Film Essent Archive for June, 2011

Review: Green

Every now and again, a film or filmmaker pops onto my radar because a publicist drops me a line and says “Hey, would you check this out? I think you might like it.” Such was the case with Sophia Takal’s Green, which I likely already would have seen if I’d gone to SXSW, where it premiered; since I didn’t make it down to Austin this year, though, I missed catching Green until now. And if you’ve missed it too, you’ll want to check it out if it comes your way, because while it has its flaws, Green is a surprisingly good feature debut from this young director.
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Inside Seattle Gay Pride

Sorry to be quiet for a few days, had a busy few days with summer-y things and parades and whatnot. Sunday we spent the day at the Seattle Gay Pride Parade and Pride Picnic, and boy howdy, all those gay recruiters the fundamentalist Christians think exist sure must be doing a good job in Seattle, because there were a LOT of the gays and their allies out and about. Pretty much, it wasn’t a good day to be in downtown Seattle if you’re homophobic or can’t handle seeing same sex couples acting like they have a right to do things like hold hands and kiss in public like everyone else.

There were LGBTQ folk all across the spectrum out and about in downtown Seattle for the Pride events, along with their friends, family, random supportive pro-gay people coming out just to say, “we support you and we love you.” There were homeless guys who were just excited to have something different going on, homeless guys off their meds who were seriously pissed that something different was going on in their space, and lots of LGBTQ parents out with their rainbow-clad kidlets in tow.
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The Wall

From Liquid Night

Günter Zint

Olaf stands beside the Berlin Wall, which separates him and his mother from his father who remains in East Berlin.

Bernauer Strasse, West Berlin, circa 1960s

From Zintstoff: 50 Jahre Deutsche Geschichte

On the Plus Side, My Seven-Year-Old Knows the Definition of Melee …

This past school year I seriously considered adding “Preparedness for the Zombie Apocalypse” to my kids’ learning plans, just for the fun of having our supervising teacher argue with me over whether (or how) zombie apocalypse knowledge fits within the rather constrained, uptight, definition of education in the “oh look at us, all four of our high schools made Newsweek’s Top 100 because we skew the scoring with AP tests” Bellevue School District.

Don’t get me wrong; as far as public school districts go, Bellevue is considered very desirable, and all four of my younger kids will be making their first foray into the realm of Bellevue’s “regular” schools next year, having homeschooled most of their lives up to this point. Most of that time we’ve been enrolled in one or another of the excellent parent partnership programs available to Seattle-area homeschoolers, and they spent last year at Bellevue’s homeschooling partnership program, Kelsey Creek.

At Kelsey Creek, my eighth grader was able to take classes like Poetry and Shakespeare, Socratic Seminar and Art History, and the youngers had classes like Animal Science, Pioneer Science, Astronomy and Animation, in addition to the usual suspects of readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. But they didn’t have a class on zombie preparedness, and I always thought this was a little short-sighted, particularly given the BSDs obsession with being better than all the other districts at everything else.

Zombies are popular these days, and all the kids find zombies fascinating (in the abstract at least, probably they would find them less fascinating if real zombies were banging down the door to eat our brains). And hey, I’m all for being interested in things in the abstract, but in a real zombie apocalypse, you want to be prepared for real.

Last October, Seattle hosted the first ever ZomBCon (an event that promises to grow bigger and bigger, at least so long as zombies are the cool kidz), and I took the older three kids out of school for the day for a “field trip” so they could see for themselves the wide array of what zombies might look like, on the theory that being able to recognize zombies will be a huge advantage when the end days come.

Of course, I made them up like zombies before we went, so if any real zombies showed up, they could blend in and avoid getting their brains eaten — what kind of mother do you think I am?

And we had a great time at ZomBCon, hanging out with my friend John Wildman and his lovely wife Justina. John was in town working publicity on the event, but neither he nor Justina had taken the precaution of being made up like zombies so as to blend in better. I don’t know what he was thinking. You would think a guy like John would value his wife’s brains a little more than that, because his wife is very smart and has heaps of them, and everyone knows zombies like to eat the smart people first because their brains taste better. For all I know, maybe he wanted her brains to be eaten by zombies so people won’t always be talking about how smart she is.

Fortunately for both of them, we were on hand in zombie attire, thereby creating the illusion for any real zombies who wandered by all hungry that these two were already taken, so move along please. My favorite part of that weekend was when we showed up at the spendy fondue restaurant in full zombie regalia, and at first they were, “Uh, we don’t have any tables” even though the place was obviously half empty. They finally hid us away in a back room where we wouldn’t frighten off any other customers by making them think the place was under attack by undead brain eaters. Clearly, the employees of that fondue place are not prepared for a zombie apocalypse; if we’d been real zombies we would have eaten everyone’s brains instead of the fondue, except we maybe would have left our waitress alive so she could bring the white chocolate dessert fondue out when we we’d had our fill of brains. Not eating her brains would been the zombie way of leaving a big tip, see? I’ve thought this stuff through.

