alternative press serving the lower columbia pacific region

MOVIES

MOVIES & MUSINGS

Skyfall (Nov. 9)

The 23rd entry in the longest-running film series ever returns after a longer than usual four year break (twice the normal gap) after MGM’s financial insolvency. After the poorly-received Quantum of Solace, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson took the unusual step of hiring theater-turned-film director Sam Mendes to helm Bond 23. Mendes had spectacular success with his Academy Award-winning first film American Beauty (1999), then nothing of note since. In writing the script Mendes has said he was influence by The Dark Knight, with equal emphasis on character and action. Apparently, the Bond producers made the right choice as buzz is running extremely high on Skyfall – some call it the best Bond movie ever. Skyfall continues the series reboot with several traditional Bond characters reintroduced, including a young Q (Ben Whishaw) a new M and a surprise new/old character. After a hard drive containing the names of NATO undercover agents in terrorist organizations is stolen, Bond pursues the thief to Shanghai, but not before several agents are killed and MI6 attacked. Bond kills the thief and discovers he is working for Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent now seeking revenge against M, herself under pressure from rival Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) to retire. Bond captures Silva, but he escapes and attacks M. To protect M and lay a trap for the pursuing Silva and his men, Bond takes her to his family estate in Scotland, Skyfall.

Lincoln (Nov. 16)

It’s the middle of awards season and Steven Spielberg has produced a likely Best Picture nominee with his portrait of the last months in the life of Abraham Lincoln. Although titled after the president, this is really a political drama about the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery. While slices of horrific Civil War battles are shown, the real battleground is the floor of Congress where debate rages about the controversial amendment which has splintered the Republican Party with uncompromising abolitionists like Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) for it and others who want to end the war but not slavery against it. Lincoln’s mission though, is threefold: to end the
war, end slavery and bring a divided nation together. To accomplish
this, Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) must use every bit of his powers of
persuasion, compromise and oratory along with the willingness to get
down and dirty if necessary. Against the backdrop of a nation in crisis,
is also the personal portrait of the man and his family – the first
lady Mary (Sally Field) and sons Robert (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) and Tad
(Gulliver McGrath). Holding it all together is Day-Lewis, whose
performance is already being touted as an Oscar winner.

Life of Pi (Nov. 21)

Another
probable Oscar nominee arrives with Ang Lee’s film version of the
impossible to adapt bestseller by Yann Martel. A
fantasy/allegory/adventure for all ages, movie tells the story of Pi
Patel, an Indian boy who spends 227 days adrift on a raft with a live
tiger. As an adult Pi recounts his incredible story to a writer, we’re
introduced to the 5-year-old Piscine who lives in the lush, almost
enchanted-looking Pondicherry, India. Pi’s father and mother run a zoo.
Pi himself is a curious, mischievous child who is also deeply interested
in God. In no time, Piscine shortens his name to Pi and becomes a
Hindu, Christian and Muslim. However, as a teenager, Pi’s idyllic
existence changes when his parents decide to sell their zoo and move to
Canada. Pi and his family board a freighter with the few remaining
animals, but in no time the ship capsizes in a storm. Pi is the lone
human survivor in a lifeboat, but he soon finds he has company – a few
animals have made it onboard, including a 450 lb. Bengal tiger named
Richard Parker. Soon, due to the law of the jungle, there’s only Parker.
Thus begins Pi’s ordeal where he must battle elements and dwindling
food and water supplies while building a raft to separate him from
Parker, who starts out as a savage beast but transforms over months into
a curious interspecies friendship. Tobey Maguire originally played the
writer that adult Pi tells his story to, but his scenes were cut after
Lee decided he had become too famous and was distracting in the part.

Silver Linings Playbook (Nov. 21)

With
a successful venture into blue collar drama with 2010’s The Fighter,
director David O’Russell returns to more familiar territory with his
offbeat depression comedy Silver Linings Playbook, based on the Mathew
Quick bestseller. Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released from a mental
hospital where he’s spent 8 months for a violent episode caused by his
bipolar disorder. In the meantime his wife Nikki leaves him. He moves
back in with his parents, Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro) and Dolores (Jacki
Weaver) who do their best to help him readjust. But Pat resists, not
taking his meds and working out like to maniac in an effort to woo back
Nikki, while working his way through a batch of literary classics that
Nikki recommended. But he dismisses the stories as depressing. Pat
believes in silver linings, possibilities – “Excelsior!” is his favorite
motto. Pat Sr., a fanatical Eagles fan, tries to woo Pat back to
normality by focusing him on pro football. But Pat’s disorder reasserts
itself in hilarious, inappropriate verbal and physical outbursts. While
running one day, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a self-described
“crazy slut with a dead husband” who is just as depressed as Pat is.
They bond in unusual ways, such as comparing which meds they take.
Tiffany, who has a dance studio in her apartment, starts working with
Pat as a dance partner to rehabilitate him which works too well – their
big performance conflicts with a crucial Eagles game his dad
and brothers insist he attend. Chris Tucker makes a rare non-Rush Hour
performance as Pat’s buddy from the mental hospital. Variety said Pat
was one of Bradley Cooper’s best roles yet, funny and soulful.

Hitchcock (Nov. 23)

Anthony
Hopkins stars as legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock in this peek
inside the making of his classic Psycho and also his unique partnership
with his little-know wife, Alma (Helen Mirren). Movie picks up with
Hitchcock restless and bored. Although coming off a massive success with
North By Northwest, he feels trapped by his success with studios only
interested in Hitchcock-type thrillers. In addition, he’s 60 and
terribly overweight. Then he chances on Robert Block’s book Psycho,
based on the true story of serial killer Ed Gein and filled with
“graphic elements of brutal violence, voyeurism, transvestitism and
incest.”

Hitchcock
is attracted. In it he sees a way of breaking free from thrillers and
truly shocking the film establishment. “What if someone really good made
a horror picture?” he muses. But no studio will touch it and Hitchcock
takes a tremendous personal gamble and mortgages his house. It the movie
flops, the Hitchcocks lose the house. In the meantime, Alma who is
basically his filmmaking partner has gotten restless after decades of
her contributions being unacknowledged and has started a nearromance
with dashing screenwriter Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), putting Hitch’s
marriage in jeopardy as well. Hitchock is basically a lighter look at
one of the darkest pictures the master of suspense ever made, battling
censors and expectations all the way to completing his classic.


Movies & Musings


Argo (Oct. 12)

Ben Affleck continues his successful directing career with Argo, a ripped-from-the-headlines account of the Iran hostage crisis with a Hollywood twist. In 1979, after Iranian militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and take 52 Americans hostage, six diplomats manage to evade capture and hide in the Canadian Embassy. CIA exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Affleck) gets the call to create an operation to remove the six Americans from Iran. Mendez has the reputation of never leaving anyone behind, but this is his biggest challenge yet – lives are at stake in the midst of a revolutionary hostile country. To this end, Mendez concocts a plan to pose as a film producer scouting locations for a film to be shot in Tehran. The six are to be smuggled out as part of the film crew.

Like a film producer, Mendez has to sell the idea to a roomful of skeptical State Department officials. Devoid of options, Mendez’s “best bad idea” wins out. Mendez goes all the way with the idea, enlisting Hollywood producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and makeup pro John Chambers (John Goodman) to form a fake production company for a fake scifi film Argo. Tension ratchets once the team lands in Iran and a game of cat and mouse ensues with Iranian intelligence. With the net closing on them, Mendez is given 72 hours by his superiors to get the hostages out.

Seven Psychopaths (Oct. 12)

Irish playwright Martin McDonagh made a splash with his debut feature film, the violent dark comedy In Bruge, about a pair of hitmen hiding out in Belgium. He returns with the Quentin Tarantino-esque Seven Psychopaths. Colin Farell stars as Marty, a blocked screenwriter who drinks too much while trying to write a screenplay titled Seven Psychopaths. Marty’s best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) an actor with too much time on his hands comes to the rescue with the inane idea to put out an ad for psychopaths. They get one response – Zachariah (Tom Waits) a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. Soon, Marty is pulled into another of Billy’s schemes which he and his odd friend Hans (Christopher Walken) have dreamed up – dognapping. After kidnapping a dog, they wait for a reward to be posted, then show up with the dog. Things go awry when they steal a Shih Tzu that belongs to dog-loving psychopathic mobster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), who sends his goons out to retrieve his Shih Tzu and inflict serious bodily harm on the culprits. Plot is basically an excuse for McDonagh to spin his delicious, threatening but funny dialogue and violent fantasy sequences that play out in the minds of the not-all-there characters. Gabourey Sideibe and Harry Dean Stanton make appearances.

Sinister (Oct. 12)

Director Scott Derrickson had a surprise hit with 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Now he returns with Sinister, a wellreviewed horror film. Ethan Hawke stars as true crime writer Ellison Oswald, who’s career has nosedived since his first hit book ten years previous. Looking for a hit, Oswald learns of a shocking family murder in a small town. Determined to solve the mystery, Oswald, who’s previously moved his family close to murder sites for his research, goes even further and buys the murdered family’s house and moves his family in without telling them. While his wife and two kids adjust to the new surroundings, Ellison finds a box in the attic containing 8mm films. One night he projects them for himself and discovers the home movies depict gruesome murders of families taken by the killer. As Ellison investigates, he learns that the families were connected in some way and that a white-faced figure can be glimpsed in all the films, leaving a distinctive mark on the scene. After consulting an occult specialist (Vincent D’Onofrio), he learns that the mark is that of the demon Bagul, an “eater of children,” and that his investigation has put his entire family in jeopardy.

