Monday, May 23, 2011

Breakfast Club, Orange County-Style

There is no better angsty teen movie to grow up watching than The Breakfast Club. This is an indisputable fact. But you know what's better than watching it edited by TBS on a Saturday morning? Seeing it on the big screen! We Los Angelenos can now do so by making the long trek into Orange County to see it Wednesday night, May 25 at 7:30 pm at South Coast Village Regency Theatre (1561 W Sunflower Ave, Santa Ana).

There is something so identifiable about each of these five characters that just keeps audiences coming back. John Hughes was definitely the best at capturing that teenage confusion in a sincere, yet funny way, and what girl didn't want to grow up to be Molly Ringwald? Do yourself a favor and try to watch these older movies in a theatre. The communal experience of watching something in a room full of people who love it as much as you do makes it so memorable. One of my favorite theatre experiences was seeing Back to the Future in a big crowd. This venue will be showing plenty of classics in the months to come, and I'll keep you posted here. Tickets are $7. Have fun!

The Academy Presents: Cinematography in the Digital Age

Academy governor Bill Kroyer will be hosting a discussion on cinematography at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre (8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211) through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and boy is it going to be a doozy. The event is entitled 'Cinematography in the Digital Age' and will include the following speakers:
Scheduled guests (subject to availability) include Cinematography Branch governor John Bailey (“Country Strong,” 2010); Oscar-winning cinematographers Guillermo Navarro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” 2006) and Dean Semler (“Dances With Wolves,” 1990); Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, directors of the CG-animated film “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010), who will discuss how cinematographer Roger Deakins helped create the look of the film; and Science and Technology Council member Rob Hummel, who will explain the film and digital image capture processes; and Digital Intermediate Colorist Adrian Seery. The program will also included recorded remarks from this year’s Oscar winner for cinematography, Wally Pfister (“Inception,” 2010).
There will be clips of different films to go along with the discussion, and it looks like the kind of event that any aspiring filmmaker or critic would want to attend. The event is Tuesday night at 8pm, May 24. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are only $5. Students and Academy members pay $3. Buy your tickets on-line or in person.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Your Doug Benson Fill For the Week

You comedy fans out there might already know Doug Benson from his stand up, 'The Benson Interruption' on Comedy Central, or his 2007 film Super High Me. But maybe you didn't know that he performs in LA frequently, and you should really go see him. He is appearing twice this week for different events.

First, he is doing another Doug Loves Movies show at the UCB (5919 Franklin Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028) on Tuesday night, May 24, at 7:30pm for free. You might be familiar with this show; he posts these live performances as a podcast. His guests range from actors to comedians and more, and you won't want to miss some of the people that show up. (Adam Scott from Parks & Recreation and Party Down, Ellen Page from Inception and Juno, and Kevin Smith to name a few.)

It's a half our, it's free, and it's hilarious. Audience members get the change to win prizes as the guests play the Leonard Maltin Game in which you guess a movie from a shrinking cast list. It's typically a weekly show, so if you can't catch it this week, download it on iTunes or check out this page or the UCB calendar for more shows.

Then on Wednesday night, May 25, Benson will be introducing a free sneak preview of The Trip, starring Steve Coogan at 8pm. You have to RSVP through Cinefamily (611 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, 90036) for this one, and it's first come, first serve so don't wait too long. Show up early, seating starts 30 minutes in advance with no late entry allowed. In this movie, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travel around the country to sample fancy eateries for Coogan's new job for the Observer. Check out the clip below, it looks like a great movie to catch, especially for free!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Family Fun with the Love Bug!

If you're in the Westwood area Sunday morning, May 22, stop by the Billy Wilder Theatre (10899 Wilshire Boulevard) for a free screening of The Love Bug at 11am. This cute little story about a VW Beetle with a heart of gold (or very warm steel) is the first in the 'Herbie the Love Bug' series. The movie follows Jim, a down-and-out racer, that crashes his car and sets out to find a new one. After Jim defends a white Beetle at a car showroom, he wakes the next morning to find it parked outside of his house. Seeing how fast it runs, he strikes a deal to make monthly payments and race the car professionally. Obviously, hijinx ensue.

This movie is a classic and fun for all ages (you know, before Lindsay Lohan ruined it). This would be a great pre-cursor for all of you waiting for Pixar's Cars 2 to come out later this summer. Get there on time and don't miss out!

