Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nilsson Schmilsson: A Chat With John Scheinfeld

nilsson%20schmilsson.jpg
1971's Nilsson Schmilsson

John Scheinfeld is a busy Los Angeles-based director/producer, who works in film,
TV, and the unheralded world of DVD extras. In 2006, he issued the theatrical feature The US vs. John Lennon, while Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody
Talkin' About Him)?
made the festival rounds. I realize there were a lot of fine
political documentaries
released last year-and I've seen most of 'em-but music
is closer to my heart than politics, and Harry Nilsson was my pick for top doc.

Sure, it helps that I grew up with Nilsson's playful, yet stirring music, and that I love it as much now as I did then, but I've been burned by numerous musical biographies before. Last year, it was Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley. This year, it was Ghost on the Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Suffice to say, the former makes no mention of Jeff's father, Tim Buckley. The latter lacks even a lick of Gun Club music.

john%20scheinfeld.jpg
John Scheinfeld

Unlike AJ Schnack's Kurt Cobain: About a Son, one of the more unusual musical portraits I've ever seen-as frustrating as it is fascinating-Scheinfeld doesn't reinvent the wheel with Harry Nilsson. It's just that he gets the details right.
Like Joe Strummer, so indelibly captured by Julien Temple in The Future Is Unwritten, Nilsson was loved and admired by many, but he was also a troubled soul, and Scheinfeld doesn't shy away from those troubles, but nor does he wallow in them.
His film brings a great talent to life, warts and all. Scheinfeld ably strikes a balance between affection and regret. Though his documentary has been making fans wherever it goes, it hasn't been released theatrically and nor is it available on DVD.
Consequently, I've been holding on to this interview for a year, even though Scheinfeld is possibly the most pleasant filmmaker I've ever met. Now that the
33rd Seattle International Film Festival is over, this seems as good a time as
any to post our conversation in hopes that more people will get the chance to discover his movie-as well as the timeless music of the inimitable Harry Nilsson.

*****

Part One: Harry and Hugh

In your documentary, you mark the break between Harry Nilsson and Nilsson.

Yes, that's right.

That seems so bizarre to me-it's such a Hollywood thing to just use your first name, but nobody just uses their last name.

It's really true. [laughs]

[Well, not many.]

That's different, but then, that's part of the film's point-this isn't a typical guy.

He wasn't. I think that's really what drew me to it. I'm drawn to stories of people who go their own way and make their own way, for better or worse-in Harry's case, worse.
[Scheinfeld has also made films about Brian Wilson and Peter Sellers.]

hugh%20hefner.jpg
The one and only-Hef!

You have both in there. So, are there more festival screenings after this one?

Yes, we're going to be in London for sure, and our very next screen-
ing is at the Playboy Mansion. Hugh Hefner is a huge Harry fan.

That's perfect. And you have that Playboy After Dark footage. I read that IGN piece you wrote in which you mention that Hefner was a help in getting that material.

He was. It was really extraordinary what he did for us. We had contacted the
Playboy licensing people, and they said, 'We never license that material, and
even if we did, it would cost you $12-13,000 a minute, and you can't afford
that.' So, I wrote a very passionate letter to Mr. Hefner, and two days after
he got it, I get a call from some senior vice president who said Hef was a huge
fan of Harry's. He said, 'You can have whatever you want for free." Whoah.

Wow.

So, he was great. He was just, 'I want to see the movie.' So anyway, we're going
to take it over. Every Saturday, he does a movie night for all of his friends.

And poker! Which is, I think, a whole separate thing.

This is going to be his movie night, a week from tomorrow.

This isn't directly related to your film, but I'm just curious: Why isn't he
more forthcoming with that material? I'm sure there are a lot of people who
want to see more Playboy After Dark. Is he planning his own DVD releases?

Yes, I think they're going to have their own DVD releases, but I think it has to do with clearances. I'm not privy to any of that information, but perhaps they need additional clearances, because there's a lot of music in them and a lot of performers. When they gave us the footage, they were like, 'Okay, now you're responsible for clearing everybody who's in those clips.' We said, 'Okay, we'll do it. No problem.'

*****

Next: Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?

who%20is%20nilsson.jpg

On the off-chance you're located in Los Angeles, Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? plays the Mods & Rockers Festival on 7/14. For more information about the film, please click here or here. To sample "Without You," please click here. All pictures from Google Images and The Lippin Group.

Monday, June 25, 2007

SIFF 2007 Wrap-Up

Sadly, this is my second year of not attending as many films as I would have liked to - but I have a valid excuse this time: I was buying a house and moving in with my boyfriend, which took (and is still taking) a lot more time than I could have imagined. But! I'll leave the details of that out...and next year everyone will FEAR my mad SIFF movie skillz when I make up for this one.

In total, I saw (only!) 15 films this year. The opening night party was great, but I also missed the closing night party due to illness. I guess the good news about that is managing to skip a raging hangover (Hi Steven!). Here's the breakdown (in another nod to Steven- because I've formatted my list similarly):
Films I am most likely to purchase (5 on the SIFF ratings scale):
The Signal
Girls Rock!
Paris, Je t'aime
Daespo Naughty Girls
Films I am most likely to watch again(4):
Son of Rambow
2 Days in Paris
Cashback
Films I would watch again, if they happened to be on (3):
The Little Book of Revenge
Fido
Children of War
Films I don't ever want to watch again, for ANY reason (1):
Monkey Warfare
Out at the Wedding
Sounds of Sand
The Guardian's Son
Film I wish I never laid eyes on :
To Get to Heaven, First You Have to Die

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Abattoir Blues

Killer of Sheep
(Charles Burnett, 1977, US, 35mm, 80 mins.)


That's the way nature is; 
an animal has his teeth 
and a man has his fists.
-- Killer of Sheep (1977)

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

While Italy produced neo-realism
and England produced kitchen sink
realism, Killer of Sheep transfers
that same kind of cinéma vérité
look at lower-class life to 1970s America. Except for the salty language
and afro picks, Charles Burnett's B&W debut feels like it could've been made decades before. (The use of Paul Robeson songs on the soundtrack, including "The House I Live In," also provides a link with the silent films of Oscar Micheaux.) At the time, African Americans didn't rate depiction in art house terms. There were shoestring crime pictures and social-issue dra-
mas, but Killer of Sheep was something new...and old. At the same time.

Burnett captures a lost world where boys throw rocks at trains, young
men rob houses in broad daylight, and middle-aged fellows sit around playing dominoes. Suburban kids of all races may have been rollerskat-
ing and playing video games, but folks in post-riot Watts were just trying to get by with what they had. Wide-eyed title character Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) is a romantic who was born at the wrong place and time--the Harlem Renaissance might have been more welcoming to his kind.

Worse yet, Stan works in an abattoir--the kind of job that makes "gar-
bageman" seem appealing. The slaughterhouse scenes are expectedly, um, icky, but no actual ovine-killing is shown. Stan and his stylish wife (Kaycee Moore) have two kids. Their son (Jack Drummond) is a teen troublemaker and their dreamy daughter (Angela Burnett, the director's niece) likes to wander around wearing a dog mask that covers her entire head (this strange bit of business lends the movie a surrealistic air). 

Stan may be depressed, but he insists he isn't poor. He has a point. After all, he does live in a house rather than an apartment, but he isn't rich, and he never will be. Not if things stay the same, and the film argues that they will. Nothing will ever change. Not for people like Stan. That doesn't make Killer of Sheep depressing, but nor does it make it uplifting. J. Hoberman compares it to John Cassavetes' Shadows, which makes sense, since that music-steeped first feature also focuses on a person of color. Like Shadows, Killer of Sheep features a cast of non-professionals.

Burnett's film, however, hasn't turned out to be as influential. Unlike Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It (1986), Killer of Sheep has been seen too rarely to influence as many filmmakers. John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood (1991), for example, also takes place in South Central, but that's where the comparisons end. David Gordon Green's George Washington (2000), on the other hand, clearly drew inspiration from it--too much for my taste.

