Sunday, April 29, 2012


years filming these groups of people.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Kid With A Bike

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The trouble with free screenings redux

Originally published on September 28, 2005

Last night I happened to be at one of these promotional screenings that are populated with people who are there for one reason: free movie! When the film is some brainless popcorn blockbuster this is fine with me as I don't need to pay much attention to write a 500 word review and don’t become bothered by the chatter and noise that will come from the audience.

But last night I was trying to watch the new David Cronenberg movie, A History of Violence, with a packed theatre and it was rough going (I should have known there would be issues when I saw that the crowd was culled from the listeners of a local sports station known as the “Sports Buzz” and an urban top 40 station called “Powr95”). Brutish, loud behavior erupted continuously from the emotionally stunted and just rude people who were there because it was free.

For example, there is kind of a heated sex scene between Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello that involves oral sex in a more ramped up way than is normally seen in American films. Giggling and cackling erupted all over the theatre like the audience was nothing but hormone drenched junior high boys. It was embarrassing. I was embarrassed for these people. One guy sitting next to me kind of moans out loud during the scene while saying to anyone within earshot, “That’s what I’m talking about right there.” Thanks for sharing, you moron.

Bello later does a brief full frontal nude scene and you would have thought the first lady Laura Bush was baring her pasty, robot-ass pubes up there the way people gasped and guffawed. And people act surprised when Americans are accused of backward, prudish thoughts regarding sexuality? Come watch a free movie in Tulsa with adult themes with (gasp!) naked people and those stereotypes will hit you full on in the face.

Even the violence in the story drew protests and shock from the people around me. This was a David Cronenberg movie people! But, as I said, the audience was here because it was free, not because the film is getting seriously good reviews or because of Cronenberg’s previous films. The shame is I was there as an avid film lover and an adult who can handle adult themes. Unfortunately, these repressed yahoos couldn’t.

I was at another free press/public screening a few months ago for a film called Me and You and Everyone We Know. I loved this movie but it is not for everyone, as it is a hyper-quirky meditation on love and how people connect or disconnect from one another in the 21st century world.

Well, an aspect of the film involves children and sexuality—a taboo subject if there ever was one. I counted six walk outs during one scene in particular. I felt kind of sorry for those people leaving. I can see them muttering to each other during the film: “I don’t care if this is free, what in the hell is this junk? Some eight year old talking about poo in and out of butts forever and people pay for this garbage? Let’s get the hell out of here and go watch Flightplan, now that’s some real moviemaking!”

Do people ever look and see what movie it is they are getting free passes to? My experience says no, they just show up and expect the formulaic dreck that usually comes down the road. When they come face to face with something odd or surprising, they turn away, get up and leave or sit and giggle like teenagers.

Here’s hoping that next time I’m at one of these screenings every single person will get up and leave the theatre who is shocked, freaked out, disturbed, offended, sickened by what they see. If I’m the only person left in the darkened theatre after they’ve left in a huffing-mad horde, that would be fine and dandy by me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Movie tickets #31

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Now this is a good poster! In 1956 Alfred Hitchcock remade his 1934 film of the same name in VistaVision and Technicolor! How could you not like anything filmed in "VistaVision"? Class, pure class.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Future

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Film is in serious trouble article in LA Weekly

I've ranted and raved about the possibility of a digital landscape when it comes to the way movies are made and screened on more than one occasion on CineRobot. It's not exactly news, but this lengthy article in LA Weekly has really kicked me square in the gut. I thought it would be years and years into the future before the studios, in their infinite wisdom to save themselves money, will willingly choose to destroy the art form that has made them wealthy beyond imagination for, I don't know, a hundred years or so. I guess they want to be richer than they already are. Read the article HERE if you want the cold, hard truth. If you love seeing movies on film rather than soulless digital formats, it's going to be a painful read.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hunger Games

Here's a male v. female perspective regarding the recently released blockbuster The Hunger Games as Sarah makes a guest typewriter review appearance. We both had previously read the book and saw it at the amazing Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. My review is first, followed by a photo I recently took of the Cinerama Dome [did I say that it is awesome? Yes, and I'll say it again] and then Sarah's review.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pretty Poison

Here's the poster [Tuesday Weld!] and short typewriter review of the 1968 film Pretty Poison. I'm thinking I rated this was slightly too low though, I'll bump it up to a 3 stars rather than the 2 1/2 that I gave it when I wrote this. I like the poster by the way, but it could have been better if they'd used the moment in the film where Weld sticks out her toungue as she pulls the trigger. Might have been too much for the poster. 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Big Lebowski live read recap

I hadn't been able to attend the last few live script reads at LACMA due to work conflicts, but I did get to see the last read of this first six screenplay arc and it was a doozy: The Big Lebowski. First of all, the screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen is amazing all by itself. I've seen the movie a bunch of times and yes, the cast are pretty much perfect in it. But, it's the screenplay! After seeing a group of actors read through it raw, the film still comes alive due to what the Coens have crafted on the page.

Here was the cast of the live read: Sam Elliott [as what else? The Stranger], Christina Hendricks [Maude], Rainn Wilson [Walter], Seth Rogan [The Dude], Hank Azaria [Donnie, nihilist], Catherine Reitman [Bunny], Nick Kroll [Jesus, nihilist], Fred Savage [Brandt, nihilist] and Jason Alexander [Lebowski].

The best: Alexander [in an unfortunate and ridiculous toupe!], Wilson [it's hard not to kill as Walter] and yes, Mr. Sam Elliott.

The worst: Hendricks. She was monotone and seemed bored on the stage, never cracking a smile at anyone else's performance.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

March movies

We are watching The Sopranos on DVD and it's really cut into my movie time. Instead of watching a new movie, I've been watching two episodes of The Sopranos. We're nearly done with season three so in three more seasons time, I can go back to watching films! Six documentaries in the twelve films I saw.

Blank City---2011---usa   ***
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress---2002---china
Sound of Noise---2011---sweden   ***1/2
Eames: The Architect and the Painter---2011---usa   ***1/2
Naked Ambition---2009---usa   *1/2
Play the Game---2009---usa   **
Jiro Dreams of Sushi---2011---japan   ***
Klown---2011---denmark   ****
Beats, Rhymes and Life---2011--usa   ***
Last Days Here---2011---usa    ***
The Raid: Redemption---2012---indonesia  ***1/2
21 Jump Street---2012---usa   ***1/2

Sunday, April 01, 2012

SXSW 2012 by Stephanie Huettner

“How was your SXSW?” In a word, exhausting. I worked full shifts every day at both I Luv Video and as one of the lead projectionists for SXSW. In truth, I only saw a few movies this year. I usually see at least 20, but this year my schedule and stamina only left room for about 7, and a few half-films (where I either fell asleep or had to leave before the end).

However, what I did see was some really surprising, entertaining, and delightful stuff. My first SXSW movie came on the Wednesday before the festival began. The lovely staff set up a special screening of 21 Jump Street for all of the Crew Chiefs and specialized volunteers. My friend and I decided to go, even though we assumed it would be terrible. The trailers I had seen made it look like a thrown together hodge podge of scattered ideas which had little to do with the show on which it was based. I’ll state here that I adored that show when it was on. The only fan letter I have ever written in my life was to Johnny Depp when I was 8 years-old. He never wrote back... Anyway, I went in with low expectations. In short, I got a real treat. While they are tonally complete opposites, the film actually has quite a few hat tips to the show. The most amazing thing about it was the emergence of Channing Tatum as a, wait for it, brilliant comedic actor. I know! I had yet to see Tatum do anything brilliantly, and there he was making me laugh so hard my face was sore. Wonders never cease. For a small dose of him making the funny, here’s a video he did with Charlyne Yi.

During the festival, I mostly ducked in to documentaries while overseeing the (awesome) volunteers in the booth. One that caught my attention was Dreams of a Life, which tries to uncover the mysterious identity of a woman whose body went undiscovered for three years after her death. By chance, I had read an article about the making of the movie by director Carol Morley the night before I caught the first 30 minutes. The feel of the film is like that of an investigative journalist mystery, as she seeks to find out who the woman (named Joyce Carol Vincent) was and how no one could have known that she’d died. Morley mixes interviews with the woman’s friends and reenactments of stories they tell. Actress Zawe Ashton (who some may recognize from the BBC’s Sherlock) plays Joyce. What I saw was engrossing, shocking, sad, and moving. I really hope I get a chance to see the whole thing soon and that it gets some sort of distribution.

Apart from the films I saw, there was also a little music at this festival. I work right next door to two other places that my bosses own which have a total of three stages. There was a constant blast of music at any hour which I worked. One special band playing next door was introduced by Bill Murray. We heard tell at the video store that he was buying drinks and dresses (there’s also a boutique crammed in over there) for all the ladies. I was not lucky enough to get over there to see him, but there was a whisper of greatness on the wind that night.

A third and most highly attended component of SXSW is the Interactive conference. There’s always some crossover amongst the three parts, and one of the Film/Interactive mash-ups this year was the debut of a video game called Renga. The set-up at the Canon Imagination Theater at the Rollins involved the two creators of the game hooking up a bunch of their own equipment in the booth so that they could project and control it from up there. I’m not smart enough to know exactly how this worked, but the audience were all given laser pointers, to which the gaming software responds somehow. The object of the game is to have a whole group work together to build a spaceship and fight off invaders. The graphics on the game were charmingly (and intentionally) antiquated, recalling the best years of my childhood spent indoors playing Zelda, or at an arcade playing Galaga. I arrived at the theater about half-way through the game, and watched in wonder as one of the creators sat there coding the game in process. He would decide what clues to give the audience, while the other was in charge of things like attacks by enemy invaders. It brought out the nerd in everyone, and I once again sighed and lamented the fact that I will never understand how all that crap works.

And so it is was with a heavy heart and a tired head that I ended my SXSW journey. As always by the end of the 10-day event, I was a battered soldier; tired, messy, unable to distinguish real life from fiction, but a better person for it.

***If you are reading this post via e-mail, the imbedded video in this post might not work with your particular e-mail account. Click on the post title and you will be taken directly to CineRobot to view the video.***