Saturday, March 25, 2006

OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO! Links, Screenings and Giggling Girls on an Otherwise Quiet Friday Night

It's a typical Friday night in the SLIFR universe-- lots of stuff to talk about, think about, write about and read about, as usual, and just as usual, practically no time to talk, think, write or read about them. But try I shall. I can hear my youngest daughter singing in her crib as I sit here typing in my bedroom. I put her to bed an hour ago (8:30 p.m.), and she's still not even halfway through her repertoire. (Right now she's going through heartfelt renditions of selected Bryan Adams songs from the soundtrack of the movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.)

Tonight I had the rare opportunity to read bedtime stories to my oldest daughter too. This is usually the exclusive province of my wife, who often falls asleep in bed with her, which is just the way my daughter likes it (and, I suspect, my wife too.) But tonight the Mrs. is working in the Burbank office. She's trying to get a jump on all the assignments she has to catch up on for the weekend and the beginning of next week. So her reading chores were shifted to me, and not before a copious display of tears were shed over the whole substitution matter by the little one, I must say.

I read to our youngest first, and our oldest had calmed down by the time I made it to her room. She found it extremely funny tracking the odd things that came out of my mouth as I tried to stay awake while reading a very long and verbose Strawberry Shortcake story ("That makes me berry, berry happy, Strawzzzzzzzzz.....") I would fall asleep for a brief second, sometimes utter a bizarre non sequitur, then snap back to awareness to the sound of her laughter.What I was saying didn't make any sense, but it was apparently hilarious. So I decided to play to my obvious strength in this situation-- absurd humor-- and turned the next book, a relatively innocent tome about Lilo and Stitch and photos Lilo has taken of her family and the Hawaiian paradise in which they all live, into a ridiculous fantasy in which Lilo illogically transforms into a super-villain bent on turning the Hawaiian islands into a frozen wasteland of snow and ice. It made absolutely no sense at all, but each crazy joke made her ache with laughter all the harder, until finally the "story" was finished, she was fully and truly exhausted, and had forgotten how upset she was about Mommy not being there for her this one night. She drifted off to sleep with no protest, but not before asking one last time, as she bravely fought off the quivering lower lip that threatened to overtake her beautiful little face again as it did earlier in the evening, just exactly how many more minutes until Mommy was coming back. I reassured her Mommy would come visit her when she got home, and that was all it took. Visions of her beloved mother, and Lilo blasting the island of Kauai with a super-sleet ray, carried her off to peaceful slumber, where she remains as I click-clack on the keyboard just a room away.

The weekend looks to be a fairly quiet one for our family. I'm going to try to get in an early-morning beach walk tomorrow with some pals. Then tomorrow night the two girls and I will be giving Mom the Saturday night off by high-tailing it to the Mission Tiki Drive-in for a screening of the remake of The Shaggy Dog. Not that Tim Allen as a sheepdog I'll be having a tough time keeping my eyes off the other screens-- one features a double bill of Spike Lee's new movie, a heist drama entitled Inside Man, and Dave Chappelle's Block Party, the other a tasty combination of Bruce Willis in 16 Blocks and the outlandish and terrific futuristic political thriller V For Vendetta, which I saw last Saturday night.

I'm really ready for a weekend of relative relaxation. But before I lay me down to sleep, I wanted to link you up to some good weekend reading, and tip you off to a couple of screenings coming up in the next few weeks, that will hopefully be of as much interest to you as they are to me.


Dave Kehr, in the New York Times, writes eloquently about Don Siegel in conjunction with an upcoming Siegel retrospective at the Film Forum in New York which runs through April 7.


I've meant to link to this for over a month now, and I'm finally getting to it. Aaron Graham, aka Machine Gun McCain, has a riveting report on the unproduced screenplay for the proposed second Jaws sequel at his blog More Than Meets the Mogwai. The screenplay, which was to have been produced under the National Lampoon banner and directed by Joe Dante, was called Jaws 3, People 0. It's one of those phantom film ideas that constantly keep you ruminating about what might have been. Machine Gun comes to a levelheaded conclusion about the script itself, but his is a very readable investigation into its strengths and weaknesses. And even if the script doesn't completely work, who's to say the resulting film would have been any wore than Jaws 3-D?