So this morning I woke up to find Luka and Veda and their friend G, who’s been sleeping over the past couple nights, on the computer taking the zombie survival quiz. See, when you’re doing your job as a parent and teaching your kids about zombies, they pay it forward to their friends, kind of like that old shampoo commercial (you know, the one where she told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on and so on). They had very serious discussions going on about important zombie survival matters like what kind of vehicle would be best for getting around in a zombie apocalypse, and which melee weapon was most efficient, and they were, as you might expect, doing very well on the quiz. What? Hey, at least my seven-year-old knows the definition of “melee” and can read big words like “apocalypse.” Can yours?

On July 2, Seattle will have its third annual Red White and Dead Zombie Walk in Fremont. It’s a huge, all ages event, and last year some 7,000 zombies turned out for it. All the good mobile food carts in Seattle will be there, too, so if you’re anywhere else in Seattle on July 2 looking for a good, cheap taqueria or a food-cart hot dog slathered with cream cheese, you’ll be jack out of luck, buster.

Seattle has garnered TWO world records for zombie walks, and believe you me, we do not intend to be beaten by New Jersey this or any other year — that, as they say, you may tie to. I’m thinking we definitely need to take the kids to Red White and Dead this year. 7,000 zombies in one place, plus getting to be a part of setting a world record? What kind of lousy mom would I be if I deprived them of the opportunity for that?

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Generous Spirit

Today we moved my mom to her own apartment. She’s been living with me, off and on, for the past 15 years, moving with me from Oklahoma City to New Jersey to upstate New York to Seattle.

If it hadn’t been for her help in the years when we had four small kids and a teenager in the house … well, at the very least the piles of laundry would have reached the ceiling instead of always being caught up; the dishes would have stacked up waiting for someone to find time to wash them; the playroom floor would have been a minefield of toddler detritus.
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What Roger Said, Er, Tweeted — and a Jackass Backlash

Updated: The Washington Post is now reporting that Ryan Dunn’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, and that he was driving his Porsche at 130MPH when he crashed, killing himself and his passenger. Which, Jackass fans, makes Roger Ebert’s tweet correct, even if you still think it was too soon to tweet about it.

The only person Dunn’s friends and family — and Jackass fans — have to be pissed off at here, is Dunn himself, who was engaging in irresponsible, antisocial, asshole behavior and got himself and his friend killed in the process. End of line, folks.

In case you missed all the uproar, Roger Ebert is taking some internet heat for Tweeting this

“Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”

… in the wake of Jackass star Ryan Dunn’s death, along with his pal Zachary Hartwell, in a fiery crash. According to this MSNBC story, Dunn might have been driving in excess of 100 MPH in the 55 MPH zone when his car jumped a guardrail. Reportedly, Dunn and Hartwell were photographed drinking in a bar shortly before the crash. There’s a photo up on TMZ, I hear, if you’re really feeling the need to see it.
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Book Review: Crazy 4 Cult: It’s Not Just for L.A. Anymore

Shannon Bonatakis

If you live in LA, perhaps you’re familiar with the annual Crazy 4 Cult art show at Gallery 1988, wherein numerous very talented artists celebrate the magic and mystery of cult movies by creating some amazingly diverse art. From time to time, I get sent stuff to check out; when I like it and think it’s cool, I’ll write about it, and if I don’t, well, I don’t. In this instance, I was pretty blown away by both the content of this book, Gallery 1988’s Crazy4Cult Cult Movie Art, and by the quality of how the art within its covers is presented. If you’re into cult movies or collecting cult movie art or memorabilia, you are gonna dig the hell out of this book.

Shepard Fairey

Now I will warn you going in, if you think you’re going to sit down and flip through all 173 pages of art in this book in one sitting, you’ve got another think coming. There’s a LOT of art in this book, and much of it is intricately detailed and varied, and it’s almost overwhelming if you try to churn through the whole thing all at once. So be careful, you could hurt yourself.

Take your time, imbibe the adult beverage of your choice, and enjoy perusing its pages at your leisure. Or enjoy it with a few cult-movie-loving friends — preferably the kind of friends who won’t spill their beer all over it, because it’s a nice book and you want to keep it that way. And really, you shouldn’t be hanging out with the kind of people who would spill their beer all over an art book anyhow.

Marcus Schafer

P.S. The book includes an intro by Kevin Smith, whose movies have been featured in abundance in art work at the show. Also, we learn in the intro that Kevin Smith might or might not annually masturbate while thinking about guys. That’s a mental picture I personally did not need, but since it’s now burned into my brain, I figured I’d pass it on and share with the group. You’re welcome.

