Friday, September 27, 2013

Re-examining live-tweeting (however reluctantly)

This morning I read a terrific interview with Kerry Washington, star of the TV drama Scandal, and the legendary TV, film and now Broadway actress Cicely Tyson (it really is a great article, take a look). Among other things, Washington mentions the fact that part of the show's success is having the cast live-tweet during show airings. I looked it up - and it's true! (You probably already knew this, but I don't watch TV, so cut me some slack, okay?)

I've complained a lot in this blog about people who live-tweet and/or text during movies, as have many other people around the blogosphere, but try as one might, one cannot ignore the fact that it has become a Thing. It's something certain people love to do now, whether it's at the movies or while watching TV, and I imagine it's probably not limited there, either. So maybe it's past time to try and understand why people do it, and do it so often.

When I recently watched Gone With the Wind on Turner Classic Movies, I mentioned in my post that I followed along on Twitter at the hashtag "TCMparty" for the first time, to see what it was like. I wrote that reading other Tweeters' comments, jokes, bits of trivia, etc., made watching the movie more fun that it would've been without, but I also said that I didn't feel entirely comfortable dividing my attention this way, and I wouldn't want to engage in this sort of thing all the time. In addition, I emphasized that live-tweeting should be looked upon only as a substitute for real-life interaction in the absence of the real thing. I still believe that.

I initially joined Twitter for one reason: to promote WSW. Over time, however - and I suppose I should've anticipated this - I realized that "promotion" can mean much more than posting the link to the latest post every time it goes up. Establishing and maintaining a presence on Twitter is difficult, and I admit I'm not that great at it, but I do what I can: during the summer, I live-tweet at outdoor locations before the start of a film, for instance, or I'll post links to past posts.

But of course, as I accumulate more followers, especially when they're fellow bloggers, there are more people I wanna talk to, and soon enough, I'm having entire conversations with people like my pal Page, and meeting new people like Joanna, and that's great too. I understand that this is Twitter's primary purpose.

That said, I still feel - and maybe I'm just a fuddy-duddyish square for thinking so - that there ought to be boundaries. I was at a street festival last week and at one point there was a live band playing, and I felt the need to tweet a couple of times as they played, when I should've been paying attention to the band (who were great). It seems like common sense to me, but if something's going on in front of you, like a performing band, or a TV show or a movie, and your attention is somewhere else, you might miss something good. So why split your concentration that way?

Modern technology has turned us into a society of multitaskers: we're no longer either willing or capable of focusing on one thing at a time. If we're at the movies, we have to also text our friends during it. If we're driving, we have to also check our e-mail. But do we have to? And should we? Research suggests that multitasking can be less productive than we think.

When I was live-tweeting Gone With the Wind at #TCMparty, although it meant dividing my concentration, it did feel at times like I had twenty or thirty other people in my living room talking about the movie with me. I can certainly understand the allure of that, and I'm sure it's the same way for Scandal fans, especially since they get to watch the show along with the cast. It's an unprecedented level of interaction between fans and performers. It's different, however, when you don't have other people around, experiencing the same event or performance as you. 

Film has traditionally been presented in a format that demands your complete attention, your complete focus, in a setting with other people. This was particularly true during the silent era, where you couldn't rely on dialogue or sound effects to help you figure out what's going on. These days, watching movies is no longer limited to sitting in a darkened room with other people, and new viewing habits such as live-tweeting have encroached on the old, to the point where some theaters are considering making concessions to this new breed of moviegoer - and not just movie theaters, either. In fairness, there have always been talkers at movie theaters, people who either whisper too often or too loudly or both, and sometimes, they don't even whisper. Also, in some cultures, social interaction during movies is no big deal.

I feel the same about live-tweeting/texting now as before - don't do it around me - but if more people keep doing it... I dunno, maybe it is time to provide separate facilities for people who wanna do that. My gut tells me that this is just giving in to inconsiderate rogues who have forgotten how to simply sit back and enjoy a movie/TV show/concert/whatever, if they ever knew, but live-tweeting/texting can no longer be written off as an aberration or a youth fad. 

