Week in Review
I actually saw two full length films in public this weekend. Last year this would have been no big news for me. But this year, with this project, I'm not going to the theater when I leave the house.
Friday night I went to the anniversary party of Red Hill Books in Bernal Heights, for which they showed two short films and a feature. Opening the night was a short about another Mission bookstore, that discourages people from knowing where they are or even buying books, so it doesn't get a mention here. Shhh. Next up was Danny Plotnick's Swinger's Seranade, a film that contains another smaller film inside it, which is about the making of the smaller film. I think I've explained this correctly. It may be available at Lost Weekend Video, Leather Tongue, or Le Video, but I'd recommend asking for it by name. Finishing the evening was IPO, a story with multiple plotlines set in San Francisco's Dot Com Era. There was one really interesting story in there, about a homeless couple who sneak their way into an idiotic company, but overall it was like they were trying to cram a TV season's worth of ideas into one film. IPO, was available for sale at the counter.
The night reminded me a lot of underground film screenings from 15 years ago, when three or four filmmakers got together with a few hours worth of their short films and showed one after another. Only this time, there were no Pixelvision epics or David Lynch knockoffs.
Saturday night I went to the Shattuck in Berkeley to see District B13. If you liked The Transporter or Unleashed, you'll like this one. It's a Luc Besson production, directed by Pierre Morel.
Most stunning in the film is the Parkour style which is new to cinema. Parkour is known somewhat in the US as "Free Running." One of its founders, David Belle, plays the lead. Parkour is a type of urban cross country running, in which the participants decide to go through, over, and under obstacles rather than going around. Think Jackie Chan with a destination, or Spiderman without the webs.
The visual effect is stunning. It's a new twist on an old idea: the chase. We've seen many brilliant car chases in the past, and some chases with different modes of transportation, such as the car chasing the train in The French Connection, but never have running chases looked so good on the screen. This is a far cry from the days of William Conrad's Frank Cannon leaping over fences to nab scumbags who were hopped up on goofballs.
You read it here first, kids. Parkour in cinema starts with this film, but within a few years it will be in the stable of Hollywood tricks, the same way John Woo's bullet ballets have been assimilated into American action. Rumor is that the opening for the Casino Royale remake, the James Bond film, will open with a Parkour sequence.
Pick of the Week
There wasn't much to pick from this week. Most of what I got was nothing more than mediocre. I expected more from John Turturro and Peter Boyle in Men of Respect. Heath Ledger's performance in Ned Kelly was decent but not great. Christopher Lee and Klaus Kinski were barely part of the Circus of Fear cast. Richard Widmark was better off playing the bad guys than playing the protagonist in Panic in the Streets. Audrey Hepburn was so cute in Sabrina, I almost picked that film for the week. The role that captured my imagination was Robert Blake in Electra Glide in Blue.
Robert Blake plays a self-righteous motorcycle cop looking to work his way up through sweat and integrity. But it seems his only way to advancement is roughing up hippies. That's what all the other cops like to do.
The scenery is almost another character in the film. There are all those old westerns in which the cowboys stare off into the desert, and this is much like that. The desert shots are stunning. Instead of motorcycles, they have horses. Blake plays his character with the absolute morality of a man in a white hat. The rest of the characters are morally ambiguous.
There's a director's commentary, but I didn't have time to listen to it. Maybe next year.
Since there was no mail on Monday, I didn't get any DVDs until Wednesday, with no time to watch them as I was up in San Rafael all evening. I ended up with 9 for the week. That's 200 DVDs in 155 days, leaving me at 300 DVDs left for the next 210 days, which leaves me at an average of 9.99 movies per week. Still under 10!
I don't know if I got a return in before the weekly pickup, so I may not get DVDs again until Wednesday this week. Hopefully, I'll be able to watch 2 on Wednesday and get them replaced before the weekend.
People are constantly telling me what I "have to" see, since I'm watching 500 DVDs this year. Add it in, they say. I have...no more...room. But then again, I can always take things out. I'm losing my patience with some TV shows, as their discs can be over 3 hours long, and also my ability to read subtitles. Silent films, that I once thought interesting, have lost their sparkle.
Cigarette Burns, Chocolate, Dreams in the Witch House, Be Here to Love Me, Jarhead, I Love Your Work, Running Scared.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season 1, and King of Kings: Roadshow Version.