FILM In the summer of 1999, horror fans hungered for something, anything, that wasn't a Scream-inspired self-aware slasher.
Though it had no stars, a microscopic budget, and was filmed in nausea-inducing shaky-cam, The Blair Witch Project burst into cinemas with a novel set-up — filmmakers lost in the woods record supernatural goings-on before falling victim to evil themselves — and scares galore. Towering box-office receipts, a Time magazine cover, and legions of rip-offs ensued.Read more »
On the Road (Walter Salles, US/France/UK/Brazil, 2012) Walter Salles (2004's The Motorcycle Diaries) engages Diaries screenwriter Jose Rivera to adapt Jack Kerouac's Beat classic; it's translated to the screen in a streamlined version, albeit one rife with parties, drugs, jazz, danger, reckless driving, sex, philosophical conversations, soul-searching, and "kicks" galore. Brit Sam Riley (2007's Control) plays Kerouac stand-in Sal Paradise, observing (and scribbling down) his gritty adventures as they unfold. Read more »
FILM The 35th Mill Valley Film Festival is a star-studded affair, with tributes to Dustin Hoffman and 1977's Star Wars and celebrity guests (Ben Affleck! Ang Lee! Stevie Nicks!), but indie cinema fans won't want to miss Strutter. It doesn't have any movie stars, but it comes courtesy of indie heroes Allison Anders (1992's Gas Food Lodging, 1993's Mi vida loca) and Kurt Voss, Anders' co-director and co-writer on 1987's Border Radio and 1999's Sugar Town.Read more »
FILM "I feel like I was maybe here, a while back. Or I'm older than I really am, and I just have this young body and spirit and mind — but I have a memory of this place when it was bangin'," says video blogger Crystal Starr in new doc Detropia, gazing at the Detroit skyline from an abandoned building somewhere on the West Side, puffing a little joint.Read more »
FILM It can't be a coincidence that within a week, a pair of films have been released about 35-year-olds who contemplate hooking up with 19-year-olds. That 16-year age gap — with an immature or other otherwise emotionally stunted thirtysomething on one end, and a precocious millennial on the other — is narrow enough to be plausible, but just wide enough to be awkward.Read more »
In a way, his first film, the experimental documentary Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006), did for Paul Festa what years of classical musical training and fiction writing never yet had: it put him squarely before the eyes and ears of the world as a serious artist. Ironically, he'd never trained as a filmmaker. He was following a musical muse, to be sure, but down an unfamiliar path.
Asking how we listen — why we listen — to music, Apparition gathered an eclectic assortment of interview-subjects (friends, drag queens, his Juilliard mentor Albert Fuller, even his old college prof, renowned critic-scholar Harold Bloom), had them strap on headphones, and then describe their reactions to Olivier Messiaen's Apparition de l'église éternelle, the composer's unrelentingly intense 1932 piece for organ. It was a simple notion that produced complex, and completely absorbing, results.
This week, check out the offerings at Cine+Mas, the San Francisco Latino Film Festival, plus reviews of quirky docs Beauty is Embarrassing and Cane Toads: The Conquest, in my overview here. Also, Los Angeles-based underground superstar Damon Packard visits Other Cinema Sat/15 with his latest, Foxfur; he chats about it here.