“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I finally saw "Breakfast at Tiffany's" over the weekend.

[Go ahead, take the few minutes you need to get over the shock, do your laughing, whatever you need. I'll wait.]

I've never read Truman Capote's novella on which the film was based (I'd wait for the shock here, but I'd bet less than half of you knew the origin), but I had some thoughts I wanted to share.

The beginning of skinny? When the film was released in 1961, society was a big fan of the hourglass (yes, I'm talking female body shape here). Marilyn Monroe is the classic example, or just watch anything by Alfred Hitchcock. But Audrey Hepburn is skinny in the film. Gangly arms, shoulder blades and all. The character's estranged husband, Doc Golightly, even comments on it, but I was taken aback to see a skinny heroine in a classic film from that era.

Of course, today, skinny is the norm (though we're starting to see some fit, muscular female leads the last few years as well), but this might have been the start of that.

Fun. The party scene in Holly's apartment is far too long to make it into a film today. Which is bizarre considering how a lot of films go on and on and on, but scenes are so short today to match our short attentions. But it's so much fun. The choreography is fantastic, from the hat fire to Paul crawling for the phone and becoming a chair to Mag's passing out (and where'd they find all that space for her to fall, anyway?).

Customer service. I'm sure Tiffany's was flooded with young couples short on cash in the months after the film's release, but John McGiver's character is tactful, professional and a great example of how all customers should be treated, no matter their needs or financial status. You never know who's going to come into money or refer their wealthier friends. I know the transaction is scripted, but here's someone giving Holly and Paul a story they'll always be able to tell.

Cat. What a great addition to the film. I love that Holly doesn't feel she has the right to name the animal. I also love that at the end, it's Paul who gets out of the cab to go look for Cat. It's a great reminder of some of the important things in life.

What were your impressions of the movie?

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Backing Salmonboy

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

One night, New York City-based experimental filmmaker Star Drooker had a dream about a woman with a birth mark in the middle of her forehead. The next morning, he drove to Vermont, and met Trish Overstreet. Within 24 hours they had decided they would get married, open a vegetarian cafe and performance space, have a child named Jesse, and do a film project surrounding the whole thing.

They traveled the country looking for a place to open the cafe. They narrowed it down to either Portland, Oregon, or Northampton, Massachusetts. After getting stranded nearby in a heavy snowfall, they decided on Northampton.

The plan was to be this: They'd open the cafe, they'd have Jesse, they'd raise him in the cafe for four years, then put together the film.

Well, I think it was John Lennon who wrote, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

They opened Fire & Water, a vegetarian cafe and performance space, in late 1994. Trish was pregnant.

Jesse was born February 4, 1995 with what Star refers to as "a particular heart." They unplugged the machines 19 days later.

But just because he wasn't crawling around Fire & Water, doesn't mean Jesse wasn't a major part of the place. Star and Trish built an altar with photos and toys and stories. Each night after the performances ended, Star would play a song called "Salmonboy" he wrote for Jesse; sometimes it was three minutes long, other times it was longer than an hour.

Time went by. Trish got pregnant again, and Rain Arrow was born. Healthy. And the couple had to make a decision. It had been a really emotional ride for three and a half years. They had a four year lease on the space, and countless friends who helped out, who shared songs and stories and poems and love. Their initial plan was to start the film after four years, and that time was fast approaching.

They decided to re-up for another four years, and raise Rain in the space. He became such a big part of the place that any evening he wasn't there, you could feel the energy that was missing.

In October of 2002, I sat down with Star and Trish and interviewed them for the arts newspaper I was editing. They had reached the end of the next four-year lease, and they made the difficult decision to close up shop. So many people had come through their door over the past eight years. They found love. They found refuge. They found peace. They found an amazing meal and amazing people and an amazing child who one regular described as "another teacher."

In November of that year they closed up shop. On the last night they were open, 80 people showed up (it was a small space, comfortably seating about 30). The tables and chairs were gone. We sat in a ring around the outside, shared songs, shared stories. Rain dozed in a sleeping bag in the corner. Nobody understood how to walk out the door one last time.

Over the next few months, they started filming. They interviewed many of the cafe regulars. And then, while you'd hear something once in a while about Star or Trish or the project, things largely settled down.