Flight (Nov. 2)

In director Robert Zemecki’s first live action film since Cast Away (2000) Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whittaker, veteran airline pilot. Nothing phases Whip in the air. Even as a routine flight from Houston to Tulsa turns deadly when a mechanical failure puts the plane in an uncontrollable position, Whip manages to crash land the plane, losing only eight passengers out of a 102. Whip survives. Recovering in the hospital Whip bonds over cigarettes with Nicole (Kelly Reilly), a drug addict. But while lauded as a hero for saving the plane in an impossible postion, Whip hides a deadly secret: he is a substance abuser and was drunk when flying the plane. When the NTSB crash investigation ensues, the stakes are high as his friend Charlie (Bruce Greenwood), the head of the pilots’ union, informs him. Responsibility for the crash and the 8 deaths will cause the airline and pilots’ union to try to prove manufacturer error — “The plane fell apart at 30,000 feet,” Whip says – while the manufacturer will try to prove pilot error. Enter Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), a slick criminal negligence lawyer retained for Whip who informs him that the toxicology report on him when brought to the hospital indicated he was drunk and stoned on cocaine – federal offenses that could put him behind bars for life. Is Whip a hero for saving the plane or a villain for flying impaired? Whip turns to Nicole to help him fight his substance abuse while under tremendous pressure, which usually drives him to drink. Washington could very well pick up an Oscar nomination for this role.


Out of the Closet With Female Rapper JenRo

Jen Ro’s video CLOSET opens the film weekend Friday, Oct. 5

JenRo is an out, proud female rapper.

If that sounds like that might be unusual and downright tough in the rough and tumble world of the rap music business, it is. But don’t tell her that. JenRo is just doing what comes naturally, making music, something she has done her entire life.

JenRO’s first time rapping on stage was at the age of 10 years old. She’s never stopped.

Today, JenRO has released four independent albums under her own successful indie label RO Records. She has toured numerous cities across the country with a dedicated and growing fan base that follow her every beat. Her music videos have been featured on the lgbt-focused network, LOGO, along with a documentary she is featured in, “Pick up the Mic.”

But The Astoria Queer Film Weekend will be one of the only places to see her new music video, “Closet.” The music video details the struggles JenRo faced after she came out as a lesbian and what many might see as a very young age. HipFish spoke to JenRo about her latest project and here is what she had to say:

JenRo, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised on the West Coast in the Bay Area of California.

When did you come out?
When I was 13, in 7th grade. Pretty damn young, but I was proud and it made me who I am.

When did you get involved with music?
I grew up around music all my life. My dad was a DJ and my older sister is a musician. I started playing drums for jazz band in 6th grade until high school. Got my first beat machine when i was 15 and been writing music at young age. I’ve been involved in music dam near all my life.

Did you ever get bullied as a kid?
I never really got bullied, but I was more like the bully. I had a lot of anger when I was young and just wanted to punk everyone, including the boys. It was fun to me back then, but I look back and found better ways to take out aggression,

Do you find it difficult to be a queer musician?
Not really, because I accept myself for whom I am. That’s where it has to start: within yourself. God gave me this gift to share with the world.

Why did you make “Closet”?
I made it to share with everyone my experience on coming out and to let people out there who haven’t came out, that they are not alone.

How personal is this music video to you?
Closet is very personal; coming out is a big deal when you’re young and finding yourself. So I wrote this with my heart and people have told me that I have changed their life.

What are your hopes for “Closet”?
I want it to influence those who may feel alone in this world. I want them to know that I went through a similar situation growing up.

Would you like to make more films/videos that deal with subject matter such as bullying?
Most definitely. I have done some other bullying PSA with youth and plan to do more,

What is the message that you would like young kids to learn from your video?
Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Don’t be afraid to be different and learn to love yourself no matter what.


In The Garden With The Marble Faun

Filmmakers Jason Hay and Steve Pelizza (left to right) at the Maysles Brother’s Theater in NYC.

The Astoria Queer Film Weekend will be the West Coast premiere of The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens.

There are very few documentary films as worshiped (especially by gay men) and analyzed (specifically by film buffs and critics) as the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens.

This is the true story of two very quirky and reclusive socialites/hoarders (much like Astoria’s own Flavel family) who also just so happened to be relatives of a First Lady named “Jackie.” The lives of the these two “Edies,” as told by acclaimed documentary filmmakers David and Albert Maysles, have gone on to influence film, fashion and pop culture. Everyone from photographer Bruce Weber to director Gus Van Sant have found inspiration in this film. An instant art house classic The Beales; story has been adapted for the stage and as an Emmy-award winning feature for television.

This seminal documentary may focus on the story of a quirky mother and daughter, but within that tall tale, filmmaker Jason Hay was intrigued by another person in that “cast,” a particular character who he believed might be worthy of a documentary film of his own: Jerry Torre, aka “The Marble Faun.”

“I had come to the end of my personal research of Grey Gardens, and it stood out that there was this really missing story about Jerry,” says Hay, who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. “Not much was known about his life before or after. With very few living links to Grey Gardens, I wanted to help fill in more of the story. What we found was that the original documentary wasn’t even the most amazing part of his life, and the film grew and developed from there.”

Torre, a native New Yorker born and raised in Brooklyn, was given the nickname “The Marble Faun” by Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale. He is now a New York-based sculptor and spends his time pursuing his lifelong ambition, carving stone at the Art Students of League of New York.

“Not only does Jerry have a phenomenal story to tell, but he is also an enthralling raconteur,” says Hay. “His story unfolds as a classic American tale. A compromising childhood, then a dash for freedom leading him indirectly to Grey Gardens, a formative event in his life. Later awakening to his sexuality in the 1970′s in New York City, going on to travel in Europe and the Middle East under unique circumstances, and sadly falling into some of the darker passions in life. Eventually pulling himself up and dusting himself off, he decides to heed a lifelong call to carve stone and discovers his love for the craft. Jerry Torre’s sculptures help free him, and he fully develops into the beloved individual he is today.”

So how did Hay initially track down The Marble Faun?

“After researching where to find Jerry, I connected with him through email and he then reached out by phone,” says Hay. “We met up in New York to discuss the project I had in mind. Shortly after, I met up with a long-time friend, Steve Pelizza, and we started working on the film together.”

The real two Edies and Jerry Torre the “Marble Faun.”

Filming of “The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens” first stared in 2009. Both Pelizza and Hay were living in New York City at the time and shooting as much as possible. “It is 100-percent natural with no second takes. The cinema verite style is as much of a tribute to the original documentary by the Maysles, as it is a story about Jerry. Since this was our first film, everyone, including Jerry, was really involved with every aspect.”

This includes filling in the blanks left out in the original documentary.

Says Hay: “The nature of Jerry’s stories at first was Grey Gardens focused. As we went on, he got comfortable that we were telling his whole story and topics got a lot more personal. He was very forthcoming about being a runaway child, his troubles with addictions, and medical concerns. Very little was left out.”

According to Hay, from a cinematic standpoint, Pelizza developed a slow and methodical way of dealing with the camera and Jerry as a subject. This method worked well for both the subject and the filmmakers.

“It lends well to what we encountered; Jerry, the mansion, the stonework. Taking a careful, close look at Jerry’s many facets, the viewer is invited to explore all of these stories, instead of being overwhelmed by the whole picture at once” says Hay. “We shot 30 hours of film over the course of a year. There were a lot of sculptures completed and filmed during the time. We could do a whole documentary about his 300-pound marble sculptures.”

After returning to Oregon from the Maysles Institute, in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, where they first premiered this film, Hay and Aggregate Pictures’ main focus is getting through the final stages of production.

“This story is far from being just about Grey Gardens. Jerry’s story encompasses many personal issues of social relevance, making him very identifiable. It also makes for an engrossing film. To that end, we are getting it seen at festivals, such as the one in Astoria, which will be the West Coast premier,” says Hay. “The final goal being theatre and DVD releases.”

And did Torres get under their skin, much like the Beales did for the Maysles brothers?

“Jerry impacted both Steve’s and my life incredibly,” says Hayes. “We formed a life long friendship, working together for 3 years. During the whole process, we knew that we were making a friend as well as a movie.”


QFOLK/HIPFiSH PROUDLY PRESENTS Q-FILM WEEKEND – Astoria Oct. 5-6 @ KALA

ASTORIA Q-FILM WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Q-FILM HIGHLIGHTS

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AT BROWN PAPER TICKETS

In the Garden With The Marble Faun

Out of the Closet With Female Rapper JenRo

Q-Film Dance Celebration and Cocktail Party

QFOLK/HIPFiSHmonthly proudly presents “Astoria Q-Film Weekend,” Friday and Saturday, October 5 – 6 at KALA Performance Space. The first time event features three separate screenings, (Friday night, a Saturday matinee and Saturday night), including two short features and a selection of short films. Event programmer Sid Deluca, in collaboration with the South Texas Underground Film Festival (LGBT programming) has assembled a wide spectrum of works; from documentary to drama, comedy, music video and even science fiction, all from the queer perspective and experience. Low-budget D.I.Y. to big studio quality, the program also includes two west coast premiers.

Deluca, a recent transplant to Astoria, coincidently screened his own short film Poison Oaks last October 2011 at the Big Fat Gay Movie Night at the Columbian Theater.

Poison Oaks is a comic, B&W homage (mockumentary) to the original 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens (directed by filmmakers The Maysle Brothers — Gimme Shelter, Salesman), which chronicled the declining years of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter “Little Edie,” who were the wildly eccentric paternal aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. In 2009, HBO aired the film Grey Gardens on the life of the Beale women starring Drew Barymore and Jessica Lange.

