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Friday, June 29, 2007

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY EIGHT

Day 8 here at the LA Film Festival - 2 Features and 6 shorts.

HOW TO ROB A BANK
Landmark’s Regent


How to Rob a Bank, as the title suggests, is the story of a bank-heist gone terribly wrong. It stars Nick Stahl, Erika Christensen, and Gavin Rossdale … yes Mr. Stefani, himself. It is the feature film debut of writer and director Andrews Jenkins. Everything about this film is stylized and energetic and well-paced. Jenkins tries hard to make a crowd-pleaser about a bank heist that hardly ever leaves one set. He tries real hard. Well, okay, he tries too hard.

You know, I liked this film. I did. But I also felt that I was guaranteed to like it before I even walked through the door. What a weird analysis, I know. I am not certain that I can make you understand my point any more than to say it felt like the ‘Goldilocks’ of Bank Heist movies. Let’s water it down so much so that it’s not ‘too hot’ or ‘too cold’ but ‘just right’, baby bear. But see, I wanted it ‘too hot’. Hell, I would have taken it if it was ‘too cold’. But with it ‘just right’, I couldn’t find myself rooting for anybody.

Not that the acting is bad. Au contraire, mon ami. Nick Stahl is always so compelling to watch. Note to up-and-coming film writers and directors. Cast him. In fact, I think that if Nick Stahl, Ryan Gosling, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in every independent film ever made I would be happy and content to sit in the theater forever. Gavin Rossdale is just fine as “Simon”, the mastermind behind this great heist. Erika Christensen is playful and witty.

But here is my big complaint. I missed something. Now, I didn’t step out of the film to buy popcorn (I should say proud sponsor Pop Secret, popcorn, because this is LA Film Fest after all) and missed it. No. I didn’t even feel the call of nature sending me to the restroom. No, I sat down and watched the whole thing from beginning to end. But I still missed something. Do you want to know what that something is? It was the ending.

Something happened in that bank to end the heist, and I can’t tell you what. It is shown but I couldn’t quite follow it. The ending is AMAZINGLY shot and stylized and music video-cool. But I can’t tell you what-the-hell happened. I actually felt my hand reach for the Tivo remote before cursing my unfortunate luck. And to top it all off, Jenkins explained that he left the ending-ending (the one after what I just wrote about) purposefully open-ended in order to let the audience fill in the blanks.

Ouch. I felt like I was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, only I wasn’t given any choices. Well, what are you going to do? See it again? I’ll wait for rental.

I did like this film. I didn’t love it. And for a movie about the absurdity of bank surcharges at ATM’s, at least I’ve given you my two cents worth.

“Overture”.

YOUNG AT HEART
Landmark Theatres


Young at Heart directed by Stephen Walker...WOW!
… wow… all I can say is… brilliant… go see it!!!...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCpBsH9cOQ&mode=related&search=

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBeFL3qI-n8&mode=related&search=

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u6k-99qcCE&mode=related&search=

RB

The LA Film Festival Website says:
In Northampton, Massachusetts, the Young@Heart Chorus has six weeks of rehearsal before the opening of their new show, “Alive and Well.” They have a few new numbers to learn, including Sonic Youth's discordant “Schizophrenia.” Also, the average age of the singers is 80.
British filmmaker Stephen Walker catches up with these unique senior citizens, whose chorus has been defying expectations with its unforgettable rock song covers since 1982. Led by Bob Cilman, their strict but talented choral director, the pensioners may not favor rock music at home, but they certainly love singing the hits at theaters around the world. Their age alone gives new meaning to well-worn classics like the Ramones' “I Wanna Be Sedated,” David Bowie's “Golden Years,” and the Bee Gees' “Stayin' Alive,” all of which are accompanied by priceless music videos in the film.
While the chorus is definitely entertaining, its importance as a community of supportive friends is hardly insignificant. Members literally live for the group, stimulated by the challenges of learning unfamiliar songs and fortified by camaraderie through sickness and health. As the chorus' 92-year-old member reminds us, life is a show and the show must go on. Unexpectedly funny and remarkably inspiring, Young @ Heart won't leave a dry eye in the house once the final curtain falls. Now that's show business.
- Jonathan Wysocki

SHORTS PROGRAM #1
Majestic Crest Theatre


Ray Tintori's DEATH TO THE TINMAN, based on the work of Frank Baum, is a stark surreal landscape of a film. Based here in the real world, it veers into fantasy eventually as it tells the tale of how the tin man came into existence. The cinematographer was there and he talked about the craziness of filming this in Connecticut as Ray's thesis film. It looks like a thesis film. It was shot in 7 days and had over 175 different set-ups. The story matched the visual world with it's harsh tones and sad story of how a man became nothing more than a walking can with no heart.


HELP IS COMING by Ben Mor was footage that was originally shot for a music video/documentary about the demise of New Orleans after Katrina in the 9th Ward. The message is a simple one...Look at the devastation. Look at what could not be saved. The one aspect of this film that I really liked was the use of children wearing masks that they find in a Red Cross Box. The back of the mask says "Help is coming!" When they put them on they are wearing the faces of George Bush and Dick Cheney. I am not sure it says alot but what it does say it says it loud. The star of this film is the cinematography of a city in America that is in ruins.


Probably the most visualy stunning film of the night, Benjamin M. Piety's THE LONELY LIGHTS. THE COLOR OF LEMONS IS A STUNNING PIECE OF FILMMAKING. The use of inkblot paintings sets the tone for a film that isat once autobiographical (according to the director) and an experiment with love/loss/confusion and the defining moments in a young man's life. This film had a great cast but Mr. Piety has emerged as a filmmaker to watch. See this movie if you get a chance!!!


t.o.m. by Tom Brown is a cartoon about a young man who shows you his daily routine of getting ready to go to school. It is a very short film and cleverly done. The animation is a little crude and I was left scratching my head....BUT! For some reason I did love it.


MONO by Richard Smith is such a sweet and beautiful film that I wish it were a feature. Another story about people living in an apartment building who have people all around them, yet they are alone. Sound like a cliche film, I know. BUT! the way the story is written, directed, shot and acted creates a little gem of a short film. The boy and the girl are adrift in their lives and find each other and fall in love by only listening to each other through the walls. The way they play, flirt and break their hearts is such a refreshing story. Very well acted. Mr. Smith is another emerging artist I will keep up with!


THE LAST DOG IN RWANDA, directed by Jens Assur was the longest film of the night. It also had by far the largest budget. Shot Mainly in South Africa this film shows the horror of genocide and war told through the eyes of a photogrpher and journalist. It was absolutely a fantastic film, and was extremely based on the real life of the director. This film is so well shot you feel the pain of the African people and the mass amount of corpses that you are forced to see, begin to truly affect you. There is nothing that can be done to help these people. They are killing each other and why? It makes you qyestion what you have seen, and makes you want to know more. The ending of this film is a little off-putting and I thought that this was where it was heading but... because the acting was some of the best of the night, I hoped I was wrong. For their sake. Maybe even for humanities.
Kristoffer

Thursday, June 28, 2007

LA FILM FESTIVAL TRANSFORMERS WORLD PREMIERE

Transformers Premiere
National Theatre
June 27, 2007



I have 2 words to say about this film F$#@%ing AWESOME! No I am not a 10 year old boy, a 20 year old nerd or a 40 year old virgin. I am a mature, working mother and wife and the efx in this film blew my mind. I was completely surprised that I enjoyed this movie as much as I did. In the 80’s I was not playing with the toys, I was in college pretending to be Belinda Carlisle, so I had no idea what an Autobot was or whether Megatron was a good guy, a bad guy or even a guy. But, I don’t think I blinked once during this movie, I didn’t want to miss a second of the amazing visuals.

At the beginning of the film, LA Film Festival Director, Richard Raddon announced that the film was being beamed via satellite from outer space using some new technology. Wow me likes the new technology, the picture was HD quality, sharp and crystal clear. I also believe there was a new sound system world premiering. It all added immensely to the AWE Factor.

