandes Ligas - Trailer
Brooklyn Rules - Trailer