Now back to one of QFILM Weekend’s exciting west coast premiers, The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens Filmmakers. Jason Hay and Steve Pelizza are presenting their doucumentary based on the life of Jerry Torre, who at the time of the original Grey Gardens film, was a 17 year old gardener/handyman on the Beale’s East Hampton, condemned and crumbling estate. Torre became an accidental celebrity, who then disappeared from the public eye. Filmmaker Jason Hay took interest in Jerry’s story with the result, his new documentary. (see the accompanying feature for the rest of the story)

It was Jerry Torre that connected Sid Deluca with the Portland-based Jason Hay after seeing and loving Deluca’s Poison Oaks. This past June, “Marble Faun” debuted in NYC at The Maysle Brothers theater – and now makes its west coast premier right here in Astoria.

Equal parts the genesis of Astoria Q-Film Weekend, is Deluca’s association with South Texas Underground Film Festival and its programmer Mariella Sonam-Perez. Deluca’s film won two awards at the South Texas 2011 festival; Spirit of The Underground and Original Soundtrack, and will screen again at the 2012 festival. Deluca turned to Sonan-Perez for her participation in the development of a film screening event in Astoria, after being impressed by the diversity of her programming in the LGBT arena. Sonan-Perez was excited to help plant seeds for a future festival, beginning with the concept of Q-Film Weekend. While films have been selectively chosen to represent a broad spectrum of topic and style, Q-Film Weekend is in the spirit of a film festival — it did not do a submissions call, but worked directly with the South Texas Festival and various film and video makers directly. A multi-venue LGBT film festival, supported by a filmmaker submission call is a future vision.

“I didn’t know just how open and arts-loving this town was until I moved here, and my film was shown at Big Fat Gay Movie Night at the Columbian Theater. It was a pleasant surprise and it made me realize how an event like Q-Film would certainly be a success. We’ve got great films, we’ve got a great venue, we’ve got a great town. I hope that this intimate-style mini-film fest will be an exciting new event that offers film as a socially aware medium as well as entertainment,” says Deluca.

Although the seating for each screening is limited, we look forward to this opportunity to present an LGBTQ film event of this caliber. The schedule of films offers a diverse look at the many issues facing the lives of LGBTQ peoples. We welcome all film lovers with respect and dignity. Get your tickets folks.

Q-FILM HIGHLIGHTS

Amongst the current 12 films slated (also with a TBA list in progress), on the schedule is yet another west coast premier, SALTWATER, the Friday night short feature which explores the issue of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” in the life of a former Navyman, in addition to his personal challenges of coming out. The film also marks the acting debut of openly gay Australian rugby star, Ian Roberts.

  • Poignant short film, EMBRACING BUTTERFLIES from the Czech Republic, reunites two older women on a chance meeting, and rekindles childhood memories of a crush between them, and a possible future love affair.
  • Bollywood love story, YOU CAN’T CURRY LOVE, lushly filmed in Indian and co-starring Indian soap star Rakshak Sahni who finds surprising love on a business trip back to his homeland.
  • And jumping right off the screen, is Oakland, CA rap star Jen Ro, with her music-driven biographical coming out film, called CLOSET. Portland Queer Band Mattachine Social, who played earlier this year at KALA, filmed a music video in Astoria, featuring the pre-boarded Flavel House.

Friday and Saturday nights present Film Shorts and one 80 minute feature oer night. The 4pm Saturday matinee features all Film Shorts. Each screening presents new films. Please see page 13 for ticket buying info. Film goers can purchase all three screenings for a discount. Each screening event is $15. All three screening events is $40.

The Film Viewing Experience at KALA

HIPFiSHmonthly Performance Space, KALA, hosts the event. The refurbished vintage storefront will be fully curtained for optimal viewing, is equipped with professional sound and light, features cabaret table seating, cocktail specials, beer and wine, and complimentary movie snacks.

Seating is limited to 40 seats per screening. Due to the limited seating, tickets must be purchased in advance, online at Brown Paper Tickets. www.brownpapertickets.com If access to online purchase is not available please call HIPFiSHmonthly to arrange for ticket purchase. 503.338.4878.


Q-FILM WEEKEND SCHEDULE

• Friday, October 5, 2012
Film Shorts and Feature Short
West Coast Premier
7:30pm – 9:30pm
doors open 7pm

Closet
Oakland, CA rapper Jen Ro explores her own early coming out in this emotionally charged music video. 4 Minutes.

I Need A Hero
Director – W.H. Bourne (Los Angeles, CA/New Orleans, LA)

Starting with the infamous quote by then Marvel Editor in Chief Jim Shooter, “There are no gays in the Marvel Universe”, I Need a Hero briefly follows the progress of LGBT representation in comics from Northstar coming out in the late 80’s, to Archie comics Kevin Keller, to Bunker in the New Teen Titans. It also takes a look at independent comics written by LGBT creators as well as the characters they create. Finally, the film explores the effects of LGBT characters on fans. 15 Minutes

Femmes Want Revolution
Directors: Simone and Haley Jude, San Francisco, CA.

A glittery, revolutionary romp. 4 Minutes

Polly, Jennifer, and Melissa
Director – Diego Ramirez (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia/Mexico)

An androgyne by the name of Polly recalls an episode of post coital anxiety while Jennifer confesses to a disquieting priest, and Melissa poses flirtatiously for the viewer. Mixing Sci-Fi, Queer and Horror- POLLY, JENNIFER AND MELISSA is a provocative performance-based video challenging gender roles and identity politics. 5 minutes

• 30 Minute BREAK – Complimentary Movie Snacks and No-Host libations

SALTWATER
(West Coast Premier)
Directed by Charlie Vaughn, Los Angeles, CA

This American Indie drama follows several endearing characters as they wade through life seeking happiness, peace and ultimately, love. Will (Ronnie Kerr, Vampire Boys 2, Shut Up and Kiss Me) leaves the Navy after many years, soon reunites old friends and begins to start his new civilian life. His friend Rich (Bruce L Hart) tries to set him up with ruggedly handsome Josh (Ian Roberts-a former Australian professional rugby player, actor and model-Cedar Boys, Superman Returns, Little Fish). While there is immense chemistry between the two, timing and certain ideals never seem to align. When a shocking tragedy happens the two are paired up to pick up the pieces and sort through the after effects. Saltwater is a story about men of all ages, finding love, losing friends, navigating their way through life and knowing it’s the journey rather then the destination that’s important. 81 Minutes

• Saturday October 6, 2012
FILM Shorts Late Matinee
4pm – 6pm
doors open 3:30pm

CLOSE
Mattachine Social- Portland, OR

Music Video shot in Astoria featuring drag star Tammy Whynot. 3 Minutes

AMERICA’S MOST UNWANTED
Director- Shani Heckman, San Francisco, CA

A moving and provocative video project focusing on LGBT foster youth who have emancipated and what their lives look like today. 23 Minutes.

Surprise Short TBA.

YOU CAN’T CURRY LOVE
Directed by REID WATERER, Los Angeles, Ca.

Westernized guy Vikas has been obsessing about his straight boss Thom for years, much to best friend Amrita’s displeasure. But when a business trip sends Vikas to New Delhi and he meets handsome Sunil, the desk clerk at his luxury hotel there, everything changes for him. Amazed by Sunil’s sweetness and India’s beauty, his initial disgust at the transfer turns into a love affair with both. When a return to London and his boss inevitably arrives, Vikas must make the most painful decision of his life. A crowd-pleasing, east-meets-west, boy-meets-boy love story… with a Bollywood twist! 23 Minutes

15 minute break – Complimentary Snacks and No-Host Libations.

POISON OAKS
Directed by Sid Deluca, Astoria, OR

Shot with a $200 budget, this DIY “mockumentary” pays tribute to Grey Gardens with nods to John Waters and Andy Warhol. 27 Minutes followed by a Q&A with Director

• Saturday, October 5, 2012
Film Shorts and Feature Short
West Coast Premier
7:30 pm– 9:30pm
doors open 7pm

Embracing Butterflies
Karen Davidsen, Czech Republic.

Louise has lived her whole life in self-denial. An ordinary-seeming day takes an unexpected turn when she meets Anna, whom she went to school with as a young girl. Going down memory lane and the symbolic appearance of two girls brings up hidden emotions, insight and the thought that it’s never too late to embrace your butterflies. 8 Minutes

Daddy’s Big Girl
Directed – Reid Waterer(Los Angeles, CA)

Overweight and uninspired Millie attempts to finally reconcile with her father, but his half-dressed male companions keep getting in the way. 17 Minutes

Welcome To New York
Directed and written by Steven Tylor O’Connor- Los Angeles, CA

A comedy short film based on story by Sean David. It starring Sherry Vine, Sean Paul Lockhart, Lauren Ordair, Ashleigh Murray, Megan Kane, Matthew Watson with Casper Andreas, Trey Gerrald, Shacottha and Steven Tylor O’Connor. Welcome to New York is based on the stories of young New Yorkers, both gay and straight, and their first time experiences in New York City. 30 Minutes

• 30 minute BREAK – Complimentary Movie Snacks and No-Host Libations

The Marble Faun of Grey Gardens (West Coast Premiere)
Jason Hay (Portland, OR) and Steve Pelizza (New York, NY)

Jerry Torre is a sculptor at the Art Students League in New York City. He is best known for his appearance in the original 1975 Maysles Brothers documentary Grey Gardens. He was referred to by Little Edie Beale as “The Marble Faun.” The unique and colorful life of Jerry Torre. Join Jerry as he recounts tales from his troubled childhood, his escape to Grey Gardens, his travels overseas and learn more about this earnest man’s tumultuous life. Jerry has overcome much adversity in his life and his story is an inspiration to many who have suffered the same trials and tribulations. 80 Minutes Followed by a Q & A with Jason Hay


Q-Film Dance Celebration and Cocktail Party on Saturday, October 6, following the last screening-closing the weekend. Complimentery to ticket holders. $5 for non-ticket holders.