Idiocracy at the Guerrilla Drive-In

Whatever your plans were for Sunday night, forget 'em. The new season of Guilty Pleasure Movies at GuerriLA Drive-In is beginning tomorrow night and you won't want to miss it. Who needs to get enough sleep for work when you could be watching a Luke Wilson movie projected onto a parking lot wall?

Sunday, May 22 at 9pm there will be a free drive-in screening of Idiocracy at the usual spot on 2nd and Garey St. in Little Tokyo in DTLA. AND IT'S FREE. Just come, drive onto the lot, and tune your radio in to 104.7 FM. Or you can sit on a blanket, bring some dinner, hang out under the stars and hear it through the speakers. Last season I saw a Crank double-feature with a couple of friends, and there is nothing better than seeing shocked pedestrians stop to watch a sex scene projected in a parking lot in Chinatown. Check it out and you'll become a Sunday night addict. There will be a short film by Ryan Bosworth beforehand, come when you want, leave when you want. Just be respectful. It's a great experience. What do you have to lose?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Freaks at the Aero. Not in a mean way.

Tomorrow night, Saturday May 21 at 7:30pm, there will be a double-feature of Tod Browning films at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica (1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403). The first film, Freaks (1932), is about a woman conniving with a circus strongman to rob a fellow sideshow performer who is a little person of his inheritance. The film does a beautiful job of showing inner-strength and inner-beauty through these characters.
With never-again duplicated eerie performances by real-life siblings Daisy and Harry Earles as Hans and Frieda. Featuring the beautiful conjoined Hilton Twins, Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow as Zip and Pip the pinheads, Johnny Eck as Johnny the half-boy and the unforgettable Prince Randian as the human Torso, with the most amazing cigarette-smoking scene in film history. Drawing from past experience working for the circus, DRACULA director Tod Browning cast actual people with disabilities and deformities instead of using special effects and makeup, something unthinkable for the time. - Aero website

It runs at 64 minutes, and is followed by Browning's 1936 film, The Devil-Doll starring Lionel Barrymore as an escaped convict who shrinks people "in order to execute a crime spree." This film runs at 78 minutes. Browning's works are fearless and fear-inducing, with heartbreaking consequences and a commitment to showing the far reaches of society up close. Don't miss the opportunity to see Freaks on a big screen. But beware, you'll be hearing "Gooble gobble, gooble gobble" in your nightmares.

Tickets are $11, $9 if you are a student or a senior. Or buy a membership for $7 tickets. Membership applies to both the Aero Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre.

Hobo with a Shotgun at the Nuart

Starting this Friday May 20, the Nuart Theatre will start a week-long engagement of Hobo with a Shotgun, the new entry in the neo-grindhouse genre. Actually, it follows in Machete's footprints as this film is based on one of the fake trailers shown during the 2007 double-feature, Grindhouse that was shown in Canada. What, you're not taking it seriously? I don't think they did either.

To me, this reeks of Snakes on a Plane, and only those truly dedicated to irony, or those who were far too oblivious to notice. When you make a movie that is intentionally "so bad it's funny," it just stops being funny. I personally enjoyed both Planet Terror and Death Proof, but there was something else at work there. Tarantino and Rodriguez had a sincere love of B movies and it showed. They made me love them, too. And although it seems like Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), the Hobo himself, it playing it straight, that doesn't seem like enough to make this movie enjoyable.

So if you're like me and don't feel the need to go to a theatre to check this out, it is also playing on OnDemand. It's a cheaper, easier solution to see what this is all about, and probably more fun since you can invite friends over and make it a real B movie night, complete with laughs and jeers in the comfort of your own home. But if you are hankering that in-theatre experience, it will be playing at the Nuart (11272 Santa Monica Boulevard) for one week, three times a night, with two additional afternoon screenings this weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey at the Egyptian Theatre

Thursday, May 19 at 7:30pm, the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood (6712 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90028) will be showing Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. This bizarre tale about technology gone wrong was so far ahead of its time, but it's so fascinating to watch. I personally have a hard time revisiting this movie because of the way it faces human existence and our future, but there's no denying that Kubrick's work is a masterpiece. The opening sequence alone is worth watching on a big screen.