What seems surrealistic in Killer of Sheep (the girl in the mask) seems will-
fully eccentric in George (the boy in the superhero outfit). Fortunately, Green found his voice in time for All the Real Girls (2003), which drew from personal experience. Ironically, Hoberman describes both Sheep and George as "sui generis," adding that the latter is "at once brilliant and in-
ept." [Long produced by Terrence Malick, Green produced two SIFF films: Craig Zobel's Great World of Sound and Jeff Nichols' Shotgun Stories.]

As for the plot of the former, it lacks one. Burnett follows Stan, his family, and his neighbors around as they live their lives. Like a jazz musician, he finds the notes as he goes along--sometimes harmonious, sometimes discordant--rather than building up to the sort of orchestral flourish that would cheapen the entire enterprise.

As with Stan, Killer of Sheep has had a hard-knock life, but to keep the
musical analogy going, the grace notes have been accumulating since the
1980s. Burnett shot the film over the course of a year--some reports indi-
cate two--while attending grad school at UCLA (the IMDb cites a budget of $5,000, but $10,000 seems more likely). It was completed as early as 19-
73, but not screened until 1977. Due to copyright issues, it virtually disap-
peared after that. Then, when the time came for a DVD release, it took six years and cost a whopping $150,000 to clear all the music rights (Mile-
stone Film & Video will be doing the digital honors). In 1990, it was among the first 50 titles added to the Library of Congress by the National Film Registry. And Burnett's alma mater never forgot about it. The UCLA Film & Television Archive not only restored the disintegrating print, but blew it up from 16mm to 35mm (though it retains the ramshackle look of its origins).

Like last year's launch of Army of Shadows (1969), Killer of Sheep has never received a proper US theatrical release--until now. Don't miss it.

"The protagonist has a job: he is the killer of sheep.
But a job can break your heart, too."
-- Thom Anderson, Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

*****

Killer of Sheep plays the Northwest Film Forum 6/22 - 28, Fri. - Thurs. at 7 and 9:15pm (Sat.
and Sun. at 3 and 5pm). The 7pm screening on Sat. includes a panel dis-
cussion with Dr. Angela Gilliam (anthropologist, author, and professor at
Evergreen State College), Eddie Hill (filmmaker and producer), and San-
dra D. Jackson-Dumont (Deputy Director of Education and Public Prog-
rams, SAM). The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. For more information, please click here. You can also call 206-267-5380 for show times.

Is it over?

943100929403_0_BG.jpg

So, did everybody have a good SIFF? Have you finally recovered from that closing night party hangover? Are you getting a reasonable amount of sunshine now?

I did tolerably well. I didn't see as many films as usual, only 36 this year; a lot for a normal human being, but compared to my SIFF-going friends (who saw two or three times as many) I'm a total fucking loser. On the other hand, I saw a greater percentage of good films and I got a hug from one of the directors, so I can hardly complain.

In any case, here's a quick tally of what I saw.

Films I really liked:
Life in Loops
4 Elements
A Walk Into The Sea
King of Kong
Glue
Free Floating
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
Missing Star
Red Road

Films I liked:
Champagne Spy
Running on Empty
Art of Crying
Congorama
Pervert's Guide to Cinema
The Boss of It All
It's Winter
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

Films I kind of liked:
Doubletime
Great World of Sound
Big Combo
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox
Big Rig
My Best Friend
Born and Bred

Films I didn't really like:
Black White + Gray
How to Cook Your Life
Son of Rambow
Before We Fall In Love Again
Crossing The Line
DarkBlueAlmostBlack
Man of My Life
Interview
Reprise

Films I really didn't like:
Waiter

Films that really just sucked:
Madrigal
One Day Like Rain

Is it over?

943100929403_0_BG.jpg

So, did everybody have a good SIFF? Have you finally recovered from that closing night party hangover? Are you getting a reasonable amount of sunshine now?