I wish I had a solid answer. Maybe you do?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


seen @ AMC Loews Fresh Meadows 7, Fresh Meadows, Queens, NY

In my post on Zero Dark Thirty, I went into some length about violence in general and torture in specific, and why it's so appealing as a storytelling trope. I stated that I'm no different from most people in that I can deal with watching torture in a movie if it's in service to a strong story (though Twelve Years a Slave will test the limits of my tolerance, I'm sure), and that if indeed, torture was used in the search for Osama Bin Laden, I could live with that.

I still feel the same after watching Prisoners. The story is far from new - kidnapped children, angry and stressed-out parents, determined cop on the trail. Like Mystic River, a similar movie, the father suspects a dude who is a little mentally unbalanced and is convinced he knows more than he is able, or willing, to say. The difference is in the lengths the father in Prisoners is willing to go towards finding out the truth - and he goes really far.

It's almost impossible to look at a movie like this and not think of Iraq and the so-called "war on terror" that defined the previous decade. Hugh Jackman's character has a certainty, like Meryl Streep in Doubt, another Iraq War metaphor movie, that he cannot waver from because the stakes are so high. He sees connections where others might see coincidences and needs to believe so much that he's right because to be wrong would be unthinkable. He's also a religious man, but unlike Streep in Doubt, his faith doesn't figure that much into the story.

Maybe this is what makes some people in real life, whether politicians or religious leaders or what have you, able to live their lives with a certainty - not so much because they believe in a thing, but because they're afraid to not believe in it. The more I think about it, the more probable that seems to me. We needed to believe that Sadaam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction because we needed a quick and easy solution to the problems that grew out of the nightmare that was September 11. The alternative was to go on and on without finding an answer to the question every American wanted answered, the question Jackman keeps asking in Prisoners: who's to blame and where is he?

Fear, of course, is easily exploitable, in the spheres of both religion and politics. Those who have that certainty often bully those without it into coming around to their way of thinking, one way or another. In Prisoners, Terence Howard's child is also missing, and Jackman guilts Howard into helping him torture a suspect for information, playing on Howard's fears in the process - and isn't that how it works in real life as well? Vote for me or you'll have to pay higher taxes. Worship the same god as me or you'll miss out on eternal salvation.

Again, none of this is new; it's more the intensity of the situation as it's presented and the performances by Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal as the cop searching for the missing children, that's different, and it gripped me completely, I must admit. The kidnapper's true identity requires connecting a few dots on the viewer's part, and a second viewing may clarify things more - I think I understood the motive, but I'm not positive about that. And then there's that final scene. A film noir-like ending if ever I saw one.

Unlike my last movie at the Fresh Meadows, I had no big problems with the audience this time. There was a chatty couple next to me, but I only had to shush them once, and quietly at that, and that was enough. Still, there was one scene late in the movie where the chick criticized the way Gyllenhaal handles a violent suspect and I had to laugh, even though the scene itself was not funny at all, because she kinda had a point! (Can't say more without giving away spoilers.) 

Also, I figured out how to adjust the reclining seats. I had a bit of a problem with them last time, and eventually, everyone in my row had their legs propped up, which I thought was funny to see.

Monday, September 23, 2013

QWFF article in MovieMaker

...We believe that the borough can support a world class film festival and we believe that we are the folks to do it. I see our niche as a fiercely independent festival that is not pandering to the lowest common denominator. We will become a festival to consider when budgeting for and planning for the festival life of an indie film. By choosing that first week in March, we know that New Yorkers will have a quirky, interesting world class festival in their own backyard that: 
a. creates community around the films and where filmmakers meet their audience. 
b. takes care of your film and does what we say we are going to do. 
c. is staffed with people who share the desire to provide a quality product with integrity.
I feel incredibly lucky to have started this blog when I did, because it gave me the opportunity to witness the growth of the Queens World Film Festival, a film festival that embraces the entire borough and is based in Jackson Heights, my old stomping grounds, the neighborhood I frequented as a kid and know like the back of my hand. In this profile of QWFF from the latest issue of MovieMaker, director Katha Cato - a truly remarkable woman - speaks at length about the fest's goals. I urge you to take a look.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Each Dawn I Die

MR. FRANK ROSS of the Bantom, who, in the opinion of
this paper's Editor-in-Chief, has been unjustly convicted
as a result of his investigations into District Attorney
Jesse Hanley
An Editorial
By Mr. R. A. Watson, Editor-in-Chief

In the eleven years that I have humbly served as Editor-in-Chief of this, your Great Metropolitan Newspaper, I have made it my first, foremost Duty - and indeed, this paper's Duty - to seek out the Truth, no matter which dark and winding alleys that journey may lead us. 

