By 1968, James Brown was very much more than an important musician; he
was a major African-American icon. He often spoke publicly about the
pointlessness of rioting and in February 1968, informed the black
activist H. Rap Brown, "I'm not going to tell anybody to pick up a
gun." On April 5, 1968, African Americans rioted in 110 cities
following civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination
the day before. James Brown was due to perform in Boston,
Massachusetts. Mayor Kevin White and Brown decided to proceed with the
show and televise it. They realized people could not resist watching a
James Brown concert, and the riots gripping other cities were averted
Given that I'd had but three hours of sleep and travelled many miles, my choice of a matinee yesterday seemed preordained. And so it was that after a clever Brattle cell phone advisory featuring the Psycho shower scene and trailers for the restored print of The Rules of the Game and Filmbrain fave Linda Linda Linda that the cinetrix slipped down the rabbit hole and spent three hours in Inland Empire. As Harry Dean Stanton so rightly observed, "Someone's got to do it--Gable's dead."
Reader, I loved it. The elliptical patterns and the nested-doll plots all made perfect sense to me in my sleep-deprived state. And I usually hate Laura Dern and David Lynch in combination. Have ever since her face crumpled as she said "Jeffrey?" in the final reel of Blue Velvet years ago. But not this time.
My notes scribbled in the dark go something like this:
Like a repo man, the cinetrix is never off duty. And so it was that she found herself yesterday morning doing more--as the army ads used to say--before 7 a.m. than most cinephages do all day.
An early morning trip south to Boston for a 9 a.m. appointment had the cinetrix working backwards onto a 5:20 a.m. bus. It was the same outfit that brought her Altman's valedictory last month in such a timely fashion. Yesterday, the predawn presentation was An Inconvenient Truth. That's right, 100 minutes of Al Gore before dawn.
Some background. The cinetrix and the 'Fesser skipped out on seeing this doc with his parents this summer. It screened in the next hamlet over as a benefit for the county Democratic organization of which my father-in-law was an officer. We claimed fatigue or something lame. They came back equal parts enraged and energized.
As cinema, Truth is far from revolutionary. The power of its ideas and some clever editing tricks do a lot to transform what is basically a lecture into something kinetic. But for my in-laws it was enough to do what all the best movies do--send them out of the theater transfigured.
On a lighter note, it may be wrong, but if it is, the cinetrix doesn't want to be right. I'm dying to see Gore and David Byrne engage in the PowerPoint presentation version of a DJ battle. There's more overlap between the two than you might want to acknowledge...
Friends of the cinetrix are all over the web this week.
A.S. Hamrah, formerly of All's Not, Am [it's an anagram, people], boldly claims "We love to torture" in the LAT:
[I]f we're confronting our fears, we're sure doing it exuberantly. The
ingeniously imagineered punishment devices in these movies, along with
their chummy torture-chamber repartee and quick recoveries from pain
and abuse, aren't so much about the fear of torture as they are about
the joy of it — and its necessity. Torture is a duty that filmmakers,
like Tom Sawyer painting the fence, have convinced us is a lot of fun.
I finally made it to Elaine’s in the early '90s with a high-school
friend for whom the legendary establishment held the same mystique.
Needless to say, our dinner was nothing like a scene out of Manhattan;
as I scanned the half-empty room, I finally had to accept that my
impending adulthood would in no way resemble my Allen-esque ideal. Even
with the requisite neuroses, I would not live in a luxury apartment
with a balcony, spend weekends in the Hamptons or marry Meryl Streep
(let alone date Diane Keaton). Woody’s New York, while stemming from
genuine adoration, is little more than a romanticized notion of the
city, gazed upon from a vantage point reserved for only a select few.
Speaking of the Big Apple, the cinetrix finally peeled off a tart taste of Inside Man last night. Captain von Trapp and Annabel in the same flick? Somewhere in my youth--or childhood--I must've done something very good indeed. Still, my favorite character was Wes Anderson regular Waris Ahluwalia as the irate Sikh bank employee:
Fuckin' tired of this shit. What happened to my fuckin' civil rights?
Why can't I go anywhere without being harassed? Get thrown out a bank,
I'm a hostage, I get harassed. I go to the airport, I can't go through
security without a random selection. Fuckin' random, my ass. Keith Frazier:
I bet you can get a cab though.
I guess that's one of the perks.
And my favorite throw-away moment was that the cops ordered the hostages pies from Sal's. Nice. No wonder they were cold--it's a long way from Bed-Sty to Wall Street.