I did tolerably well. I didn't see as many films as usual, only 36 this year; a lot for a normal human being, but compared to my SIFF-going friends (who saw two or three times as many) I'm a total fucking loser. On the other hand, I saw a greater percentage of good films and I got a hug from one of the directors, so I can hardly complain.

In any case, here's a quick tally of what I saw.

Films I really liked:
Life in Loops
4 Elements
A Walk Into The Sea
King of Kong
Glue
Free Floating
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
Missing Star
Red Road

Films I liked:
Champagne Spy
Running on Empty
Art of Crying
Congorama
Pervert's Guide to Cinema
The Boss of It All
It's Winter
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

Films I kind of liked:
Doubletime
Great World of Sound
Big Combo
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox
Big Rig
My Best Friend
Born and Bred

Films I didn't really like:
Black White + Gray
How to Cook Your Life
Son of Rambow
Before We Fall In Love Again
Crossing The Line
DarkBlueAlmostBlack
Man of My Life
Interview
Reprise

Films I really didn't like:
Waiter

Films that really just sucked:
Madrigal
One Day Like Rain

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

untitled.bmp

The British comic Lenny Henry once compared Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck by saying that whereas Tom Jones, on his best nights, was like catching lightning in a bucket, Engelbert Humperdinck was the bucket. Well then, Scott Walker, is lightning. Elusive, brilliant, charged, unpredictable and capable of producing a jolt you never recover from.

For those unfamiliar with his work Scott Walker is, at once, both incredibly easy and utterly impossible to describe. Think of a schmaltzy crooner, Andy Williams or Robert Goulet would suffice, and imagine them teaming up with Arnold Schoenberg to produce an album of pop songs. A pithy description, but one that widely misses the mark. You pretty much have to hear him to get him. And even when you do hear him, you could easily dismiss him as schlock. For those who do get him, and love him, the music he's produced from the 60's on is a series of bombastic, melodramatic earthquakes or as Marc Almond put it, "he could sing 'Three Blind Mice' and make it sound like only song in the world."

As a cult figure, Walker has inspired many musicians, the first and foremost being David Bowie, but continuing with an honor roll that includes Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Alison Goldfrapp. He has also inspired a number of filmmakers to seek him as a collaborator or as a subject. Leos Carax spent years getting him to do the soundtrack for Pola X and many equally persistent directors have tried doing documentaries on him. Until now all have failed, but in Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Stephen Kijak profiles Walker with a rapturousness that is utterly befitting. Partly a tie"n for Walker's latest album 'The Drift', Kijak's film surveys Walker's career with the assistance of the producers and arrangers who worked on his albums. In fact, the film is often most interesting when discussing the nature of Walker's music and how it blurs consonance and dissonance, creating a dark tonal cloud familiar to fans of Kubrick and Lynch soundtracks [and for Kubrick fans, Ligeti does get a mention]. In addition we get a raft of appreciation and insight from Almond, Cocker and Goldfrapp as well as Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Johnny Marr, Simon Raymonde and a bloke named David Bowie, who also acted as the film's executive producer. As the cherry on top, Walker emerges from his cocoon to grant a friendly interview. As an additional fillip, the film sports a tony voice-over and several visualizations of Walker's songs which, like Walker himself, will seem ecstatic to some and absurd to others.

Although the film has been quite well received, there have been some who have rapped it as a fan's movie, a critique well summed up by Diedrich Diederichsen in Artforum when he says, "We do not find out anything about Walker's view of the world or what drives him... What we are dealing with here is a fan dedicated to presenting his hero as a visionary genius." True. It is a fan's film. But I'm a fan! But seriously, Walker is a pretty hermetic subject. He's not a common taste. By definition, anyone drawn to a film about him would be a fan. As such, the film fairly well delivers your money's worth of revelation. The occasional misstep aside [for some odd reason Kijak includes a blurb from Sting, whose material can only be described as the absolute antithesis of Walker's] most every interview is relevant and on-point and Walker himself is far more responsive than one could have hoped. Does the film tell everything? No. But as Kijak pointed out in the Q&A after the screening, he understood the boundaries of what could be investigated and played within them. Ironically, Kijak's respect for Walker's privacy and, more importantly, mystery not only accounts for the success of the film as a production [it literally could not have been made without the cooperation of Walker and Bowie and their respective management], but also for the success of the film as a profile. Although it might be interesting to discover a few revelatory ticks of Walker's psyche it wouldn't add a thing to the appreciation of his work and, like Lynch and Kubrick's films, deep textual analysis is best left to the pages of journals like Artforum. So, yes, 30 Century Man places Walker on a velvet-draped pedestal, but as Atom Egoyan remarked at Berlin, "I have rarely seen a biographical documentary that is able to make the viewer experience the perspective of a devoted fan, a concerned friend, and a complete stranger at the same time."

