Film Essent Archive for November, 2009

I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night with KISS

Image064.jpg Just got home from the KISS concert, and it was even more awesome than I’d anticipated. Seattle’s Key Arena was pretty packed with rock fans (where but a KISS concert would I overhear in passing a conversation starting with, “So the old lady and me were on the way to the Tacoma Dome to see AC/DC, and then the cops pulled us over and we’d been working through a couple 12-packs of PBR on the way down …”). When my daughter Neve and I arrived at the Key there was a long line waiting to get through security, and a stern recorded female voice was lecturing us about the Key’s security rules (no cameras, no weapons, no outside food or drink, we might, perhaps, be cavity searched if we looked suspicious).

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Hey, You! Go Make Out with Violence

Yo, LA folks.
There’s this great little horror film called Make Out with Violence. I wrote a little about the film< in my wrap-up of the Oxford Film Festival earlier this year, where it scored the Best Feature Award. I know, I know, you’ve seen lots of zombie movies, why do you want to see another? I hear you. But trust me on this one. It’s not your ordinary zombie film — it’s more of a twisted tale of love, lust, possession and objectification with the zombie bit as the wrapping.
This an awesomely shot and produced film, particularly given what had to be a shoestring budget (hell, maybe only half a shoestring), and moreover, the Deagol Brothers, the guys who comprise the writing/producing/directing team behind the film, have worked their collective asses off to promote it. It’s hard out there for an indie filmmaker, bu these guys have been nose-to-the-grindstone doing some excellent publicity work on behalf of their baby, and I believe that smartness and savvy deserve to be rewarded.
So. Make Out with Violence has a FREE (yes, that’s FREE) screening in the LA area. This is a once-and-only-once event, so even though it’s in Alhambra, you should get a group of your best horror movie-loving pals together and carpool out there to support these guys and see a great little film. Also, the soundtrack rocks, so even if you hate the film you’ll probably like the music. Screening details are after the jump; help spread the word for these great guys, and best of luck to the whole Make Out with Violence team.
And if all that hasn’t convinced you to go out of your way to see and support this film, check out this video interview I did with them at SXSW this year. Don’t you just want to hug them and give them a lucrative distribution deal?

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Ghosties

I don’t watch or write about television shows much, but right now it’s 6:30AM and I’m sitting here wating Cartoon Network’s The Othersiders with my 10-year-old son. He totally digs this show, but his younger sibs wouldn’t let him watch it last night, so I promised to watch it with him today.
The Othersiders is a kids’ reality show about a group of teenagers who investigate places reported to have paranormal activity. I actually really like this show — not just because of the paranormal stuff, which is occasionally kind of cool, but more for the way in which it presents the teens on the show.
As a mom of a pack of kids, one of whom has already navigated her teen years, and the other four who are heading that way, I feel like teenagers often get a bum rap. Yes, they can be loud and annoying, particularly when they run in packs. They can me mouthy and rebellious and slam doors and roll their eyes spectactularly. Guess what? So did we when we were teens. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I was a real pain in the ass. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. Just ask my mother.
On The Othersiders, though, the teens are presented not as irritating creatures to avoid, but as intelligent beings who have smart things to say. The teens have “jobs” on the show — webmaster, technical manager, etc. They go into creepy, dark places — haunted camp grounds, haunted houses, Alcatraz — in search of proof that ghosts and such exist. Honestly, some of the places they go creep me out just watching them on TV. I don’t think I would be as calm and rational as some of these kids are.
At the end of each episode, the whole team gathers back at their headquarters and reviews all the evidence they gathered, and then votes as a team on whether they think the place they’ve investigated might actually be haunted. This is my favorite part of the show, because I like seeing how carefully these teens peruse their evidence. Zack,the nerdy-but-cute technical manager, and team leader Riley are always the hardest to convince. They don’t actually agree as a group very often that a place really is haunted.
On a recent episode at a haunted campground, though, the team gathered evidence ranging from unexplained thermal “hot spots” to ghostly voices recorded on their high tech recorders. In that case, when the team analyzed all the evidence, they voted unanimously that the camp was haunted – rarely do they all agree that way.
On the Alcatraz episode, KC and Riley just clearly heard banjo music from the shower … that’s the place where for years there have been rumors that one-time Alcatraz guest Al Capone, who reportedly went insane in the prison, used to play his banjo. Creeeeeeepy. Is Alcatraz haunted? Jury’s still out, we have to watch the rest of the episode to find out.
These are smart kids who will later be able to apply their gig on The Outsiders for grown-up jobs. Imagine a future job interview: “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” “Well, I was in Alcatraz and heard Al Capone’s ghost playing his banjo ….” Groovy.

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook