I don't remember how forthright I was about my initial reaction to OLD JOY when I saw it at Rotterdam way back in January, but suffice to say, I was rather underwhelmed. I thought it was fine, but I didn't really understand the lavish hype that was being thrust upon it. I do remember Kelly being pissed about the transfer and presentation in Rotterdam, but I didn't realize just how valid her frustration was. Seeing the film on a 35mm print at the Film Forum yesterday was like watching a completely different movie. I now stand firmly alongside those critics who have championed this minor gem since it world premiered at Sundance. From the very opening image, I was fully absorbed. And it all comes down to this: CELLULOID is still better than video. Coupled with my INLAND EMPIRE hangover, I find it hard to fully hop on board the digital train. I know that it's getting close, but it isn't the same thing. It just isn't. They've extended it's run at the Film Forum, so if you haven't seen it yet, you really should.
Or if you have seen it, take yourself back to the Film Forum anyway to soak in a brand spanking new 35mm print of Robert Altman's underappreciated classic CALIFORNIA SPLIT, which runs for a week. I don't know if I like it as much as SCARECROW, but it's pretty damn close. There's a dolly shot where Gould and Segal walk out of a bar and drunkenly dance down the street, which is one of my all-time favorite shots. CALIFORNIA SPLIT and SCARECROW are gigantic inspirations for an upcoming feature that I hope to make next year, featuring the electrifying Robert Longstreet, who you'll hopefully be seeing in more than one film at Sundance this January.
The Evil City Film Fest is off and running. If you're not doing anything Saturday afternoon, I highly recommend you check out Joe Pacheco's documentary AS SMART AS THEY ARE. The well-executed film focuses on the immensely talented One Ring Zero, McSweeney's house band and creators of The Author Project, in which celebrated writers contribute lyrics for Joshua Camp and Michael Hearst to turn into inventive pop songs. It's informative, fun, and an all around good time. It's playing at KGB's Kraine Theatre. Details can be found here.
Tonight, I'll be seeing my favorite Western ever, Monte Hellman's RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND, at BAM, followed by a post-film Q&A with Mr. Hellman himself. They're screening his best work through next Tuesday, so make sure to see some if you haven't.
I feel like I'm forgetting something. Ahh, yes, the NYFF. For my money, this weekend's must-see is the festival's closing night feature, Guillermo del Toro's awe-inspiring PAN'S LABRYINTH. I gave Tom Hall homework for this very occasion, so he could do all the work for me. And what a job he did.
Speaking of Tom Hall, I finished reading the M. Night Shyamalan book that he so kindly lent me, though I must take some time to regroup before I begin to even try to write about it. I don't think the English language could possibly do it justice, but now certainly is not the time for me to try. Or wait a minute. There is someone who can capture the insanity in all its absurd, preposterous glory. Tom Hall, what are you doing? Get to work!