Sometime in the past 10 days or so I had a conversation--maybe in New York? [The semester has fried my brain.] Anyway, it went a little something like this: Screw TheWomenremake and the battling JanisJoplin biopics--why hasn't anyone pitched a film about the making of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours?
Admit it, it'd be genius. All those swirly Stevie outfits. The unironic beards. A glowering second banana playing Christine. Not to mention the relationship D-R-A-M-A. [It's a pity Spelling passed, you know?]
OK, so who would you cast? Have at it in the comments, please. You know you're not getting any real work done today anyway.
And “Charlotte’s Web” is a sneakily sophisticated fable. White
certainly appreciated the joys of life on the farm (while evading some
of its bloodier aspects), but the book is really about the benevolent,
even miraculous power of celebrity. It is, most simply, the story of a
spider, Charlotte A. Cavitica, who saves the life of a pig named Wilbur
by making him famous. She is a gifted writer whose chosen genre is what
we might now call the pull quote — her oeuvre consists of the words
“terrific,” “radiant,” “some pig” and, in a stroke of public relations
genius, “humble,” all emblazoned in webbing for the world to see.
Charlotte is a self-effacing manufacturer of celebrity. An eight-legged
flack. It’s not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and
a good publicist.
The cinetrix, like Bill Murray's Herman Blume, finds herself in the shit this week, which is why it's been so quiet around here. Yes, it's finals, which means that a stack of papers beckons, in addition to the usual pesky freelance responsibilities.
The good news is that on the whole, the kiddies' work has been solid and, in some cases, even pleasantly surprising. However, the cinetrix finds herself wrestling with a phenomenon she's certain other film folks have faced: students referring to a sequence by its chapter name on the DVD. Granted, it becomes increasingly likely that filmmakers will construct their movies with an eye to their eventual DVD bow, but at present it's hard for me to believe that some chapter titles aren't simply descriptive afterthoughts drummed up by marketing departments and packagers.
Now I'm no hidebound auteurist, but it does bother me that my students might consider these titles as meriting equal consideration with, say, casting choices, lighting schemes, scoring, and what have you. That may be a discussion for another semester. In the short term, should there at least be [is there already?] some standard manner in which they reference chapter titles? Or should I insist on a strict minutes-into-the-movie approach in the unlikely event a reader might be consulting a VHS cassette or, hell, a 16mm print from Swank?
Third option: Does it matter not a nonce and am I just procrastinating? Your guess is as good as mine.
To celebrate the end of classes and the caesura before final papers come in, the cinetrix has been embracing her inner slacker today. OK, she actually got a head start last night, when she opted to sink into slothfulness in front of the America's Next Top Model finale [listen, it can't all canon, all the time, even here], then discovered to her delight that the geniuses at TCM had programmed Funny Face to begin right afterward. Think Pink, indeed.
So you can imagine my amusement at coming across the following search in ye olde referrer logs today:
And here's a little something-something for West Coasters and feminists of all stripes:
The Gender and Global Issues Program and the Consortium for Women and Research will be hosting the 2nd Annual Davis Feminist Film Festival. Short films (under 60 minutes) should be submitted by January 1, 2007 for consideration by our curators. Final decisions will be announced by February 1, 2007. [Download flyer_callforentry2.pdf
Selected entries will be shown in a 2-day festival on February 22 and 23, and selected entries will be included on a DVD of the festival which will be available to the public.
We are looking for films of high artistic value that satisfy at least 2 of the following criteria:
-films created with an eye for gender and/or social justice issues
-films that link local and global issues
-films created by people underrepresented in the media field
-films made by people from the Davis/Sacramento area (filmmakers from other areas are also highly encouraged. If films are not in english, please include English subtitles)
HOW TO SUBMIT:
Send a DVD or videotape of your film, a filmmaker CV and a cover letter to:
Gender and Global Issues Program Women and Gender Studies One Shields Avenue University of California Davis, CA 95616
Guidelines: -short films, under 60 min in length -label your DVD or videotape with: 1) your name, address and telephone number; and 2)the name of the film -email us at email@example.com to confirm receipt of your film submission -in your cover letter explain how you and your film fit our criterion and include a 2-3 sentence synopsis -no submission fee. If you would like your film returned please include a self-addressed stamped envelope (US entries only)
The 2nd Annual Davis Feminist Film Festival will be screened on February 22nd & 23rd, 2007 at the Veteran’s Memorial Theater in Davis, CA. All proceeds go to the Gender and Global Issues Internship Program, which sends student interns to work with grassroots women’s NGOs in India, Romania, Mexico, & China on a variety of women’s and human rights campaigns. Featured filmmakers will receive 2 free tickets to the screening. For more questions, contact (530) 752-8205 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.femfilmfest.org