Endnote: Kathy Fennessy, who has already posted an item or two at SLOG on Scott Walker and from whom I shamelessly borrowed the Atom Egoyan quote, has an article on 30 Century Man in the upcoming issue of Resonance that should not be missed.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

untitled.bmp

The British comic Lenny Henry once compared Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck by saying that whereas Tom Jones, on his best nights, was like catching lightning in a bucket, Engelbert Humperdinck was the bucket. Well then, Scott Walker, is lightning. Elusive, brilliant, charged, unpredictable and capable of producing a jolt you never recover from.

For those unfamiliar with his work Scott Walker is, at once, both incredibly easy and utterly impossible to describe. Think of a schmaltzy crooner, Andy Williams or Robert Goulet would suffice, and imagine them teaming up with Arnold Schoenberg to produce an album of pop songs. A pithy description, but one that widely misses the mark. You pretty much have to hear him to get him. And even when you do hear him, you could easily dismiss him as schlock. For those who do get him, and love him, the music he's produced from the 60's on is a series of bombastic, melodramatic earthquakes or as Marc Almond put it, "he could sing 'Three Blind Mice' and make it sound like only song in the world."

As a cult figure, Walker has inspired many musicians, the first and foremost being David Bowie, but continuing with an honor roll that includes Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Alison Goldfrapp. He has also inspired a number of filmmakers to seek him as a collaborator or as a subject. Leos Carax spent years getting him to do the soundtrack for Pola X and many equally persistent directors have tried doing documentaries on him. Until now all have failed, but in Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Stephen Kijak profiles Walker with a rapturousness that is utterly befitting. Partly a tie"n for Walker's latest album 'The Drift', Kijak's film surveys Walker's career with the assistance of the producers and arrangers who worked on his albums. In fact, the film is often most interesting when discussing the nature of Walker's music and how it blurs consonance and dissonance, creating a dark tonal cloud familiar to fans of Kubrick and Lynch soundtracks [and for Kubrick fans, Ligeti does get a mention]. In addition we get a raft of appreciation and insight from Almond, Cocker and Goldfrapp as well as Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Johnny Marr, Simon Raymonde and a bloke named David Bowie, who also acted as the film's executive producer. As the cherry on top, Walker emerges from his cocoon to grant a friendly interview. As an additional fillip, the film sports a tony voice-over and several visualizations of Walker's songs which, like Walker himself, will seem ecstatic to some and absurd to others.

Although the film has been quite well received, there have been some who have rapped it as a fan's movie, a critique well summed up by Diedrich Diederichsen in Artforum when he says, "We do not find out anything about Walker's view of the world or what drives him... What we are dealing with here is a fan dedicated to presenting his hero as a visionary genius." True. It is a fan's film. But I'm a fan! But seriously, Walker is a pretty hermetic subject. He's not a common taste. By definition, anyone drawn to a film about him would be a fan. As such, the film fairly well delivers your money's worth of revelation. The occasional misstep aside [for some odd reason Kijak includes a blurb from Sting, whose material can only be described as the absolute antithesis of Walker's] most every interview is relevant and on-point and Walker himself is far more responsive than one could have hoped. Does the film tell everything? No. But as Kijak pointed out in the Q&A after the screening, he understood the boundaries of what could be investigated and played within them. Ironically, Kijak's respect for Walker's privacy and, more importantly, mystery not only accounts for the success of the film as a production [it literally could not have been made without the cooperation of Walker and Bowie and their respective management], but also for the success of the film as a profile. Although it might be interesting to discover a few revelatory ticks of Walker's psyche it wouldn't add a thing to the appreciation of his work and, like Lynch and Kubrick's films, deep textual analysis is best left to the pages of journals like Artforum. So, yes, 30 Century Man places Walker on a velvet-draped pedestal, but as Atom Egoyan remarked at Berlin, "I have rarely seen a biographical documentary that is able to make the viewer experience the perspective of a devoted fan, a concerned friend, and a complete stranger at the same time."

