Phoenix Film Festival 2017: Brave New Jersey

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This one is about War of the Worlds. No, not the Tom Cruise bore fest from ten years ago, the original radio broadcast from 1938. If you’re unfamiliar with the broadcast, it has been widely reported that people thought it was real and that aliens were actually invading. I’ve heard that story before and it always intrigued me because it was such a different world back then, one where there was enough magic left in the world that you could believe that aliens were actually invading. That would never happen today. Ridiculous true stories like this are always intriguing to me.

My first impression of Brave New Jersey was that it reminded me of Pleasantville or Fido. I love that time period. If I could pick one time to travel back to it would probably be the 30’s and 40’s. This movie brilliantly captures the thinking of the time period. When things start to go down, people are not used to that kind of story in that type of presentation, so of course they start to freak out. There is no TV, no internet, the phone system is in its infancy, and of course they are in an isolated town, so information moves slowly, but people are quick to react. There is no fact checking or deductive reasoning. And that is where the comedy comes from.

You laugh more at the stupidity of people rather than the situations, and unfortunately I think the movie could have been improved upon if they had chucked in a few situational incidents. I didn’t realize it before I went in, but during the beginning moments of the movie I was concerned that the movie might have trouble with pacing. It becomes apparent that the comedy is going to rely on jokes alone as opposed to the situational comedy like I mentioned earlier. Again, with a movie like this you need those situations, but unfortunately they are few and far between.

All in all, however, Brave New Jersey was one of the better movies at this year’s festival. The problem I mentioned earlier was really its only fault. I wouldn’t necessarily run out to catch it at the theater, but it’s a good rental or a Netflix entry.

Synopsis:  A comedy about a small town on the night of Orson Welles’s legendary, 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio hoax, which terrified millions into believing Martians were invading America.  As the citizens of Lullaby, NJ face what they think is their last night on Earth, their lives will change forever.  An alien invasion movie where the aliens never show up.

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Jim Lincoln (The Film Department)

A man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery. Writer of things. Watcher of stuff. Quoter of movies. Master of puppets.

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