Saturday, June 24, 2006

Going to Hell at the—great—LA Film Festival

I’ve seen Hell and it looks like a midnight screening of The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell. Post Apocalypse America according to writer/director Kevin Wheatley looks like a bunch of mongoloids beating each other up with hammers. As much as I support indie filmmaking and hate mainstream crap, there should be some kind of filmmaking law that would prohibit geeks from making movies. The festival catalog stated it was entertaining – I probably be more entertained by a documentary about the sexuality of snails.

Talking about sexuality and snails—which is a French delicacy—French sleaze master Francois Ozon—was there to present his new film, Time to Leave. While lightly bordering on pathos, this new entry in his “death trilogy”—the first one was Under the Sand—was quite satisfying, mostly thanks to a great performance by Melvil Poupaud. As usual, there was plenty of gratuitous nudity and sex, but this time gorgeous French creatures have been replaced by gay guys!

And now to get back to the festival itself, with its new home in Westwood, the festival has turned into a large-scale event, which might overshadow AFI fest. Using great venues such as the Crest, the Hammer museum, street screenings (last night I saw bits of West Side Story), an upscaled Target room & lots of parking, the festival went from intimate fest to an established event, without losing its rock n roll spirit. God Saves The LA Film Fest!

The Harder They Come & Sammy Dreadlocks

Last Sunday night we headed to the Ford Amphitheatre for a screening of The Harder They Come, Perry Henzell's 1973 film starring Jimmy Cliff as a Jamaican country boy turned Kingston gangster who'll stop at nothing to make an album and die a legend. I was born in 1973, and from the looks of it Quentin Tarantino has seen it more than once. The most memorable line was Jimmy Cliff yelling "Don't fuck with me!", with each syllable accentuated by the knife in his hand cutting up the face of his former boss.
The film itself was enjoyable, starting off as a study of life in Kingston in the seventies and then turning into a crazy gangster movie that, while dramatic, doesn't seem very plausible.
The screening was preceded by a concert by the Melodians, a Jamaican band invited onstage for a few songs to set the mood. But they played, beautifully, for over an hour. It was impossible to get them offstage though, and once they invited their friend, Sammy Dreadlocks, I thought we would never get to the film. It finally started, though there was probably more potsmoking at this screening at the Ford than what the ushers are normally used to.
It's almost impossible to have a bad night at the Ford Amphitheatre and this screening was no exception.

The Los Angeles Film Festival 6/22-7/2

The Los Angeles Film Festival is back with a new home in Westwood! Though this list is by no means comprehensive, here are Plume Noire’s picks at the Los Angeles Film Festival:

Several exciting screenings will take place at the Ford Amphitheatre. For Angelinos who listen to Indie 103.1 and can’t let their punk past go in spite of their day jobs, watching Steve Jones present The Filth and the Fury Live! will border on ecstasy. Another definite highlight is Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel A Scanner Darkly, in the animation style of Waking Life. Starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., and Woody Harrelson. The Harder They Come, a Jamaican classic starring reggae great Jimmy Cliff, will also screen.

One night will mean choosing between An Inconvenient Truth presented by Al Gore himself at California Plaza or Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man with Leonard Cohen in a rare public appearance. Thirty-somethings can revel in their memories of the 80’s in The Lather Effect, starring Tate Donovan and Ione Skye. Those who enjoyed Kissing Jessica Stein should check out Ira & Abby, a comedic look at dysfunctional relationships. In Quinceañera, gentrification, teenage pregnancy and a Mexican tradition meet at the crossroads of Echo Park, a Los Angeles neighborhood.

While there aren’t tons of Latin American films this year, the documentary East of Havana, produced by Charlize Theron, takes a look at Cuban rappers and the Brazilian film House of Sand, unites stunning actress Fernanda Montenegro and her daughter Fernanda Torres along with Seu Jorge, who sang David Bowie songs in Portuguese in The Life Aquatic.

If eating Frankenfood freaks you out, then Our Daily Bread, an Austrian film that details the food manufacturing plants, will likely haunt you and force you to plan your organic garden immediately. The documentary Matthew Barney: No Restraint features Bjork and deconstructs his life and art.

The Los Angeles Fim Festival’s Guilty Pleasures series includes Snoop Dog’s Hood of Horror and the Tae Kwon Do comedy The Foot Fist Way.

The Free Screenings include the aforementioned An Inconvenient Truth, the classic love story West Side Story, a movie about how movies are made: Cinematographer Style, and Maquilápolis (city of factories), a documentary that probes corporate exploitation of Mexican workers and the labor movement growing along the border. Like last year’s Romantico and Maid in America, the Los Angeles Film Festival has chosen another film that chronicles the complex immigration issues in this country.