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AT BROWN PAPER TICKETS

Astoria Q-Film Tickets must be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets. This is great service based in Seattle, WA that makes selling and reserving tickets in advance easy for small event promotors as well as large events. It is a socially-responsible company that donates a percentage of sales to charitble organizations, and charges a small service charge of .99 cents plus 3.5% of the ticket fee to the buyer.

Just go to www.brownpapertickets.com and search Astoria Q-Film Weekend and purcahse tickets for each date of show or “season pass” if you would like to attend all three screenings at $40.00 Tickets will be on a will-call list, and you also have the option of printing the ticket at home. NOTE: If you do not have access to online purchase please call HIPFiSHmonthly to purchase your ticket. 503.338.4878


FLASHCUTS PREDICTS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: 2012 Academy Awards Rundown

The 84th Annual Academy Awards return Sunday, February 26.  Here are the Hipfish major award predictions.

BEST PICTURE   Unlike the past couple of years where there was a clear frontrunner, this year’s field is more open, with several contenders for the big prize out of nine nominees.  Top contenders:
The Artist  The French black-and-white silent film is a salute to the early days of Hollywood.  Jean Dujardin stars as the arrogant matinee idol George Valentin, dashing leading man of the silent era, at the peak of his fame.  Berenice Bejo plays Peppy Miller, struggling actress.  After meeting on one of Valentin’s films, the two fall in love, but the rise of sound pictures destroys Valentin’s career while Peppy becomes an overnight sensation.  Now a has-been, reduced to selling off his belongings, Valentin becomes morose, while Peppy tries behind the scenes to save Valentin and somehow revive his career.
The Descendants  After a seven year absence director Alexander Payne (Sideways) returns with his dramedy about a family faced with a life-changing crisis. George Clooney stars as Mathew King, a middle-aged Hawaiian lawyer whose world has suddenly collapsed.  His wife lies in a coma from a boating accident. Suddenly cast into the unfamiliar role of primary parent, King realizes he has two out-of-control daughters and a wife he didn’t really know.
Movies with the most number of nominations have gone on to win 15 out of the last 21 Best Picture Oscars.  Hugo leads this year’s list with 11 followed by The Artist with 10, but the many nominations seem more about the parts of the movie than the whole.  The Help is the highest-grossing nominated pic, and three of the cast have been nominated but the pic itself doesn’t seem as well regarded as the actors.  Safest bet – The Artist, although some have pointed out that no film about Hollywood has won Best Picture.
Pick:  The Artist
Other nominees:   Hugo / Moneyball / Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close / The Help / Midnight in Paris / War Horse / The Tree of Life

BEST DIRECTOR  Film is thought of as a directors’ medium so generally this Oscar goes to the helmer of the Best Picture unless a superstar director is in the field as in 1998 when Shakespeare In Love won Best Picture but Steven Spielberg picked up the directing prize for Saving Private Ryan.  The past two years the Best Picture/Best Director pairing as held up so if The Artist triumphs then expect director Michel Hazanavicius to pick up the directing statuette, likewise Alexander Payne if Best Picture contender The Descendants wins.  Superstar director Martin Scorsese is in the field for Hugo, but he’s already won an Oscar for The Departed and Hugo doesn’t seem to be a contender.
Pick:  Michel Hazanavicius
Other nominees:  Alexander Payne (The Descendants) / Martin Scorsese (Hugo) / Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) / Terence Malick (The Tree of Life)

BEST ACTOR  It’s a two-horse race between George Clooney (The Descendants) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist).  Clooney as Mathew King dominates every minute of his movie – the story is told from his character’s point of view.  Clooney, who usually plays affable, smooth nice guys with a touch of wiseguy self-awareness displays more vulnerability than he probably ever has in a role as his character struggles to deal with the reality of his wife’s probable death and children that have spun out of control.  Dujardin dominates The Artist with his performance as silent star George Valentin, whose career comes crashing down with the onset of sound film.  Dujardin perfectly captures the brilliant charm of the movie star at his peak and the quiet desperation of the reduced Valentin after his star has faded.
Clooney had the early lead but Dujardin has the momentum after winning Best Actor at the Screen Actors Guild awards.  The simpler, but consistent charm of The Artist might also play better with voters than the mixed drama/comedy of The Descendants.
Pick:  Jean DuJardin
Other nominees:  George Clooney (The Descendants) / Demián Bechir (A Better Life) / Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) / Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

BEST ACTRESS  Veteran actress Viola Davis has been turning great performances for years now in supporting roles but rarely carrying a movie.  In 2008 she earned an Academy Award nomination for a one scene performance in Doubt – arguably upstaging star Meryl Streep.    After earning her Best Actress nomination, her main competition is none other than Meryl Streep for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.  It’s Streep’s 17th Oscar nomination.  Still, it looks to be Davis’s year.  In The Help, Davis plays Aibileen Clark, a black maid in a small Mississippi town in the early ‘60s who raises the children of white families at the expense of her own.  Clark is the emotional center of the film, the family maid that young aspiring writer Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) turns to when she delves into the lives of maids who bring up other people’s children against the backdrop of the pre-Civil Rights deep South.  In a way, Davis’s Oscar nom mirrors her role in The Help – a career/life in the background finally getting its due.
Pick:  Viola Davis
Other nominees:  Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) / Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) / Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) / Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR  Christopher Plummer is 82 years old.  When he made his film debut in 1957 Dwight Eisenhower was President.  For 55 years the Canadian-born stage and screen vet has made dozens of movies but was mostly known for his appearance in a movie that he detested – The Sound of Music.  All that is about to change.  With his peformance as Hal, an elderly man who comes out as gay after his wife dies, Plummer has stamped himself as the Oscar favorite.  In director Mike Mills Beginners Oliver (Ewan McGregor), confused about his mother’s death and Hal’s late-life makeover, starts a relationship with a French woman he meets (Melanie Laurent) who also has parental issues.   Although not the leading character, Plummer’s character dominates the film.  Straight in real life, Plummer believably plays a gay man who had repressed that side of himself for nearly his entire life – without resorting to “working” the part like Sean Penn in Milk.
Pick:  Christopher Plummer
Other nominees:  Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn) / Jonah Hill (Moneyball) / Nick Nolte (Warrior) / Max von Sydow (Incredibly Loud & Unbearably Close)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS  The surprise hit of the summer, The Help was powered by the strength of its cast, with three members nominated.  At the Screen Actors Guild awards the film received a “best cast” award as well as individual awards for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.  While not the favorite for Best Picture, this could benefit the cast awards with Viola Davis leading the Best Actress race and Octavia Spencer, who played Minnie Jackson, the smart-mouthed maid who has a way with pies, expected to join her cast mate by picking up the Best Supporting Actress prize.  A possible contender is Bérénice Bejo, who plays up-and-coming starlet Peppy Miller in The Artist.
Pick:  Octavia Spencer
Other nominees:  Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) / Jessica Chastain (The Help) / Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) / Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY  With writing awards often handed out as second place awards, look for The Descendants writing team of Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel to win the prize.  The Moneyball script was written by heavyweight writers Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, but Sorkin won last year for The Social Network and Moneyball isn’t a contender – sports movies, even interesting, offbeat ones don’t usually win awards.
Pick:  Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Other nominees:  John Logan (Hugo) / George Clooney & Grant Heslove and Beau Willimon (The Ides of March) / Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball) / Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY  The screenplay awards are often paired with Best Picture as in the past the past two years but leading contender The Artist is a silent movie with no dialogue.  The screenplay clocks in at only 44 pages. (Most screenplays are at least twice that length.)  Midnight in Paris was Woody Allen’s highest-grossing movie ever. With comedies not usually awarded the top prized look for the Academy to award Woody the screenplay award.  But don’t look forward to a funny acceptance speech – Allen never does award shows.  Possibly the first Iranian filmmaker to be nominated for this award is writer/director Asghar Farhadi for his script for his mesmerizing domestic drama A Separation, also up for Best Foreign Language Picture.
Pick:  Woody Allen
Other nominees:  Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) / Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) / J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) / Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)


Flash Cuts – December 2011

2011 goes out with a bang with the release schedule crammed with Academy Awards hopefuls. Not one, but two new Steven Spielberg films including his first animated film, David Fincher’s latest billed as the “feel-bad film of Christmas,” Cameron Crowe’s first movie in six years and the latest installments of the Sherlock Holmes and Mission: Impossible franchises.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy (Dec. 9) The Cold War spy movie makes a comeback with Swedish director Tomas Alfreson’s version of the John Le Carre’s espionage thriller. Set in the early ‘70s, story deals with a Russian spy deep within British Intellignece. After a botched mission in Prague where an agent is captured by the Russians, the head of Mi6, Control (John Hurt), and his deputy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are forced into retirement. On assignment in Istanbul Mi6 agent Ricky Tarr (Tom Hardy) learns that Russian spymaster Karla has an a mole deep within Mi6. After the Istanbul station head is killed, Tarr goes on the run and Smiley is brought back to track down the mole. Plot is a labyrinth with double and triple-crossings and constant suspense of not knowing who is a friend or foe. Strong cast includes Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds and Toby Jones.

Young Adult (Dec. 16) Diablo Cody burst onto the scene in 2007 with her Academy Award-winning script for Juno. Now she returns with a more mature, darker pic about a teen literature writer who can’t let go of the past. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a mid-30s, divorced writer of young adult books living in Minneapolis. A former queen of the scene in high school, Mavis hates her life. When former high school flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) accidentally sends her an email of his new baby, Mavis goes into an emotional tailspin and returns to her hometown to try to win Buddy back. After humiliating setbacks where Buddy makes it clear he is not interested, Mavis bumps into overweight nerd Matt and they strike up an unlikely friendship. Theron has her work cut out for her – one reviewer called Mavis the “most likeable unlikeable protagonist since Lester Burnham in American Beauty.”

