Summer Rewind: Heartland's Greatest Hits 

What to expect from the film fest this weekend.

click to enlarge James Randi with his partner Jose Alvarez. Randi will be attending the opening night of Summer Rewind. - ALL PHOTOS ARE PROVIDED BY HEARTLAND FILM
  • James Randi with his partner Jose Alvarez. Randi will be attending the opening night of Summer Rewind.
  • All photos are provided by Heartland Film

It's noble but logistically impossible to try and see all 130-plus films in the Heartland Film Festival. So, in 2011, the Heartland Film organization started screening Heartland's "greatest hits" a year after each festival in a three-day mini-fest called Summer Rewind.

"Not only is the weather great, but it offers another opportunity to show off our Fountain Square neighborhood and our Heartland Basile Theatre screening room in the Murphy Arts Building," said Heartland's Director of Marketing, Greg Sorvig.

This year's festival (June 18-20) offers a "small but mighty lineup," Sorvig added. Here are reviews of the 12 films playing.

An Honest Liar (4.5 stars)

June 18, 7 p.m. The first film in the festival is also the best. This documentary is like a great con artist caper film — one in which the treasure that the characters are hunting for is the truth. It follows James "the Amazing" Randi as he investigates people who claim to have real powers rather than mere tricks up their sleeves. Enlightening and inspiring, the film's best trick is revealing the man behind the magician.

Wheeler Arts Community

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Frank vs. God (2.5 stars)

June 19, 6 p.m. When slick, smarmy lawyer David Frank loses his house in a tornado, he goes to the extreme, filing a lawsuit against God. He puts representatives of the world's leading religions on the stand and turns the court into a sideshow circus. The film deserves kudos for its clever, original concept. Unfortunately, it turns into the same sort of preachy, sappy and self-righteous spectacle that its protagonist hates. And as the lead character, Henry Ian Cusick chews the scenery a little too ferociously.

Wheeler Arts Community

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Slingshot (3.5 stars)

June 19, 7 p.m. Geniuses are messy. And so is this documentary portrait of the brilliant inventor, Dean Kamen. Framed by his attempts to create water filtration systems, the film also explores his battle with dyslexia, his father's influence as an artist and Kamen's creation of the Segway scooter. The film jumps all over the place, like a mad scientist's mind during an all-nighter in the laboratory. It's disorganized and dizzying but ultimately fascinating.

Heartland Basile Theatre

Amira & Sam (4 stars)

June 19, 8 p.m. You may recognize the lead actor, Martin Starr, from NBC's Freaks and Geeks. He's just as sweet and nerdy as Sam, an Iraq War veteran struggling to live in New York. (The city's shattered skyline brings back shell-shock memories of war.) Sam finds himself harboring an illegal Iraqi immigrant named Amira and falling in love. Poignant and surprisingly funny, Amira & Sam paints a post-9/11 world with a gentle touch rather than a heavy hand.

Wheeler Arts Community

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Drunktown's Finest (3 stars)

June 19, 9 p.m. A look at the lives of three Native American youths trying to rise above the adverse reservation they call home. The film is dull, much like its drab setting. But it's not without a few surprises and poignant performances. Carmen Moore is particularly effective as a tormented transsexual stumbling through the reservation's oppressive emotional terrain.

Heartland Basile Theatre

Light Fly, Fly High (4 stars)

June 20, 12:30 p.m. A fly-on-the-wall look a young Indian woman boxing her way into a better life. Although she is ranked third in India's Light Fly category, Thulasi struggles to fight oppression. This is not a typical talking head documentary. It captures Thulasi's battles in and out of the ring with intimate immediacy.

Wheeler Arts Community

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Becoming Bulletproof (4 stars)

June 20, 1 p.m. Through the story of a cerebral palsy-addled man's journey into acting, this documentary illuminates the magic of filmmaking. The film follows twentysomething A.J. Murray to a camp where able-bodied and disabled people collaborate on a feature film, doing what filmmakers from all walks of life do — pushing limits and redefining what's possible.

Heartland Basile Theatre

1,000 Times Good Night (4.5 stars)

June 20, 3 p.m. After she is caught in an explosion, war photographer Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) must choose between her husband, daughters and the profession that always leaves them wondering whether she will come home alive. What they don't realize is that Rebecca wields her camera in a way that keeps her and the people in front of the lens safe. Binoche anchors the elegant yet harrowing film with her tender performance.

Wheeler Arts Community

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All-Stars (4 stars)

June 20, 4 p.m. Warmly evocative of Bad News Bears, this mockumentary about a girls softball league has everything you'd expect — clueless kids, a crooked coach and absurdly competitive parents. Just when you think, "been there, done that," the film reels you in with sharp satirical suggestion that kids' sports are really about insecure adults living vicariously through children.

Heartland Basile Theatre

The Sound and the Shadow (4.5 stars)

June 20, 5:30 p.m. Allergy-prone and antisocial, Harold is a hermit connecting to his neighbors only through the sound recording equipment he uses to eavesdrop on them. When a little girl goes missing, Harold and his spunky new roommate Ally join forces to find her. Joseph E. Murray and Mary Kate Wiles exude strong charisma and chemistry as the amateur detectives in this lighthearted riff on Rear Window.

Wheeler Arts Community

Ben's at Home (4.5 stars)

June 20, 8 p.m. Fresh on the heels of a bad breakup, thirtysomething Ben decides to never leave his house again. And with that set-up, the film emerges as an amusing look at this age in which it's all too easy to avoid stepping outside. Ben finds voiceover work, connects with friends via Facebook, and convinces girls online to come to his house for dates. But his vow to veg out quickly goes awry when an adventurous delivery girl opens his eyes to the world behind his computer screen. Ben's at Home is a breezy yet biting satire of our online immersion.

Wheeler Arts Community

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Lucky Stiff (2 stars)

June 20, 6:30 p.m. (After-party at 8 p.m.) The best musicals don't have characters merely speaking in sing-song, but expressing themselves in tunes that stand on their own and stay in your head. This is not one of those musicals. The tale of a British shoe salesman gambling and cavorting in Monte Carlo to fulfill a rich uncle's wish, this film unfortunately closes out the festival on a low note. However, the screening of the film is followed by a fun, free Monte Carlo-themed after-party.

Heartland Basile Theatre

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