This journey has put me at odds with some of the most powerful people in this City, sometimes at great risk to my life and the lives of the Fine and Excellent Writers who tirelessly report for this paper, yet we believe that You, the People, deserve no less. 

However, it is one of our competitors that I come to speak to you of today; an unusual act, I admit, and one that will certainly not endear me to our esteemed Publisher, but in times of great strife, Men of Good Conscience must unite in the face of a greater cause. 

And just as our European brothers even now prepare to make a stand against the insidious forces rising out of Germany that threaten to engulf the Continent, so too must we oppose malfeasance and perfidy here at home!

It has been my great honor to have been an acquaintance of Mr. Frank Ross for the past seven years. I remember when he first came up at the Bantom. Even then, I was greatly impressed at his bulldog tenacity when it comes to covering a story. 

I will admit, I have always thought Mr. Patterson sometimes gives him more leniency than I would when it comes to his investigative methods, but overall, Mr. Ross has been good for the Bantom and good for this City. In my brief interactions with him, I know Mr. Ross to be a man of sterling character.

Which is why when he says he is not only Innocent of the charges that have seen him convicted of Manslaughter and sent to State Penitentiary - in a trial that has shook this City to its core - but that he has evidence implicating District Attorney Jesse Hanley of graft, my Journalist's Instinct, which has almost never failed me in close to thirty years in this industry, man and boy - my Journalist's Instinct tells me that Mr. Frank Ross is, in fact, telling the Truth!

How can I say this? Friends, I can say this because we at this paper have also covered the career of Mr. Jesse Hanley and we have fearlessly reported, time and again, of his questionable business dealings, his associations with certain, shall we say, individuals of Ill Repute, and the conflicts of interest that have marked his career in the District Attorney's Office as surely as God marked Cain! 

And while suspicion of corruption is not Proof, still have we called him to account time and again without a satisfactory response! 

And now, this man, this Mr. Jesse Hanley, presumes to run for the highest office in the State, a campaign no doubt aided and abetted by his fat cat friends to whom he will be beholden should he capture the Governorship - and where will that leave you and me and everyone else in this fair State?

Would you be willing to cast your vote for a man who places private interests ahead of those of the People to whom he professes to serve?

I have placed my best reporters on the case to continue the work begun by Mr. Ross, and as Editor-in-Chief, I give you my Solemn Promise that we will not rest until we find Proof, one way or the other, of the accusations leveled at Mr. Hanley by Mr. Ross, not only of the charges of graft, but of the charges of a frame-up against Mr. Ross!

Mr. Hanley, I speak for everyone at this paper when I say that your time is coming soon!

And to Mr. Frank Ross, currently languishing away in State Pen, I say: Stay Strong! And continue fighting the Good Fight!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Books: Life Itself

What surprised me the most about the late film critic Roger Ebert's memoir Life Itself was how little he left to the imagination. Normally, I tend to take autobiographies with a small grain of salt; after all, there are always gonna be places where the truth is stretched or polished up to a certain degree to serve the author's agenda. I don't get the impression that Ebert did that here. He covered almost his entire life, in vivid detail, in his book, to the point where by the end you feel like you know him inside and out.

It made me think of how I approach this very blog. I choose to write about my life in relation to movies because it's the one thing that makes me unique from other film bloggers. Initially, I didn't care too much about people learning details about me because I didn't expect a huge audience at first, but it wasn't long before I knew I had to set boundaries for myself. I simply wasn't comfortable revealing certain aspects of my life to strangers over the internet - and I'm still not. That won't change, and I'm fine with that...