The film tells the story of the Autobots and the Decepticons two warring factions of robots. They are both trying to get the All Spark “a mystical talisman that would grant unlimited power to whoever possessed it”, the Autobots want to destroy it and the Decepticons want to use it to take over the world. Shia La Beouf plays the nerdy high school kid that tries to save the world and win the heart of the hottie (Megan Fox). Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are the way hot soldiers that first encounter the Decepticons while fighting a war in Qatar and go on to help Shia save the world. My favorite character was Optimus Prime, the Autobot with a heart of gold. He kept reminding his guys that Autobots do not harm humans, words to live by. He reminded me a lot of The Iron Giant, big, actually gigantic, scary robot, with a soft side. The bad guy Megatron was as menacing as they come.

The visual efx were seamless, I expected to walk outside and see an Autobot walking down Broxton, I totally believed that they were real. When the Transformers “transform” it is incredible. One of them called “Bumblebee” transforms into a yellow Camaro, every nerds dream car. The action scenes were exciting and there were many funny moments involving clueless parents. There is something about national security and the Pentagon and the Secretary of Defense, but in the end the nerdy kid and the sexy girl save us all. Of course this film is aimed at young men, even the extras were big boobed and sexy, but it is a film about war toys after all.

This Premiere was different than most premieres, anybody could by a ticket to see the film in one of I think 5 theatres in Westwood. That ticket also got you in to the after party. It was a giant block party on Broxton and was sponsored by Burger King. All you can eat Whoppers, Fries, Chicken Fries, Hot Dogs, Cotton Candy and of course the requisite open bar. We spotted 3 celebrities-Burger King himself, (the creepy character in the mask), he looks just like he looks on TV, The Washington Mutual Guy and character actor J.P. Madoux, who you would know if you saw him. I guess Josh and Tyrese were in the VIP area of the party, I wonder if they ate the Chicken Fries?

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY SEVEN

Day 7- 3 films plus some fun (Buffy is at the end)

WHAT WE DO IS SECRET
The Landmark


So, can I let you in on a little secret? You promise you won’t tell? Okay, well hear it goes. I have absolutely no interest in the LA Punk scene of the 1970s and 80s. None. Zilch. In fact, if you had told me that I was seeing a biopic about Darby Crash and the Germs, my initial response would be … who? It wasn’t until halfway through the film that I realized that this group was not a fictitious band used as part of a narrative device. Oops, somebody didn’t do his research. So, SSHHHH! Don’t tell. Well, okay, in fact you should tell. You see, that’s part of the reason why What We Do Is Secret, Rodger Grossman’s feature debut, did very little for me. I am certainly not the audience for it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not for you, either. So, keeping that in mind, I am going to go back to a time-old technique that I was taught in fourth grade to use when discussing something that you really have nothing to say about. I can almost hear my teacher Mrs. Crouse’s singsong voice now. “Class, now remember, give two ‘positives’, and one ‘needs to work on’, all right? Begin.”

What We Do Is Secret is nothing short of a labor of love from so many people. It embodies the whole spirit of independent films. Grossman explained during his Q&A how the film took more than a decade to make. Production even stopped for over two years when money ran out. That was when Grossman said that he would not cut his hair until the film was completed. It’s shoulder-length, now. Grossman partnered with many of the original members of the band to ensure the truth of the work, and it is quite easy to see how much time and effort went into this project.

The cast is capable. Shane West is just fine as Darby Shaw. He holds the film together and is in virtually every scene. Rick Gonzalez is admirable as Pap Smear, and character actor JP Manoux practically steals the movie as radio host Rodney Bingenheimer in a scene that I was surprised to hear almost didn’t make the final cut.

My only fault with this film is I felt like I had been there before. It seems to follow the same formula as a lot of music biopics. The music sequences, which are well done and recreated, just seem to take slightly too long, and keep me from connecting to the characters. The film is well-made, but does seem to play it safe … if you can say that a film about Punk rock is safe.

But hey, you remember what I said at the beginning. This could be right up your alley. So, like all ‘secrets’, pass it on.

“Overture”.


THE COOL SCHOOL
Mann Festival Theatre


Directed my Morgan Neville this film is about the modern art scene in LA in the 50's and 60's and the people who fought to make it cool. Hell, they had to fight for people to even consider it art. LA was a wasteland for the new artists. However a man by the name of Walter Hopps changed the landscape of modern art by opening Ferus Gallery. With a roster of artis that included Billy Al Bengston, Walter Hopps, Robert Irwin, Ed Kienholz, Ed Moses, and Ed Ruscha. With rememberances by the artists and the people on the edge of this movement. Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper and Frank Gehry. What a strange trip down the memory of these peoples lives and experiences.
With every success their egos got bigger and the fighting and bickering got worse. The one thing that I found so interesting was the brotherhood they created in the begining. To cheer and egg each other on to bigger and greater things. It goes to show that with competition, talent can only grow! It was very interesting to see that their lives was like any soap opera. Divorce, wife stealing, mental illness and death felled the gallery and the end of the era.
Did you know that Andy Warhol's first show was at the Ferus gallery? His soup can paintings premiered and sold there. Walter Hopp's the curator told Dennis Hopper to not buy one. They we're $100. That was a bad decision. This is also showing on Saturday June 30th at 3pm with a Artis Reunion Moderated discussion at 4:30 with all the artists and the director.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (sing along)
"Once More With Feeling"
Majestic Crest Theatre


OK! I can totally admit my geekiness. I will let my freak flag fly when it comes to Buffy or anything Joss Whedon! I NEVER missed this show when it was on TV. I would miss weddings, funerals, parties... No I am afraid I cannot come I like watching Buffy when it comes on. Of course I did not have Tivo back in the day but OMG I loved that show. When I saw that they were having this "special event" at the LA Film Fest of course I knew I was going.
I got in line over an hour early because the line was huge. And full of geeky fun. People were playing Buffy board games. They were talking about the new Buffy comic (Season 8) Thank you Joss! It was like a Buffy convention line.
When I got in my seat with my new best friend Nicci, who I met in the line and bonded over all things Anya (she is a character in the show for all you non-believers) We received a goody bag with things for us to use while we watched the show.
This night was like an interactive event. It was the same thing as a Rocky Horror Picture Show night only cooler for me cause it was with Buffy. We sang, we held hands, we screamed at Dawn, it was one of the greatest theatrical experiences ever! I thought WOW it is over it is 12:45am at night I am old and my partner is supposed to pick me up an hour ago (of course it ran wayyyy late. PRESHOW BABY!) But as I got to the back door I saw Jody (my partner) and he told me to look behind the theatre door. I peeked my head out and there was JOSS WHEDON! Marti Noxon was sitting right beside Jody and I melted down into a geeky nerdy pool of Buffiness. I stammered and he waved and put his finger to his lips. OMG he is gonna surprise everyone.... and he did. What a surreal night it must have been for him. He thanked us all and I knew it was time to leave. And so I slept with sweet dreams of Whedon floating around in my head.

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY SIX

JOSHUA
Centerpiece Premiere
National Theater
June 26, 2007

I suspect that if the current administration had seen an advance screening of Joshua then they would have seriously reconsidered the whole ‘No Child Left Behind’-thing.

Joshua was the LA Film Fest’s Centerpiece Premiere screening held at the soon-to-be-defunct National Theater in Westwood. The screening was sponsored by family-friendly Target. I thought, appropriate enough, because Joshua (played eerily by Jacob Kogan) has that kind of Sunday Flier clean cut kid look that makes everyone always say “Oh, you must be so proud.”

But what if they weren’t? And what if that clean-cut kid was secretly planning his family’s demise?

Okay, I know what you are saying. We’ve seen it all before: The Bad Seed, The Good Son (which the little tyke claims was inspiration), The Omen. And I will agree with you. But in a way, Joshua, as directed by George Ratliffe, acknowledges these inevitable comparisons while keeping the tension palpable and the script ripe with black humor. It’s as if he is giving us a throw-back to those incredible thrillers of the 70’s while keeping his story current (Postpartum depression, the abused-child hysteria, organized religion discussions). Ratliffe helps direct his actors to fine, performances. Sam Rockwell excels, as always, in the role of Brad. Also, Celia Weston just adds so much more by her mere presence in her scenes, that I had to mention her.

Okay, I am not a spoiler boy. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I live for spoilers. But I won’t spoil anything for you. As a fan of movie music, I want to give a little praise to the composer, Nico Muhly, who I am certain had something to do with the incredibly eerie arrangement in the film’s highlight for me: Joshua’s piano recital. It happens early in the film but it helps set the tone, as does all of his music.