Over at Like Anna Karina's Sweater, Filmbrain presents a piece entitled "David Bordwell's Call to Arms." It goes a little something like this:

"Fellow film bloggers and critics take note — contemporary film criticism is failing. At least that's academic and author David Bordwell's opinion in an essay found in the latest issue of Cinema Scope. Entitled "Against Insight," it's a piece that will undoubtedly raise eyebrows and perhaps even bruise a few egos. And though it's not quite a polemic for a new criticism, Bordwell doesn't mince words, and there's more than a slight hint of J'accuse throughout the piece."

You can finish reading Filmbrain's thoughts on Bordwell's thoughts here.


Matt Zoller Seitz points the way toward a new horror film getting a lot of attention on the festival circuit. It's called Puzzlehead, and Matt sits down with director James Bai for an illuminating talk that will do nothing but whet your desire to see this one as soon as possible.


The buzz, or should that be hiss, on director David R. Ellis' upcoming feature Snakes on a Plane is getting downright deafening. And since this movie has people talking about it and its filmmakers' unique interaction with its Internet fan base so far in advance of its August 18 release date, you can expect SOAP to experience a uniquely pre-release backlash once footage starts getting circulated or people just get sick of hearing about it. (There was a report about the movie on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday, for God's sake!) But those of us who love Ellis' work on Final Destination 2 and Cellular have reason beyond the movie's obvious exploitation roots and assumed camp factor to have deliriously high hopes. And given that release date, I think I know where I want my birthday party to be this summer, hint, hint...


Hollywood Master Storytellers will present pioneering effects magician Ray Harryhausen at a screening honoring the 25th anniversary of the animator's last production, Clash of the Titans, at the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood on Wednesday, April 19. In addition to Harryhausen, several of the cast and behind-the scenes personnel who worked on the film, including Harry Hamlin, will attend, as will Harryhausen's lifelong friend, author Ray Bradbury. Personally, I'd rather see Jason and the Argonauts or Mysterious Island on the big screen again, but any opportunity to see Ray Harryhausen speak is appreciated.


And speaking of screenings, the American Cinematheque has a very special night in store for Sergio Leone fans this coming Friday, March 31. They will be presenting, at the wonderful Aero Theater on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, the director's cut of Duck, You Sucker (Giu La Testa). Available only on Region 2 DVD, this is a very rare opportunity to see Leone's epic restored to its original European running time, as there are still no announced plans for a Region 1 disc (though the Aero screening may, if we're lucky, pave the way for one). If it's not yet sold out, I hope to be there myself!


Finally, though restrictions on my time and brain cells prevent me from participating this time, I wanted to make sure everyone is aware that the next Blog-a-Thon is nearly upon us. Girish will be participating, and undoubtedly providing a long list of links to others who will be submitting pieces for the Abel Ferrara Blog-a-Thon coming up in just two days, on Monday, March 27. There should be a lot of illuminating reading available on films as varied, in scope and achievement, as Driller Killer, Ms. .45, Fear City, China Girl, Bad Lieutenant, Body Snatchers, The Funeral, The Addiction, Dangerous Games and a host of others. I'm not completely sold on Ferrara myself, but that's not preventing me from looking forward to all the insights and terrific writing that will surely be on tap for this, the latest installment in what is fast becoming a happy habit around these parts. (And don't forget, the Angie Dickinson Blog-a-Thon is on its way April 19.)

Have a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Embarrassing as it is to admit it, I probably would have laughed almost as hard at your version of the Lilo story as your daughter did, given your gift for storytelling. As for your weekend reading, I'm afraid I had no chance to read any of it, but the Harryhausen appearance makes me wish I were down there...that picture of Abel Ferrara freaks me out. I don't think I've seen any of his movies!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Yeah, you know, I think you might have liked the Lilo story too. She was wheezing and gasping like it was Prince Sirki himself telling the story! As for the Abel Ferrara pic, I couldn't resist. (He looks like he's peforming in some hybrid of Marat/Sade and Amadeus.) I'm not much of a Ferrara fan myself, but I was ready to jump into the Blog-a-Thon-- perhaps a little something on Body Snatchers or King of New York. But I just got too busy. Plus, must leave time to devote to Angie!