Hey folks, Harry here with Mr Beaks talking about the coolest film festival in the world right now. Father Geek and I are coming in for the Sunday Line-up at the festival - and hopefully get tickets to the films that day... HOPE-a-HOPE-a-HOPE-a! People that just blanketly claim that all 3-D movies suck without having a real knowledge of this vintage period really don't know what they're talking about. HOUSE OF WAX, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, HONDO, DIAL "M" FOR MURDER, I, THE JURY, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE.... these are all superior films! And they are all truly enhanced and more thrilling film experiences when seen as originally intended. It's a good reason to travel halfway across the country... especially when many of these films haven't been screened in 50 years, because of the death of the format. Now that it is re-emerging in regular theaters via James Cameron & Robert Rodriguez... It is very important to examine what has come before to see what dramatically worked and failed in terms of 3-D filmmaking story devices. Wish I could have been there for the whole thing! Here's Beaks...
I guess film festivals are a year-round phenomenon, cropping up wherever there’s a dead weekend to be found, or a woefully underappreciated artist to be celebrated, but since Labor Day weekend, I feel like we’ve been kicked in the butt by a heapin’ helpin’ of these suckers. Toronto, Venice, Deauville, with New York about to come in a week or so, not to mention all of the specialized showcases going on across the country.
Right now in Los Angeles, there’s The World 3-D Film Expo at the Egyptian Theater, which has been described to me as the temporary Mecca of the Film Geek universe. (Hopefully, you already took a gander at And why wouldn’t it be? According to the press notes, many of these films are being shown in 3-D for the first time since the 1950’s, and are unlikely to be seen in this kind of high quality presentation again. Hell, Reichmeister Knowles himself *almost* deigned to grace Los Angeles with his presence just to attend it. I got a chance to check out IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, and was knocked out by the clarity and depth of the image (not to mention the movie, which is a Ray Bradbury inspired gem). If you’ve never seen a classic film in 3-D before, this is *the* way to do it, and while some of the big guns have already been screened (including THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and HOUSE OF WAX), there’s still some other notable films on the way. I’ll be heading back for I, THE JURY on Saturday, and might have to check out THE FRENCH LINE on Sunday, if only to feast my eyes upon the two most noble justifications for the advent of 3-D filmmaking, both of them belonging to Jane Russell. DIAL “M” FOR MURDER is also screening this week, but it appears to be sold out, and I don’t know that any stand-by tickets will be available (probably not). I was fortunate enough to see it several years ago at the Film Forum in New York City, and, honestly, watching it in its proper presentation elevates the film from a merely well-acted murder mystery to a masterful and, at times, fiendishly clever (watch out for those scissors) use of the form to open up what is little more than a filmed play. Though all of these pictures are arguably can’t-miss affairs given the infrequency of their exhibition, DIAL “M” FOR MURDER is the one you might consider doing as the title instructs just to see it.
Now, if only they’d do a schlock 1980’s 3-D festival in the near future, featuring such unforgettable mind rapes on the putrid order of TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS, COMIN’ AT YA, METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN and THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE, the film that finally recognized that two-dimensions are woefully inaccurate for the outsized genius of Steve Guttenberg.
Another event that has been closing in on my radar thanks to a number of emails from enterprising young filmmakers with works screening there is the Los Angeles incarnation of the New York Film & Video Festival, which is kicking off this Friday, September 19th, with screenings at the Laemmle Fairfax Theaters, as well as Raleigh Studios. When I lived in New York, I’d occasionally check out films of friends and acquaintances that had managed to get selected for the festival. As usual, the entries appear to run the gamut from animated shorts to feature films to documentaries to experimental works to Dalmatian Tentacle Porn and so on – all of them looking for distribution or recognition. And just like many other film festivals around the globe, it’s often very difficult to decide what’s worth seeing since so many of the movies have yet to be screened for anyone.
I’m not going to pretend that I’ve done my homework for this festival (though I did notice that Mark L. Lester has a film on the schedule!), but a young man named Gavin Heffernan found a way to get his labor of love in front of me, and though I am inundated with requests to check out all manner of projects in any variety of medium, I’m happy I gave into his persistence. His film, titled EXPIRATION, is a sort of heartfelt variation on AFTER HOURS concerning the plight of three young characters brought together by a convenience store robbery. This unexpected occurrence sends them out on nightlong adventure which just might carry a greater significance pertaining to their unclear futures. Essentially, this is a leaving home story, with the main character, played with the kind of winning onscreen charm by Heffernan that really can’t be faked, discovering that the path down which he’s begun to travel might be contrary to the yearnings of his heart. The themes are all familiar enough, but what’s most impressive about this feature length digital production, twenty-nine months in the making, is Heffernan’s second nature ease with narrative. His is a genuinely involving story, effortlessly told and undeniably affecting by the time it arrives at its unlikely conclusion. And this isn’t just a simple boy meets girl tale; it’s a pretty ambitious script with lots of clearly drawn supporting characters whose arcs are all seamlessly woven into the script. Heffernan’s a damn smart writer, and EXPIRATION is the exciting first step in what could be a very exciting career.
Finally, there’s the First Annual Festival of Endless Screenings Until I Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil, which is currently underway, and will be getting lots more coverage as we head into awards season.