I am certain that this movie is not for everyone. However, at least give it a shot. It’s one that will have you talking long after it is over.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

FRAMELINE AWARDS CLOSING NIGHT

FRAMELINE31 AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

FRAMELINE31 AUDIENCE HONORS FOUR MINUTES FOR BEST FEATURE, SEMPER FI: ONE MARINE'S JOURNEY FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY AND PARIAH FOR BEST SHORT. GLUE RECEIVES THE $10,000 FRAMELINE FIRST FEATURE AWARD. RED WITHOUT BLUE RECEIVES THE $10,000 MICHAEL J. BERG DOCUMENTARY AWARD


The Audience Award for Best Feature was given to Chris Kraus' FourMinutes, a German film that follows the volatile relationship betweena convicted killer and the older piano teacher who takes her on as a pupil. Vince DiPersio's Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey took home theAudience Award for Best Documentary. Semper Fi follows the evolution of Lance Corporal Jeff Key, a patriotic gay marine stationed in Iraq who begins to question both the occupation and the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Frameline Completion Fund winner Pariah (Dir. Dee Rees), which centers on a black lesbian teen struggling with self-doubt, guilt and familial rejection, garnered standing ovations when it closed the Fun In Girls' Shorts program at the Castro Theatre– and ultimately took home the Audience Award for Best Short Film. The juried Frameline First Feature Award recognized Glue, Argentine director Alexis Dos Santos' richly poetic ode to budding adolescent sexuality. The Michael J. Berg Documentary Award, a $10,000 juried award recognizing the best documentary feature having its Bay Area premiere at the Festival, was given to Red Without Blue, Brooke Sebold, Benita Sills and Todd Sills' moving portrait of Mark and Clair, identical twins whose relationship must adapt when one of them transitions from male to female.It was a fitting follow up to their Audience Award at this year's Slamdance Film Festival.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FRAMELINE DAY'S 10 & 11

Saturday the 23rd - DAY TEN

The Curiosity of Chance - Ahhh, the 80's: a time of mullets, thin ties, acid washed jeans, British synthpop, and Cyndi Lauper. But also, the era of one of the greatest genre of comedies to ever rise to popularity: The John Hughes style High School Dramedy! This film is no exception to the genre, except for the fact that our lead character is an out gay boy, Chance Marquis (Tad Hilgenbrinck). The rest of this coming of age high school comedy is true to its form, including the idiot faculty, the good-hearted but misguided parents, the bully who threatens Chance's mere existence, the band of outcast misfits who prove to be worthy allies, and in the end, the fairy tale reversal of popularity which brings our once dejected hero into the loving embrace of all who tortured him. As Chance sings during the climax in front of the whole school at a battle of the bands competition, "don't worry who you are, stand up and you'll go far." Indeed. This film about cute high school boys was ironically sponsored by Steamworks (http://www.steamworksonline.com/)


Starrbooty - America 's drag queen sweetheart shows off her raunchy side in this absolutely hilarious send-up of the blacksploitation genre. Actually there are so many loving nods to previous cult classics here that this film is destined to be viewed in sold out midnight movie houses for years to come. Director Mike Ruiz (Latin Boys Go to Hell) and RuPaul's labor of love mixes equal parts Russ Meyer sex-and-violence, John Waters dialogue and full-frontal-male-nudity, and Naked Gun slapstick. RuPaul is Starrbooty, former supermodel turned superagent, working undercover as a hooker to find her niece in a gritty New York body parts broker ring, ran by her arch nemesis, Annaka Manners (Candis Cayne). In order to maintain her authenticity while undercover, Starrbooty must commit to her role as a call girl by going all the way with her Johns. The movie not only titillates, but will have you dancing in the aisles with a RuPaul soundtrack containing such soon to be dance floor sensations as "Drop that Pimp, View to a Booty," and "Pussy for Sale ," all of which have a far greater funky soul than any previous RuPaul recording. RuPaul says she's working on releasing the soundtrack but doesn't think it will be released on cd, saying "that's so 2000 - it'll probably be released on iTunes and other digital formats, cause I'm current and shit."



I spoke briefly with RuPaul before the screening and she described the film as "a combination of craziness and zaniness and wackiness and everything that's wrong!" When asked to comment on the throng of San Francisco Pride-goers gathered to get a glimpse of the supermodel, she waved to everyone and said, "Starrbooty was made for San Francisco!!"




The movie was an absolute scream with more quotable dialogue and rump shakin' goodness than anyone could ask for in a 90 minute "chick" flick.




RuPaul said she would be out at all the festivals promoting Starrbooty so look for it near you!!! This evening's presentation was sponsored by ABSOLUT Vodka..

Sunday the 24th - closing night

Before the screening of the closing film of the 31st annual Frameline Film Festival, Jennifer Morris, Director of Programming for Frameline, bestowed the Frameline Award to this year's winner, Andrea Sperling, producer of Itty Bitty Titty Committee. Sperling has participated at Frameline over the years and has closed out several festivals in the past with her movies, including D.E.B.S., Pumpkin, Prozac Nation, But I'm A Cheerleader, Freak Weather, No Vacancy, Desert Blue, and with Gregg Araki : Nowhere, The Doom Generation, Totally F***ed Up, and The Living Dead. Sperling has been recognized for her continued progress in furthering queer cinema to new uncharted success and for her involvement in the Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up (POWERUP!). A brief retrospective of her work was shown, followed by her acceptance speech.


Itty Bitty Titty Committee directed by Jamie Babbitt (But I'm A Cheerleader) is a feminist fairytale about a young woman, Anna (Melonie Diaz) who comes to terms with herself and her body with the aid of a leftist, feminist guerilla group known as Clits In Action (C(i)A). The CIA work to promote healthy body images for women being reared in a sexist, patriarchal, male dominated society. Their brand of terrorism includes spray painting the plastic surgery center where Anna works, plumping up mannequins at a bikini shop, and speaking out against marriage as an outdated form of slavery. Anna falls in love with the CIA's sexy ringleader, Sadie (Nicole Vicius), but is crushed to find out she has a girlfriend/sugarmomma, Courtney (thirtysomething's Melanie Mayron). Things begin to head south as the CIA discover that all their acts have been quickly undone or altogether unseen. The group tries to think of the ultimate scheme to get coverage for the fledgling extremist group, but no one has any ideas. Additionally, Sadie publicly chooses Courtney over Anna, and the group, which leads to the disbanding of the CIA. It becomes clear it's up to Anna to come up with a nationally televised assault on the nation's largest phallic symbol, save the day and the fate of the CIA. With a killer soundtrack of classic Riotgrrrl acts like LeTigre, Sleater Kinney, Team Dresch and Bikini Kill off of The Kill Rock Stars record label, this is by far one of the coolest lesbian date night movies ever created. A more proper closing to this year's festival could not have been orchestrated with a final message to filmgoers to stand up for change. Here's to the motherf*c!in' revolution!!!

Krimpdaddy!
Joseph Krimple is a Mortgage Banker residing in San Francisco, CA. When not punching the nine to five clock, he's an avid film buff, devoted music lover, and wannabe rockstar. He can be reached at jkrimple@hotmail.com

FRAMELINE DAY 8 & 9

Thursday the 21st – DAY EIGHT


Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe – James Crump’s captivating documentary about Sam Wagstaff, the man who helped revolutionize the art world of the 1970’s, along with his romantic and artistic partner Robert Mapplethorpe and punk poetess Patti Smith. The film chronicles what little is know of the life of Wagstaff, from his aristocratic upbringing, his earliest foray into creating art, his years in advertising and eventually his work as curator and collector of one of the world’s largest collections of photographs ever amassed – which at the time of his death in 1987 was worth $5 million. As an artistic innovator, he organized the first exhibition of Minimalist art and was pivotal in the burgeoning New York art scene of the time, championing not only Mapplethorpe and Smith but Andy Warhol as well. Wagstaff’s death in 1987, and Mapplethorpe’s in 1989, marked the end of an era. However, their collective work continues to inspire present day art and culture. This feature was sponsored by COLT Studio Group

Friday the 22nd – DAY NINE


Glue – In his first feature, Alexis Dos Santos’s depiction of the teenage experience hits all the highpoints: hanging out with friends, singing in a garage band, experimenting sexually with girls (and boys), coping with the family, and sniffing glue! Through guerilla Super 8 handheld sequences, more singular, allegorical moments divulge inner struggles within each of the disaffected youths. The dry desert of Patagonia Argentina sets the stage for the kids’ boredom, exploration and meandering attention, orchestrated by a kick ass collection of Violent Femmes tunes. This film was sponsored by California College of the Arts.

