17 May 2006

Vacationland or: what happens when a film buff is separated from his DVDs (part 1)

a collection of thoughts, events, and musings from the past three weeks spent in Maine:

* Was able to talk at some length with fellow filmmaker (and classmate of my brother) Evan Richards, who is spending the upcoming summer doing some documentary work for the University of Maine. Last summer he did a film that involved bloodworms and contained the inherent challenge of trying to make a highly boring subject interesting. This, as we both agreed, is a vital step in the learning process of any filmmaker. If you can make worms interesting, there's no limit to your potential. He also passed along an interesting story of a shoot where he had cleared a barn for a location and gotten all the shots he needed, only to have a technical glitch[1] require re-shoots. Well, the guy who owned the barn decided two days after the shoot to tear the thing down. So it goes.

* Off-topic, but there's a live Jeff Tweedy solo gig on the Wilco webpage here. Good stuff.

* My review of United 93 was a featured article on blogcritics.org on the same day Andy Horbal over at No More Marriages! was blogcritic of the day. Andy's blog always provides an insightful read, but lately he's been talking a lot about the future of film criticism and the relationship between online and print critics.

* On that note, the latest issue of Premiere magazine I picked up in the airport (the one with Tom Cruise on the cover) contains Tom Roston's insightful article "All Thumbs", along with an interview with Richard Linklater and an article by Garrison Keillor concerning the release of Robert Altman's Prarie Home Companion. I'd been under the impression Premiere had taken a turn for the worse, but you can't ask for much more enjoyment from a magazine purchased at the airport.

* What you want to avoid at the airport is the situation I encountered at LaGuardia in NYC. I get off my US Airways flight at 3:05 and go to the boards to find my United flight that leaves at 4:00, only it isn't on the board and there's no one in sight whom I might ask where it is. So, I wander for awhile until I find an old security guard, who directs me to go around the corner, walk down a flight of stairs, and get on a bus(!), which he believes will take me to another terminal. This seems fishy, so I ask someone else, then a police officer who finally tells me which bus I have to take, thus ensuring I don't accidentally get on the wrong bus and end up in Manhattan. All this forces me to go back through security (a hassle, of course), and I very nearly missed the flight. The horror.

* One of the more pleasant developments in midcoast Maine is the re-opening of The Strand Theatre, a classic cinema in Rockland. I have two Strand memories from my childhood: the first movie I remember seeing in a theatre, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)[2], was there, as well as the first movie I ever saw on a date, While You Were Sleeping (1995). Now that it has been restored, I attempt to check out films there as often as possible. This time around I was able to catch the wonderful Tsotsi, which is essentially a cross between City of God (2002) and that 50 Cent movie, and the Oscar short program (animated and live action).

* Some gems from the live action half of the short program that are worth checking out (all 5 are available on iTunes): Síðasti bærinn í dalnum (Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland), in which an independant old man hides from his daughter the fact that her mother has died while he goes about the business of tenderly building her coffin and burying her on their farm; Ausreißer (Ulrike Grote, Germany), where a little boy attaches himself to the man he believes to be his father. It is clever and funny and cute before becoming suddenly gut-wrenching. Cashback (Sean Ellis, UK), a stylized look at the artistic process that's being expanded into a feature film. It contains quite a bit of nudity, just so you know.

More to come later

[1] I think Evan said he actually messed up, but I'm not sure, so a glitch it is.

[2] That date makes me think it can't be right, but that's the first one I remember.


johanna said...

First dates are funny like that. I only remember Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves ('90?) but i'd really like to think it was something better.

I do recall that he fell asleep and snored very loudly, and the next time, we went to see something with Steven Segall.

thanks for adding waking life

johanna said...

and congrats on the feature.

i'm very recently joined...we'll see.