Tuesday, August 02, 2005

My Own Personal Film Festival.

Yesterday, when I got home from work meetings (in the summer! it's barbaric!), my son and his friends were having a superhero film festival. It started with X Men, continued to X Men 2, then I think pretty much stopped there, as they ran out of steam. (We went, my son, his friend, my daughter and me, last night to see Sky High, which was fun--my son's friend noted, however, that it couldn't be a truly great superhero movie, as no one was likely to die in it.)

I've always been taken by the idea of hosting a film festival, if only for an audience of myself. Once I hosted a birthday party for myself in which I made dinner for my friends, then had a short program of Diner and My Dinner With Andre. It's a marker of the dissatisfactions of my life at that point that hardly anyone could appreciate the wit of this conceit. I also thought, back in the day of Gallipoli and Mad Max and an underappreciated gem Mrs. Soffel, that I'd like to have a Mel Gibson film festival, an idea that seems quite a bit less appealing these days. Quentin Tarantino puts together a film festival in Austin, I think it is, every summer--usually the B-movies he treasures so much.

If I were putting on a film festival today, what would it be? I think it would be the Festival of the Melancholy Comedy, perhaps my favorite film genre (if it's not a genre, it should be). Or a Festival of Romantic Comedies (instances of really good ones are rare). Here are some films that should belong on some film festival program of my own devising: Songwriter (written by Alan Rudolph), Choose Me (an Alan Rudolph gem), Something Wild (Jonathan Demme), Lost in Translation, The Secret Lives of Dentists (hmm, an Alan Rudolph theme emerging--perhaps its own film festival?), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I [heart] Huckabees, Being Julia, Mr. 3000. Also, how about a great Sports Movies festival?


  1. I would have an Albert Brooks film festival. "Real Life," "Modern Romance," "Lost in America," "Defending Your Life," and "Mother." Each of these movies is an underappreciated masterpiece, and I think each one strikes a melancholy note. In fact, nobody does melancholy comedy better than Albert Brooks.

    One of my favorite lines from "Modern Romance" is when he's trying to break up with his girlfriend.

    "It's a no-win situation."
    "You've never heard of a no-win situation? Vietnam. This."

    Anyway, I propose the first annual Salt Lake City Albert Brooks film festival. I even found his web site. It's albertbrooks.com. We can email him and see if he'll join us.

  2. One of my personal favorite funny films is Lost in America. I hereby add it to my list. I also loved Mother.

  3. When I lived in Korea the other expats and I had numerous "trilogy evenings," watching the Mad Max movies back-to-back-to-back... Or the Godfathers (which takes about eight hours). We did a Scorsese night too (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas). These never worked, though, because we always started too late and were drunk 45 minutes into the first film. I always passed out halfway thru the second film.

    I think a sports movie festival could be worthy. Or a Festival of Flops (from very talented directors). Comedies About Mental Illness. Talking Cars

  4. I have wanted to hold a really bad movie film festival for some time now. We can start off with Earthquake and then have Saturn 3 for a bit of Farrah Fawcett, and then maybe Leonard Part 6 or Gigli (since I haven't seen it and it is supposed to be very bad.)

    Note, I don't include either movies that are intentionally bad or just plain B movie-ish. I want bad movies that studios put a butt-load of money in and turned out to be insult to celluloid.

  5. This is a good idea. I would like to propose a slight variant on this theme: the Festival of Massive Hollywood Flops That Are Actually Kind of Good. I would program Hudson Hawk, Baron Munschausen, Heaven's Gate, Ishtar. Yes, Ishtar. I watched Ishtar about ten years ago and thought it was pretty funny. Maybe I should watch it again before the festival starts.

  6. After Clint's recent posting on old horror/ sci-fi movies, I vote for that sort of festival. Maybe a whole string of Vincent Price/ Edgar Allen Poe flicks. Or, horror movies about bugs: Empire of the Ants, The Fly. This summer, the library's been showing a series of "Reel Science." I'm still upset that I missed Flash Gordon. I love Flash Gordon.

  7. M: Hammer horror film fest (a.k.a. Poe/Vincent Price) would actually make money.

    E: That's a great idea. But I am sure there is going to be contention on the subject. I mean, where, for example, would you put Flash Gordon?

  8. What is a festival without contention? A hollow shell. A mute bell. A...a...boring festival. There must be drama and throwing of drinks into faces and walkouts and fistfights and public nudity and tabloid feuds and a guest juror who selects a questionable project made by a protege or former lover, which has the entire community shouting "Fraud!" (although they still lick his or her bum and inwardly respect their power and aloofness and try desperately to get into the parties where this person holds court).

  9. I love the "Diner"/"My Dinner with Andre" idea. I've always wanted to make the amazing food from, and then watch,"Big Night." Tony Shaloub pre-Monk. I think some kind of food themed/movie thing would be good. Like "When Harry Met Sally" and only food with things on the side can be served. I saw a fantastic romantic comedy from Norway? at the Seattle Film Festival one year. It was charming, and actually kind of dark. My other idea is a Jim Jarmusch (sic?) festival. And when we watch "Coffee and Cigarettes" everyone has to drink coffee and smoke. Or maybe movies in which famous directors have cameos (my fave: Jim again, selling fries, in "Sling Blade.")

  10. I'm with Middlebrow on this. My wife and I have stumbled across Albert Brooks films over the years and loved each one. I love his kind of whiny, melancholic way. "In Defending your life," at least at first, the air is taken right out of him as he witneses, via video, some of his bad deeds. Great stuff!

    My second choice would be Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy and his made for tv "Decalogue" (each of the 10 stores loosely, in post-modern fashion, based on one of the ten commandments). We would end with "Red," from the trilogy, as to curb any suicidal depressed tendencies built up over the evening.



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