Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When a film geek visits me in Los Angeles, part two

Continuing my daily log of what David and I did on his recent visit to Los Angeles...

Day 4: We went into the hornet's nest of tourism: Hollywood Boulevard! If you don't know what this means, it is crowded sidewalks of gawkers from out of town, people trying to talk you into taking their half-rate tour of the city, people selling you their creative wares [I had a young hip hop guy try to sell me his self-made CD for $1. According to him, it had "nothin' but cussin'" on it, which is a selling point for some, but not me. I passed on it despite the fair price he offered.] and people dressed up as various famous characters from the world of cinema. I saw a sad looking Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson, Darth Vader and I even had a brief, hostile exchange with a surprisingly surly Spiderman. The actual stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame don't do a lot for me, but I really like the signatures in cement with hands and feet [and in the case of the image of Harold Lloyd's plot, his trademark glasses].

A funny thing related to one of the people dressed up happened. I was trying to take a photo of the square of cement square related to Star Trek when Spiderman stepped onto the signatures and didn't move. I politely asked, "Please move, Mr. Spiderman" as the man stared at me through his semi-filthy mask for a couple of seconds. "No one cares about you or what you are doing," this Spiderman informed me as he walked away. I said to David, "Spiderman is kind of rude today." Spiderman stopped on the sidewalk and yelled back to us, "Spiderman can say whatever he wants to say" and walked off. I don't recommend having your photo taken with Spiderman if he's going to have a bad attitude like that and yell at people who are simply trying to take a photo of Leonard Nimoy's finger imprints on cement.

We walked down Hollywood Boulevard to the point that it loses its family friendly vibe and takes on a scuzzier, seedier feeling as there are plenty of skanky lingerie and sex shops in you are the mood to unleash your kinkier side. We found our way to Larry Edmunds Bookshop and was struck full in the face with the mother load when it comes to movie related books and magazines. I could have spent a few hours in there just browsing the floor to ceiling shelves, but we had to go to another place that is chock full of goodies, Amoeba Records. Needing to get some rest before dinner and the night's upcoming triple feature, we made our way back to the apartment to recover from our tourist injection that is Hollywood Boulevard.

Edgar Wright [Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim] is holding an eight day festival of films he's never seen at the New Beverly and tonight was night one. I wrote about it recently here. We started the "Wright Stuff III" strong with three music related movies in The Girl Can't Help It, Get Crazy and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Yes, a triple feature that had us at the New Beverly for nearly eight hours. The screenings were chock full of special guests to talk about the film and one of them, Joe Dante, sat directly in front of us during The Girl Can't Help It. Other speakers for the films were Allen Arkush, Eli Roth, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clifton Collins, Jr., Thomas Jane and obviously Wright [photo on left with Wright, Collins, Jane, Winstead, Michael Bacall and Bryan Lee O'Malley]. Get Crazy, a little seen film from 1983, was a fun blast of 1980s zaniness from Arkush involving music and hijinks that was filmed entirely in Los Angeles' Wiltern Theatre. We arrived at New Beverly at 7pm, I got into bed at 3am and asleep sometime after that!

Day 5. It wasn't the best choice to get up from less than five hours sleep and head downtown for a three hour tour of the movie theatre district, but that's just what we did. The LA Conservancy offers a tremendous tour of the movie and theatre district every Saturday morning for only $10 [an amazing bargain for what you get to see/hear about on this tour--I should know as this is the second time I've taken it in three months]. You get to spend quality time inside multiple theatres in the tour [we were in both the Million Dollar Theatre and the amazing Orpheum Theatre the longest] and go in the Bradbury as well [Blade Runner!]. Included are a couple of photos of the Orpheum Theatre, an music and event theatre opened in 1926 as a vaudeville and movie theatre that is still going strong today. Wow, what a place.