Endnote: Kathy Fennessy, who has already posted an item or two at SLOG on Scott Walker and from whom I shamelessly borrowed the Atom Egoyan quote, has an article on 30 Century Man in the upcoming issue of Resonance that should not be missed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great World of Sound

GWS.bmp

As previously mentioned, my sister visited this weekend. Among the films we saw were The Boss of It All and Great World of Sound. Both movies involve conniving businessmen and their shady schemes. Of the two, I preferred The Boss of It All, partially because it was a better constructed, better directed film, but mostly because of its sharper, more cynical humor. My sister, however, preferred Great World of Sound and, in a discussion over lunch, made a pretty good argument for it. I asked her if she would write up her comments and she very graciously did. So, by way of Siffblog, here's Nancy Fried Foster's review of Great Wall of Sound.

In Great World of Sound, two small-time talent scouts audition musical acts in the American South and Midwest and sign any act that will front a portion of the cost of making a demo. It is a first film and has limitations: a low-budget look and some tentative directing and acting. But the movie also has its strengths, chief among them its sincerity and its respect for the musicians who perform their rock, gospel, folk, punk, and sui generis songs. The tone of the movie is direct and earnest and its central problem matters, and in a gentle and genuine way, the movie is patriotic. It opens our hearts to all the musicians - regular Americans who play quirky and sometimes regionally inflected music - and it affirms some values that we might still hold dear: being true to oneself and fair and good to others.

She added in a further comment to me:

(btw, I saw something on the web that indicated that all but two of the musicians in the movie didn't know they were in a fake audition until it was over)

Great World of Sound

GWS.bmp

As previously mentioned, my sister visited this weekend. Among the films we saw were The Boss of It All and Great World of Sound. Both movies involve conniving businessmen and their shady schemes. Of the two, I preferred The Boss of It All, partially because it was a better constructed, better directed film, but mostly because of its sharper, more cynical humor. My sister, however, preferred Great World of Sound and, in a discussion over lunch, made a pretty good argument for it. I asked her if she would write up her comments and she very graciously did. So, by way of Siffblog, here's Nancy Fried Foster's review of Great Wall of Sound.

In Great World of Sound, two small-time talent scouts audition musical acts in the American South and Midwest and sign any act that will front a portion of the cost of making a demo. It is a first film and has limitations: a low-budget look and some tentative directing and acting. But the movie also has its strengths, chief among them its sincerity and its respect for the musicians who perform their rock, gospel, folk, punk, and sui generis songs. The tone of the movie is direct and earnest and its central problem matters, and in a gentle and genuine way, the movie is patriotic. It opens our hearts to all the musicians - regular Americans who play quirky and sometimes regionally inflected music - and it affirms some values that we might still hold dear: being true to oneself and fair and good to others.

She added in a further comment to me:

(btw, I saw something on the web that indicated that all but two of the musicians in the movie didn't know they were in a fake audition until it was over)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Horror Fans: Don't miss The Signal!

the%20signal.jpg

I apologize for not mentioning this film before Saturday's midnight screening had passed, but you still have time to see it. I was lucky enough to preview The Signal, and I thought it was brilliant. If you love the gore (and there is LOTS of it), and you like your horror films smart and funny - go check this one out. Directors and writers David Bruckner and Dan Bush did an amazing job with this one!