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Dec. 16) Everyone’s favorite 19th century sleuth returns as Robert Downey, Jr. stars as the quick-witted master of deduction. In Game of Shadows, the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, who was hinted at in the first movie finally is revealed as Holmes’ nemesis and perhaps superior as he is equally brilliant and more ruthless by far. After rumors floated of Brad Pitt playing the part, character actor Jared Harris ended up as the evil mastermind. After the Crown Prince of Austria is murdered, Homes and Watson (Jude Law) quip their way through Europe, aided by the gypsy fortune teller Sim (Noomi Rapace) while Moriarty sews a path of destruction toward some nefarious world-changing end. Rachel McAdams makes a brief cameo.

The Adventures of Tin Tin (Dec. 21) Steven Spielberg directs his first animated movie with this film based on the comic book series by Belgian artist Hergé. Although little known in the States, the series, enormously popular in Europe, follows the adventures of young Tintin, a reporter, and his dog Snowy in a globe-spanning nonstop action/adventure which has been described as Pirates of the Caribbean meets Indiana Jones. Spielberg filmed live actors, whereupon the footage was transformed into 3D animation by Peter Jackson’s effects company. The result is photorealistic animation that is also true to the style of the original comic books. With Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig.

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Dec. 21) Maybe the most anticipated movie this season is David Fincher’s remake of the 2009 Swedish film based on the first book of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millenium series. Story centers around the relationship between Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and goth computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Blomkvist is summoned by corporate head Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of his niece Harriet 40 years earlier who Vanger believes was murdered by a member of his own family. To that end, Blomkvist enlists the help of the bisexual Salander, whose dark personal life includes rape and sexual torture by her legal guardian. Blomkvist discovers a list of names kept by Harriet. Salander finds that the names are Jewish women, nearly all murdered. When they discover that Vanger’s brothers were members of the Swedish Nazi Party, they believe they’re on the trail of a Nazi serial killer. Movie has been advertised as the “feel bad” movie of Christmas, with the typical Fincher dark, stylish atmosphere.

We Bought A Zoo (Dec. 23) After a six year absence, director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire) returns with the true life story of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), a single father who uses his life savings to resurrect a rundown zoo. After losing his wife to cancer, emotionally devastated Benjamin struggles to rebuild his life with his two children, teenage Dylan and six-year-old Rosie. Against the advice of his practical brother Duncan (Thomas Haden Church), he buys a decrepit zoo on a whim. With no zookeeping experience whatsoever, he must win over the skeptical staff, led by head zookeeper Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), stave off imminent bankruptcy which would mean the destruction of 200 animals and avoid being shut down by a hostile USDA inspector. Along the way to healing himself and the zoo, Benjamin must face a zookeeper’s worst nightmare. Although Crowe’s films are known for their humorous, sunny outlook no matter how dark the situation, he and Damon went to lengths to avoid making a hokey “Disney-fied” movie. Cast includes Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning and Peter Riegert.

War Horse (Dec. 25) Although he’s made six films set in World War II, Steven Spielberg was “never interested” in World War I until he read Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel about Joey, one of millions of horses used by the military for cavalry and draught horses – pulling weapons, vehicles and dead/wounded. Along with the slaughter of men, millions of horses perished in the war. After seeing the British play in 2010, Spielberg decided to make War Horse his next project. In the rural village of Devon, young Albert’s family buys a magnificent horse. Albert names it Joey and bonds with the horse. But as World War I dawns, the family is forced to sell Joey to the British Army. Story follows Joey as he first serves as an officer’s mount. After a horrific battle, Joey ends up on the German side, serving as a work horse. As the war goes on, Joey passes through many hands, all the while trying to get back to his owner, Albert. An old-fashioned Hollywood film, both anti-war and a love story between a man and his horse.


GASLAND

GaslandSunday, November 20
2:00 pm at Cannery Pier Hotel Conference Room
10 Basin St, Astoria   Discussion Follows

Between shale gas extraction and proposed LNG export plans for Oregon, Gasland is the Sundance award-winning documentary about the destructive and dangerous consequences of natural gas drilling. The film was inspired when the gas company came to the hometown of the film maker, Josh Fox.

The Columbia River and Coos Bay remain the target of liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies that seek to use our region as a conduit for exporting domestic U.S. gas reserves overseas.  The dramatic expansion of natural gas drilling through “fracking” is directly connected to our own fight against LNG.  The LNG terminal proposed for Warrenton, with its 117 miles of pipelines, is up for approval at the county, state and federal levels – – it is not dead yet.

At the screening, Columbia RiverKeeper reps will explain the connection between shale gas extraction and proposed LNG export plans for Oregon.  Maps will be on display of the current Oregon LNG pipeline route and an update of recent legal changes risking the lives and property of Clatsop County residents near the Oregon LNG pipeline.

Together, we have an incredible opportunity to halt LNG exports and to deprive the gas industry of a huge incentive to expand gas fracking in the Mountain West.

See you there.


Astoria International Film Festival • 5th Annual

Butterfield 8
5 IS THE operative number
as the Astoria International Film Festival returns for its 5th year, and, for the first time as a 5-day festival. To commemorate the occasion, festival director Ron Craig has scheduled 5 Oregon films to screen at the LightBox Photographic Gallery as a sidebar to the regular screenings at the Liberty Theater. As always, Craig covers all bases with his Northwest film offerings, an expanded Young People’s Film Festival, a selecton of socially significant docs including an Academy Award winner, and dollop of Hollywood glitz with a tribute to the late Elizabeth Taylor.

The festival kicks off with renowned independent filmmaker Kelly Reichardt’s pioneer story Meek’s Cutoff, starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Bruce Greenwood. A period Western with a feminist bent, Meek’s Cutoff tells the story of three families heading west in covered wagons who have left the Oregon Trail in search of a shortcut, their guide, the bearded, blustery Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), insists is there. But as weeks go by in desolate country and water runs short, Meek declares: “We’re not lost, we’re finding our way.” Story is told from the point of view of the wives, who walk behind the wagons and are excluded from decisions. Of the wives, Emily Tetherow (Williams) is the most outspoken and distrustful of Meek. With Indian sightings increasing, when Meek captures an Indian scout and threatens to kill him, mistrust and conflict within the party rises to a head and Emily becomes the Indians protector. Based on a true story, $1M film lensed in eastern Oregon near Burns.

Inside JobFestival highlights include Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job, a devastating exposé of the financial crisis of 2008. Narrated by Matt Damon, the film does an exemplary job of explaining complex economic issues in simple, easy-to-understand, even humorous ways. Covering close to 30 years of U.S. economic history, basic premise is that the global economic meltdown was “not an accident.” Investment banking firms, loosening of regulatory process by several administrations, predatory lending practices and just plain greed all contributed to the global disaster. Dozens of government and private villains are adroitly grilled by Ferguson, to the point that several ask for the cameras to be turned off. Not all of those interviewed are from the financial industry. Ferguson also talks to a Wall Street madam who supplies high-class call girls to flush clients and a therapist who analyzes investment bankers “blatant disregard for the consequences of their actions.” Movie also boasts a “rock video” credit montage featuring Peter Gabriel’s song “Big Time.” True to the theme of the movie, the rights to the song cost Ferguson close to $100,000.

Kings of PastryOn a lighter note is Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s delicious doc Kings of Pastry, in which sixteen of France’s top pastry chefs compete against each other for the ultimate honor of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (best craftsmen of France). The importance of the right to wear the blue, white and red collar and the competition itself is underscored by one of its supporters – French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Held every four years, the MOF requires the contestants to create 40 recipes over three nerve-wracking days. The filmmakers’ camera follows several contestants as they create everything from perfect cream puffs to fantastic dessert sculptures, all the while under the microscope of the judges who grade their creations for taste and artistry. The cameras also capture the human toll of the event, as the chefs are pushed to the brink, mentally, physically and emotionally. When things go wrong in the kitchen, as they do for nearly all the contestants, the tragedy of the moment literally brings the chefs to tears. In the end, the desserts speak for themselves as Pennebaker’s camera glides over the fantastic creations. Even for non-foodies Kings of Pastry is an absorbing peek into the world of high-stakes dessert crafting.

The AFF pays tribute to screen legend Elizabeth Taylor with two of her classic performances in Butterfield 8 and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s Taylor was at her career peak. She was nominated for four consecutive Academy Awards from 1957-1960 and for Cleopatra (1960) she was the first actress to earn a $1M salary. In her Academy Award-winning performance in Butterfield 8, Taylor plays Gloria Wandrous, a loose woman having an affair with wealthy executive Weston Liggett (Laurence Harvey), a married man. As their tumultuous affair unfolds, Wandrous and Liggett are pulled in opposite directions as their mutual attraction conflicts with moral standards, leading to a dramatic finale. Trying to have it both ways, the movie is both an overheated melodrama and cautionary tale. Perhaps the most fun moment is when Taylor confronts her mother with the information that “I was the slut of all time!” In another classic performance Taylor plays Maggie the Cat in the movie version of the Tennessee Williams classic Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958). A family melodrama with the subtext of repressed homosexuality, Brick Politt (Paul Newman) is an alcoholic ex-athlete in an unhappy marriage with the sexually frustrated Maggie. Visiting the family home in Mississippi to celebrate the birthday of Brick’s dominating father, Big Daddy (Burl Ives), Brick and Maggie must deal with insinuations about their marriage, particularly their lack of children. When the moody Brick continues to drink, leading to friction with Big Daddy, Maggie, the emotional sparkplug of the movie, reveals that she set out to ruin the relationship of Brick and his close friend Skipper, who committed suicide. As in many Tennessee Williams plays, the story is a long night of secrets revealed. Emotional wounds are re-opened, but healing begins. Taylor again has a great line with her declaration that “Maggie the Cat is alive!”