To Heel or Not to Heel

When’s the last time you saw a man (who wasn’t a drag queen) with his feet wedged into high heels, altering his natural gait to balance on stilettos? Or knew an older man whose feet, after decades of being forced into heels with pointed toes, had become permanently misshapen and hurt, daily, to walk on? Or even heard a man complain after a night out dressed up for his ladylove, that his feet were blistered and sore and killing him?
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Of Fathers and Children

Yesterday, of course, was Father’s Day, and we had a pack of people over at our house for a Father’s Day BBQ — my husband Mike, my ex-husband Jay (the father of my four youngest kids) and my dad, Jim, who moved to Seattle a couple years ago. I thought about writing a post yesterday on movie dads, but geez, that’s been done and overdone the last few years, hasn’t it? Every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it seems every other movie site has to rehash Great Movie Moms and Great Movie Dads. Besides, I was a relentless bookworm as a kid, and as such my own ideas about fathers and husbands were informed much more by books than by movies, at least until I got older.
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The Art of Dating by Geography

I’m fascinated by this Gothamist piece asking New Yorkers if they’d date outside their borough. Not so much by the piece itself, but by the general hilarity of the comments, particularly when some commenters get into the relative merits (or lack thereof) of Staten Island, and whether one lives IN Staten Island or ON Staten Island. Pressing issues.

Weighing the relative hotness of a potential date against the distance traveled (or number of trains you have to take) to get there?
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Why Are Parents Responding So Strongly to Go the F— to Sleep?

So there’s been a good deal of controversy over children’s book for grown-ups Go the Fuck to Sleep, written by Adam Mansback and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. You’ve heard of this, yes? A New Zealand Christian group called Family First NZ tried to get the book banned from sale there, but thankfully were unsuccessful in their sinister quest to censor New Zealand parents from their God-given right to laugh their asses off with the rest of us.

Before I get into my thoughts on this book, if you haven’t heard or read the book yet, you should check out one of the videos below. Take your pick:

I’ll go make a cuppa tea while I wait, go on now ….

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The Man Who Could Sit Anywhere

Happy Humpday! Here’s one of my fave Cyanide and Happiness animated shorts, for your mid-week enjoyment:

SIFF Dispatch: Last Review Round-Up

The Seattle International Film Festival has wrapped now, but I wanted to mention here a few other films that stood out from this year’s fest.

Early in the fest I caught Red Eyes, a spectacularly shot and edited doc that follows the Chilean national soccer team, La Roja (The Red), on their eight-year quest to show the world they are as good at soccer as Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, all of whom boast multiple World Cup wins, by qualifying for the World Cup in 2006, and again in 2010.
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SIFF Dispatch: It’s a Wrap!

It’s hard to believe, after nearly six week’s immersion in the Seattle International Film Festival, that we’re already at closing weekend. At most longer fests like Sundance and Toronto, the time flies, sure. But SIFF lasts so long, it always takes me a few days to realign my brain around not checking the SIFF schedule to see what’s coming up next. And that’s with having to balance my SIFF immersion around busy end-of-school-year schedules for a pack of kids. Someday when my kids are grown, perhaps I’ll be like some of the Fools Serious passholders, able to boast that I saw over a hundred films during the fest.
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SIFF 2011 Wraps with Golden Space Needle Awards Brunch and Closing Gala

The 37th Seattle International Film Festival‘s awards brunch was held this morning at the Space Needle. Today, just to be different, Seattle weather is warm and somewhat sunny (at least, relative to the loooooong, cold, damp, endlessly cloudy and dismal winter we’ve endured here), so the view from the Space Needle was pretty spectacular. The pic above is a shot of the Families4Films Youth Jury that my son Jaxon served on. He is the second juror from the right, the one all in black with black-dyed hair. Yup, my kid, for sure. The awards brunch always features a splendid buffet, and once again apple crepes and delish salmon served with a Braeburn apple salsa were highlights. Yum yum …

… Right, there were also awards given! You can read the press release for all those right over here.

Later tonight we have the closing film, Life in a Day, which I saw at Sundance but like well enough to sit through a second time. And then there’s the closing party, which I expect we’ll schlep over for, at least for a little while, to do a round of goodbye-til-next-times for some folks and what-day-are we-having-brunch-next-week for others.

It’s an unfortunate conundrum of film festivals that fest attendees want, want, WANT the parties, but then they’re usually crowded and loud and all that and not quite as fun as you think they’ll be when you hear the word “party.” But we will leave on our dressy attire and go mix and mingle and perhaps there will be a drink or two consumed and some meat on a stick eaten. Certainly, there will be many hugs and fond thoughts for another year of SIFF … and look for my SIFF wrap post tomorrow morning with lots of thoughts about this year’s fest.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon