Movie buffs can enjoy an exciting variety of films at this year's AARP's Movies for Grownups Film Festival, being held during the Life@50+ National Event in New Orleans Sept. 20-22. Six feature films — two of them exclusive sneak-peek prereleases, and two others not yet widely available in theaters — are included in the festival. In addition, stars Billy Crystal and Paul Williams will appear to introduce their movies and take questions from the audience.
Family drama, comedy, financial thriller, even a nostalgic documentary — all are part of the lineup, along with a Hollywood-style red carpet, the chance to be photographed with Billy Crystal, and an English high tea experience.
The festival will kick off at noon on Friday, Sept. 21, with a screening of The Descendants, AARP The Magazine's 2012 "Best Movie for Grownups." The film, starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt), tells the story of Matt (Clooney), a workaholic attorney who is forced to be the parent he never was to his two adolescent daughters when his wife is rendered brain-dead after a boating accident.
Next, attendees are invited to attend a British-style high tea, complete with scones and biscuits, in Rooms 283-285 of the New Orleans Convention Center before the 2:30 p.m. screening of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the convention center auditorium (where all the films will be shown). Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith, Marigold Hotel recounts the charming and heart-tugging adventures of a group of retirees from England who relocate to a resort in India to live out their golden years.
Friday evening, beginning at 4:30, the festival will replicate a Hollywood film premiere with Billy Crystal, director Andy Fickman (The Game Plan, You Again), and child actors Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf from Parental Guidance walking a red carpet outside the auditorium. Fifty lucky Life@50+ attendees will win the chance to be photographed on the carpet with Crystal. (To enter the contest, register on Thursday at the Genworth booth on the convention center floor.)
Crystal and Fickman will introduce this special prerelease screening of Parental Guidance, out in theaters on Christmas, at 5:30 p.m. and take audience questions. The comedy, which also stars Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei, explores differences in parenting styles among generations when Alice (Tomei), daughter of Artie (Crystal) and Diane (Midler), goes on a business trip with her husband, leaving her three children in the care of her parents.
A crackling suspense thriller about high finance, Arbitrage (releasing on Sept. 14) will be shown Saturday morning at 9. Starring Richard Gere as a Bernie Madoff-type schemer and Susan Sarandon as his wife, the film offers a realistic, compelling portrait of America's modern-day high-stakes trading world. At noon, attendees can catch a prerelease screening of The Oranges, starring Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Allison Janney and Oliver Platt. The comedy-drama, which opens nationwide on Oct. 5, follows two families who live across the street from one another and enjoy a close friendship until the 20-something daughter of the Ostroffs (Platt and Janney) returns home and begins an affair with her parents' best friend and neighbor, David Walling (Laurie).
The festival will conclude with a 3 p.m. screening of the humorous flash-back documentary Paul Williams Still Alive. In it, director Stephen Kessler tracks down the man behind such 1970s musical hits as "We've Only Just Begun" and "Evergreen." While Williams was a celebrity in his own right at the height of his career, frequently appearing as a guest on Johnny Carson's couch, he became something of a recluse in recent years. Kessler finds out why — and reacquaints us with the fascinating Williams, and his music. Paul Williams, along with Kessler, will take questions from the audience after the film.