... but reading Life made me wonder if I could ever be as candid as Ebert was if I had been in his position: an internationally known and respected film critic who, as a result of cancer and several devastating surgeries, had his face and body ravaged and was left without the ability to speak, eat or drink. Could I be anywhere near as open about my life under those circumstances?

I suspect part of the reason had to do with age. I remember when he kept up his blog he meditated a great deal about age, and time, and certainly death. He knew he was on the final leg of his life and he was able to come to terms with that. Still, he mentions somewhere in the book, which collects and expands on his blog posts, that he always had a tendency to say what was on his mind, even if it wasn't always politic to do so.

I couldn't do it. There may come a time when I'd find I'd have to return to appearing in public, because I wouldn't tolerate being a shut-in for long; I know that much. And I like to think I'd want to write, and perhaps engage with my audience in some way. I couldn't do it like Ebert did, though. Whatever it was that he had that gave him the fortitude to live his post-surgery life like he did, well, it should be bottled and sold in drugstores.

The stories he tells in Life are funny, sad, reflective, informative and heartfelt, a result of where he came from and how (and when) he came up: an overachieving, Midwestern Baby Boomer who came of age during a period of tumultuous change in America, and developed a liberal sensitivity that enabled him to cultivate not only a deep empathy for other people, but an insatiable curiosity about the world in general. Not everything is equally fascinating (he spends an entire chapter going into great detail about his family tree, for example), but the good stuff is really good.

I tend to be more cynical. Try as I might to stay positive and hopeful about life, I can't help but see the bad stuff and wonder how much longer it'll be before we blow ourselves up into smithereens, because we sure don't deserve this world. Ebert kept believing, though, and considering the hand he got dealt, you gotta admire him for shining a light in the darkness and keeping it lit. I don't agree with everything he says, and there were times while reading when I wished I could ask him about this or that point he makes, but that's okay. I understand that the kind of wisdom he had comes with age. Part of me hopes I'll live long enough to see from his perspective.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where you can see 'Mother of George'

Taken from the Oscilloscope Laboratories website:

09/13/13New York, NYAngelika Film Center
09/20/13Atlanta, GALandmark Midtown Art Cinema
09/20/13Los Angeles, CALaemmle Royal
09/20/13New York, NYAMC Empire 25
09/27/13Chicago, ILSiskel Film Center
09/27/13Nashville, TNBelcourt
09/27/13Seattle, WALandmark - TBD
10/04/13Boston, MALandmark Kendall Square Cinema
10/04/13Portland, ORLiving Room Theater
10/18/13Washington, DCLandmark E-Street Cinema
11/08/13Denver, COLandmark - TBD
11/22/13Philadelphia, PALandmark Ritz at the Bourse
My review.

David Edelstein's New York review.

The trailer:

The rest is in your hands.

Would I steer you wrong?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drivers Wanted

Drivers Wanted
seen @ 55 Stan, Long Island City, NY

The stereotype of the out-of-control New York taxi driver has been exacerbated in recent weeks as a result of a bizarre story that hit the front pages: a cabbie hit a cyclist in midtown Manhattan and dragged him partway down a block before hitting a pedestrian, severing her leg. The cabbie blamed the cyclist for the crash, but that didn't prevent him from getting a 30-day suspension. For a guy with a history of reckless driving, who admitted that he accelerated his vehicle in an attempt to get past the cyclist, 30 days doesn't seem long enough - and this was on the heels of two other taxi crashes throughout the city this summer alone.

The city has plans to update the basic taxi design, but what's needed more than improved taxis are responsible drivers, and the documentary Drivers Wanted seeks to redress the stereotype and show cabbies as regular guys like everyone else. The focus is on a single taxi garage in Queens called 55 Stan, in Long Island City, which was the site of last Saturday night's screening of the film, presented by the indie film series Filmwax, in association with the Queens World Film Festival.