Monday, June 25, 2007

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY FIVE

CHARLIE BARTLETT
The Majestic Crest Theatre

I looked up at the ceiling in the theatre right as the lights were going down and I noticed that there is a skyscape of constellations that are lit up. It was beautiful. there was even a shooting star. A nice way to start a film. And on we go...

Charlie Bartlett is by first time director John Poll and first time screenwriter Gustin Nash. It has a fantastic cast with Anton Yelchin in a star making role as well as Robert Downey jr., Kat Denning, Tyler Hilton, And a breath taking performance by Hope Davis (when is she not breathtaking). It is a teenage comedy more reminiscent of the John Hughes movies of the 80's instead of the gross out humor of todays genre. However, to say this is like a Hughes movie isn't quite right.... It is like it is supposed to be. A compelling tight story that is well paced and shows what kid's can accomplish by simply listening to each other and helping out someone in need. Of course, like all movies about teenagers the kids think, act and talk like adults. This time though they are aware of the act and want to be "just kids"

It has a smartly written and very funny script. I laughed more at this than I have in a long time at a comedy. The story revolves around a young man named Charlie Bartlett. He is from a very rich family who has a counselor on retainer. He is his mother's conscience and pretty much takes care of her. When he winds up in public school, he craves the popularity that any teenager craves. He becomes shrink to the students with the bathroom as his office and the school drug dealer as the pharmicist. He becomes what he has always wanted and learns that fame comes with a price.


At the Q&A Anton, Kat, The director Jon and writer Gustin were present. They talked about it being their first film in their prospective roles. How Anton was always Charlie. Anton kept blushing whenever he got complemented and Kat I discovered was the daughter in 40 Year Old Virgin. When asked why he took the role he responded "I get to beat my chest, run around in my tightie whities, play piano and sell ritalin. I am so in!" The fun they had shows on the screen. They admit the budget is, of course, in the millios. However, they are an indie film. Just a very lucky one!

Go see this movie when it is released this summer. It is also playing June 28th at 9:45pm. I know that "Overture" is gonna try to go see it. I will make sure that he posts his comments too. Taking a day off tommorow to work on the website. Come back Thursday to hear about Wednesdays films.

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY FOUR

LA FILM FESTIVAL Day 4- so many films my butt hurts!

Live Earth Day at the La Film Fest. Their website says this:
58 short films commissioned by SOS-Live Earth—an organization supported by Al Gore and designed to trigger a mass-scale movement to combat the climate crisis—will screen at the L.A. Film Festival. Environmental groups will occupy booths on Broxton during the day to educate attendees about this impending danger and what we can all do to make a better tomorrow.

I saw 31 of these shorts. Some were documentaries, some were narrative, Some were PSA’s, and some were even cartoons. A lot of them came from England. I am just going to talk about a couple of them.

Think opened up the screening and it was funny, thoughtful, insightful and well performed. Directed by Rupert Jones, it showed a shopkeeper and the same woman coming in and buying milk. It revolved around the plastic bag. After slapping sense into each other time and time again, they both used canvas bags as a solution to the problem. LOVED THIS SHORT!

I wish I knew who directed the short about Sidwell Friends School in DC. They are a “Green” school completely and teach conservation of the Earth. These kids in the Doc were amazing and the way they talked about what was happening was amazing. They know and understand and hopefully will be leaders one day. I believe it was titled Generation G.

There were also shorts by: Casey Affleck, Chad Lowe, Madonna, Joaquin Phoenix and Rob Reiner. Some more of my favorites include: Switch On; Switch Off by Chris Bran, A Beginners Guide To Giving a Damn by Airside, Gridlock by Darren Walsh (the program lists it as Angry Kid), Round and Round by Suzanne Deakin and I thought the name was Suvuniq about the Arctic expedition taken by Richard Branson and his son.

There were some great vendors on Branson with natural products and they were giving out free trees!

THE LAST WINTER
The Mann Festival Theatre

The LAST WINTER by director Larry Fessenden is a monster movie, in a way. It’s a horror film kinda. A cautionary tale about oil drilling in the Arctic. Definitely! And a perfect fit for the LA Film Fest Live Earth Day Events! Earth spirits fight back against man in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The permafrost is melting and what is getting released. Vengeance! In all honesty it is much more a psychological thriller than a horror movie. I didn’t really find it scary. I thought it was a little preachy but I thought the performances were great. Especially James LeGros and Zach Gilford. The Q&A after had the director and LeGros. He sees the movie as a parallel to the partisan politics happening today. Corporate oilman against green thinkers. He is passionate about the global warming problem and made a movie about it. The most fascinating thing about the Q&A was to learn about the kickwell. That is the white structure in the picture above. It is real and the only time that they have ever drilled there before. It is kind of a haunting image against the starkness of the Arctic plains. I can understand how this movie came from that image. Give it a shot. There were a couple gruesome moments.


Chasing Ghosts
National Theater

“I’ve got a pocketful of quarters and I’m headed to the arcade.” If you found yourself easily recognizing these lyrics to that pop-culture one-hit wonder, “Pacman Fever”, then do I have the film for you!

Chasing Ghosts documents that long-gone era where hanging out at the arcade was the ultimate after-school activity. It tells the story of the whiz kids of that era as they recall the hysteria that swelled over video-game high scores and the media attention that followed. It also tells of its quick rise, and even quicker fall, as ‘continues’ and video game consoles ultimately put a stop to the booming business.

Chasing Ghosts is so incredibly enjoyable, so interestingly done, that I cannot imagine anyone not walking away with a large smile on their face. Director Lincoln Ruchti mixes interviews with the yesterdays ‘whiz kids’ today, with vintage news footage and photographs. They even spend a portion of the time remembering those old arcade games, offering 3D computer-generated renderings of the action.

The film plays as a comedy to people who argue about videogames destroying quality of life. The film plays as a historical documentary to the early days and origins of the video game and arcade. The film plays as …. Well, no matter how you look at it, the film plays.

And it plays well … even on just one quarter.

CONSTANTINE’S SWORD
The Mann Festival Theatre

WOW!!! Yesterday I watched Join Us by Ondi Timoner. Christian Cults. Today I followed a story about Christianity in the military and the Catholic Church’s silent role in anti-semetic atrocities throughout history. Sword is directed by Oren Jacoby and was based on the subject’s book of the same name. James Carroll is such an interesting figure; A former priest turned author, who is not afraid of asking tough questions or hearing tough answers.

The air force is allowing New Life Church to come into their academy and recruit fervently. It had become an institutionalized support of Christianity in the military. People from other faiths and creeds were feeling very upset and concerned. This made Carroll look at the history of the Christian smear campaign against the Jewish people. I heard things that I never know. The mass killings during the Middle Ages. The Jewish Ghetto created in the 1500 and abolished in the 1870’s. These people were captives in a four block area in Rome that they were allowed to live in. Their prosperity or decline in Europe has depended on the Pope for over a 1000 years. What!?? It made me ill. I never knew all of this. It was a part of history I was never privy too. The story of Edith Stein completely devastated me. Like Anne Frank she has become a voice for everyone getting along. Why are so many people deaf! The Catholic church actually helped Hitler at a point? What? If this doesn’t go to show why a division of church and state is necessary then I do not know what does.

Carroll shows us that this “us versus them” attitude is the same today as it has been throughout all history. Are we headed in the same direction with our war on terror? It seems so. He reiterated this in the Q&A afterward. The Weinstein family who were in the movie were also in the audience.

My favorite part was watching Ted Haggard and the scary stuff that spewed out of his mouth about Christianity and Evangelicals. We all know what happened to him don’t we. How the mighty have fallen.

For more information go to http://www.constantinessword.com/
The film is playing again on June 29th at 7:30pm.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY THREE

LA Film Festival Day Three- 3 Films/3 Theatres


JOIN US
Majestic Crest Theatre

Join Us by director Ondi Timoner was a beautifully filmed story of the most horrific proportions. Four families having their very faith and foundations shaken and destroyed by the man they once called pastor and even father. “How do you know you are in a cult” Especially when it is disguised as Christian religion?