The 5th Astoria International Film Festival runs from October 20-24. Screenings will take place at the historic Liberty Theater and the LightBox Photographic gallery. For a complete festival schedule go to the festival website: http://www.goaiff.com/.

Astoria International Film Festival At LightBox Photographic Gallery and the Exceptional Film Society

LightBox Photographic Gallery will host showings of the five featured films of the Astoria International Film Festival at the gallery theatre from Thursday October 20th thorough Monday October 24th. This provides an alternative to view films in the intimate setting of the gallery theatre, which seats 25 people. The screenings at LightBox will begin a 7pm. They will be shown upstairs in the gallery for $3 throughout the festival.

Meek's CutoffThe first performance at LightBox, on Oct. 20, will be Meek’s Cutoff, based on the actual diaries of women crossing the Oregon Trail. Filmed a few miles from Burns and Hines in eastern Oregon, “This is not your Hollywood wagon train,” said Craig.

Stuff filmed largely in Portland, will be aired at the LightBox on Oct. 21. The documentary focuses on the filmmaker’s odyssey following the loss of his parents.

Hood to Coast will be shown Oct. 22. As the title implies, it looks at the iconic 197-mile relay race from Timberline Lodge to Seaside, the longest in the U.S.

Cold Weather plays Oct. 23, a thriller shot in Portland following a forensic science student’s hunt for his missing ex-girlfriend.

The LightBox fares end Oct. 24 with The Best of the 37th-Annual Northwest Film and Video Festival, featuring the November 2010 event.Seating for showings at LightBox are limited to 25 people, please call the gallery for info and reservations at 503-468-0238.

LightBox will be establishing the Exceptional Film Society starting in November. The Society will consist of individuals wishing to share classic films at the gallery, showings on every Friday evening, concentrating on a social occasion for those interested in sharing the finer aspects and details of a new film every week. Please contact LightBox with interest and more info on the Film Society at 503-468-0238. LightBox Photographic is located at 1045 Marine Drive in Astoria. Hours are Tuesday–Friday 11-5:30, Saturday 11-5. Visit their website at lightbox-photographic.com.


Flash Cuts – Sept 2011

Post Labor Day offerings are generally slim, with C-level genre pics and the odd late summer release for the specialty markets, but this September brings a biological thriller from an Academy Award-winning director, a wheelman thriller from the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival a possible breakout family film, a sports underdog film that’s not about winning the big game and a cancer comedy.

Apollo 18 (Sept. 2) After having its release date changed 5 times, Apollo 18 finally appears. Basically a horror movie on the moon, low budget flick tells in mockumentary fashion much like Paranormal Activity of the story of an 18th moon mission that goes horribly awry, leading to the cancellation of the Apollo program. After decades, footage of the Apollo mission is recovered showing the point of view of two Apollo astronauts who land of the moon. In the course of their mission they find a dead Russian cosmonaut and his lander. Then they encounter an alien parasitic life form that infects one of the astronauts, driving him mad and leading to a deadly game of cat and mouse between the two astronauts.

ContagionContagion (Sept. 9) Steven Soderbergh directs this global thriller about a deadly virus that threatens the world’s population. In clinical fashion we’re introduced to characters in Chicago, Macau and London – all bearing flu-like symptoms of an unnamed disease. The virus is highly contagious and when people all over the world start falling sick and dying, alarm bells go off. Health officials are faced with the threat of a global pandemic. To find a cure before millions are infected and thousands die, officials must trace the spread of the virus back to its to its source – the original three infected. All star cast includes Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

DriveDrive (Sept. 16) A hit at Cannes in May, this taut, stylish thriller directed by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn tells the story of Driver (Ryan Gosling), a movie stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman, driving a getaway car. His mechanic Shannon (Bryan Cranston) dreams of the two of them leaving the movie business and forming a racing team and approaches criminal boss Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) for a stake. Driver lives a solitary existence, but he strikes up a friendship with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. But when her husband Standard gets out of prison he wants to pull one last job to get himself out of debt to a vicious gang. Driver is recruited as wheelman but it all goes bad when they are double-crossed, leaving Driver in the middle between the double crossers and the double crossed.

Dolphin TaleDolphin Tale (Sept. 23) Inspirational story from the producers of The Blind Side tells the true story of Winter, a young dolphin crippled after being caught in a crab trap. After being rescued by marine biologist Clay Haskett (Harry Connick, Jr.), Winter is nursed back to health in an aquarium but loses her tail due to injuries. Unable to swim, Winter’s chances of survival look grim. But Sawyer, an introverted 11-year-old from a fatherless household bonds with Winter and rallies everyone around her to try to save Winter. His quest takes Sawyer to the crusty Dr. McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) a brilliant prosthetic scientist who will attempt to create a new tail for Winter in a last-ditch attempt to save her life. Ashley Judd plays Sawyer’s mother. Winter the dolphin plays herself.

MoneyballMoneyball (Sept. 23) Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the iconoclastic general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team who in 2002 changed the face of baseball by employing a controversial numbers-based approach to evaluating players instead of the subjective methods of traditional scouting. Sort of an inspirational sports movie for thinking people, Moneyball focuses on the way the young, enthusiastic Beane fights ridicule and opposition in his own franchise to acquire players undervalued by traditional scouting and allow low revenue teams like Oakland to compete head to head with megarich teams like the New York Yankees. based on specific statistics. Johan Hill co-stars in a rare non-comedy role. Based on the book by Michael Lewis who also wrote the book on which the Sandra Bullock hit The Blind Side, was based on.

50-5050/50 (Sept. 30) Joseph Gordon-Leavitt stars as Adam, a 27 year-old who suddenly must face his own mortality when he’s diagnosed with a rare cancer. This is not a disease of the week movie, this is actually a comedy based on the writer Will Reiser’s own struggle with cancer when he was 25. In hilarious fashion, Adam’s condition reveals cracks in his relationship with his seemingly perfect g.f. Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) and offers his already overbearing Jewish mother Diane (Angelica Huston) the opportunity to be even more smothering. Adam’s inexperienced psychologist Katie (Anna Kendrick) tries to help with coping strategies while Adam’s crude b.f.f. Kyle’s (Seth Rogen) solution is for both of them to live it up with sex and drugs for as long as they can. In a genre that often turns stultifying and maudlin 50/50 accomplishes the unheard-of trick of being consistently funny yet acknowledging the seriousness of Adam’s situation.


Flash Cuts – August 2011

AThe Change-Upt the tail end of the summer season all the big blockbusters have already appeared, leaving lower-budgeted genre fare – commercial movies that can’t compete with big popcorners but are still commercial movies, not end of the year awards films.  This month we have new movies from James Franco, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg and Ryan Reynolds.

The Change-Up (Aug. 5)  A body-changing comedy that plotwise greatly resembles an R-rated Crazy Stupid Love.  Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds play Dave and Mitch, best friends who live opposite lifestyles.  Dave is the overstressed, responsible family man with a corporate job, a loving wife and three kids while Mitch live the swinging singles life and avoids responsibility at all cost.  Yet the two of them envy each others lives.  After barhopping and pissing into a fountain they utter the magic words:  “ I wish I had your life.”  They wake up in each others’ bodies and the typical body-switching comedy ensues.  Unfortunately, with Crazy Stupid Love coming out a week earlier in which suddenly single Steve Carell gets taught to date again by lothario Ryan Gosling, this movie could get lost in the shuffle.

Rise of the Planet of the ApesRise of the Planet of the Apes (Aug. 5)  A reboot of the 70s Apes series, Rise is an origins story on the order of Batman Begins.  James Franco, (in his first special effects movie since Spiderman 3) plays Will Rodman, a geneticist bent on finding a cure for Alzheimers.  He tests a virus that improves brain function on a test chimpanzee, Caesar (Andy Serkis) resulting in Caesar gaining human intelligence.  After being taunted by visitors Caesar manages to escape his cell and spread the virus to the other apes in the government facility.  After facility manager Steve Jacobs wants the apes destroyed, the apes escape and a war between apes and humans begins to determine the dominant species.  Photorealistic special effects for the apes might be the best reason to see the movie.

The HelpThe Help (Aug. 10)  Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 bestseller about the lives of African-American maids who raise the children of white families in the South comes to the screen with an all-star cast including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney and Sissy Spacek.  Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60s, story follows the intertwining lives of Aibileen (Davis), an African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children; Minny (Octavia Spencer), Aibileen’s best friend, whose penchant for speaking her mind has resulted in 19 dismissals; Skeeter (Emma Stone) a young white woman just returned from college who finds that Constantine, the maid that raised her has mysteriously vanished.  When snooty social leader Hilly Holbrook suggests that there should be separate bathrooms for coloreds, Skeeter decides to investigate the lives of these women so close to her which she knows very little about.

30 Minutes or Less30 Minutes or Less (Aug. 12)  Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride star in this day-gone-horribly-wrong comedy.  Eisenberg plays Nick, a slacker pizza delivery guy who is kidnapped by would-be criminals Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson).  In need of money to pay a hitman to commit a murder, they tie a bomb to Nick and tell him to rob a bank.   He has ten hours to get the money to them – or else.  Director Ruben Fleischer brings the same off-kilter humor to this story as he did to Zombieland.  Eisenberg surprises by ditching his usual deadpan style, bringing manic energy to Nick’s desperate situation.  McBride does what he does best – raunchy, crude humor.  Michel Peña steals every scene he’s in as the hitman.  Although not quite as original as Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less still manages to make the most of its concept and consistently amuse.