55 Stan

A pre-show demonstration of some basic fitness techniques designed to keep cabbies healthy served to illustrate a greater fact: driving a taxi can be a physically demanding job. This Gotham Gazette article from last year tells the story:
Taxi drivers... are highly susceptible to a number of health problems because of their sedentary lives spent sitting behind the wheel, studies have found. Drivers are often forced to eat on the go, making fast food their easiest option. Few of them get any exercise whatsoever, and often suffer from back, hip and leg pain from sitting in a car all day. This lack of exercise combined with a bad diet has led to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure among cabbies, according to health experts. Many of them even have kidney problems because they frequently can’t find a place to park when they need to use a bathroom. A 2001 survey by the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance found that more than 20 percent of drivers had cardiovascular disease or cancer. And it is often difficult for taxi drivers to get the health care they need. Another study conducted by the city council in 2009 found that 52 percent of the city’s cabbies are uninsured, twice the rate of the average American.
55 Stan is run by its octogenarian owner, Stanley Wissak. The film follows him as he dispatches drivers, recruits potential drivers from a nearby community college as they're about to take the required test, and be a lovable curmudgeon in general. According to the website, the business is the top-ranked taxi fleet in New York, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and Wissak himself was the subject of a 2012 New York Times article. In the movie we also see a rookie cabbie as he learns the ropes of the trade, as well as the oldest cabbie at 55 Stan, and indeed, in all of New York.

The taxi business in New York attracts a multicultural array of people, and indeed, Drivers also provides a look at the immigrant experience. The rookie driver is Chinese, and though he likes the simple act of driving, he also talks about some of his job-related fears as a foreigner to American shores.

Stanley Wissak

Drivers is a pleasant enough movie, but I would've liked to have seen more about how 55 Stan maintains its high standards. Again, according to the website, the business offers things like a free in-house lawyer and accountant, as well as classes on how to make money as a cabbie. This is the sort of thing that I would've like to have seen, yet the movie only barely scratches the surface of such details. It felt more like a character study than a profile of a successful business, and while that's not inherently bad, I do feel like there was more that could've been shown. Director Joshua Z. Weinstein, who was in attendance at the screening along with his producer Jean Tsien, Wissak, and some of the cabbies, said it took him over a year to edit the film, and I wonder if this information was left on the cutting room floor.

I've written about LIC before. Like its neighbor to the north, Astoria, this is a community that's rapidly gentrifying, yet 55 Stan doesn't seem as out of place as you might think. LIC is still very much in transition, and as a result, it hasn't shaken off its industrial feel yet, despite the towering office buildings and high-rises that dwarf the areas near the 7 train and the river. (I hate the look of those.) In addition to the expected coffee shops and restaurants, there are not one, but two comedy clubs, and earlier this summer a terrific outdoor flea market sprung up that operates on the weekends.

"Spider," the senior cabbie at 55 Stan

As I said, QWFF was there, represented by festival head honchos Don and Katha Cato. QWFF, on their own, puts on a series of supplemental screenings throughout the rest of the year. They even had one out in the Rockaways last month which, I'm sure, was a nice shot in the arm to the area still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

I saw my filmmaker friend Jules at Saturday's screening; you'll remember her as the young lady I met at this year's QWFF. I saw the movie with her and a delightful woman and friend-of-QWFF named Celeste, whom I met last year at Don and Katha's party. It was through Celeste that I met and had a brief chat with Filmwax's Adam Schartoff, the evening's host. QWFF-related events always feel very sociable, which is nice.

There's a website for Drivers Wanted where you can buy the DVD, and the site also has links to watch it on iTunes and Amazon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

7 indie films and where to find them

In recent days, it's come to my attention that for all the writing I do about independent films here, I don't do enough to let people know where to find them. When you're at film festivals, or advance screenings, it's easy to get caught up in the event and forget details like that, so from now on, I'm gonna make more of an effort to let you know where you can see these movies that I write about, beginning with the following list. These are all recent films I've written about and recommend.

'At Home in Utopia'
At Home in Utopia (2008). Doc about a Bronx neighborhood from the early 20th century full of Communists, Jews, unionists and similar freethinking types. I watched it at the site New Day Digital, where you can also buy the DVD. The site offers a variety of streaming options for educational purposes. This was only the third film directed by Michal Goldman, though his career as a producer dates all the way back to the 70s. He hasn't directed anything since.