See it at SIFF Tomorrow - Tuesday, June 12, 9:30 PM @ the Egyptian Theatre

The Boss of It All Gala Report

secret-squirrel.jpg

My sister visited me this weekend from NY. We went and saw The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and then The Boss of It All. Afterwards we went to the Gala at CHAC. Entering the party, we encountered two girls. One of them looked at me in my powder blue Kangol trilby and said, "Secret Squirrel." I said, "Yes, Secret Squirrel!" And the other girl said, "Oh yeah, totally, Secret Squirrel." I glanced over and saw Jens Albinus having a drink with Carl Spence. My sister and I grabbed some canapes from a passing waiter, then circulated about the room, trying to find the end of the food line. When we discovered the tail end, snaking all the way back to the front door, we decided to split. I said 'hello' to Andy Spletzer as we brushed past him on the way out and then we went to Jai Thai and got something to eat!

The Boss of It All Gala Report

secret-squirrel.jpg

My sister visited me this weekend from NY. We went and saw The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and then The Boss of It All. Afterwards we went to the Gala at CHAC. Entering the party, we encountered two girls. One of them looked at me in my powder blue Kangol trilby and said, "Secret Squirrel." I said, "Yes, Secret Squirrel!" And the other girl said, "Oh yeah, totally, Secret Squirrel." I glanced over and saw Jens Albinus having a drink with Carl Spence. My sister and I grabbed some canapes from a passing waiter, then circulated about the room, trying to find the end of the food line. When we discovered the tail end, snaking all the way back to the front door, we decided to split. I said 'hello' to Andy Spletzer as we brushed past him on the way out and then we went to Jai Thai and got something to eat!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Recommendations: Dancing, singing high school students + wriggling foreheads

There's a few films coming up that I greatly enjoyed, so I wanted to clue you in so you don't miss them.

Daespo Naughty Girls is a comedy-musical-fantasy that pokes fun at Korean culture, and teenagers in particular. Based on an internet comic called Dasepo Sonyo, this film is definitely a future cult classic. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life, and it was the most fun I've had in awhile. You've got one more chance to see it at SIFF today - Wednesday, June 6th: 4:15pm @ The Egyptian.

Another of my favorites is Trail of the Screaming Forehead. Directed by Larry Blamire (who gave us The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra), this 50s style creature feature gives us a group of alien foreheads who attach themselves to townspeople in order to execute world domination - again, with the laughing. Playing Friday June 8th: 9:30pm @ SIFF Cinema, and Friday June 14th: 4pm @ The Egyptian.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

2 Days in Paris

DaysinParis.jpg

Before SIFF officially opened, I had already heard a few things about Julie Delpy's feature directorial debut. First, I heard that it was almost exactly like Before Sunset. Second, I heard that it was okay, but the ending of the film ruined it completely.

Neither one of these things is true.

Yes, this movie involves a lot of dialogue between a man and a woman, and yes, it also involves a lot of walking around in Paris - but the similarities to Linklater's film end there.
This culture-clash romantic comedy examines the difficulties in long-term relationships of all types, and it does it well. Delpy and Goldberg play off each other expertly as Parisian/American couple Marion and Jack - as her hot temper and his over-the-top jealously create chaos in their 2-year relationship.
After a vacation in Vencie, a visit with Marion's parents (played by Delpy's real parents who both added a lot of life to the film) leads to a two-day examination of how well the couple know each other, during which we're treated to relationship scenarios that are all too familiar. Some of the funnier moments were a little cliche, but they seemed to work with the story - I wasn't laughing insanely at every joke like a large portion of the audience, but I was laughing.
As for the ending, I don't want to give anything away - so I'll just say that in my opinion, it fit with everything before it very nicely. However, maybe you can talk me out of that after you see it.
2 Days in Paris plays again at SIFF Tuesday, June 5 at Lincoln Square - rush tickets available only. It also opens in the US August 10th, in limited release.
Of special note: Adam Goldberg attended the gala screening and was just as charming, funny, and regular-guy as he could be during the Q&A. I think that I have a little crush now...