Being from the South, this Carolina story is one I can easily believe. Religious Zealots are on every street corner and churches are on every block and rural road. The Church in this film looked like any other church I have ever seen. Who knew that inside was a monster scaring families into obedience with the bible. Personally, isn’t that what all preachers do? However, the preacher in this church ruled over these families every day lives like a tyrant. Beating of children to a scary degree, slavery in some ways, banishment, and fear of Hell, kept these families in his palm. My skin was crawling. Pastor Raymund Melz was like a living God to these people.

The film begins with their escape to WellSpring, a recovery center for cult victims. Throughout the movie, experts on cults and psychology spoke about the recovery process and the meaning of cults in our society. According to our Government there are over 5,000 cults working in America alone at this very moment. The movie follows the treatment process and their “release” back into mainstream civilization. They also confront their former “leader” and his just as eerie wife.

One of the families joined Ondi on stage for a Q&A after the film. They spoke of brainwashing and how the other families were doing. They have a civil case against the pastor since the police could not find a reason to convict Raymund Melz. Watching the film, it seemed as if the “good old boy” system of government in the south was not on the side of the families. I mean after all this was a preacher! Someone asked the question that “What responsibility did the parents take in the beating of their children?” They had admitted this on camera often. They had also showed lots of remorse about that. The women all wondered what kind of mother were they if they could watch as well as be a part of the beatings their children underwent. The answer was simple. Brainwashing will get you to do anything and fear is the ultimate tool.

Fantastic documentary A MUST SEE!!! It is playing again June 25 at 5pm and June 26 at 9:45pm.

For more information on this film as well as it’s trailer go to:
http://www.joinusthemovie.com/

Kristoffer


Interview
Mann Festival Theater

So, the hottest, coolest film students joined the artsy middle-aged filmgoers to sell-out the Mann last night. However, it is only fitting that I was shoved in the third row between the annoying girl and the guy who smelled like bologna. But none of that killed my experience. I’m a Pop-Culture whore and this movie was right up my alley.

Imagine Lindsay Lohan coked-out of her mind and being interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. Okay, maybe not O’Reilly, but some political pundit like, say, George Stephanopolous. If you do that, than you have Interview, Steve Buscemi’s highly enjoyable remake of late-director Theo Van Gogh’s 2003 Dutch feature.

It’s the story of the ‘Behind the Story’. No, not a VH-1 type of thing, but the events of a Newsday Reporter (Steve Buscemi) who reluctantly needs to interview a famous-but-Big-Budget-sell-out actress (Sienna Miller).

Okay, so listen-up Indie film people, because this is a film that is something we will be hearing about in the months and even years to come. It is the first part of a Van Gogh Americanized Trilogy that Producer Bruce Weiss states is meant to introduce the Van Gogh style of film-making to the U.S.

“What style is that?” you may ask. And I will tell you.

From what I can gather, the Van Gogh style consists of three cameras that are constantly rolling, catching coverage simultaneously … or what I call, a Sitcom.

Now, that may seem insulting, and by no means do I mean to down play Van Gogh’s style. I just am not a film student and could not tell you about 70 millimeter prints or very much about anything technical. I tend to focus in on the story, and lucky for me, Interview was a strong character piece brilliantly acted by Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller. Now, in today’s Pop Culture obsessed world (that this movie brilliantly satirizes, btw) it is easy to label performances Oscar-caliber, a lot. Hell, I think I heard it this week describing Evan Almighty for crying out loud. I won’t do that to you. But I will say that it is hard to find more realized characters on film today than Buscemi’s Pier, and Miller’s Katya. And I wish there was some way to honor both of them together (SAG?) because each performance is so dependent on the other. I guess the best way to honor it is for you to go see it! And please do. If you cannot catch it at a film festival near you, don’t fear. Sony Pictures Classics will be releasing it nationally in August.

“Overture”


ARCTIC TALE
Ford Amphitheatre

I don’t know if it was the atmosphere or the elevation or the sip of beer, but do you ever have those moments when everyone in the place looks good? Hopefully, present company (meaning me) included. Maybe it was the glow from the sun just before twilight… we’ll go with that. I’m sitting in the center of the Ford Amphitheatre, nestled into the side of the Hollywood Hills just across from that other behemoth of an amphitheatre, the Hollywood Bowl. I’m facing a giant blow up movie screen (this is a first) on which the movie is to be screened. Nature and people all around. The stage and seating are reminiscent of my youth when the family would take in a show at Opryland between rides… don’t bother, it no longer exists. DollyWood or Silver Dollar City would be your next closest thing.

Tick, tock…

Well we’ve hit 8 o’clock and the sun is like the child that refuses to go to bed, so I’m not exactly sure when the festivities will begin, but I’ve got my beverage, I’ve carved out my space and am enjoying the changing colors of the natural backdrop as the sun begins its slow decent.

Tick, tock…

Okay, there was obviously a misprint in the schedule. It is coming on 8:30pm and no sign of life except the occasional bug that tries to use me as a landing pad… wait… here comes someone… okay this is it… back at you after the film… stay tuned…

After the show…

What a fun movie. Queen Latifah offered up an eloquent, yet playful narration. What can’t she do? We follow the lives of two creatures of the Arctic, a polar bear named Nanu and a walrus named Seela, on their long journeys from their earliest days through to adulthood. There are similarities in this film and others of its genre in that we see the trials they must go through in order to survive. The mothers train them, the environment challenges them. The difference between this movie and most that I’ve seen of its kind is that it infused much more humor than most. Quoting one of the lines from the film after the herd of walrus partook in the local clam bake they all sat around and begun “a game of pull my flipper!” Let the flatulence begin… So, yes, National Geographic resorted to toilet humor and it got the laughs, adults and kids alike. There were also some great cinematic shots that captured a more intimate look at these creatures’ extraordinary lives and their surroundings. It’s a humbling experience to see what these animals must endure and they take it in stride… they have to… it’s the way it is. Unfortunately, as the “tale” goes, their instinctive ways are being more and more challenged as global warming continues to be a threat. Their food supply and what was once a simple thing such as finding a sheet of ice on which to rest (so as not to drown) is becoming a scarce commodity. Directors Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson are great at capturing the landscape and the journey. The film makes you appreciate what you have and makes you question what you take from the earth and what you take for granted and most importantly what you give back. In the final credits there’s a montage of “human” youngsters spouting off ways to conserve energy, just in case you didn’t get it from the movie. The simplest of which we all can manage – turn off the lights and take a shorter shower. Sierra Club Angeles Chapter hosted the film and is an organization dedicated to preservation.

http://www.arcticbearproductions.com/
http://www.arctictalemovie.com/
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/
http://www.angeles.sierraclub.org/

RB

Saturday, June 23, 2007

LA FILM FESTIVAL DAY TWO

LA Film Festival Day Two- Three Films, Three Theatres

Shorts Program Number Four at the lovely Majestic Crest Theatre.

First of all let me say that this is my first time at this particular theatre. The Majestic Crest has an interesting history. It was first constructed in 1941 by the mother of Jane Fonda. It was intended to be a live theatrical venue, but the need for residents to see newsreels during World War two took the Crest upon it’s film path. It was redesigned in the 80’s and the Mural cyclorama of Hollywood in the 1940’s and the elaborate carvings were created. The history of this place fascinates me. For information about the theatre go to http://www.westwoodcrest.com/

Now to the movies. There did not seem to be a theme or intent by placing the films together that I could see. The films were very different from one another and seemed to give a “well-rounded” feel to the evening. There was a couple technical difficulties but they soon got worked out quickly. This seems to happen at every film festival as the shorts are all on different mediums: Film, Digital DVD, Quicktime. I also saw about a minute of a short that was not supposed to be screened called HAPPINESS. About a worker at a condom factory. I was so extremely disappointed when they stopped it because I WAS LOVING IT! Very funny stuff. It is in Shorts Program # 3. Everyone should try to go see that on June 23rd or June 30th. Now onto the shorts I saw.


First up was a quick short called COLOURBARS by Timothy Moore. A cute film about the colorbars, on a camera, and the work that they do. What if the colorbars were living sentient beings on a break at work? Their conversation was cute and kept me interested. An extremely short short. This is what I love about shorts programs. A two minute jewel of a film.