Battle For Brooklyn (2011). Another doc, this one about the development of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards into the Barclays Center and the neighborhood residents who were shoved aside in the process. This film has a website where you can purchase the DVD for non-commercial use. It's also available on Amazon.

IMDB says co-directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley are in post-production on a new film called Who Took Johnny, about a 30-year-old missing child case, scheduled to come out this year. This will be their fifth film as a directing team.

Kinyarwanda (2011). Seen at the Urbanworld Film Festival, this is a drama inspired by the 1994 Rwandan massacre and its aftermath. Director Alrick Brown has a website with links to download and buy the film. There's also a separate site for the film itself.

This is the first feature-length film for Brown. There's an IMDB listing for an upcoming film called My Manz, but there's no mention of it on his website yet.

Mosquito (2010). Seen at the Queens World Film Festival, this is set in Harlem during the 70s, following the title character around with his friends on Halloween night. It's a 14-minute short which you can watch on Vimeo. There's also a website for the film. Director Jeremy Engle is currently filming a feature called The Teacher, which sounds like it's out to buck the high school movie stereotypes.

Pariah (2011). Coming-of-age drama about a young black lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality. Amazon has links to both watch and buy. This was the first feature film for director Dee Rees. There was talk about an HBO series that Rees was developing with Viola Davis, but that was over two years ago, so who knows what's happening with that.

Queen (2011). Also seen at QWFF, this is about a drag queen who wants to adopt a child. It's also a short, also available on Vimeo. This is the only film from actor/director Adam Rose, who has alternated between film and television throughout his acting career. Doesn't look like he has any other directing plans, which is too bad because I loved this film.

Shut Up Little Man! (2011). Hilarious doc about the surreptitious audio recordings of two ranting old men which somehow turned into a cult sensation. The website has links to watch and to buy the film. This was the first feature film from director Matthew Bate. IMDB says he's in post-production on a short called I Want to Dance Better At Parties.

That's it for now, but I'll do this again soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
seen @ "Front Row Cinema" @ South Street Seaport, New York, NY

No matter how you slice it, the question of whether or not there's intelligent life in outer space comes down to a leap of faith. As of this writing, there's still no concrete, definitive proof that aliens exist, and yet, so many of us want to believe so badly in it. I know I do. Why else would the concept occupy such a dominant part of our culture? Yet believing in something you can't see, but are convinced must be real... doesn't that sound a lot like religion?

Here is where I find myself coming up against a personal conflict of interest. How can I disdain the concept of God, yet still hold out hope that extraterrestrials exist? There's no evidence of either!

Well, let's take a closer look at both of them. I won't deny that religion can and does provide comfort and peace to many people around the world, no matter what faith you may subscribe to. At the same time, however, religion has been used to justify the worst atrocities in human history. It keeps people separate according to arbitrary divisions. It blinds people to broader truths about the natural world that are necessary for survival. And its basic tenets tend to be rigid and unchanging, even when found to be contradictory or outdated.

Belief in aliens, by contrast, whether in real life or in fiction, is a relatively recent concept that's an outgrowth of scientific knowledge about the universe. At its best, it promotes tolerance and acceptance of those unlike us. It encourages opportunities for advanced knowledge about the universe in general and Earth in particular. Even when those aliens are intent on wiping us out, this usually provides an impetus for individuals and/or nations to put aside their differences and unite.

The science-versus-religion debate has been going on for a long, long time. Some say the two can co-exist peacefully, some say they can't. Personally, I see the huge gap between what religion purports to be and what it actually is, and I wonder why it isn't obvious to more people. Some people can live with that dichotomy, and again, faith is the rationale used to justify it, even in - especially in - the absence of empirical evidence... which is not unlike my belief in the possibility of alien life, a belief that I realize is completely unfounded. It probably is wishful thinking, but if so, well, that would make me sad. 

In my post on the Jodie Foster film Contact, one important aspect of the film which I didn't go into was how in the end, Foster's character was unable to provide evidence of her experience with extraterrestrial life when asked, and indeed, was presented with reasonable doubt that the whole thing even happened. The implication was that she was forced to rely on faith that her experience was real. Is that kind of faith the same as faith in a supreme being?

