The LA Film Festival is happening now. Every year I like to go to a few screenings and usually luck out with one good film. This year I lucked out with three out of the four I picked.
I also go to the Kodak Three Reeler lecture at which a cinematographer speaks and they show three reels from three different films. This is my forth year going to the Kodak Three Reeler, and it's one of those only in LA things I like. In the past, I've seen Haskell Wexler, Laszlo Kovacs, and Allen Daviau speak. These guys are some of the best and can speak in terms that a non-techie (that's me, right here) can understand. This year was Bill Butler (The Conversation, Jaws, Grease), and he was really good. He had great stories about Coppola and Spielberg. He was an engineer before shooting film, so he loves solving problems. How do you do day for night on the ocean? Heck, how do you shoot on the open ocean? He figured it out.
Of the four films I saw, the best was a documentary about LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) called Darkon. You can visit their website here. I really liked the film because it was not condescending to its subjects. It did not mock. It did not shout ‘get a life'. Instead, it allowed the gamers to speak for themselves and even pulled the viewer into their fantasy world. By the end of the movie, I was rooting for Laconia and the Alliance.
Darkon also showed how fantasy can have a positive effect on people's lives. How it can build a community and build esteem. Yes, dressing up in armor and hitting other people with foam swords might seem like a strange way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Still, it looks like they're having a lot of fun.
I also went to a screening of The Foot Fist Way. Picture David Brent of The Office as a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Now give him a skanky blonde wife and a rival named Chuck the Truck. I was laughing so hard that I was howling. There is some funny funny shit in this film. Apparently, it got a distribution deal thingie, so check it out.
I also caught a film called Chalk about high school teachers in Austin, TX. The director and the actors were teachers themselves, and one summer, they got together with some students and made a film. If you have any romantic notions about teaching, prepare to have them squashed. There are also some funny bits in this film.
The lame film I saw was a 80s nostalgia film whose name I dare not speak. I was excited to see it. There were good actors in it, and it seemed like a cool, hip, indie Big Chill. If you're thinking of renting the DVD because it looks good, has good actors in it and seems like a cool, hip, indie Big Chill, don't waste your time. It's totally lame ass. If I heard another line of dialogue that began with ‘remember when we. . .' Also, it's kind of pathetic to be 35 and nostalgic for high school. I wanted to stand up and shout ‘Get a life! Go LARPing! Learn Tae Kwon Do! Become a teacher! Just stop your whining and get on with it! You're not smart enough to be in a Chekhov play!'
But I didn't. I'm too polite.
It's okay. I've recovered from the lame movie. I'm fine now.