Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sylvester Stallone at the LA film festival

While you might expect more to see me at conversations with filmmakers such as Werner Herzog, I must admit I was both intrigued and excited at the idea to hear Sylvester Stallone talk about his career at the Los Angeles film festival.

If the action star/writer/director is responsible for quite a number of stinkers, he is also behind two of the most enduring film series, Rocky and Rambo and he has written and directed enough films to get some kind of auteuristic status and recognition -- think of him as an A-league Roger Corman.

Contrary to popular belief, Mr Stallone is not a brute or a simpleton. Not only is he surrounded by that star-like aura that only a few have -- and trust me working in Hollywood, I saw lots of celebrities -- but he has a great sense of humor and is fully aware of his legacy -- whether it's good or bad.

For almost 2 hours, Mr. Stallone delighted us with anecdotes about his greatest films -- did you know the original cut of First Blood was a pretentious 3 hour bore? -- and his worst -- -- ever heard of the musical Rhinestone? Two of the highlights were certainly when he mentioned Rocky Balboa and Rambo, explaining that he had to close both film series on a high note, following the mediocre Rocky 5 and First Blood part 3 -- while he took the responsibility for his failures, often blaming it on his ego and poor decisions, he also showed here his auteuristic side and his sense of ethics.

Mr Stallone also presented some scenes of his latest film, The Expandables, before answering the questions of some of his -- freaky -- fans (in case you are wondering, there among other weirdos one woman chasing him with an action figure ...)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Orly & Of love and Other Demons

The French film Orly and the Colombian film Of love and Other Demons were showing on Friday night.

Set in the eponymous Parisian airport, Orly aimed at showing us how life in an airport is, like if we were voyeurs who could spy on travelers' conversations for a few minutes. While the concept might have been interesting on paper, the film seemed to follow the Paris Je T'aime format, offering us a succession of love and family stories that are not bringing much to the table. Setting up this film at the Charles de Gaulle international airport would have at least brought an exotic touch, which was present here.

Based on a Gabriel García Márquez novel and mostly set in a convent, Of love and Other Demons (Of Love and Other Demons review) is centered on the love story between a young girl and a priest. While the premise and the poster looked appealing, Hilda Hidalgo's adaptation proved to be a pretentious bore. With its overly esthetic cinematograpy and slow pace, Of love and Other Demons is trying to make art and eroticism with every framed shot but fails by relying on a cheesy soap like mise en scene.

The Los Angeles Film Festival Moves Downtown

As you might by now have read it, the Los Angeles Film Festival now takes place downtown LA. Having outgrown Westwood - do you guys also remember the good old days at Sunset Plaza? - the festival is now one block away from the infamous LA Live, that cheesy fake-looking entertainment center for scenester-wannabees. The good news is that the festival not only found a great home at this Regal cinemas, with a setting familiar to what AFI Fest was at Arclight(including a rooftop village) but they also took over several venues downtown, from Red Cat to Grand Plaza, preserving the village feel they had in Westwood - plus they kept the Henri Ford theatre in Hollywood :)

Beside the change of venues, the other big difference is the crowd. Gone are the UCLA students, having been replaced by an older and more industry-centric crowd. The only drawback might be having the opening gala on Laker final week, the premiere party having taken place during the final at the nearby Staples center - in case you are wondering, it meant partying while watching cops chasing unruly supporters downstairs.