Next up was THE BACK OF HER HEAD by Josh Safdie. In this short a man living on the fourth floor is in love with the girl two floors directly below who keeps sticking her head out the window. A cute concept that seemed very voyeuristic. We all watch our neighbors out the window and the neighbors in this movie were certainly interesting enough. A man, on the second floor, who throws things out his window into the street. A man, on the third floor, who listens to his TV so loud it disturbs everyone. And first floor residents are a couple who yell and scream at each other, the girl who is the back of the head. And of course the man who secretly pines for what he is to afraid to ever have on the top floor. I lived there in NYC. This movie shows it’s ok to watch but better to be an active part. The ending was a little kitschy but it was a pretty solid film.


Next up was ADIDAS “ADICOLOR-GREEN” by Happy. There was a war. Society has changed. A kubrickian future. Looked kinda like sci-fi, but was it? Four people in a white room take a green pellet and place it in their mouth. They then put on Head protection and get green paintball pellets flying at them from nowhere. Soon the entire place is covered in green including the window that we were watching through. The narration was cute, however I must admit I was left wanting just a little more explanation. Because though it was shot very cool, I did not get it completely. Aaah Shorts!


Next up was WOOD by David Fenster, a short documentary about wood. Or so I thought. You watch trees get cut down and the process they go through to become a 2X4 at your lumber yard. I thought it was going to be a little more political than it actually was when it first began. The ease and quick destruction that these “alien” like machines caused in the forest. It was both scary and upsetting. However, when we got to the sawmill. We heard the thoughts and life stories of some, who work in the sawmill. A short ala Studs Terkel’s “Working” It humanized the process and showed the humanity in each board that comes out of a factory. For me it is easier to be angry at these companies when I live in LA but this film puts a face with a family behind it. Nice visuals. A Q&A with the director followed.


Next was by far my favorite with a narrative. FIRST COMMUNION by Daniel Eduvijes Carrera, a fantastic film about children surviving in a Mexican town. The gangs they form, the territories they create and the needless pain they cause. This movie was shot beautifully in black and white and had a big budget for a short film. It shows. The performances he pulled form these actual residential children of the village he shot in are fantastic. The 5 year old with a knofe to big for his hands was a chilling visual, as was the two girls dressed in white ready to turn their head and ignore the sufferering in the church on their most holy of days. Bravo Daniel. A great piece of film. The director was there and did a Q&A after.


And the last film I saw was EVERYTHING WILL BE OK by Don Hertzfeldt. A crudely but nicely animated film with semi stick figures was quite funny, witty and charming. It kept me laughing for quite a while and the starkness of the situation the lead finds himself in becomes disarming. It is his everyday life that is driving him crazy. Nothing else. The film captures the quirks and futility of a life very well. I understood the pain of this stick man. Nicely written narration kept the film moving.

That is Short Program #4. It is playing again July 1st at 12:30pm once again at the lovely Majestic Crest.

Kristoffer
NEXT UP!!!!


RAZZLE DAZZLE

Friday, June 22, 2007
The Landmark

Okay, I admit it. I’m a mean-spirited bastard when things don’t go my way. And for a while there, nothing was going my way. I won’t bore you with the details but one: when standing in line inside a giant glass room with no air-conditioning, sweating like you just ate bad fish, one has to wonder if a small Australian mockumentary about children’s competitive dance is worth it.

The answer is ‘Yes’.

RAZZLE DAZZLE is the painfully funny story of the Jazzketeers of Mr. Jonathan’s Dance Academy who competes for the top prize at Australia’s most prestigious dance competition, the Sanosafe Troupe Spectacular. In order to enjoy the glory they must face off against rival dance troupe Miss Elizabeth’s Talent Academy, a five time Sanosafe champion and a highly disciplined troupe filled with charming, preteen stormtroopers who don’t take losing lightly. In fact they don’t take losing at all. Along the way, Mr. Jonathan’s Jazzketeers have to face overbearing mothers, criminal co-workers, backstage rivalries, and Mr. Jonathan’s own style of socially conscious choreography inspired by the socio-economic climate of the day. Whatever is a troupe to do? As the synopsis states, “With perfect comic timing, this sequined-spangled, family-friendly mockumentary about dreamers and dancers will have you tapping your way out of the theater.”

Director Darren Ashton’s film is easily comparable to the works of Christopher Guest. However, at a Q&A following the film, Ashton stated that he really modeled his film after the documentaries ‘Painted Babies’ and ‘Spellbound’, as he respectfully believed the Guest’s films felt too ‘involved in the joke’. I am certain this is the case, as the film never plays a joke, the humor comes from the painful honesty of the situation.

Razzle Dazzle is a crowd pleaser and an enjoyable way to spend a sweat-filled Friday evening in Los Angeles. If you do get a chance to see it, be certain to stay past the closing credits as there is an extra little ending that foreshadows the frightening future of one of the film’s more disturbing characters.

Razzle Dazzle plays again June 26th at 7:30pm at the Mann Festival theatre.
"Overture"

Next was:
The Town That Was


At the Italian Cultural Institute

In the post-viewing Q&A, one of the directors, Georgie Roland, indicated while attending USC film school he discovered his approach to filmmaking was less studio film track and instead, preferred a more John Cassavetes approach. Originally from the east coast, he eventually made his way back and jumped into the trenches with the everyday man, “getting his nails dirty,” taking on odd jobs to hopefully unearth a story that would be worth telling. While working as a supervisor in the cafeteria of a prison, with the job of monitoring to make sure razor blades were not being smuggled into the food, one of the inmates, knowing Roland was into filmmaking, approached him and (I’m paraphrasing here) relayed something to the affect of “you want a f#&!%d up story?... there’s this f#&!%d up town… with some f#&!%d up stuff that happened to them...” And that was the beginnings of “The Town That Was.”

The film opens with a series of home movie shots of the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania in its early heyday, replete with your local parade, the county fair, and your unsuspecting standers by obliging the cameraman creating your typical Norman Rockwell portrait of American society. Accompanying the archival footage is the voice of narrator and main character, John Lokitis. After the trip down memory lane we are jolted into the present, in film look and mood, as directors Chris Perkel and Georgie Roland bring us squarely into the current state of this vanishing town; a coal mining town that has slowly disintegrated due to a routine controlled trash site burn that ignited a lair of anthracite coal underneath the town in the early 60s. After several years the coal continued to burn and sometime in the 80s smoke began to break through the ground surface and carbon monoxide gas poured into homes at alarming rates. Government officials were notified, but according to residents interviewed, the problem was highly overlooked and it wasn’t until a young boy nearly lost his life that the government stepped in. After several failed attempts to put the fire out, the residents were offered market value for their homes if they wanted to relocate. This set up factions within the community with those who wanted a solution so they could stay and those that were tired of the fight and wanted to leave. After several of the townspeople left, the government imposed eminent domain and began dismantling the homes and public facilities one after another. Lokitis and 10 others remain and plan on staying to the bitter end.

The filmmakers captured the landscape both past (through archival footage and recent years) and present and offered up interviews from current residents and those that had left. I was impressed that they were able to get the amount of footage that they did, considering there is little left of this community.
Even though the film is a documentary, and that can carry with it varying approaches, you want it to have a little more heart than it does. The score, by Paul Henning, although well composed and a nice compliment to the mood, doesn’t have enough matching emotion from the “actors.” It’s especially hard to empathize with the main character, John Lokitis, because we don’t see him sharing his feelings as he unveils the narrative, only his thoughts. Everything he does is focused on keeping this town alive, so much so that he seems to be disconnected from humanity (which was confirmed to a degree in the Q&A). But you still root for him because of his commitment and discipline in fighting the fight, and the few remaining residents and even some that have left, recognize his dedication. The two older gentlemen at the local VFW and the town’s former Mayor are a welcome comic relief in what could have been a long expose about this ravished community. The film is as much a story about the decline of the town and its community as it is about the decline of a man. One wonders though if it was the decline of the town that influenced the man (Lokitis) and his current disposition or if he has always embodied this particular temperament and that keeping the town alive is the one thing that he can connect to that gives him purpose. One does take away with them a renewed affinity for their own home town, and a strong desire to unearth and tell whatever story there may be there to tell.

It will have a second showing at the Landmark Theatre on June 25th at 2:30pm.