But Star was still working on things. He teamed up with a documentary film producer – someone who told stories in a linear fashion to offset his experimental background – and they watched film and cut film and shot film and cut more. Last year, they showed what they had, then went back to the cutting room.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I sat in Star and Trish's new cafe, Cafe Evolution, which has an expanded menu but fewer performances (it's a day-time cafe in a day-time town smaller than Northampton), and watched the 110-minute cut of Salmonboy: A Story of Fire & Water. They're at a point where they are ready to team up with a bigger, more commercial outlet, to do another round of editing and to distribute it.

The film is about Rain, Jesse, Star and Trish, and their roller coaster journey. The cafe is a character in it, but you certainly don't ever have to have walked through the door, never mind have been there three, four or more times a week, as many people were.

Star and PJ, the documentary filmmaker, are doing a Kickstarter project, hoping to raise $19,000 to keep sending the film to festivals and work on that wider distribution. Help them out by donating at their Kickstarter page.

Press Release: E.T. & Jaws double feature at the Palace

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE for Friday November 18th.

What:
BREW & VIEW 35mm Film Series Steven Spielberg double Feature of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial & Jaws
BREW & VIEW 35mm Film series is presented by AmeriCU Credit Union and SIFF

Cost:
$10/ all ages for movies/ 21+ with valid ID for Alcohol

When:
Friday November 18th. Doors open at 6:30pm
7:00pm - ET
9:30pm - JAWS

Synopsis:
E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Trailer

JAWS (1975)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Trailer

Brew & View Muscle Car Night: American Graffiti and The Wraith

Monday, October 11th, 2010

What: "BREW & VIEW" 35mm Film Series presents a 35mm Muscle car double feature of:

AMERICAN GRAFFITI
THE WRAITH

Plus local Syracuse Grindcore band ED GEIN will be hanging out promoting their new album which features a single dedicated to the film THE WRAITH.

When: Sunday November 21st at 7:00 pm.
First movie at 7:30pm
Both movies $10/$8 for students with valid student ID/ all ages/ 21 + with valid ID for alcohol.

Where: The Palace Theater
2384 James Street
Syracuse, NY 13206

Film Synopses:

AMERICAN GRAFFITI: 1973 - George Lucas
Curt and Steve have gotten into a prestigious college, but Curt is having second thoughts on the night before they're going to leave for the school. That night, Curt searches relentlessly for a spellbinding woman in a white T-Bird while Steve tries to patch things up with his girlfriend after suggesting they date other people while he's away. Their two other friends John and Terry also have a wild night, John when he's forced to chauffer a little girl and Terry when he borrows Steve's car and picks up a girl but then has trouble living up to the expectations set by the car. Written by rmlohner

THE WRAITH: 1986
Packard Walsh and his motorized gang control and terrorize an Arizona desert town where they force drivers to drag-race so they can 'win' their vehicles. After Walsh beats the decent teenager Jamie Hankins to death after finding him with his girlfriend, a mysterious power creates Jake Kesey, an extremely cool motor-biker who has a car which is invincible. Jake befriends Jamie's girlfriend Keri Johnson, takes Jamie's sweet brother Bill under his wing and manages what Sheriff Loomis couldn't; eliminate Packard's criminal gang the hard way... Written by KGF Vissers

Press Release: Brew & View presents ‘Survival of the Dead’ and ‘Rec 2′

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

BREW & VIEW 35mm Film Series, CLOUD CITY COMICS & SYR FILM present a one night only 35mm double feature screening of:
"SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD" - George Romero's latest Living Dead installment
"REC 2" - Highly anticipated Spanish Horror sequel of "REC" - (American Re-Make called QUARANTINE)

Both films are in very limited release through MAGNOLIA Pictures and Syracuse is one of a select few cities screening both of these movies as a double feature on 35mm film.

When:

Sunday August 1st 2010
Doors open @ 7pm
7:30pm - SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD
9:30pm - REC 2
35mm Double Feature only $10

Where:

The Palace Theater
2384 James Street
Syracuse, NY 13206
www.palaceonjames.com

Film Synopses:

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD:

Immediately following the events of Diary of the Dead, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD is the 6th film from George A. Romero to look at a world where humans are in the minority and the zombies rule.