I say no, and I think the difference may come down to the notion of free will. Alien life, if it exists, is something outside of us, separate from us, hence the use of the word "alien." How we react to it, if we discover proof of its existence, will shape our fate. We, as a species, will have to question everything we thought we knew about life and reevaluate our outlook on it. It won't be easy. It may be painful. But it could lead to new and/or expanded knowledge. The point is, it'll be in our hands. 

The concept of God is not external; it's inherently part of us as a species. It's affected our laws, our language, the way we measure time, so many things, but at its heart is the idea that if we entrust our fate to an all-powerful father figure, he'll take care of everything for us. We don't have to worry, we don't have to doubt, we don't have to think - just trust, and he'll provide all the answers we need. Foster's character wasn't willing to passively sit back and let the answers come to her. She sought them out, and her worldview was changed as a result.

So too, was Richard Dreyfuss' character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. True, his mind was subtly altered as a result of his initial encounter with the aliens in that movie, but he was still the one who made the effort to seek out the truth about them, at great risk to himself. Eventually, he found others who believed as he did, and the end result was unequivocal proof and an enlightened outlook on life, the universe and everything. This is the kind of faith I can get behind.

I saw CE3K down at South Street Seaport. There was an inflatable screen set up in the middle of the cobblestone pedestrian street and a carpeted area where the audience sat, on both benches and lawn chairs, or on the floor itself. A DJ played space-themed songs prior to the movie's start. As blatantly tourist-y as the Seaport is, it's still a kinda cool place to visit. I love looking at the ancient ships docked in the harbor, I like the architecture of the surrounding buildings, and I like the whole nautical atmosphere, as manufactured as it may be. All the gift shops and "trendy" restaurants get old quick, though.

My high school prom was set on a cruise ship that left out of the Seaport and circled Manhattan. I remember arriving there with my date in a taxi and happily getting on board the ship, waving to my friends. I'd been on ships before, but not like this, and I was plenty excited about the whole thing.

Look for pictures of the Seaport on the WSW Facebook page within the next few days.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

International link festival

Stolen from Zap2It. Only... shouldn't Brodie
be the one w/the punchline?
First of all, all you people are crazy. Affleck will kill it as Batman.

Second: the major film festivals are either here or approaching us, so that means it must be Oscar-watching season. I've never been the type to follow the Oscar race year-round - they don't mean that much to me - but for those of us who can't be at Toronto, or Telluride, or Venice, they let us know which movies to keep an eye on, whether Oscar-worthy or not, and that's certainly helpful. 

As for me, I haven't made definite plans to return to Urbanworld here in New York yet, but when I do, I'll announce it. I'm thinking that if I do return this year, I'll probably skip the red carpet. After what happened last year, I don't think I need to take paparazzi pics that badly anymore.

This will probably be a light month around here; as you can tell by the sidebar, there's not a whole lot of new stuff I'm interested in right now, and money is tight anyway. I would like to remind you, however, that Mother of George comes out the 13th of this month, and if it's playing anywhere near you, RUN, DON'T WALK, to see it. It's a beautiful, captivating film that I cannot recommend enough. I don't do a whole lot of shilling for new movies, but I'm telling you, this is a one-of-a-kind gem. See it, and if you like it (you will), tell your friends.

Aurora went to a film festival in upstate New York devoted to silent films...

...and speaking of silent films, Jacqueline has a review about a new book on silent comedies.

This has been a good year for meeting bloggers in real life. My latest encounter was with fellow Queensite (Queensian? I'm kinda embarrassed I don't know what the right word is) Joanna, who writes a women-in-film blog called Reel Feminist. Here's a post of hers about Pacific Rim.

Will was at the 40th anniversary screening of Superfly at MOMI.

I totally thought this new movie In a World was a documentary and not a fictional movie. Fortunately Alex sets me straight on that.

Looks like the divide between traditional print film critics and online film critics remains as wide as ever.

It's hard to imagine Hollywood as some kind of haven for black actors and directors, but apparently the ones from the UK think so.

Have trailers become more important than actual movies?

And finally, best wishes to Ivan on hitting his 50th natal anniversary!