Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Surprise! Cannes actually screens shitty films!

Partying at Cannes
Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Last Saturday I stopped by the Balboa for a Cannes update from SF State Alum and owner of the Balboa Gary Meyer, and Mark Fishkin, founder of the Mill Valley Film Festival.
S.F. Chronicle critic Judy Stone was in the back "Garyyyyyyyyyyy, will you please speak up!" Full of piss and vinegar. She's cool. I've read a lot of Paulene Kael's work, but now that Kael is dearly departed, I'm gonna check out Stone's.

Anyhow, the highlight of the talk was Mark Fishkin's honesty. Aside from talking about the various films, he went a little bit into the innner workings of programming decision making. In other words, the politics of programming. In Mark's words (and I'm paraphrasing) " Yeah, they want one or two films from masters, a couple new things, and they have to show some bad French films". Now, I like Renoir as much as the next guy, but Mark, you rule.
Now, if we can only figure out some way to get our films directly to the people. Maybe Arnold can help....

Monday, May 30, 2005

Narratives can do one thing a Doc can't

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Thumbing through the upcoming Green Screen doc Film Festival brochure, I noticed our very own SF State Cinema Chair Uljaki at the center of things. I remember Uljaki espousing the idea of making a doc as a great way to get started as a filmmaker.
Docs are enjoying unprecendented attention. A medium where low budget video can still make an impact. Hollywood, ever sensitive to market demands, cranks out reality shows. Biopics are being made left and right. "Based on a true story" CINDERELLA MAN is coming soon. AVIATOR, know what I'm talkin about.

The question is not what's happening but WHY? Is this interest voyeuristic or is reality more entertaining than narrative fiction? If reality is captivating the minds and hearts of the American public, does that say something about the current state of fictional narrative?

I'm not a sociologist, but I know what I like...and one of the things I like best is a narrative with a message about something we all may care about. I remember watching the sci fi flick SOYLENT GREEN as a kid. Another 1970's Hollywood gem. Low brow genre to the max, but it's message was clear. Overpopulation and a lack or resources is gonna happen unless we do something. I like that in a genre pic. Narratives may not be able to compete with the reporting of the present, but with the imagination of the writer- director, they can look into the future. Check out SOYLENT GREEN, starring NRA prez Heston, and Edward G. Robinson in his last performance.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Harvey sez: Problem? There ain't no stinkin problem!

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Waaaaa, I need distribution. Waaaaa, they cut me a shitty deal. Waaaaa, I put in 100K, and got back nothing.

Somethings gotta be done. There are flickers of hope. I don't know much about Customflix except that they packaged the last FAF Festival shorts program in a nifty DVD format. They say they'll package your film, get it out there, and give you a piece of the pie.

What about a collective non-profit in San Francisco who's sole function is to collect, gather, sell, and distribute San Francisco made features within city limits (sell DVD's at every Muni ticket counter). Europeans routinely give grants to feature filmmakers. Maybe the City can help us out on the distribution end. Hey, all those Stem Cell guys are gonna need entertainment... Gavin, you listenin' to me?

Friday, May 27, 2005

A.D.D. Film Review #5: THE ISLE

The Isle
Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
This film brought art house fame to Korean (that's South Korea, you lay-moes) director Kim Ki Duk. Perfect date movie - gory as heck, ala AUDITION. Beautifully shot, it is a thriller/horror/art house gem. If you hate dialogue, rent this film. Guaranteed to make you quezzy at the sight of live fish and fish hooks. directed by Kim Ki Duk, 2002. Korea. DVD

Mckee coming to give SF screenwriters his pearls of wisdom

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
We all know screenwriting seminars are big business. One of the biggest is Mckee. If you want to know more about him, rent ADAPTATION. He'll be here (Scorcese eyebrows and all) JUNE 9 6:45PM-9:30PM through the Learning Annex (

NYC gay writer director Todd Solondz has balls of steel

My personal highlight of this year's SF Intl FF was Solondz's (Fear Anxiety and Depression, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Storytelling)in depth talk about making his "saddest comedy" PALINDROMES and his writing process. A Solondz film can confront issues of interracial sex, child molestation, abortion and as the writer-director admits, he pays the price. Anxious to start PALINDROMES, and confronting unwilling and skittish investors, he put his own money into the project to get started (by the way, his last three films were profitable).

Solondz writes out of his bedroom office in a small apt in NYC. In PALINDROMES he writes about a young girl who desperately wants to become a mom, and the adult abortion related issues surrounding her. When asked about his influences he says:

"I don't watch many movies, I like to read"

When asked about a classic three act structure and expected protagonist character arc (his lead character wants to be a mommy in all 3 acts), Solondz muses in his wheezy voice:

" I'm not really interested in the character arc of the protagonist as much as the character arc of the audience". Bullseye.

Solondz routinely goes where no man has gone before. I'm straight, and I love that guy.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A.D. Liano takes a walk on the wild side : SEVEN FALLEN OBJECTS

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
It says something about a filmmaker who's favorite director is Fellini. Judging from San Francisco filmmaker A.D. Liano's surreal, black comedic short "Three Cornered Hat", and the trailer for this surreal little nugget, I am not at all surprised. Casting Al Liner as the recently departed George was a Felliniesque stroke of mad genius. I worked as a boom operator on a feature years ago, and saw actor Al Liner operate A collaborative effort between seven directors shooting seven dream sequences - Tim Kerns, Thad Povey, DP wunderkind Frazer Bradshaw, John Szabo, Finnian Murray, Alfonzo Alvarez and master of ceremonies A.D. Liano. Score by "Lost in Translation" and "Adaptation" vet Kent Sparling. written by Greg Boyd and A.D. Liano. If you need a fix before this one gets screened, go rent Armacord.

Seven Fallen Objects : in post production

A.D.D. Film Review #4: I AM A SEX ADDICT (SF Premier at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts June 3-5)

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Late last year, I finnagled an invite to a group screening of Godard worshipper and film theory guru Caveh Zahedi's newest feature "I Am A Sex Addict" at his flat in the Inner Richmond (free food and free wine was an added incentive). I've heard a lot about Caveh's eccentric nature through the grapevine, and had already seen his other films (Bathtub of the World, I Don't Hate Las Vegas Anymore). For you all who know Caveh...Caveh is interested in one subject = Caveh. That's boring. I mean, how many of you want to know about anybody else's life (except if it's a porn star or celeb)???
Regardless, the subject matter intrigued me. After all, our Christian nation is also a nation of Sex Addicts. In a nutshell, this film is bloody marvelous. Funny, snappy editing, great writing, entertaining. Being a "re-enactement" (as opposed to straight doc) of his early struggle with prostitute administered blow jobs gave the film a fictional narrative flourish the equivalent of sprinkling some sugar on your broccoli. Caveh, have you been reading Henry Miller lately? 2005.written and directed by Caveh Zahedi. Premiered at the 2005 Rotterdam Film Festival. COMING TO THE YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS JUNE 3-5

four out of five empty film cans OOOO

Generous George sez see the SFSU Film Finals

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
For those of you who didn't make it to the official SFSU Film Final shmoozefest, it's coming to the RED VIC, June 2. Last Chance to see the SFSU Film Shorts voted the best by fellow students, or picked by the profs? (never did find out exactly how they're chosen)..AHUM!! George!! If you're listening. We know you wanna make art films now. One of these SFSU grads may be able to give you just the help you need. Filmmaking is a team effort yaknow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

S.F. State Alum Eats Tuna to Make Movie

Full Grown Men
Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
I met S.F. State Cinema Alum David Munro about 6 months ago. He was living off of cans of tuna, scraping together funding for his soon to be produced feature "Full Grown Men"(to be shot in Florida). We talked about Tarkovsky, bemoaned the lack of emphasis on screenwriting among S.F. State film students, and talked money. The "M" word. David's visually creative short "Bullethead" made it into Sundance. The difference is, David leveraged that break into where he is today. But maybe the smartest thing he did, was marry his producer. Smart guy. More later.

Full Grown Men : in preproduction

A.D.D. Film Review #3: THE NAVIGATORS

Hollywood used to make films like this in the '30's (King Vidor-The Crowd), and in the '70's (Network). The human toll of a capitalist society - everybody wants safety first, but what happens when youre an unemployed rail worker, and you're forced to cut corners to keep your job? Shit Happens! The acting is top notch - naturalistic, ala Altman. directed by Ken Loach, written by Rob Dawber, 2002, England, on DVD
4 out 5 empty film cans 0000

Wannabe Tarantino at S.F. State

Brando as Kurtz
Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Dear Colonel Kurtz,
I wanna be a director when I grow up, but my problem is not talent (I'm the greatest). It's just that I have no money - I insist on only shooting on film. Can you tell me what to do?
---Wannabe Tarantino at S.F. State

Dear Wannabe,
You have a disease, and every film school, "how to" film book, and film seminar knows it. Here's what you do:
a. rent "Tarnation" for inspiration -the feature was made for $300
b. Write a 90 page script in your screenwriting class - not just the 1st act the prof expects. I don't care if it's crap. Just write 90 pages of stuff you can shoot, and DON'T censor yourself. Nobody's gonna want it anyway, you may as well have fun.
c. Get some actors, a video camera (just attach a decent mic to the thing), a couple crew members and shoot the damn thing with natural light. Keep it simple.
d. Design a nice DVD cover and sell it through Customflix.

You will have finished a feature, which is more than 99% of other Tarantino wannabe's would have done.

e. Bask in your glory, and the knowledge you've gained.

Yours, Col. Kurtz

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Those Nollywood Rascals

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Something shocking is happening in Nigeria. Those upstarts are cranking out 20 feature films per week. Here's how it works. Lets say you're an investor (ahum..i mean producer). You give $8K to $10K to a director. 2 weeks later he delivers you a video feature. You have complete rights to it. You run down to the local neighborhood mass video duplication shop and get a shitload of VCD (video compact disk-the format of choice in third world countries) copies made at $1.50 each.You sell 'em like hot cakes all over the markets of Nigeria for $3 a pop. The nerve of these people.

San Francisco Feature Narrative Filmmakers- those scrappy bastards

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
I have to admit - when push comes to shove, I'll pick a narrative feature over a doc any time (hmmmmm, forgot about "Tarnation")...Where are the San Francisco narrative feature filmmakers? They're out there ... struggling. There's improv veteran Brien Burroughs (Security, Suckerfish). There's Sundance darlings Mark Decena (Dopamine) and David Munro (the soon to be made Full Grown Men), there's quirky "bare it all, zits and all" filmmaker Caveh Zahedi (with his brilliant new film I am a "Sex Addict"), there's "I ain't gonna give up no matter what" Shireen Daryadelle shooting her first ever film - a 35mm out of pocket financed feature. One thing all these SF filmmakers have in common -- they're scrappy bastards.

Cannes-Jarmusch Alert

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
Jarmusch just got the Cannes Grand Prix runner up prize for his new film BROKEN FLOWERS (yeah-I know-prizes don't matter)--but hey-- it stars Bill Murray (pictured here in bed with Sharon Stone!). He gets a letter from a 19 y.o. who claims to be his son, and goes on a road trip to find him. Critics are dissing him for taking a "conventional" approach to this film, and are predicting a mainstream breakthrough.whatever--ever since I heard Bill Murray lecture Wes Anderson on the merits of Red Beard -- he rules! released in theatres in August.

A.D.D. Film Review #2: PITFALL

Originally uploaded by moalboalmango.
First feature by Japanese classic "Woman in the Dunes" director Hiroshi Teshigahara. An unemployed miner gets killed, in the midst of a miner union conflict. Part social realism (hey-it's post war Japan), part ghost story (think an edgier Wings of Desire), and part Antonioni-esque alienation-depression saga. Beautifully shot, a bizarrely interesting Shoenenberg-esque score by Toru Takemitsu (think Red Desert), but it does drag a bit, and lacks the emotional intensity of his masterful Woman in the Dunes. Worth a look.Le Video new release.B&W, Japan, 1962

Monday, May 23, 2005

A.D.D. Film Review #1:Best of Youth

Playing at the Balboa. Two (2) 3 hour parts that go fast. An epic family drama. Great characters. Terrorists, free love, the 60's, birth, death--it's got it all. The best part - the acting. Be warned-part 2 is a tear jerker. directed by Marco Giordanna, Italy

Stop Bitching about Hollywood!

Are you as tired as I am about people bitching about "how bad Hollywood films are and how come they can't make anything worth watching" ?? People, please drink your coffee !! GOOD FILMS ARE OUT THERE. No, don't go to Blockbuster...or Netflix...

You wanna sit on your ass, and order on-line? Go to, and no I'm not on their payroll. If you're
in San Francisco, you're in luck -- LeVideo on 9th and Lincoln is a cinemaparadisimo I love that place.

And if you still dont't know what to rent (Please!! don't judge a movie by it's cover - that is so lame!), then rent Casablanca, Ikiru, Stalker, The Mirror, Mother and Son, Northfork, Blue Velvet, Red Beard, The Grand Illusion, Book of Life, Tokyo Story, Wicker Man, Contempt, Breathless, Suckerfish, Le Trou, Last Life in the Universe, Breathless, Farenheit 411 (not 911), Werckmeister Harmonies, Satantango, Il Vittelioni, L'Avventura, Red Desert, Eraserhead, The Trial, Tarnation, and Straw Dogs. By the way, did I mention Breathless?

Nuf Said.

So You Wanna be a Filmmaker eh?

Going to film school is a rush. Everybody is caught up in the "I'm the next Tarantino" thing. Even me. It's a creative process, and with most creative processes, it's addictive, you lose track of time........... and reality. You wanna be that thing (filmmaker, director, artist.......)--soooooooo bad. Then you graduate. You're "resume" film is ok. There's thousands of grads but no jobs. You work for free, hoping for a break. You don't want to move to L.A., cuz that's Hollywood (that's the first place you have to go--sorry).

Film Schools, Film Seminars -- that is the real industry it seems. It thrives on dreams, fantasy, instant success, and it doesn't pay the bills.

My advice? Get a degree in accounting, engineering, something your film nights and weekends. Take leaves of absence. Work your script in your corporate cube for all I care. It'll get done, and you'll have a nice bottle of Coppola vino waiting for you at home to boot.