One DayOne Day (Aug. 19)  Director Lone Scherfig had a surprise hit with her 2009 Academy Award-nominated coming-of-age romance An Education about a teenage girl’s first romance with an older man.   She follows up with One Day, the story of one-time lovers whose lives are revisited on the same day for the next 20 years.  Based on David Nicholls 2009 novel, story follows Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) as they spend the night together after graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1988.  Emma is working class and idealistic.  Dexter is wealthy and a charmer.  Life comes easily for him.  They separate.  Dexter is an immediate success in TV while Emma struggles.  But through relationships and the ups and downs of life, they remain friends.  In 2001,  both are single again, their lives having taken totally different trajectories.  Dexter’s career is a wreck while Emma has become a successful writer.  He travels to Paris and the two mull rekindling their relationship as lovers.


Flash Cuts – July 2011

The meat of the summer season arrives with the final episode of the Harry Potter series, a big budget Western/scifi mashup, Tom Hanks’ second directorial effort, the second Marvel origin movie in two months and a Steve Carell romantic comedy that’s generating lots of buzz.

Larry CrowneLarry Crowne (July 1)  Tom Hanks writes and directs for the first time since That Thing You Do! (1996).  In this light recession comedy, Hanks plays Larry Crowne, 20-year veteran of big box store Unimart, who is so dedicated he’s been employee of the month 22 times.  Until he’s fired in a downsizing because he lacks a college degree.  Middle-aged, jobless, and in danger of losing his house, the enthusiastic-to-the-point of stupidity Larry shakes up his life by buying a motor scooter and enrolling in a community college, in particular a public speaking class taught by outwardly cranky but sweet inside Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) who eventually takes a shine to her eager pupil.  With a colorful array of supporting characters, this is a lightweight romantic comedy for Hanks and Roberts fans with parts perfectly tailored for their onscreen personalities.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Pt. 2 (July 15)  After ten years, seven films and over $6B in ticket sales, the Harry Potter series comes to an end with the second half of the Deathly Hallows book.  Part 1 was more of a character exploration with Harry,  Ron and Hermione leaving Hogwarts to find the Horcruxes that Lord Valdemort needs to gain ultimate power.  Part 2 begins with three Horcruxes destroyed, leading to an action-packed finale where the three must keep Voldemort from finding the remaining three Horcruxes.  They succeed for two, but Voldemort gains possession of the Elder Wand, leading to a final showdown at Hogwarts.

Captain AmericaCaptain America:  The First Avenger (July 22)  Marvel releases it’s fourth origins story (and second this summer after Thor) in the leadup to next year’s Avengers movie.  Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a scrawny weakling who tries to enlist in the U.S. Army in World War II.  Turned down because of his physique, he enlists in Project Rebirth, a secret program to create super soldiers.  After being injected with a serum, Rogers has the body of an Olympic athlete and he and his sidekick Bucky Barnes take on their Nazi counterpart, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who has also taken a super-strength serum and is intent on finding the Tesseract, a magical object said to contain unimaginable power – enough to turn the tide of the war.  Cast include Tommy Lee Jones as the hardbitten Col. Chester Phillips, Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine and Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo scene as Nick Fury (after the final credits).

Cowboys and AliensCowboys and Aliens (July 29)  Ironman helmer Jon Favreau directs Cowboys and Aliens, a movie mashup of the western and scifi movie genres.  Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakens in the desert with a mysterious shackle around his wrist and no memory.  He stumbles into the town of Absolution which is ruled with an iron fist by Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who promptly informs Lonergan that he is a wanted man.  Soon, the town and Lonergan have bigger problems when alien spaceships attack.  Lonergan, Dolarhyde and motley group of outlaws and Apaches must band together to fight the alien invaders.  A legion of screenwriters adapted Scott Rosenberg’s graphic novel, with the tone changing from near Men in Black comedy to the leaner, meaner, more true to the Western version coming to the screen, according to Favreau.  Supporting cast includes Olivia Wilde (House), Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano and Walton Goggins (Justified).

Crazy Stupid LoveCrazy Stupid Love (July 29)  There’s a lot of positive buzz for this Steve Carell comedy.   Carell plays Cal Weaver, a man who has everything.  Perfect marriage to his high school sweetheart Tracy (Julianne Moore), two great kids, everything peachy keen.  But Cal’s world collapses when Tracy informs him that she is having an affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce.  Overhearing Cal’s troubles in a bar, good-looking pickup artist Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on hopeless nerd Cal and offers to tutor him in picking up women.  After a complete makeover and one vital piece of advice (“Don’t talk. Ever.”), Cal starts attracting women like flies.  Just as Cal is successful dating for the first time in his life,  he realizes how hollow it all is and tries to get Tracy back.  Tracy meanwhile, has broken up with David who is now stalking her.  Complications on all sides ensue as all the characters, even Cal’s kids, have their romantic ambitions go from “crazy” to “stupid.”


Big Fat Gay Movie Night – Put on your Gaaaaaaaayest Costume.

Big Fat Gay Movie Night

THE COLUMBIAN Theater hosts another Big Fat Gay Movie Night. Ridiculously fun and gay, treats, tricks and games are part of the affair. Host Marco Davis encourages you to look in your closet, and come out screaming!!! Fun surprise shit,  prizes and big opportunity to “camp” for a few hours.  Kids in the Hall star in Brain Candy, the zany mid-90s film featch from the Canadian humour-elite.  Costumed or not – does not inhibit your fun. Are you gay? Who cares. It’s the spirit in it all that matters.

Saturday July 16. The activities begin at 10pm in the Columbian Theater in Astoria.  A mere $3. See you queer!


Flash Cuts – Movies & Musings

Summer popcorn season gets into full swing with Marvel rebooting its longest running superhero series, DC’s attempt at catching up, the last entry in the Transformers series, an R-rated bad role model comedy and a J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg sci fi that’s been shrouded in secrecy.

X-Men First ClassX-Men: First Class  (June 3) After three X-Men films and a maligned offshoot (Wolverine), Marvel has rebooted the series with a younger cast, hoping for a new trilogy, much like Paramount did with Star Trek two years ago.  Story is set in 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and focuses on Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) before they became known as Professor X and Magneto.  As young mutants, Xavier and Lehnsherr are just coming into their powers of telekinesis and magnetic control.  Xavier and Lehnsherr seek out young mutants and found a mutant academy.  Though friends, Xavier and Lehnsherr have very different ideas about their differences with humans.  Xavier wants to show humans that mutants can be trusted, but Lehnsherr believes mutants are naturally superior.  The two join forces to prevent a nuclear catastophe, but in the process the former friends become the adversaries known as Professor X and Magneto.  Hugh Jackman makes a brief cameo as Wolverine.

Super 8Super 8 (June 10) The most closely-guarded secret of the summer is undoubtedly this J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg collaboration.  The first enigmatic trailer appeared more than a year ago depicted a train wreck in a small town.  And something is trying to get out of an overturned car.  Abrams, the creator of the TV conundrum Lost and the unseen monster movie Cloverfield, is the master of withholding information.  So perhaps it’s no surprise that plot details are scarce, but what has emerged seems very much a Spielberg (who’s producing)/Abrams melding, like E.T. crossed with Cloverfield.  In 1979, in a small Ohio town a group of teenagers are making a super-8 home movie when a train overturns, unleashing something that wreaks death and destruction in their town.  The train turns out to be a military train bound from Area 51 transporting secrets, one of which escapes in the perhaps not accidental crash.  Elle Fanning toplines mostly no-name cast.

Green LanternGreen Lantern (June 17) With Marvel rolling out three superhero movies this summer (Thor, X-Men: First Class, Captain America) in their leadup to The Avengers movie,  DC Comics found itself playing catchup and is only now bowing its first second-tier superhero movie, preferring to concentrate on Batman and Superman first.  Basically an origin story, Green Lantern stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, a cocky Air Force test pilot who is the first human to be selected one of the Green Lantern Corp, an intergalactic order of warriors sworn to keep peace.  When the nemesis of the Corp, Parallax, appears the  Corp turns to newest Green Lantern to save the universe.  Strong supporting cast includes Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins.  Early buzz on the 150M production has not been good, one industry insider describing it as “troubled.”  Reports of reshoots and a rush to finish effects do not bode well for the film.

Bad TeacherBad Teacher (June 24) Columbia has followed up on their 2003 worst-possible role model R-rated comedy Bad Santa with Bad Teacher.  Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey, the worst seventh grade teacher imaginable whose only ambition is to find a rich man to take care of her.  In the meantime, Elizabeth curses out her students, and abuses substances, all the while waiting for her rich boyfriend to marry her so she can get quit her gig.  But after being dumped, Elizabeth sets her sights on rich, handsome substitute Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) while simultaneously fending off the advances of an irreverent gym teacher (Jason Segel).  While saving up for a boob job, Elizabeth finds herself in a competition for Scott’s affections with the an energetic colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch), who happens to be the best teacher in school.  After nearly going out of existence, R-rated comedies seem to be making a comeback this summer with the two hits Bridesmaids and The Hangover Part II doing boffo business.  Columbia hopes for a third.

Transformers: Dark Side of the MoonTransformers: Dark of the Moon (June 29) Although universally reviled as films, Michael Bay’s Transformers series has raked in over $1.5B worldwide box office.  Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be the last in the series.  Shia LaBeouf and all the principals return except for Megan Fox, whose character has been written out.  English model Rosie Huntington-Whitely has the tough assignment of Sam’s squeeze.  Synopsis: The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, are back in action, taking on the evil Decepticons, who are determined to avenge their defeat in 2009’s Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. In this new movie, the Autobots and Decepticons become involved in a perilous space race between the U.S. and Russia, and once again human Sam Witwicky has to come to the aid of his robot friends.


Flash Cuts – Movies & Musings

Summer movie season hits full stride with the release of two popcorn extravaganzas – Marvel’s latest superhero flick and the return of Jack Sparrow in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, possibly the most unusual and controversial Hollywood release of the year, the return of your favorite group of bachelors and Dreamworks much-anticipated sequel to Kung Fu Panda.