For more information go to: http://www.thetownthatwas.com/

RB

Friday, June 22, 2007

LA FILMFEST DAY ONE

Opening night LA Film Festival - June 21, 2007


Talk to Me

Mann’s Village Theatre

As a working mother of a 2 year old I don’t get out at night much, so I probably would have a good time at a radio station screening of Captivity (if it ever comes out). The chance to wear non-work, non-cleaning the garage clothes and go out alone with my husband is something special and unusual. Even though the film was 30 minutes late starting and I felt like a cow being herded out the door at the end of the show, we had a great time.

The Opening Night film was Talk to Me, about D.C. radio dj Petey Greene.
It follows the lives Petey and Dewey Hughes, his reluctant friend and manager, during the late 60’s. The stand out performances were the always brilliant Don Cheadle as Petey and Taraji P. (“It’s hard our here for a pimp”) Henson as his girl Vernell. She is an extremely talented actress and was the highlight of the film, she is cute and very, very funny. The very handsome Chiwetel Ejiofor played Dewey Hughes, Petey’s friend and had a real command of the screen. The cast is rounded out by Martin Sheen, Mike Epps, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Cedric the Entertainer.

The film has a lot of heart, a lot of humor and has many touching moments especially surrounding the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. I credit director Kasi Lemmons with much of this. When she introduced the cast and crew before the film, she seemed like a person with a lot of heart and humor so of course it would carry over into her film. Unlike a lot of “period” pieces about our recent past I didn’t feel like they forced the era down your throat, i.e. let’s put funny wigs on people and play a lot of popular music of the day and they will know we are in the 60’s.
The party afterward was outside on Broxton and was your typical Patina catered, open bar, street party. Lot’s of people trying to look important while scoping the crowd for celebrities, (that’s what we were doing) while shoving free food in their mouths (that’s what we were doing too). The stand out performance in the food category was the flat iron steak sandwich and the chocolate dipped rice krispie treats. I am embarrassed to say that my inability to stay awake past 11 prevented me from partaking in the free drinks. We made a beeline for the food line, wolfed it down while gawking, made a pass through the whole party and left.

MMalone

Thursday, June 21, 2007

FRAMELINE DAY 7

Wednesday the 20th – Day 7

Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in all the World – this totally un-PC stop motion animated series premiering next month on LOGO is the latest project from Q. Allan Brocka (Eating Out, Boy Culture). This story of 3 little plastic couples living in their little plastic gay-borhood, Lahunga Beach , says everything about the queer community we all feel but could never say! Rick and Steve have been dating for seven years and are interested in a three way to spice up their sex life. Kristen and Dana have been together three drama-filled years and want a baby. Rick is Kristen’s first choice of sperm donors but Steve and Dana despise one another. Steve’s best friend is Chuck, a bitter, HIV positive, wheelchair bound, daddy-type whose partner, 19 year old club kid, Evan round out the cast of misfit gays. The show premiers on Logo July 10th, with six episodes total in its first season.

Joseph Krimple is a Mortgage Banker residing in San Francisco, CA. When not punching the nine to five clock, he's an avid film buff, devoted music lover, and wannabe rockstar. He can be reached at http://us.f573.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=jkrimple@hotmail.com

FRAMELINE DAY 6

Tuesday the 19th - DAY SIX

Suffering Man's Charity – Alan Cumming’s solo directorial debut also finds the exceedingly talented actor in the starring role as John Vandermark - a failed composer who makes a living as a music teacher, browbeating small children into submission during their lessons. Over the years, Vandermark has taken in the occasional struggling artist in hopes of buoying their career. His most recent “project” is Sebastian St. Germain (Buffy the Vampire’s David Boreanaz) a supposed author who not only has overstayed his welcome, but has wracked up quite a debt in the process. “He’s my cross to bear,” John says, “and he still owes me for the wood and nails!” The two come to blows eventually in a confrontation that sees the power struggle surprisingly victorious for the histrionic Vandermark, becoming Sebastian’s captor, while simultaneously discovering a repayment plan. This edgy, weird, stylistic feature is a mixture of slapstick, Sunset Boulevard, horror, Grey Gardens , gore, Ever Happened to Baby Jane, and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Cummings’ over-the-top performance is sensational, stating this is the closest he would ever come to being a Tennessee Williams heroine. He knew he had to make this film as soon as he read the script: “It made me want to laugh, cry and vomit all at the same time.” The movie also features cameos from Jane Lynch, Anne Heche, Henry Thomas, Carrie Fisher and Karen Black and was sponsored by Domicile Properties.

Joseph Krimple is a Mortgage Banker residing in San Francisco, CA. When not punching the nine to five clock, he's an avid film buff, devoted music lover, and wannabe rockstar. He can be reached at http://us.f573.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=jkrimple@hotmail.com


Finn's Girl- I went to see Finn's Girl tonight at the lovely Parkway Theater in my Oakland neighborhood. http://www.parkway-speakeasy.com/ This was not my first time to the Parkway and the venue is great – I thought the style and atmosphere were perfect for a festival screening with Q & A. This movie was surprisingly wonderful. The word that comes to mind repeatedly is multi-faceted.The film covers loosing a partner, raising a child both as a lesbian and after the death of a parent, reproductive rights, genetic research, growing up as a pre-teen in a modern setting, and the politics of it all. While I walked away feeling like there were strong messages in the film, the way the politics were presented was quite subtle and the story line and dialog stayed front and center throughout. The actors seemed to have a connection with the script and with each other. Maya Ritter, the young actress who plays Zelly, did a phenomenal job in capturing a pre-teen in a difficult position and shines throughout. Canadian film makers Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert were on hand at this showing and spoke candidly after the showing about their history, about the process of making this film from the 5 year writing process Laurie completed to the low budget, very personal making of the film which involved shooting most of the project in their own home.

annalea

FRAMELINE DAY 5

Monday the 18th –Day 5


Fall from Grace – Pastor Fred Phelps has led his congregation of hate mongers for many years now, picketing the funerals of gays and Iraqi soldiers based on his belief that homosexuality is the root cause of everything that is wrong with America . I had to see this film to try and glean what motivates this kind of un-Christian-like behavior. I can’t say that I have a better representation of the Phelps clan, or any understanding of why they do what they do. This documentary only exposes further the fury with which he is set upon ridding the world of the homosexual agenda. Fire and brimstone at its best, the Phelps family guarantees that their mission will not die out with their Father/Leader, Fred. And after seeing the legion of young followers depicted in this film, speaking exactly the way Fred does, I unfortunately do not doubt for a moment these people won’t stop their insanity anytime soon. This presentation was sponsored by ACLU of Northern California.


The Bubble – Writer/producer Eytan Fox’s achingly beautiful modern day Romeo & Juliet, set in the Middle Eastern bastion of western influence and liberal sentiment, Tel Aviv. The citizens of this cosmopolitan city are felt to be living in a bubble, unaware of the turmoil the rest of the country experiences, thus the film’s namesake. The political strife of the nation becomes painfully clear to an Israeli soldier Noam, who falls in love with a young Palestinian man named Ashram. Ashram soon leaves the Palestinian territory to move in with Noam and his two roommates in Tel Aviv. The group hands out left-wing flyers and organizes anti-occupation raves in opposition to Israel ’s Palestinian policy. But soon enough, Ashram’s presence becomes an issue, as he is without legal documents to remain in Tel Aviv. Politics aside, this is one of the most poignant love stories I have ever seen with an ending that will take your breath away and leave you pondering what choices exist for gays in Israel. Fox spoke before and after the film about how difficult it was to get Arabic actors willing to perform in a gay film and how ironic it is that the Israeli government helped finance the production. Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (http://www.quitpalestine.org/) showed up to protest the screening stating that it’s no surprise the Israeli government sponsors The Bubble considering Palestinians are depicted in the movie as irrational and deceptive people. Fox beseeched the protestors, stating that in making this film, he is seeking the same outcome as these demonstrators – peace. This brilliant feature was sponsored by The Sundance Channel and is by far my favorite piece at this year’s festival.

Joseph Krimple is a Mortgage Banker residing in San Francisco, CA. When not punching the nine to five clock, he's an avid film buff, devoted music lover, and wannabe rockstar. He can be reached at jkrimple@hotmail.com

FRAMELINE DAY 4

Sunday the 17th – day four
Today was spent at the other two theaters in San Francisco showing films during the Frameline Film Festival: the Roxie (http://www.roxie.com/) and the Victoria Theatre (http://www.victoriatheatre.org/), both of which are ensconced in the far less fabulous Mission District. Don’t get me wrong, the Mission does have its charm: you can get any kind of food you want within a few blocks. There’s plenty of shopping in between screenings (check out Good Vibrations http://www.goodvibes.com/). There’s a plethora of tattooed, pierced, too-cool-for-school, punk rockers to sneer at you. And without a doubt, it’s the most diverse spot in San Francisco – so of course it’s one of the neighborhoods hosting the International LGBT Film Festival. But be warned – it’s not for the faint of heart - think Tenderloin with a twist!!!
Again the staff at both theatres are incredibly helpful and I cannot say enough about the over 300 volunteers helping out at Frameline this year. Keep up the great work brothers and sisters – we all really appreciate your hard work!!!!!


In Trust and Love – in July 2006, the Czech Republic began to legally recognize same sex partnerships. Actor/singer and Czech celebrity Pavel Vitek and his long time partner/manager Janis Sidovsky were one of the first to take part in these historic unions. This documentary chronicles their idyllic ceremony, held in one of the breathtakingly beautiful castles near Prague . Pavel, in very broken English, explained after the film that contrary to the proposed civil unions here in the states, the Czech Republic ’s same sex marriages do not grant its newlyweds rights to spousal pensions or hospital visitation – but they get to be legally “married” and recognized by the government. Whatever. I congratulated the men afterwards nonetheless, then immediately called my friend Majka to tell her that I met some of her most famous countrymen!!

Miracle – in 2004, Spain began allowing same sex marriages when the Partido Socialista came to power after years of fascist regime. In typical Spaniard fashion, the colorful, flamboyant, soulful citizens took to the streets in celebration. Many Spanish LGBT political figures are interviewed, including Pedro Almadovar, who was celebrated in his own right as an innovator in gay film.


Red Without Blue – a fascinating documentary of identical twin boys from Montana , Mark and Alex, and their childhood in a picture perfect suburban family. Born three minutes apart, Mark says, “We were just in love with each other since the day we were born.” As the boys reached puberty however that facade begins to erode under sexual abuse, divorce, drug use and failed suicide attempts. The boys were separated in high school and sent to different boarding schools. Once the two were reunited, Alex had begun to identify as Clair. Through it all, the siblings’ bond remains steadfast, even as the two attend college in two different cities across the country. The film covers a period of four years, where the two siblings study abroad, make new friends, go skeet shooting and Clair begins transitioning. The filmmakers and Mark and Clair (who both reside in San Francisco now) took questions after the movie. When asked how their relationship is today, the brother and sister stated “they were still very much in love with each other.” This moving story of family ties is sponsored by the Bay Area Video Coalition.


The Fall of '55 – this captivating documentary by first time filmmaker Seth Randal relives the homosexual sex scandal that rocked the sleepy town of Boise , Idaho in 1955. Local boys from the ages of 15 through 22 were prostituting themselves out to the town’s married men. Overnight, a classic witch hunt had begun in Boise , to rid the town of this cancerous plague and to prevent its spread to the town’s youth. This story eventually led to the John Gerassi book The Boys of Boise : Furor, Vice & Folly in an American City , and an era in Boise not soon forgotten. With a background in journalism, Randal left no stone unturned in bringing this embarrassing moment in American societal ignorance regarding homosexuality to the next generation. This presentation was sponsored by the GLBT Historical Society.


Lez Be Friends – riotously funny sitcom directed by Glenn Gaylord about a butch dyke named Ricca Pike and a sissy boy named Jamie - best friends who move to New York the day after the Stonewall riots looking for a place to live. This dynamic duo meet their destiny in the slutty bartender at the Stonewall Inn, Blake, who just so happens to have a vacancy at his place due to the recent breakup of his live in three-way. But Ricca’s gonna have to femme it up a bit to pass inspection with the landlord, Truman Dubois (played by Robert Michael Morris from The Comeback), who hates lesbians. It’s like Three’s Company for the queer set, complete with laugh tracks, authentic commercials from the 70’s and mid-scene product endorsements by the cast. Gaylord spoke after the screening of the first two episodes of the series about how he wanted to write a show about every gay guy who ever wanted a lesbian for a best friend and vice versa. The whole first season is in the can and he is shopping the show around trying to get picked up (ahem, Here!, Logo, anyone???). The episodes were sponsored by Gaylesta, which is NOT a queer artificial sweetener (http://www.gaylesta.org/).

Joseph Krimple is a Mortgage Banker residing in San Francisco, CA. When not punching the nine to five clock, he's an avid film buff, devoted music lover, and wannabe rockstar. He can be reached at jkrimple@hotmail.com

Monday, June 18, 2007

FRAMELINE DAY 3

Saturday the 16th- A 3 film day again! Two beautiful venues.


Trained in the Ways of Men – I’ve been living in the Bay Area a couple of years now and was familiar with the Gwen Araujo case before this screening of Michelle Prévost’s gripping documentary of the events leading up to the teenager’s death and the court cases that followed. Not only does this film detail the family’s struggle to find justice for their daughter’s assailants, the movie asks, “what sex are you, and how do you know?” Prévost interviews many different people from all walks of life, including the prosecuting and defending attorneys of the Araujo case, and the footage is captivating in its candor, humor and impossibility to truly answer. Prévost took part in a Q&A session after the film, and when asked what her motivation in making this film, she simply answered “because there’s gotta be a better way.” Several other members of the cast were on hand, including Jaime Ray (transgender educator and host of the Gwen Araujo memorial site www.jaimesite.homestead.com/gwenaraujo.html ), and Gwen’s mother Sylvia Guerrero, who received a standing ovation. I was able to speak briefly with Sylvia to tell her how sorry I am for her tremendous loss and to thank her for her brave work in educating the world on transgender issues. This film was sponsored by HBO.


Shelter – Who doesn’t want to see a movie about gay surfers? Not only does this movie deliver steamy sex scenes between the two male leads fresh out of their wetsuits (DUDE!), but the themes explored here are multi-layered: socioeconomic struggles, familial bonds, gay parenting, sexual awakening and coming out. The story follows Zach (played by Trevor Wright), a recent high school graduate guerrilla artist living in San Pedro, CA, who has put his dreams of art school on hold to take care of his demanding sister Jeannie (played by Tina Holmes – you remember her, the chick that screwed Nate to death in Six Feet Under!), and help raise her 5 year old son. Enter Saun (played by Brad Rowe of Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss fame), the gay older brother of Zach’s best friend and writer from LA who is visiting the area to recover from a broken relationship. The two begin hanging out, drinking and surfing, when Zach begins to acquiesce to his desire for Saun. What ensues is a tube ride (no pun intended) of romance, comedy, drama, and cinematic beauty set to a fantastic soundtrack. Writer Jonah Markowitz and the rest of the cast were on hand after the film for a Q&A session, where Jonah talked about his inspiration for the screenplay and how he coached the boys on their love scenes. This feature was sponsored by Avis, who had a hilarious spot before the screening between two Ken dolls trying to decide what to do for their vacation.
Later that day at the oldest operating theatre in San Francisco, The Victoria Theatre. Built in 1908 as a Vaudeville house.

Go to their website at http://www.victoriatheatre.org/


Holding Trevor – Brent Gorski’s well written story of Trevor (played by Gorski), a handsome young man who is currently coasting through his life in LA where he works as a telemarketer, dates a drug addict and lives with his two best friends who speak to one another with such venom you often wonder if they really are friends. But at the emergency room while waiting to see if his boyfriend has pulled through yet another near fatal overdose, Trevor meets Ephram, a stunningly handsome young intern whose earnest pursuit could be just the thing to break Trevor out of his boring existence. The film also stars the irrepressibly cute Jay Brannan (Shortbus) as Trevor’s best friend Jake. According to Gorski, Brannan added a lot to the unpretentious dialogue of the film with his ad-libbing and witty one-liners. Brannan’s acoustic performance of his song “Lower My Gun” affirmed my eternal devotion to the folk pop prince. Director Rosser Goodman, Gorski and several other members of the cast and crew took part in a Q&A session afterwards, where Gorski stated the film was not autobiographical. He wanted to write a movie that doesn’t wrap itself up with a pretty bow in the end and portrays a character that needs to find himself first before he can do anything else. Also shows Mon 6/18 !

JKRIMPLE