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BUFF Highlights

Some highlights (i.e. my personal faves) of the upcoming Boston Underground Film Festival (May 6-10):

Robot Rumpus – Jason Dunn, 20 mins.

Kidbot, the world’s first intelligent machine, spends his first day in elementary school, sent there by his scientist father to meet his human peers.

They hate him. He hates them.

A Schulz/ Burtonesque, documentary- style retro sci-fi film set in timeless 60’s limbo.


Son of Satan

The frenetic animation of Jean-Jacques Villard brings Charles Bukowski’s diabolical characters to life in this adaptation of the short story “Son of Satan”, about a vicious group of child bullies ganging up on a pale, freckled neighbor boy.


Ward 13 Peter Cornwell

Hilarious claymation nightmare about a man who wakes up in a nightmarish hospital full of demented staff and zombified patients. The tormented patient attempts to escape the hellish place, and embarks on several dynamic fight scenes armed with wooden canes, brain-exploding strength pills, and, finally, a wheelchair chase scene worthy of Raiders of the Lost Arc.


Celluloid Horror

Documentary about the Cinemuerte International Film Festival, which is the result of one woman’s passion for film coupled with an irrepressible personality. With no prior experience and little money, and in a short three years, Kier-La Janisse pushed, prodded and nurtured CineMuerte from a 16mm and video projection fringe event into a fantastic and shocking cinematic experience that has earned the respect and admiration of filmmakers, distributors and festival organizers around the world – and without a cent of public funding. Celluloid Horror explores Kier-La’s unique appreciation of shocking and horrific films and her compulsion to entice others into at least considering her views as it documents her most odds-defying achievements. You are invited to spend 90 minutes in her company as she struggles to propel CineMuerte toward greater acceptance without sacrificing its or her integrity.


Red Things – Max Porter – Animated film about a mysterious phenomenon that overtakes a small town, wreaking havoc with all things red..


Unicornimation – Ever wonder what unicorns use those horns for? Ever wonder how they copulate with no genitals?


The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam – Ann Marie Fleming

Ann Marie Fleming’s great-grandfather was a Chinese acrobat, magician, vaudeville star, and Orson Welles’ magic mentor. So why hasn’t anyone ever heard of him? Fleming’s documentary playfully examines the mysterious life of her great-grandfather through a combination of animation, archival shots and interviews with people who knew him.

And many, many more…don’t miss the collection of shorts picked by Jim Jarmusch…


The Benefit party for the Boston Underground Film Festival is TOMORROW. Pleas come. We need your money!

BUFF Rock n’ Roll Zombie Benefit

Tuesday April 27th
T.T. the Bear’s (10 Brookline Street, Central Square, Cambridge)

BLOWW (Boston League of Women Wrestlers)
Bon Savants
Westbound Train

Tickets: $12  ($15 on the Day of the Show)

Doors @ 8PM, Show starts @ 8:30

Short films will be shown throughout the night, including BUFF classics such as Titler and Can’t Drag Race Jesus, by Bill Plympton. Plympton will be presenting a world premiere of his new animated short Guard Dog, at BUFF. There will also be previews of new film, such as Deliverance: The Musical, and Son of a Bush.

The benefit will also feature a performance by local musicians the Bon Savants, and the Boston League of Women Wrestlers (BLOWW), a troupe of amateur women wrestlers that perform to a punk rock band, as well as the rhythmic sounds of reggae/ska band Westbound Train.

Boston Underground Film Festival

Mark your calendars: the benefit show for the Boston Underground Film Festival is this Tuesday and is gonna be pretty amazing–see here. The festival is May 6-10 and the schedule is nearly final, I’ll post a link here in a few days. You really aren’t gonna wanna miss opening night. Among other things, there’s a short animated film called ‘Son of Satan’ based on the Bukowski short story that is pretty phenomenal. Demented and phenomenal, like all the films in the BUFF lineup.

More on Lost in Translation (but no ass this time)

Lost in Translation represents a significant departure from the predictable depiction of romance. The presence of actors who actively transform their screen personas adds a further layer of irony. These films display little concern with reinforcing screen personas, in fact, they actively work against typage.” –Wendy Haslem in Senses of Cinema, via Greencine

This couldn’t be more wrong. While I *love* Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, he is playing exactly his type. The movie was MADE around his type. Sofia Coppola pretty much even says that herself. In fact, that’s the only criticism I’ve heard of Bill Murray’s performance–that it’s the same role he played in Rushmore and many many other films. That the film rides on Bill Murray’s tired back. That the film’s success really has nothing to do with Coppola and everything to do with Murray’s schtick, which is the same schtick it’s always been, only here it’s in a different context and being appreciated by a new audience for new reasons. But it’s still the same old schtick. You want old and tired and funny and ironic and arrogant and smart and successful and jaded and self-mocking and vulnerable? See Bill Murray (or David Letterman).

Filmmaker in Residence

I was sitting in the empty screening classroom at the Harvard Film Archive with my nose buried in a book when a couple of guys walked in and started messing with the projector and trying to check the visuals of a videotape. One of them sat down a few feet away from me. I ignored them and kept my nose buried in my book (White Teeth, by the way, which I am finding exhausting and tiresome and show-offy after first feeling impressed at its energy and imagination). After awhile I looked up and thought one of the men looked familiar. He was incredibly tall, hulking almost. And the film they had on the screen had a familiar feel to it. And it dawned on me:

Oh. That’s Hal Hartley.

I had known that he was teaching at Harvard but had yet to see him around the Archive. So this is my first Hal Hartley run-in. And I saw a few minutes of his new film.

I (heart) Tilda

Tilda Swinton is phenomenal. I can’t see Young Adam because it’s not opening in Boston, but here’s a fantastic interview with her on (via Hugh). She is a goddess:

Were you intimidated by the nudity in Young Adam? Most American actresses, at comparable points in their careers, would avoid it.
I don’t quite understand that. The short answer is no. I mean, that’s what the film is all about. It’s not a thing that I have a qualm about. I made The War Zone when I had just given birth to twins, and my post-partum frame was very much on display there. There’s nothing I’m particularly keen to hide about my humanity. Let’s put it that way.

Old Meets New

Hmmm… I don’t know if classic movies and web-streaming are a good combo. Or even a viable one. Newer films, i.e. those with less concerns about continuity, those made in the “digital age”, those with choppier styles, seem well-suited to the often-choppiness and wateryness of web streaming, but classic movies? If any group of films is meant to be seen in a theater and seen start to finish, uninterrupted, it’s the classics. I’ll always support any venue for promoting these films, it just seems a very odd combo to me. Plus, on the web you want content on demand. You don’t get online to join a program already in progress, you want to click on a button and see the film from start to finish. That’s how the Internet works, Ted. You gotta adapt.

via Cinema Minima


Please come to the Boston Underground Film Festival benefit…we need fundage…

Tuesday April 27th
T.T. the Bear’s (10 Brookline Street, Central Square, Cambridge)

BLOWW (Boston League of Women Wrestlers)
Bon Savants
Westbound Train

and a special guest appearance by Mission of Burma.

Tickets: $12  ($15 on the Day of the Show)

Doors @ 8PM, Show starts @ 8:30

for more info see here

Young Adam

Hugh’s got an exclusive e-interview with Tilda Swinton about the film Young Adam posted on his blog, check it out. The film opens Friday, and I’ve already got plans to see it Saturday, and will report back with my impressions…

Ruined Endings

One of the complaints I hear most frequently from students about film textbooks is that the books invariably ruin the ending of every film they discuss. (I often get this complaint about film lectures too.) I am generally not receptive to this complaint, and tend to write it off as a petty concern of someone not yet attuned to the idea that we are not reading about films as entertainment, that there’s more to a movie than its plot or its ending.

Snotty, yes I know, but that’s part of the requirement for getting that ever-valuable Master’s degree in Cinema Studies.

But I’ve just come across a website that inverts this logic and supplies you with nothing but the endings of films, at your fingertips. I’m not sure who would need this service or why, unless you are like Steve, who had an emergency when his TiVo went blank just before the ending of a film, leaving him hanging. But if you want it, here’s a database of the endings of films (whole plots are being added as well): Ruined Endings. Click on the “View Random Entry” option. My favorite:

The Ending for the Crying Game:

She’s a bloke.

This Day Is the Greatest…

You know the day is not starting off well when you feel personally offended by subway delays.

And it’s confirmed when you then feel personally offended (i.e. spit-on) by the weather.

And your eye is twitching.

And your fur is wet.

From Maximus to Moe

Russell Crowe may star as Moe in the Farrelly Bros. upcoming Three Stooges Movie. Yes, I said Russell Crowe as Moe. Russell Crowe as Moe. Now that’s a piece of casting. I am struck dumb.

via Greencine.

Boston Underground Film Festival

Tonight is the final night we’ll be previewing films for selection in the Boston Underground Film Festival, and soon I’ll have a schedule for ya…stay tuned…

Valenti @ MIT

I almost went to see Jack Valenti @ MIT tonight, but ended up skipping it. According to Guy’s account of it, I guess I’m glad I did. Though I am enormously amused to hear that there was in Valenti’s audience a row of mit geeks dressed up as pirates to protest the mpaa’s war on media duplication.” Bless ’em.

Instead I went to hear a guest speaker give a talk on Indian advertising in the class I assist @ MIT, Indian Popular Culture. And his talk was one that no Westerner could get away with. He started by showing two “stereotypical” Western ads that included superstitious Indians on elephants and which were greeted with angry criticism from Indians, who said “why do these Westerners insist on thinking India is a country full of elephants?” And his argument was, basically, “because it is.” His tagline was “We must come to terms with the elephant.” And he went on to discuss how even the most educated Indians have chili and lemon tied under their car fenders to ward off evil spirits, how the best-selling toothpaste in India is the one that proudly calls itself “vegetarian” (as if other toothpastes aren’t), how there is an actual shrine built to the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, where people worship him as a god.

His point being not “Indians are supersititous fools,” but that in India both the modern and the ancient exist everywhere at once, and that can’t be denied. It is a delicate point that is best made by an Indian himself, if it must be made at all. Leave the essentializing to insiders of a group.

Also, did you know that there is NO television advertising for cosmetics in India because women find it shameful to be associated with cosmetics and vanity? All the big cosmetics companies have presence in India and they sell plenty of products, but they stick to print because TV ads would scare away their customers.

UPDATE: Somebody objects to this point about Indian cosmetic advertising–hey I’m just quoting the speaker, I’ve never been to India. He is Indian and lives in India and works in advertising, but if he’s wrong, he’s wrong.

Psycho Remake

Bitter Cinema posts a defense of Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, which as we all know was attacked before, during, and after production, first for its pointlessness and then for its shittiness. (And also for its sacrelige at fucking with Hitchcock.) Defenders say the remake is a metacommentary on the original. Slippery…

But while I’m definitely not a fan of the film, I’m also not offended by the remake, nor am I terribly horrified by his desire to remake it. Sometimes if I am deeply affected by someone’s poem or some other piece of writing, I’ll write it out longhand, just to get inside it, to feel what it’s like to write those words from my own hand. I have a feeling that, deep down, this is at the base of Van Sant’s remake–to get inside those famous shots. And I can’t question that motive at all. It’s just that in film, such an egocentric exercise costs millions of dollars and is done in the public eye, rather than costing $.89 for a paper-mate pen and a sheet of paper. It would be like me trying to publish my scribblings on notepaper of someone else’s poems. Now there’s a book idea–a collection of other people’s poems I love, written in my handwriting. Well, maybe not mine. But if Billy Collins wrote out longhand a bunch of other people’s poems he loved and published it, do you think people would buy it? Of course. And would they say it was stupid? Of course.


Mark your calendars, baybeees…The Boston Underground Film Festival is gonna rock your world May 6-10. George Romero in person introducing his films plus a Q&A with the man himself. The great Roy Grundmann will be quizmaster MC for the evening. Plus Mission of Burma, The Bentmen, zombie stuff, chick wrestlers…oh and let’s not forget the backbone: lots and lots of psychotic films. High proportion of animation in this year’s lineup. Psychotic animation, that is. 

I will of course be blogging the whole thing, but that’s no excuse for you to sit on your ass and live vicariously through me. Buy some tickets, come to the benefit, donate some money…this is where the real shit happens and we need your support. Where do you think Hollywood gets its ideas? From the lunatic fringe, baby. And does the fringe ever see any of that cake? No way.

Film Sisterz Unite!

Film nerd quiz. I scored 8 out of 10, thank you very much. I guess this means that expensive film studies degree wasn’t completely wasted. Although 8 out of 10 is only 80%, a B-. Mediocre film student! Although this is what the results say about me:

You scored 8 out of a possible 10
Alpha female.
You’re aware that there can be no best actor without a best actress, and that behind every great man is a great woman being ignored by a bigoted industry machine.

Via Cinetrix.