Off the coast of Delaware sits the cozy Plum Island where two families are locked in a struggle for power, as it has been for generations. The O'Flynn's, headed by patriarch Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) approach the zombie plague with a shoot-to-kill attitude. The Muldoons, headed by Shamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick), feel that the zombies should be quarantined and kept 'alive,' in hopes that a solution will someday be found.

The O'Flynn's, who are clearly outnumbered, are forced to exile Patrick by boat to the mainland, where he meets up with a band of soldiers, headed by Guardsman Sarge (Alan Van Sprang). They join forces and return to the island, to find that the zombie plague has fully gripped the divided community.

As the battle between humans and zombies escalates, the master filmmaker continues to reinvent the modern horror genre with wicked humor and pointed social commentary.

REC 2:

The highly anticipated sequel to one of the scariest films of all time, [REC] 2 picks up 15 minutes from where we left off, taking us back into the quarantined apartment building where a terrifying virus has run rampant, turning the occupants into mindlessly violent, raging beasts. A heavily armed SWAT team and a mysterious government official are sent in to assess and attempt to neutralize the situation. What they find inside lies beyond the scope of medical science—a demonic nightmare of biblical proportions more terrifying than they could have possibly imagined. Above all it must be contained, before it escapes to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting world outside.

Movie Review: Sex and the City 2 (spoilers)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I was a big fan of the Sex and the City TV series. It was fun, it was women-positive, it was sex-positive, and sometimes, it even dealt with real issues, like cancer, divorce and gay marriage. And while it was serialized, you could pick up in the middle and play along and still have a good time.

I was disappointed in the film when it came out a couple of years ago. It felt like an obligatory cap to the series, what with Big's return at the end of the TV show and all. There was more on-screen sex than necessary, the story was weak, and most of the fun was missing.

I saw the second film over the weekend, and had a good time. It was too long (147 minutes), but the fun was back. It was mostly devoid of plot, and where it tried to get with issues and controversy, the film mostly made a quick statement and got the hell out of Dodge without a debate.

Summary, with Spoilers – stop reading if you don't want to know.

• Stanford and Anthony get married. In Connecticut, of course, since New York is out of the question. In an over-the-top flamboyant wedding. Featuring officiant (wait for it) Liza Minelli, who sticks around to perform Beyonce's "Single Ladies." The dance number was classic Liza, and wonderful. Mr. Big gets hit on (briefly) by a guy and still feels like he "has it." The end.

• Charlotte's nanny Erin has big boobs and no bra. But while she spends a week in Abu Dhabi with the girls worrying about Harry and the nanny, it's all just a big laugh, because Erin prefers "other hot nannies."

• Conservatism in the Middle East. The girls get in a lot of trouble in Abu Dhabi when Samantha is caught kissing a man on the beach. They have to get out of their hotel and go home (the sheik who funded the junket cuts them off for the scandal), and when they return to the market for Carrie's passport (which miraculously is still at the vendor's stand), they find trouble again and are welcomed by fully-covered Muslim women who wear stylish clothing under their burqas. They escape the market in burqas. (This was probably the most poignant four minutes of the movie. It was almost an exploration of an issue.)

• Cheating. Carrie bumps into Aidan in the Middle East and winds up kissing him. And then decides to call Big. Who wanders the city for a day – torn up, he claims – and comes back with a diamond ring as "punishment."

I thought the series did a really good job addressing some frankly interesting issues, and the movie brings them up but glosses over them. Other than that, as I mentioned, it was definitely a fun time – much more fun than the first. And with whatever money Bergdorf Goodman put in for the wedding plug and Abu Dhabi put in for the good press (although the movie was too scandalous to actually shoot there), I'm sure the film was in the black before it hit theaters.

3.5 stars out of 5 – see it, but don't go out of your way.

2010 Shaun Luu Horror Fest

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I got this press release regarding the 2010 Shaun Luu Horror Fest, which will raise money for Golisano Children's Hospital and the Westcott Community Center. Last year, the festival kicked off a successful $10,000 campaign to raise money for a nursing station at Golisano Children's Hospital. Hopefully you'll be able to get out and support the event!

***

The 2010 Shaun Luu Horror Fest will take place Friday, June 11th to  Sunday, June 13th, with all raised funds to benefit the Westcott Community Center and Upstate Medical University and Golisano Children's Hospital.

The 2009 Shaun Luu Horror Fest completed a pledge of $10,000 to Upstate Golisano Children's Hosptial in memory of Shaun Luu.  Shaun died in 2005 at 23 after a long battle with brain cancer.   The horror movie/ music festival raised $5,840, which included a $1,775 contribution from the Palace Theatre, a host of the film festival.  The latter gift represents a portion of the proceeds from the theatre's monthly "Brew & View" 35mm themed film series.

This year’s events kick off at 6:30 pm on June 11th with a six-band bill at the Westcott Community Center, followed by horror films at The Palace Theatre from 12 pm, Saturday, June 12th until 5 am Sunday, June 13th.  The horror fest wraps up with an all-day music fest at Monirae’s starting at 12 pm, followed by an afterparty hosted by the Half Penny Pub in Armory Square at 12 am, June 14th.

The following is a detailed schedule of events:

DAY 1

Friday June 11th @ Westcott Community Center - benefit for Community Center
6pm doors open/ all ages/ $7
6:30pm - music

LIKE WOLVES http://www.myspace.com/likewolves666
MANDATE OF HEAVEN
END OF THE YEAR http://www.myspace.com/endofayear
MISTLETOE http://www.myspace.com/mistletoe315
TIGER FLOWERS http://www.myspace.com/tigerflowersnyc
COWARDS http://www.myspace.com/wearecowards

Westcott Community Center
826 Euclid Avenue
Syracuse - (315) 478-8634

DAY 2 -
THE 2010 SHAUN LUU HORROR FEST:

SATURDAY JUNE 12th
@ The Palace Theatre
2384 James St. Syracuse, NY

All movies on original 35mm film!
All ages matinee, Noon-3:30pm, $8.00
INDIANA JONES AND TEMPLE OF DOOM
THE GATE

Adults 16+, 4:30pm, $20.00
DEATH RACE 2000 (Corman version)
HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER
STREET TRASH (Q & A and FIRST ever Live Commentary over 35mm print with Writer Roy Frumkes)
TORTURE DUNGEON (1970 Andy Milligan film)
EVIL DEAD (Official GRINDHOUSE TOUR DATE)
WEIRD SCIENCE
HALLOWEEN 3 SEASON OF THE WITCH
ALIENS DEADLY SPAWN

Planning to come to all 10 movies? Get in for just $20!

This is a tentative. Films may run ahead or behind schedule. Use this as a general guide.

NOON - 2pm : INDIANA JONES TEMPLE OF DOOM
2:00-3:30pm : THE GATE
3:30pm - 4:15pm : DINNER BREAK
4:30 - 7:30pm : DEATH RACE 2000 (1975)/ HENRY PORTRAIT OF SERIAL KILLER (1986)
7:30pm - 7:45pm : Break
7:45pm - 10:00pm : STREET TRASH/ TORTURE DUNGEON (1970)
10:00pm - 10:15pm : Break
10:15 - ? : EVIL DEAD, WEIRD SCIENCE, HALLOWEEN 3, DEADLY SPAWN

DAY THREE
Sunday June 13th - 100% benefit towards Golisano Childrens Hospital and Upstate Medical Center
@ MONIRAE'S
688 County Route 10
Pennellville, NY 13132-3314
(315) 668-1248

( 16 BANDS ONLY $10)
Doors open at noon/ all ages w/ re-entry
first band 12:30pm. Show goes down at 11:30pm
Band line up from headliner to opener

ANOTHER BREATH http://www.myspace.com/anotherbreath
GHOSTxSHIP http://www.myspace.com/ghostxship315
THIS IS HELL http://www.myspace.com/thisishell
ARCHITECT http://www.myspace.com/architectkills
RINGWORM http://www.myspace.com/ringworm13
FREYA http://www.myspace.com/freya
THE LAST SEASON http://www.myspace.com/thelastseason
WALK THE LINE http://www.myspace.com/walktheline315
IRON RAIN http://www.myspace.com/ironrainchicago
ROSETTA http://www.myspace.com/rosetta
EAST OF THE WALL http://www.myspace.com/eastofthewall
FOUND DEAD HANGING http://www.myspace.com/founddeadhangingBTG
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE http://www.mediafire.com/?iwneiyon4kz
EBONY SORROW http://www.myspace.com/ebonysorrow
LUCERTOLA http://www.myspace.com/lucertoladoom

STRONG WILLED http://www.myspace.com/strongwilledxxx

POST SHOW AT HALF PENNY PUB SUNDAY NIGHT
Sunday Night MIDNIGHT- 2am Post Party @ The Half Penny Pub - 21 and over FREE SHOW )
ADELPHIA http://www.myspace.com/musicbyadelphia
Mayflower http://www.myspace.com/mayflower
Night Owls

The Half Penny Pub
321 West Fayette Street
Syracuse, NY 13202-1201
(315) 478-3091

Saturday Night Fever

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

I finally saw Saturday Night Fever, and was surprised to find that while the music and dancing certainly played a central role in the film, the movie was so much more about class, race, religion and sex in the 1970s than it was about the music.

For a movie to take on rape, abortion, quitting the priesthood, suicide, gang wars and racism the way this film did would still be a bold move. Frank, with whom I saw it as part of a double feature (the first film was Pulp Fiction), said he thought a movie couldn't do something like that today.

After having a couple of days to think about it, I don't entirely agree. I think a movie wouldn't do something like that today, unless it was going to tackle them in the past, the way A Bronx Tale did. Frankly, I think the major studios are chickenshit.

If you haven't seen Saturday Night Fever, or if you haven't seen it with an eye toward the political context, do so.

Movie Review: Star Trek

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009


I've never heard of these guys before, but that's a pretty cool review.

Yeah, I saw the new Star Trek movie on opening weekend. So?

I was never what you'd call a fan. I enjoyed reruns on TV of the original series (which, famous as it was, only ran from 1966-1969), hated the following series. I never saw the original movies.

What I enjoyed most were William Shatner's over-acting (I'm also a Bruce Campbell fan), and the cheesy effects.

JJ Abram's prequel had neither – he definitely would not have gotten away with skimping on the effects, and rather than over-acting, they made Chris Pine's Kirk a jackass (a role which Pine handled well).

Zachary Quinto (of "Heroes" fame) plays a fantastic Spock, and Leonard Nimoy reprises his role as (a much older) Spock to perfection.

I went with a fan of the original series and movies, so it was good to be able to get his perspective. His favorite parts were seeing how Captain-cum-Admiral Pike wound up in a wheelchair, as he was shown in the TV series, and the interplay between Pine and Quinto, since the Shatner-Nimoy on-screen rapport was so important in the original (the video above describes it as the first bromance.

What I enjoyed were the political commentary (Pike was waterboarded) and the hot chicks with douchebags F-U that had Spock and Uhura as an item, rather than Kirk getting the girls.

See it? Definitely. It's fun, and it totally didn't feel like it was two hours long.

Movie review: Choke (semi-spoilers)

Monday, September 29th, 2008

]

We saw Choke on Saturday. This was the book that got me hooked on Chuck Palahniuk.

David Fincher did such an awesome job with Fight Club, though the box office draw for it was low. So Clark Gregg had quite a challenge ahead of him: do artistic justice to a really good, but really tough, book, and still put some butts in seats.

For opening weekend, it was only on one screen in town. We went to a 4:25 showing, and the 67-seat theater was almost full.

Gregg's version is very commercially viable. It's short (run time is around 90 minutes), and he managed to get an R rating on it (the book is very NC-17).

He didn't have an easy time of it, but he did.

I clearly am not alone in thinking it was an OK interpretation.

Palahniuk fans are, admittedly, a hard bunch to please.

I went with someone who had not read the book, and the only Palahniuk she was familiar with was Survivor, which looked like it was going to be optioned as a film, but, well, 9/11 happened, so no more airplanes crashing on purpose for a while.

She was very conflicted about the movie, on a "I really shouldn't like this, but I kinda do" level.

I enjoyed it on a "this is entertainment, and I'm glad I spent an hour and a half in a theater watching it" level (especially with the dinner that followed).

But, yeah, it was an OK interpretation. Victor bottoms out in a much different place, and the intricacies of the choking scam aren't fully revealed. For me, that was really the brilliant part of the character – that he's got a really good ledger system for it, despite the fact that he's a royal screw-up in most other parts of his life.

Anyway, see it. If you enjoy movies, see it for the diversion. If you enjoy Palahniuk for the art of Palahniuk, see it because if you want more of his books to be optioned, this needs to do well.