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While I am generally not one to discuss opening weekend box office receipts, it is quite intriguing to embark on a quick survey of sites when out of the country at a film festival. The “news” centers on the possible $100 million opening for the latest Transformers movie and questions as to whether or not it will ultimately reach the billion dollar mark globally. Some are even going so far as to wonder if it truly will snag the largest opening for 2014 – away from Captain America: The Winter Soldier (I believe) – but I can thank my lucky stars that Michael Bay’s current CGI fest is light years away, or so it seems.

Instead, I sit at a Starbucks (as those of you who know me will recognize as my one chain home away from home) in Munich, between early morning press screenings. I eased into things yesterday with just two films, which granted me extra time to wander around a bit. Print readers (Cincinnati CityBeat & Dayton CityPaper) will get complementary features next week that will tell a somewhat larger story about Cincinnati’s Sister City as the home of a thriving festival and how to best tackle curating your own film festival experience at a week-plus long event.

Faithful blog readers, you will be privy to first impressions, highlights, and meanderings that will hopefully have something to do with the nature of film and my film junkie psyche.

Director John McNaughton

Director John McNaughton

On that note, I have to admit to loving cheap B-movie thrills executed by top-notch talent and that is what I got from this morning’s screening of John McNaughton’s The Harvest. The Wild Things director has been toiling away on the television scene for over a decade, but he’s back with Michael Shannon and Samantha Morton as a stressed couple, trying to take care of a sick child named Andy (Charlie Tahan) who has developed a friendship with Maryann (Natasha Calis) the new girl in town, living with her grandparents (Peter Fonda, Leslie Lyles) after the sudden loss of her parents. Morton’s mama is a doctor, lording her expertise over her husband, a former nurse involved in a questionable relationship with a drug rep (Meadow Williams), but the action here boils down to a contest of wills between mother and son that has shades of Misery. In fact, McNaughton’s early scenes feature the creepy atmospherics one would expect from a more grounded installment of the horrormeister. The slow build leads to The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and The Stepfather histrionics, but the proceedings are watchable because Shannon and Morton rein in the crazy until the very end.

It all ends exactly as you would assume, but The Harvest will enjoy life as a guilty pleasure down the road, which is far more interesting than the box office prognostication surrounding the latest Bay-fest, am I right? (tt stern-enzi)