After we had lunch in the Grand Central Market [I had a terrific carne asada torta], we walked around downtown and came across a film shoot for a commercial. Something I'm not close to being used to is coming across some various film shoot or having to bypass a street due to it being shut down for filming. It happens all the time. After a couple hours rest at the apartment getting caught up on Work of Art and Top Chef, David  and I made our way to the Aero in Santa Monica for one of those special cinema experiences that anyone who likes movies should do once in their lives: 2001: A Space Odyssey in 70mm! Neither of us had seen it on a screen, much less 70mm, so when we started planning the films for David's visit, this one was circled in bright red from the moment we saw it. 2001 is the mind blowing science fiction epic from Stanley Kubrick that is just as jaw-droppingly magnificent today as it was when it was released 43 years ago in 1968. Seeing 2001 in 70mm is going to rank as one of the great moments of my life of film events, that's how special this film in this format is.

How overboard have we gone on this Los Angeles binge of movie sightseeing and film watching? Well, the answer was supplied on this night. We drove back from Santa Monica and went back to New Beverly to see a midnight screening of the 1980 horror/comedy Christmas Evil. Due to the second night of the "Wright Stuff III" festival it started late. How late? The film started around 1am. That means David and I stood outside in pretty cold weather for 45 minutes. Was it worth it? Probably not. I was so tired I dozed off a time or two for brief flashes and the film is kind of a below average oddball film about a guy obsessed with Christmas and Santa Claus. Had it started on time, maybe I would have liked it a little more, but Christmas Evil was still a stinker that is battling House on the Edge of the Park for the least enjoyable film of David's trip.

Day 6. After back-to-back nights of staying out until 3amish for films, we did not get an early jump on David's last day in Los Angeles. Thank goodness for that. We did catch a matinee screening of the 2011 French silent The Artist and it was the perfect film to watch for the trip as it is about the waning era of silent filmmaking in Hollywood. Shot in Los Angeles, we spotted numerous locations that we made it to in the past few days [Bradbury Building, Orpheum Theatre, Warner Brothers back lot]. The Artist is getting a lot of accolades at the moment and they are much deserved. It is a sweetly entertaining melodrama that revives the notion of silent films. Who would have thought that 2012 would have two releases [Hugo is the other] among my favorites of the year that include silent moviemaking as major plot points? Not me.

We made our way back to the New Beverly for our last double feature of director Edgar Wright's "Wright Stuff III" [not for me though--I have four more to go!]. This night was going to be a mad pairing of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and Kwaidan. I hadn't seen either of the films, but the guest speakers for the night might be the most entertaining of the entire eight night run: John Landis, Joe Dante and Patton Oswalt. It seems that Oswalt came ready to do some stand-up comedy, as he went on a couple of lengthy riffs about 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T that were raucously received by the sell-out crowd. Dante was forced into playing the straight man, which he said he was fine doing. Wright even called them the "new comedy team of Dante and Oswalt" when mentioning them later in the evening. Landis talked about both films, but the only one of the two he liked was Kwaidan, a 1964 movie with four ghost related stories. I was pretty tired during it, so Kwaidan seemed really slow as it unfolded.  The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T was certainly not slow. Directed by Dr. Seuss himself [the only movie he made], it's a 1953 film that is a bizarre, technicolor musical fantasy involving a young boy and his mother in a piano instruction prison controlled by Dr. T. Unceasingly over-the-top, this was a kaleidoscope of color, song and weirdness that probably has messed with a lot of kid's minds over the decades.

As one last visual image to document our Los Angeles binge, here's a photo of us at the Warner Brothers studio as we come face to face with the world of Harry Potter. It's frightening as you can see by the look on my face. Also worth noting is the amazing handlebar mustache I'm sporting!


Eva said...

super-envious of all your excursions!

I think that particular Spiderman is probably really a schizophrenic homeless person.

PS David, whose hair are you channeling this time?

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

David will back me up on this--Spiderman was very cranky this particular day on Hollywood Boulevard!

hidden staircase said...

to the tune of rick james..."super geek, this boy's a super geek, he's super geeky!" hahaha. glad you are having fun not working!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

I had an interview this week so I'm hoping that I'll have a job soon!

hidden staircase said...

oh wow! film related?! good luck!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

No, public library related. Might be a few weeks before I find out anything though.