ThorThor (May 6) Marvel rolls out another individual comic book character, gearing up for their big Avengers movie next summer which will feature Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and Captain America among others.  Although not the most popular Marvel book, Marvel has not skimped on Thor, making the unusual choice of Kenneth Branagh, mostly known for his Shakespearean films and acting than big budget directing.  Also unusual was the choice of unknown Australian actor Chris Hemsworth for the title role of the Norse God of Thunder.  Samuel L. Jackson makes an appearance as Nick Fury as he has in the Iron Man films.  Synopsis:  After precipitating a war in the Norse god kingdom of Asgard, Thor is cast out by Odin, king of Asgard (Anthony Hopkins) to Earth and stripped of his godly powers.  Found in New Mexico by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor has problems adjusting to life as a mortal.  He begins a romance with Jane, but Loki, his nemesis in Asgard, sends the Destroyer to Earth to kill him.

Brides MaidsBridesmaids (May 13) SNL star Kristen Wiig and comedy producer/director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) team up for this distaff version of The Hangover.  Single and broke, Annie’s life is a disaster.  But after Annie (Wiig) is asked by her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be her maid of honor, she and her colorful group of bridesmaids must navigate the pitfalls of the wedding process from fittings to reception to a wild trip to Vegas.  Earthy, blatantly sexual and funny, this is not Sex and the City.  Co-written by Wiig and directed by Paul Feig (the TV show Freaks & Geeks), Bridesmaids is a frank look at female friendship and how it is tested by the frightening ritual of marriage.  Jilly Clayburgh plays Annie’s Mom in her last screen appearance.

The BeaverThe Beaver (May 20) Perhaps the strangest Hollywood release of the year is this dark comedy directed by Jodie Foster and starring Mel Gibson.  Kyle Killen’s script topped the 2008 Black List, Hollywood’s insider list of most-liked screenplays.  After Steve Carell and Jim Carrey signed on and dropped out of the project, Foster came on board as director and convinced her old friend Gibson to take the lead.  Suffering from severe depression, Walter Black (Gibson) has hit bottom.  His sons are embarrassed by him, his wife Meredith (Foster) can’t deal with him and his toy company nears bankruptcy.  After being kicked out of the house and going on a drunk, Walter tries suicide but fails at this, too.  When he wakes up, a beaver puppet is on his hand which speaks with a  British accent (another part of Walter’s personality).  With the puppet giving him confidence, Walter turns his life around.  Patching things up with Meredith and saving his company by manufacturing hand puppets.  Only his teenage son Porter (Anton Yelchin) pushes him away.  However, with things finally looking up, Walter finds the puppet totally in control of him.  Already a pariah in Hollywood after a DUI where he made anti-Semitic comments, Gibson’s standing hit rock bottom after the film was shot and a phone call of his angry tirade to his ex was made public.  Foster asked for understanding, while the rest of Hollywood ran the other way.  Referring to the film’s tone, Foster called it “probably the biggest struggle of my professional career” in The New York Times.

Pirates of the CaribbeanPirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20) Captain Jack Sparrow returns with the fourth installment of the phenomenally successful series. This time Jack has the playing field to himself with no co-stars.  Also, for the first time in the series Jack has a love interest played by Penelope Cruz, something Depp requested after taking the back seat romantically to Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in the first three films. As implied by the third installment, in Stranger Tides Captain Jack takes on the quest for the legendary Fountain of Youth.  On his quest he encounters killer mermaids, zombies and, most threatening,  a woman from his past, Angelica (Cruz), every bit his equal as a pirate.  Angelica forces Sparrow on board the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship of legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), also seeking the Fountain, leaving Sparrow to wonder if Angelica is his ally or a ruthless competitor.  Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Hector Barbossa.  Rob Marshall (Chicago) directs.

The Hangover Part IIThe Hangover Part II (May 26) Smelling a hit, Warner Brothers asked writer/director Todd Phillips to write a sequel to The Hangover even before the first film opened.  When the bachelor party in Vegas comedy was a worldwide hit, Part II hit the ground running.  To no one’s surprise, the plot to Part II is nearly the same as Part I, except the story is transplanted to Thailand and an actual wedding takes place. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to Thailand for Stu’s wedding.  After the insanity in Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and wants a safe pre-wedding brunch.  Of course, things don’t go as planned.  Controversy hit the production when Phillips cast Mel Gibson in the cameo part of a tattoo artist.  Coming on the heels of Gibson’s abusive phone calls, members of the cast and crew (including Galifianakis) refused to work with the actor, forcing Phillips to replace him with Liam Neeson before shooting.  Ironically, months later, due to editing choices Phillips had to re-shoot the scene with Nick Cassavetes replacing Neeson due to Neeson’s unavailibility.  Mike Tyson appears again as himself.

Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda 2 (May 26) In 2008, Dreamworks animated story of Po, a panda who dreams of being a kung fu master was a surprise hit, racking up $600M worldwide.  Synopsis: Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Jack Black (Po), Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Jackie Chan (Monkey), Seth Rogen (Mantis), Lucy Liu (Viper), David Cross (Crane) and Dustin Hoffman (Master Shifu) all return in their respective roles.  Gary Oldman, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Danny McBride and Michelle Yeoh are new additions.


Flash Cuts

Spring usually brings genre films that are too small or offbeat to be big summer blockbusters but too commercial to be fall awards movies. This month we get a sci-fi thriller from a legendary rock star’s son, a remake of a Dudley Moore classic, a stoner historical comedy from the Pineapple Express gang and Twilight’s R-Patz in a period romancer.

Source CodeSource Code (Apr. 1) David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones directs his sophomore effort after his provocative indie scifi Moon. In Source Code, Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a Chicago commuter train with no knowledge of how he got there. Minutes later, the train blows up, killing all on board including Colter. He wakes up in a high-tech lab and is told by Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), that he is part of a secret military program, Source Code, and has been implanted into the body of a passenger to find and disable a terrorist bomb on the train before it explodes. Thus begins a cycle where Stevens is sent back again and again, trying to stop the terrorist – and failing. But getting closer with each try. Toward this end, he attempts to gain the trust of fellow passenger, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who initially dismisses Stevens but increasingly comes to believe him. Together they attempt to stop what could be a chain of bombings threatening millions.

ScreamScream 4 (Apr. 15) Just like a typical horror film baddie who keeps coming back no matter how many times he’s killed, you can’t keep a good horror franchise down. Eleven years after the first Scream trilogy ground to a halt in self-parody, the series rises again with director Wes Craven and principals Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette onboard for another prospective trilogy. Sidney Prescott (Campbell), now the successful author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro to find Sheriff Dewey (Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Cox) married. Things don’t stay peaceful long of course, as a new Ghostface appears and the killings in Woodsboro resume. Younger actors like Emma Roberts, who plays Jill, Sidney’s cousin, Hayden Panettiere and Rory Culkin are introduced as the series tries to reboot for another two planned movies.

ArthurArthur (Apr. 8) Russell Brand stars at the title character in this remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore comedy. Arthur Bach is a perpetually intoxicated man-child whose lack of maturity is exceeded only by his vast fortune. The only restraining force in Arthur’s life is the good sense of his steel-willed nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren). However, Arthur’s playboy lifestyle is threatened when his fed-up family presents him with a choice: Marry society girl Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) who they hope will settle down Arthur, or lose his inheritance. Arthur reluctantly agrees, but then he meets Naomi (Gret Gerwig) a working-class girl who captures his heart. Does Arthur agree to the arranged marriage that ensures his lifestyle and everlasting adolesence or does he risk everything for love and become a man?

Your HighnessYour Highness (Apr. 8) The gang that brought you stoner action comedy Pineapple Express returns with stoner medieval comedy Your Highness. Danny McBride and James Franco star as Thadeus and Fabious, princes of the kingdom. While the good-looking older brother Fabious embarks on valorous missions doing good for the people of the kingdom, dumpy second banana Thadeous contents himself with a life of strong weed, liquor and comely maidens. But when Princess Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by an evil wizard, Thadeus is forced to end his life of leisure and joins Fabious in rescuing the princess. On their journey the pair join forces with a mysterious warrior, Isabel (Natalie Portman) with an agenda of her own. Expect clunky good humor, total lack of pretentiousness and copious cussing as usual David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) directs.

Water For ElephantsWater For Elephants (Apr. 22) Based on Sara Gruen’s bestselling historical romance. Told in flashback from the point of view of 93-year-old Jacob Jankowski, Water For Elephants tells the story of young Jacob (Robert Pattinson), a veterinary student in the Great Depression who leaves school after his parents die in a car accident and joins a circus run by the charming but cruel August (Christoph Waltz). Starting out as a menial worker, Jacob eventually becomes the circus’ de facto vet but is appalled by August’s abusive ways with animals and circus workers alike, particularly a new elephant, Rosie. August takes a liking to Jacob, who meets August’s wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and falls in love. Marlena slowly warms to young Jacob. August’s suspicions of their relationship grow and his unpredictable behavior turns violent, leading to a melodramatic conflagration under the big top.


TITANIC at the Liberty

TitanicI don’t know how many times I watched this movie as a kid – but what stays with me, as well I am sure many a viewer, that the ship’s chamber ensemble elects to stay with the vessel, playing a sweet serenade as the passengers maneuver their fate.

In celebration of Astoria Bicenntenial, 99 years to the day she sunk (April 15, 1912) the Liberty and AIFF present the 1953 classic. A part of Astoria’s history, John Jacob Astor IV was on the maiden voyage when it sank while crossing the North Atlantic Ocean.

Friday, April 15, 7pm, $5, at The Liberty Theater, 12th and Commercial.