I could run a final Oscar nomination prediction list (like Nathaniel at thefilmexperience.net has done), but I think I’ll just let it happen tomorrow morning and react at will. We’ve been over and over and over this, and Sundance is a demanding taskmaster. What will be will be. Part of me wants poor Atonement to get a Best Picture nomination, but that’s all I’ll say.
Steven Sebring‘s Patti Smith: Dream of Life is an authentic spiritual adventure film — a mostly black-and-white exploration of Smith’s life, loves, history, poetry, music, alliances, relationships, etc. It feels at times like a companion piece to D.A. Pennebaker‘s Don’t Look Back (the monochrome classic about Bob Dylan touring England in the mid ’60s), at other times like a patchwork meditation, a home movie, a concert film, a fashion show. It’s about music, heroes, rants, chants, parents, deaths, declarations and determinations.
For me, the authenticity is in the way Sebring has captured (or emulated) the grit and textures of Smith’s prose, and the fierce spiritual tension that her band music has always injected in one form or another. “Life is an adventure of our own design…a series of lucky and unlucky accidents,” yes…but having a locomotive inside you helps. There is no boredom or lethargy in this lady’s life…not a lick of this. The movie is a pleasure, a journey, an attic sift-through, a huge charge. I could see it again today if I wasn’t so buried.
“You don’t need creativity to describe Park City this week,” the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Robert Kirby wrote this morning. Meaning that for sheer entertainment value, all he had to do last Saturday was cruise the streets and observe the after-chaos with Park City Police Sgt. Annette Ellis.
“The sun was up, but Friday night wasn’t over. Cops were still cleaning up the mess caused when the power on Main Street went out just as the bars loosed several thousand drunks. Also, some idiot stealing a flat screen TV from the Main Street Mall fell off the roof.
“Around 10 a.m., a guy woke and found a half-dressed drunk woman in his bathroom. Because he had no idea who she was, they argued over the fact that she was using his toothbrush. He called the cops.
“We arrived as the woman was leaving. Her Friday night must have been really busy. She had a skinned-up face, dog poop on her shoes and a blood-alcohol content still around 0.15. With the typical pick-a-fight logic of a drunk, the woman tried explaining her side: ‘I [deleted] went to a [deleted] party, OK?’ The cops let her go when no one pressed charges.
“The cops towed one celebrity’s Mercedes from a parking garage. It was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. Inside were luggage, clothing, money and a ticket for driving 105 mph.
“I didn’t see any films, but there was plenty of entertainment. After lunch (lamb gyro for me) a dozen animal rights activists stood outside a fur shop. ‘Burn these buildings to the ground! It’s a fur war!’
“The opposition didn’t make any better sense. A few passers-by hollered that they loved animals because they taste so good. If the ability to reason is where we draw the line with our food, then we really should be able to eat those people as well.
“Sundance should give itself an award. Really, you can’t make this stuff up.”
A battle over Lance Hammer‘s Ballast is apparently brewing between Variety‘s Robert Koehler, who championed the film in a 1.19 review, and Screengrab‘s Mike D’Angelo, as indicated here.
I almost offered to have a bare-knuckled fist-fight with D’Angelo last summer over In The Valley of Elah. “Almost” means I was into the divine providence notion that if my support of Elah was fundamentally right and true (that Annie Lennox song excepted), God would help me defeat D’Angelo, and if D’Angelo was right I would be the loser. But I wasn’t entirely serious because getting into a fight would mean swollen hands and an inability to type for a two or three days.
Premiere.com’s Glenn Kenny reported yesterday afternoon about an ugly racial incident that happened to Sleep Dealer director Alex Rivera and his two stars, Luis Fernando Perla and Leonor Varela. The setting was one of the Main Street photo shoot/swag houses. Accompanied by Falco Ink’s Steve Beeman, they had an hour to kill after posing for photographs and decided to visit the upstairs swag suite. Perla and Varela were ushered in but Rivera was blocked at the door. “No directors,” he was told.
Beeman, understandably offended, told the swag girls that the Sleep Dealer trio “can buy their own t-shirts, they’re merely looking for a place to hang, they haven’t seen each other in over a year since the shooting, and so on. A brief consultation among swagmasters leads to the director’s entry into the hallowed sanctum. [But ] Rivera soon noticed that one of the room’s female attendants was dogging his every step.
“Are you following me?” Rivera asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Could you stop?”
“No. You might steal something.”
I can believe that a swag girl might conjure a paranoid fantasy of a Latino artist pocketing an item. Standard U.S. of A. racism. But it’s hard to believe that she would be so stupid and cloddish as to actually say the words “you might steal something.” Are we sure she didn’t say something more along the lines of “we’re just being careful” or…you know, something allusive instead of blunt?
Note: Kenny doesn’t identify the players by name in his piece. I was given the lowdown last night after a showing of Patti Smith: Dream of Life.
Followup: In a world of my own devising an organized demonstration would be held outside the photo shoot/swag sometime late this afternoon. The chant could be something along the lines of “Hey hey, ho ho, swag racists have to go!” An all-media advisory would be sent out this morning. The usual pitchforks and torches would be handed out of the back of a pickup truck on Swede Alley 30 minutes prior to the start of the demonstration. Flyers with a photo of swag girl who uttered the racist remark would be wild-posted all over town alongside a slogan that reads, “Who are we? Does Barack Obama have reason to be concerned?”
Arizona-based film journalist Henry Cabot Beck informs that last weekend in Pheonix “a sign was posted on each of the box-office windows of the AMC chain theaters warning people that they might get sick watching Cloverfield. When I asked the ticket seller, he told me there had been some upchucking and retching and like that. Next thing will be barf bags handed out with the tickets. William Castle would have made a mint with a gimmick like this.”
I’ve almost never felt queasy from jiggly, hand-held photography (I eat films like Dancer in the Dark for breakfast), although I’ll admit that Cloverfield has more than its share. Yesterday, however, I saw the King Kong of hand-held nausea jiggle movies — Tia Lessin and Carl Deal‘s Trouble The Water, a doc about the Katrina disaster.
Half of it was shot by Lessin and Deal in the usual fashion and is no big challenge, but the other half is shakycam footage of Katrina’s devastation shot by one of the film’s main subjects, Kimberly Rivers. (The other is her husband Scott.) The footage is so scattered and whip-panny that I was starting to think about bolting less than ten minutes in. Show Trouble The Water to those Cloverfield sufferers in Pheonix and they’d spew in their seat.