Film Essent Archive for June, 2011

SIFF Trailer Park #2

It’s hard to believe it’s almost over, but it is — this weekend is your last chance to immerse yourself in SIFF this year! But what to see? Here are trailers for some of the film playing this weekend that you might want to check out …


Read the full article »

On the Stupidity of Weinergate

Okay, look.

First: Yes, Anthony Weiner has a bad name for a politician. With that name, he was always a late-night-talk-show monologue waiting to happen, right? And yes, what he did was stupid. But the Republican reaction to Weiner’s stupidity, the ridiculous calls for him to resign? Please. The hypocrisy boggles the mind.

It happens on their side of the aisle, and they’re all compassionate and warm as they close rank: “It’s a private matter between him and his family and his God,” blah blah blah. Schwarzenegger fathers a love-child and hides it for TEN YEARS, oh, what-evah. Newt Gingrich screwed around on his second wife with his third — while leading the charge against Bill Clinton over a consensual blowjob from an intern. And on and on and on. But a Democrat gets caught Twitter-sexting and it’s suddenly a huge deal that has … what exactly with Weiner’s ability to do his actual job?
Read the full article »


There’s No Place Like Home

The good news: We got to go home today! They got enough on the 24-hour EEG to get an idea what’s going on with Luka. That was a big relief, because Luka was ready to go home last night. “This isn’t as fun as I thought it would be,” said he, after having 27 electrodes glued onto his head and being basically confined to the bed all day and evening. But we were lucky. The kid in the room next to us, who was up banging against our mutual wall and screaming and yelling at his parents until nearly midnight last night, has been there for a week now.

If you are interested in kids and epilepsy and such, read on. If not, feel free to come back later, when I’ll have some thoughts on Anthony Weiner and his weiner. You know I’m not gonna let that one slide without commentary.
Read the full article »

1 Comment »

A Few Words About the deadCENTER Film Festival

In all the busy-ness of Luka being in the hospital, I very nearly forgot to mention that my hometown of Oklahoma City has a film fest, the deadCENTER Film Festival, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. I’m terrible for just remembering to write about this, especially since I’m an honorary board member. Sorry, guys. I’m a slacker.

One of these days I’ll make it back to OKC for this fest, but unfortunately it’s always scheduled over the last week of SIFF, which makes it tough. Maybe next year I can persuade them to bump it back one week, which would make it coincide with Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year — which is actually more the “dead center” of the year than the second week of June anyhow, right?
Read the full article »

1 Comment »

SIFF Dispatch: Meeting Elmo

We were supposed to go see Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey on Friday, but a schedule conflict caused me to have to push it off to today’s screening. As it turned out, that was a fortuitous turn of events, because at the conclusion of today’s screening, we were promised, there would be a Very. Special. Guest. A guest who was, at that very moment, being driven to the theater from the airport.

Now, I haven’t been to a lot of festival screenings — especially family screenings — where everyone in the audience stays for the post-show Q&A, but as the closing credits rolled, no one so much as dashed out for a quick potty run. Everyone was waiting, breathlessly. Would it be … could it be … Him?
Read the full article »


And Now for 24 Hours of the Kind of Video I Don’t Like Watching …

Yesterday afternoon, watching my kids light up with joy as they met Elmo — the real LIVE Elmo! — and Kevin Clash after watching the magical film Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, I was almost able to forget for a little while that this morning we had to be up early so that I could bring my youngest, Luka, to the hospital for a 24-hour (maybe longer, depending on what his doc thinks about what he sees) video EEG.
Read the full article »


SIFF Dispatch: In Which Our Raptured Car is Found, Safe and Sound

Good news! My mom’s car, which was raptured/stolen from the parking lot during the Renton SIFF screening of The Sound of Mumbai a couple weeks ago, has been found in an apartment complex in Auburn, empty of gas and littered with burrito wrappers but otherwise fine. Whew.
Read the full article »

SIFF Review: A Thousand Times Stronger

I can’t think of the last time I saw a film about teenagers in which the female protagonist does not flirt with boys, talk about boys, obsess about boys, dress to attract the attention of boys, or engage in rivalry with another girl over a boy. Can you?

Swedish film A Thousand Times Stronger, directed by Peter Schildt, breaks the mold by delving into issues of gender disparity and the silencing of female voices with a story about a how a Swedish school’s gender-divided status quo is shaken up by the arrival of a new girl who’s been schooled all over the world.
Read the full article »


Dallas IFF Review: Beautiful Boy

Note: This review originally ran during Dallas International Film Festival. I’m re-running it now because Beautiful Boy opens in limited release today.

Day Two at Dallas IFF got off to a slower start than I intended, as I ended up spending the afternoon on the phone and buried in my computer working. I worked straight through lunch and dinner, finally emerging from my hotel room in time to make it over to the Angelika for the Centerpiece screening of Beautiful Boy, which premiered at Toronto last year and is being released by Anchor Bay in NY and LA sometime soon.
Read the full article »

SIFF Review: Microphone

This charming, energetic film out Egypt — shot before the recent Middle East revolutions — had its inception in the director, Ahmad Abdalla, wandering the streets of Alexandria like a tourist, when some graffiti caught his eye. A little research revealed the graffiti artist to be a 19-year-old girl, and thus was planted the seed for Abdalla to make Microphone, a film about the vibrant underground art and music scene — street art, metal bands, and hip-hop artists, skateboarders and filmmakers — in Alexandria.

Abdalla chose to tell a fictional tale based on the real stories he gathered from the art scene in Alexandria, so what we have here is, essentially, roughly fictionalized re-tellings of the stories the artists told about themselves. This lends the a sense of realism to the story of a prodigal son of a retired musician returning home to Alexandria to uncover a world he never knew existed.
Read the full article »

Review: !Women Art Revolution

Quick! Can you name three women artists?

I’m taking a brief break from my immersion in SIFF films to talk to you about !Women Art Revolution, a compelling documentary that opens today in NYC, which explores the dawning of the feminist art movement through archival footage and spontaneous interviews gathered by director Lynn Hersham Leeson over 40 or so years. And even if you think you know everything there is to know about feminism and art, I can pretty much guarantee you will learn something you didn’t know watching this film.
Read the full article »

Quote Unquotesee all »

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