If you've seen this movie before, you know that Hal is one spooky computer, and now you can see it all in 70mm. General admission is $11, $9 for seniors and students. Or go ahead and buy a membership and get tickets for $7. The Egyptian shows great movies that we all love, and the membership applies to the wonderful Aero Theatre in Santa Monica too. Check out the movie, and then maybe explain that opening sequence to me. I mean, seriously. What the heck.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Shining Outdoor Screening 5/21

When you try to think of something creepy to do, what does it usually involve? A cemetary? Red Rum painted on a door? A bottle of wine and a blanket on the ground? Well, you're in luck. Cinespia is putting on a showing of everyone's favorite creepfest, The Shining, this Saturday May 21 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (6000 Santa Monica Blvd. at Gower). This is the 10th year that John Wyatt and his cohorts are assembling LA's cinephiles near the graves of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and countless others to enjoy classic films in morbid style.

And what better way to celebrate such a landmark than with Stanley Kubrick's 1980 chilling film, The Shining. Sit under an almost full moon with a picnic basket and someone to hold onto when Jack becomes a not so dull boy. Gates open at 7, tickets are $10 (a donation to keep these events going), and you can buy them pre-sale now. Make sure to bring a jacket, you are outdoors after all. There will be a DJ before and after the screening, and as always, watch out for those pesky undead. This is just the beginning of the cemetery movie season, you don't want to get taken out by zombies too early.

"Bridesmaids" Are Doin' It For Themselves

Standin' on their own two feet, and ringin' their own bells. There's been a lot of talk comparing the new Kristen Wiig/Annie Mumolo comedy to 2009's The Hangover, as though it were some kind of PR campaign to make guys want to see a movie with a bunch of ladies in it. Because clearly a movie with women is going to be geared towards weepy, hormonal women who need something to eat chocolates to, just like action movies are for dudes who need something to do when they're not masturbating.

This is my way of saying that Bridesmaids and The Hangover don't really have anything in common, and what they do share feels crammed in to fit more demographics. But the reality is that this movies is made for men and women alike, with laughs that come from genuinely funny social situations, well-written jokes, and terrific physical comedy. It turns out prat falls and intoxicated ramblings aren't just for boys' weekends in Vegas.

To be perfectly honest, Bridesmaids doesn't have a million laughs a minute, but the plot is paced really well and it doesn't really slow down. The women are shown as flawed, weird, outspoken people who are just looking to have a little fun before the bride's big day, and when Kristen Wiig's character feels she's being pushed out of her best friend's special moment, the in-fighting begins. Wiig plays the part so convincingly, really driving home the feeling of being replaced, and Maya Rudolph is great as the bride-to-be who is grounded, yet silly, and their chemistry helps pull the audience into their life-long friendship.

Rose Byrne shines as the intruder Wiig is trying to edge out, and Jon Hamm prizes any moment where he can be funny and shed the Don Draper shell, but it's really Melissa McCarthy who stands out the most in this movie. She played Lorelei's best friend on 'Gilmore Girls,' and is currently co-starring in 'Mike and Molly,' but I never realized how truly weird and hilarious she is until now. I feel sorry for how the trailers are playing, because they really don't allow us to see the real tone and humor of Bridesmaids, so go with an open mind and enjoy the film. With the exception of one rather misplaced moment of gross-out humor (you'll know it when you see it...), this was a great experience. Hopefully comedies featuring women in prominent roles will stop being grouped with rom-coms, but on the flip side, just because a movie is funny and not solely for women, they won't be treated like Hangover duplicates.

Tournament of Nerds! at UCB

This Saturday at the Los Angeles branch of the Upright Citizens Brigade, there will be another Tournament of Nerds.
"Have you ever wondered who would win in a fight, Superman or Gandolf? Are you a fan of Comic books, Sci Fi, Horror, and Fantasy? Do you like to see nerds engage in passionate debate? Then come to the "Tournament of Nerds!" Nerds square off in heated debate to decide which heroes would win in a fight, as they battle to get through a March Madness type bracket... ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE!!!"
This is guaranteed to be a fun night of geeky entertainment with judges like the hilarious Jonah Ray from the Nerdist Podcast and 'Web Soup,' and Sam Brown from the 'Whitest Kids U Know.' I first heard about this on the Battleship Pretension podcast a couple of years ago, and it is a can't-miss.

The way it works is that two comics face off and argue their one-minute case on behalf of their assigned character, and then get to make a 30-second rebuttal. It's all improved, they aren't pre-prepared bits. Watch these skilled comedians nerd out for only $5 May 21 at midnight (5919 Franklin Ave, Hollywood). It's like a pop culture Fight Club; but instead of blood spilling on the ground, it'll be pithy remarks laying waste to our favorite heroes and villains.

Ferris Bueller Vs. Manny
Watch more comedy videos from the twisted minds of the UCB Theatre at

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yves Saint Laurent Doc Early Screening

This Monday May 16 at 7pm, USC in conjunction with IFC is hosting an early screening of the new documentary, L'Amour Fou, which chronicles the life and career of iconic designer Yves Saint Laurent. Director and co-writer Pierre Thoretton lets us into the auction of Saint Laurent's personal art collection, and through this event explores his personal life with lover Pierre Berge. The film is in French with English subtitles.

Saint Laurent has a storied past, having moved from Dior's assistant at the age of seventeen, to head of the label four years later when Dior passed away. He started his own label in '61 and changed fashion forever. Not only did he buck convention by making ready-to-wear clothing respectable, but he hired ethnic models and reinvigorated menswear for women. His life was a fascinating public "extravagance," but what happened behind the scenes is what's so captivating.

Admission is free to the Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre (George Lucas Building, SCA 112, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007), just go to the website and make a reservation. If you miss it here, though, the film will be opening at the "Laemmle Royal Theatre in West LA, Town Center in Encino, and Playhouse in Pasadena" on Friday, May 20.

Rodarte Exhibit at the MOCA

As many of you cinephiles and swan fetishists may already know, Laura and Kate Mulleavy, better known as the Rodarte sisters, designed the costumes for last fall's Oscar darling, Black Swan. These incredibly accomplished young ladies have been designing since about 2005 after graduating from my alma mater, UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) in 2001, and have received countless awards such as the 2008 CFDA Swarovski Emerging Womenswear Designer award.

Rodarte is known for its dream-like, romantic, and couture-like gowns that every cutting edge fashionista hopes to wear on the red carpet, and then in 2010 they translated their style into a Target line while maintaining their focus on detail. And for anyone who saw Black Swan, you know how incredible and sometimes nightmarish those costumes became. Natalie Portman in the black tutu, even in the trailer was unforgettable.

Well, now you can see these designs up-close and personal at the MOCA Rodarte exhibit in the West Hollywood branch of the museum. "The exhibition features pieces from Rodarte's Spring 2010, Fall 2010, and Fall 2008 runway collections, as well as original ballet costumes designed by Kate and Laura for the feature film Black Swan" (Moca website). Fashion as art has not always been taken seriously by mass audiences, but in recent time with more and more exposure to runway shows on television and designers as celebrities (Project Runway anyone?) this kind of exhibition shows the craftsmanship and truly innovative nature in clothing design.

Entrance to the museum is free and the exhibition is running through June 6, 2011 so hurry up before it's too late. MOCA Pacific Design Center (8687 MELROSE AVENUE, WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA 90069) is closed Mondays, Tue-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-6pm.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Woody Allen in Person? I Want to Go to There

That's right, you're hearing it here first: Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band are bringing their tour through Los Angeles to at least one House of Blues location in November/December. Alright, alright, this is sparse information, but nothing is officially confirmed. This is straight from my insider source, so plan on becoming a fan of the clarinet and New Orleans-style jazz by winter so you won't miss a beat.

Allen has been playing the clarinet since a young age and has always had a passion for jazz. He went every week to Child's Paramount in New York and eventually asked clarinetist Gene Sedric to tutor him when he was seventeen, which he did (Eric Lax, Woody Allen: A Biography). Allen recorded the soundtrack for his film Sleeper with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and now he plays weekly at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, occasionally touring with his band. I will be keeping you updated with more information until then, so follow the blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Volunteer Opportunity: Give the Gift of Chaplin

On May 15, 2011 from 2pm-5pm, Rabbit Hole Screenings is teaming up with Cinefamily and Big Sunday to put on an event that teaches teenagers about silent film. And how better to show them the magic of early cinema than by screening some Charlie Chaplin! This is taking place at the Silent Movie Theatre (611 N Fairfax, Los Angeles 90036). The volunteers will be given props to dress up like Chaplin himself, and what could be more fun than spending a Sunday afternoon with the Little Tramp?

I just signed up, and as of right now they need 29 more volunteers, so come out and help your community, Los Angelenos! Follow the link, and I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hitchcock Fans Welcome

I am starting my Hitchcock education a little late in life, but why not learn together? Watching his films is my current unemployment pet project, and here is the perfect opportunity to see more of his work. The Egyptian Theatre is showing a double feature of Strangers on a Train and Rope tonight at 7:30.

Strangers on a Train was adapted into a screenplay by Raymond Chandler, the creator of the iconic character Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. The film is about two men who meet and agree to commit each other's murders. Rope is similar, in that it is about two men who murder someone just to see if they can get away with it. It is based on the story of Leopold and Loeb. Both films feature Farley Granger in lead roles.

I have only seen Rope, and it is a great suspense film in total Hitchcock form. He has an incredible way of portraying a story of two lovers who commit a heinous act for the thrill of it. And all that without explicitly showing that they were lovers. Hitchcock really knows how to play out a story without letting the suspense die. James Stewart is so entertaining to watch as the guest, and the 10 minute long takes are simply incredible feats of both acting and filming.

This is your chance to see two classics on the big screen, and it is not to be missed. The Egyptian Theatre is east of the El Capitan Theatre past the Hollywood Wax Museum. It is just off the Hollywood and Highland metro station, so there are many easy ways of getting there. So get there!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

'Superbad' Take on Homoeroticism

Maybe I'm a little late to the criticism party, but this blog is fairly new, so cut me a break. I have a genuine interest in searching out good teen comedies, because even young audiences deserve something more than cheap masturbation jokes and fake vomit. Maybe that's good enough for some audiences, but I can't be the only one who grew up wanting to be Molly Ringwald. So when Superbad came out in 2007, I thought there was finally something that met in the middle: dick jokes with some heart. And I have to be honest, on initial viewing I really did enjoy myself.

It's a funny movie! Hoorah! But here is the problem... even with all the cursing and sex jokes and embracing of homosocial behavior, the film overall chickens out in the end.


The two main characters are played by Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, and they make a very sweet couple in the screwball comedy tradition. I don't mean that in the Dumb and Dumber sense, I am referring to the romantic, slapstick comedies of the 1930's and 40's like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby where a straighlaced man gets mixed up with some wacky dame who gets him in all sorts of hijinx. Their sexual relationship is played out through a series of pratfalls and they overcome social barriers to be together in the end.
In Superbad, Michael Cera is the uptight man who gets into all kinds of crazy situations because of Jonah Hill, the rambunctious partner. The tension in the film comes from the fact that Cera's character, Evan, is going to a better school than Seth (Hill). They will soon be separated and have to make the most of their last few months, without admitting their fears about being alone. Evan is of a higher level academically, and is being pulled away by Fogel, the nerdier partner that on paper is a better match for Evan. Just like in screwball comedies, there is another character coming between the protagonists, threatening the relationship whether intentional or not. Fogel is the stand-in for social convention.

Throughout all the pratfalls and physical gags, Evan and Seth remain on their journey to bring alcohol to a high school party so they can impress girls, but the whole time, the romantic relationship between the two leads is always more important than what they can have with their love interests. In screwball comedies, the physical comedy moments (falling, bumping into each other, etc) represent sexual behavior. They couldn't actually have sex or get too affectionate, but they could have a different kind of contact, and that is true for Superbad as well. Seth saves Evan by carrying him out of a raided party like a damsel in distress, off into the night. They go so far as to profess their love for each other in a warm, drunken embrace that feels to the audience like a missed opportunity for a kiss on some level. And this is where I have a real problem with this movie. This is where the film rejects its open-minded, open-hearted, and sincerely funny gag of a boy-boy love story. I don't think that the characters should have really kissed a la Y Tu Mama Tambien, but perhaps the film should have just ended here, with the two friends coming to terms with their affection and deep-rooted friendship. Instead, the film veers way off course, in my opinion.

In the morning after scene, the two wake up as if in a post-coital embarrassment and decide to brush off the night before with awkward silence and interrupted ramblings about needing to leave, and before Seth makes his hurried exit, he calls back a comment about Evan's mom's breasts in order to confirm his manhood. The film itself is having a Morning After moment, trying to reject the homoerotic implications of its previous scenes and washing it away with heterosexual pairings. The boys get dressed, go to the mall, and part ways for the long haul with their pretty new girlfriends. They look back longingly at each other, but know they can't go on like this forever.

By having these last few scenes, the film is in essence saying that all the love and friendship the boys have has to be cast aside, that although they know how they really feel, there's something kind of gay about wanting to spend more time together so they better grow up and nail some girls. I just wish that Superbad was willing to embrace its own commentary on the buddy film genre and the closeness that can exist in a male friendship.