Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Sex Pistol on Hollywood - pictures

Here are some pictures:

Steve Jones

The Like

Tim Burgress


A Sex Pistol in Hollywood

The day couldn’t have started or ended better. After watching my fellow Frenchmen give the Brazilians a good spanking – I’m talking about the World Cup, not about some of my friends’ habits – I headed to Hollywood for a special evening hosted by the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, which would turn to be the highlight of the festival, as it’s no secret I’m a big Pistols’ fan.

Now a DJ on local cult radio station Indie 103.1, Jones broadcast his show Jonesy’s Jukebox live with guests including The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, the cute girls from The Like, Mr. “Obey”, The Vacation, etc… The talented Like performed some Pistols’ songs as well as a couple of cuts from their album, followed by a group of musicians offering violin-based versions of some of the punk band’s tunes. Jones introduced the screening of The Filth & the Fury directed by Julien Temple and at the end of the documentary we were “gratified” with another round of covers by, this time, the Vacation. While it was a bit disappointing that Jones didn’t join the Like with his guitar or that Burgess didn’t step behind the mike, more troubling was Indie’s insistence on promoting The Vacation, a bland band with poor singing – even Jonesy told them they sucked when they came on a previous show. It was time to say au revoir to the festival, which is always kinda sad, but this time, it certainly ended on a strong note. In pure LA tradition, we ended the night at Canter’s on Fairfax for a midnight dinner…

Click here for the pictures of Jones and other attendees

East of Havana and West of Logic

I'll just say it: I expected a lot more from East of Havana, a documentary about "El Cartel", a group of rappers in Cuba. Directed by Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emilia Menocal and produced by Charlize Theron, the pivotal focus is the Special Period in the 1990's when the Soviet Union collapsed and the U.S. further tightened the embargo against Cuba. Thing is, in the documentary they forget to mention the tightening of the U.S. blockade and how it has affected life in Cuba. The focus instead is how bad Fidel is. Of course the filmmakers have every right to take their position, but it's not a complete, multifaceted picture.
We follow the three rappers and meet their families as they try to put together a rap festival. One rapper has had her brother jailed for stealing and her sister has been jailed for prostitution. Another lives with his grandfather and helps to take care of him. There are some spectacular shots of Havana and it's fascinating to see a new musical genre take its form in Havana--you know if Cubans do it, it'll be fantastic..... Inexplicably, the film loses it's focus as we meet the brother of one of the rappers, whose departure in the 1990's to the states caused the family much pain. Instead of watching the details of putting on an international rap festival we see him weeping over pictures of his family. It's heartbreaking but doesn't move the story along...
Charlize Theron and the directors were on hand to answer questions about the film. They've got the distribution deal & a book deal and it should be a big hit in Miami. Theron didn't go as far to say that the Blockade against Cuba should be lifted but she did make the point that censorship in the US also exists....the filmmakers also made the comment that everyone in Cuba goes to jail, but that's just ridiculous and irresponsible to say. While the film wasn't as nuts as Andy Garcia's The Lost City, it could have gone deeper.....

Friday, June 30, 2006

Homie Zombies, Echo Park and the Argentinean jungle

Do we need another zombie movie and another variation on Assault on Precinct 13/Rio Bravo? No, we don’t and the obnoxious Last Rites, set in gang-infested downtown LA, doesn’t even feature Milla Jovovich in spandex to at least provide some dose of excitement in third-rate zombie-land.

A local film about Echo Park microcosm Quinceanera, the centerpiece premiere, was fresh, funny and heartfelt, even daring a quite provocative happy ending, in terms of morality (listening to the contrasting reactions of old conservative Mexican men and gay couples in the audience provided entertainment as well).

Los Muertos, a contemplative and naturalistic work from Argentinean director Lisandro Alonso offered a moment of rare beauty, following the odyssey of an ex-con going to see his daughter after getting released from jail.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Scanner Darkly Premiere

After having diner on Hollywood Boulevard at a sleazy French restaurant appropriately called Les Voyous – it means “thugs” – as they blatantly rip you off, serving you plates that don’t match the menu and then making up some bullshit excuses to still make you pay the full price – but don’t worry Voyous, you’re gonna be featured soon in our brand new LA restaurant section – we headed to the Scanner Darkly premiere, or rather to the Universal City metro station parking lot as the Ford Theater lot was full.

The screening started an hour late, after the arrival of actors Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. While visually fun, this adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel spent too much time on stoner-type comedy stints and not enough on the conspiracy aspect of the story.

Monday, June 26, 2006

How to get down in L.A.

Hot partygirls & trashy LA scenesters showed up in force for the screening of Paul Sapiano’s tongue-in-cheek The Boys' and Girls' Guide to Getting Down, a hilarious and raunchy guide giving you all the secrets on how to party in LA, from getting into exclusive nightclubs, to getting laid and scoring some good dope. Without a doubt, the most fun I had at a screening here this year, this film mostly aims at an LA audience but definitely has a Brit vibe – think 24 Hour Party People, Trainspotting. If you’re into that scene or into partying – and I must admit I am familiar with some of these situations and clubs – you will enjoy that film. If you’re a constipated OC-type conservative, you will find it disgusting and scandalous.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dorkon Kingdom & Poetic Landscapes

Saturday was without a doubt a day of contrast, theme-wise.

Werner Herzog’s Wild Blue Yonder offered yet another experiment from the German master, mixing documentarial footage and science in this humorous fiction about the exploration of space and underwater universes. Slow-paced and contemplative, the film featured moments of great beauty—mostly the underwater sequences—but bordered on boredom while in outer space.

Advancing at a similar pace, Before Born, an enigmatic Chinese entry with a European feel, proved to be haunting at first, but dragged toward the end.

However, Darkon, a documentary about nerds playing medieval role games, was a sure treat, offering an amusing inside look at this group of social freaks without being condescending – some protagonists were there for the Q&A afterwards.