Pay off: The Hook's Guide-O-Rama to the $ Film Fest
BY LISA PROVENCE LISA@READTHEHOOK.COM
The days are getting crisp, like a new $20 bill, the lights are lowering, and cinephiles perform their ritualistic ode to fall at the 16th Virginia Film Festival.
This year's festival smacks of filthy lucre, and in fact, that's its theme. Reduced to a Prince-esque symbol– $– the festival examines what it's like to lust for money, to be controlled by money, and to roll around naked in a bed full of currency (well, almost).
With over 70 films, plus exhibits, panels, performances, and parties, how does a festival-goer decide what to take in? The smart ones turn to The Hook's Guide-O-Rama, which carefully analyzes the festival's offerings and suggests events geared toward stereotypical filmgoers. Pick the profile that most closely resembles you, and you're in the money. And don't be afraid to mix it up.
Traditionalist: The Sound of Music still makes you cry, even though you've seen it 18 times. You want movies you can take your mother or children to see without blushing, and you'd like to wash out the potty mouths of some of these actors.
Accessory: A big wad of tissues.
Motto: "They don't make 'em like they used to."
How to Marry a Millionaire - Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe star in this 1953 comedy about three models who pool their resources to snag rich husbands, back when a woman's most important job was being a wife and mother. (1pm Saturday, October 25, Culbreth)
Seven Chances - Where else can you see silent film with live musical accompaniment? Buster Keaton must fight off hordes of brides and get to the church to marry his sweetheart by 7 o'clock to collect a $7 million inheritance. Last year's band, Anne Watts and Boister, is back for an encore with an original score. Shown with another silent classic, Laurel and Hardy's Big Business, with piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin. (4:30pm Saturday, October 25, Culbreth)
The Philadelphia Story - You'll miss Katherine Hepburn even more after seeing her as socialite Tracy Lord (not to be confused with that underage porn star), who must choose between Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart on the eve of her wedding to a distant third choice. Hepburn owned the film rights and got to choose her leading men and director George Cukor. The 1940 movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, and Stewart took home an Oscar. Shown with the 1967 Disney guide to high finance, Scrooge McDuck and $. (10am Sunday, October 26, Culbreth)
Man with a Million - Dear, dear Gregory Peck. What a year for losing film greats. While we'll always think of him as Atticus Finch, Peck's decades-long career included so many more roles, like the penniless sailor who's handed a million-pound note in this rarely seen 1953 comedy based on a Mark Twain short story. (1pm Sunday, October 26, Culbreth)
Foolish Wives - Here's another chance to see a silent movie with Sosin piano accompaniment and vocals by Joanna Seaton. This 1922 moving picture was the most expensive to that time, and the first to hit the million-dollar mark thanks to big-spending director Erich von Stroheim. (4pm Sunday, October 26, Culbreth)
Subversive: Linear plot development? Booorrrrinng. Experimental film made on your credit card? Yes! Give you a digital video camera and a Mac, and you've got a movie.
Motto: "It's all about art that's not fed through the capitalist death machine."
The Fringe Festival - You'll be spending a lot of time here at the former IGA on Ridge Street. Show proper disdain for crass commercialism by dropping a couple of bucks for a Steve Keene painting, if any are left, at the Filthy Lucre for Starving Artists Party (9:30pm Saturday, October 25). Then listen to An Emergency Sermon as the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping preaches to the choir on the Sabbath. (1pm Sunday, October 26)
Stroke Direct-action cinema auteur Rob Nilsson provides the basic plot lines, then lets members of the Tenderloin yGroup, an acting workshop for the homeless in San Francisco, improvise their own characters' dialogues. (7pm Thursday, October 23, Regal Downtown 6) More Nilsson: Scheme C6 (4pm Friday, October 24, Regal Downtown 6) and Noise (10pm Saturday, October 25, Vinegar Hill)
Direct animation - The celluloid is the medium in the latest of avant garde trends, and you, too, can be an experimental filmmaker by scratching graphics directly onto the film. Devon Damonte introduces examples from a number of artistes, as well as the efforts of local students at the Light House and the Festival 101 workshop. (7pm Thursday, October 23, Vinegar Hill)
Stopping Shopping - An anti-consumerism tour de force, featuring Charlottesville's own former mayoral candidate/photographer Alexandria Searls and her eight-minute film, Buy Nothing Day. Also, see the outrage of Value Added Cinema: A Product Placement Compendium, the vintage 1960s parody, The "Your Name Here" Story, and the status of logos and the exploited workers who manufacture them in Knock-Off, Revenge on the Logo. (1pm Saturday, October 25, Vinegar Hill)
Pour Down like Silver: The Films of Phil Solomon - Solomon turns emulsion decay into art using "found" archival footage. He introduces and discusses five works: Seasons, Nocturne, Remains to Be Seen, Exquisite Hour, and Psalm II: Walking Distance. Emulsifying. (4pm Saturday, October 25, Vinegar Hill)
Action Dude: You went to see Kill Bill, not because it's the long awaited Tarantino movie, but because you heard there were lopped heads and limbs flying all over the place. If you read movie reviews, it would be Joe Bob Briggs' drive-in reviews with their helpful body counts and tally of violence and breasts.
Motto: "I ain't gonna see no chick flick."
Proverbial Road Movie Action Flick - Normally we wouldn't suggest a low-budget filmmaker like local Johnny St. Ours for the action dude, because high body counts and high-speed chases take big budgets. But festival director Richard Herskowitz calls this a "meta action flick" and it's only 22 minutes long. Also come for War, which is on this double bill, but don't look for any machine gun fire in the story of the death of the American family farm. (7pm Friday, October 24, Newcomb)
Speedo - Expect plenty of crash scenes in this documentary about demolition derby champion Ed "Speedo" Jager, who wants to break into stock car racing. Director Jesse Moss will be there, along with Speedo. (10pm Friday, October 24, Vinegar Hill)
Scarface - If you've watched this only on television, here's your chance to catch the chainsaw scene that's always edited out. Since it came out in 1983, Scarface has become a cult classic, and if you're prone to doing impressions, the Cuban accent Al Pacino uses for druglord Tony Montana is irresistible. (10pm Saturday, October 25, Culbreth)
Game Engine - Okay, we don't want to scare you off by calling it a new art form, but can you say machinima? Rather than focus on the convergence of film, animation, and game development, think about the ultra-violence of videogames, add the anarchy of videogame hackers, and see your favorite game characters as you've never seen them before. (10pm Saturday, October 25, Regal Downtown 6)
Force of Evil - Card-carrying commie director Abraham Polonsky was blacklisted after this 1948 movie, which is considered a masterpiece of film noir. John Garfield's corrupt attorney has no redeeming value, and the end has been called "as violent and disturbing" as any crime movie of the '40s. Yes! (10pm Thursday, October 23, Vinegar Hill)
Indie snob: You were watching Pedro Almodóvar films long before he was ever nominated for an Oscar, and think Roman Polanski's statutory rape conviction should be pardoned on the grounds that he makes exquisite films like The Pianist.
Accessory: A sneer
Motto: "The new David Spade movie? I don't think so."
Maids (Domesticas) - Fans of City of God will want to check out Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles' earlier, 2001 film. Also directed by Nando Olival, it tracks the lives of five maids in São Paulo. Shown with the 13-minute Isle of Flowers (Ilha das Flores) by Jore Furtado. (10am Friday, October 24, Regal Downtown 6)
The Cooler - It's opening soon, but William Macy fans won't want to wait to see him as the loser whose luck is so bad he's hired to stand beside gamblers on a roll to cool down their hot streak. Also stars Alec Baldwin and Paul Sorvino. (10pm Friday, October 24, Culbreth)
The Company - A Robert Altman premiere? The indie snob is there. Much as Prêt-à-Porter used real models along with actors, The Company places actress Neve Campbell in the midst of the Joffrey Ballet Company. Bonus: also stars Malcolm McDowell. (7pm Saturday, October 25, Culbreth)
James' Journey to Jerusalem - Fresh from Cannes, up and coming Israeli documentary director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz makes his fictional debut with the story of a naïve African lad's pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he's forced into indentured labor. Alexandrowicz calls it an "economic fairy tale." (7pm Saturday, October 25, Vinegar Hill)
The Spook Who Sat by the Door In this film, reportedly suppressed by the FBI 30 years ago (!), a token black CIA agent retires from The Company to train African-American gangs in guerilla warfare. Based on the award-winning book by Sam Greenlee, who also co-wrote the screenplay, and directed by Ivan Dixon of Hogan's Heroes fame, this is the most radical of the blaxploitation movies– although some prefer the term "black political thriller." (4pm Sunday, October 26, Vinegar Hill)
Autograph hound: You come to the Film Festival to celebrity-watch, and you swoon over the prospect of seeing Anthony Hopkins, Nicolas Cage, or Sigourney Weaver in the flesh. You won't let this year's lower star wattage impede your celeb stalking.
Accessory: Autograph book clutched in your sweaty little hands
Motto: "Do you have a pen?"
Dog Day Afternoon - The festival kicks off with a cry of "Attica" with Frank Pierson's Oscar-winning screenplay. Pierson will be doing a shot-by-shot workshop over the next two days, but here's a chance to enjoy the movie in its entirety and then mingle at the gala at the University Museum. Also at the screening: hot, hot French artist Pierre Huyghe and the original bank robber, Sir Little John S. Wojtowicz. (6:30pm Thursday, October 23, Culbreth)
Three Kings - Talk about prescient. Three Kings takes place the first time the U.S. went to war in Iraq. Like Kelly's Heroes, the American soldiers try to capture the gold. Unlike its predecessor, it's too thought-provoking to be a comedy. Producer and UVA alum Paul Junger Witt has canceled, but UVA Middle East experts Helena Cobban, Abdulaziz Sachedina, and Ruhi Ramazani will be there. (1pm Friday, October 24, Culbreth)
The Tracker - If a movie calls for an Aboriginal role, it's usually played by David Gulpilil. Last year's festival screened Rabbit Proof Fence, in which he also played a tracker. Gulpilil is renowned in Australia for more than his role in Crocodile Dundee. He's a village elder and ceremonial dancer, and was lured here by the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Museum. (7pm Friday, October 24, Culbreth)
The Blues: Warming by the Devil's Fire - Impress your cineaste friends by name dropping Charles Burnett, who was tapped by Martin Scorsese to direct this segment of his seven-part series, The Blues. The Mississippi-born Burnett, known for his award-winning To Sleep with Anger, chronicles the lure of Satan's music for a young lad on his way to a baptism. (1pm Saturday, October 25, Regal Downtown 6)
Panel: Meet the Producers - So there isn't a Nic Cage or Tony Hopkins to chase down this year. Here's the next best thing: the people who hire the stars to be in their movies. Mark Johnson (Rain Man), Ron Yerxa (Cold Mountain), Marc Abraham (Air Force One), and Glenn Williamson (American Beauty) are among the producers who'll be answering questions. (1:15pm Saturday, October 25, Regal Downtown 6)