I think I figured out why first time director Reed Tang’s “A Different Sun” feels so darned disjointed. How else can you describe a drama about a Chinese family who moves to Germany to help their daughter get a better education, which is mostly in English and almost exclusively shot in upstate New York?
Here we are, on the final day of the two-week Cinequest Film Fesitval, and I still have yet to write up anything about the festival itself. So, if you’ll allow the indulgence, here is one person’s view of their first film festival in almost eight years, the things I enjoyed, the things I didn’t and the things I didn’t quite get to cover due to other commitments.
Prom King, 2010
It is said that neophyte filmmakers should stick to things they know. It is clear that Christopher Schaap, the writer/director/star of the new film “Prom King, 2010” knows a thing or two about the mavericks that came before him. It may be bit premature to put Schaap in the same league as John Cassavetes and John Sayles, but this New York-based filmmaker’s debut should be as exciting to cinephiles as “Shadows” was in 1959 or “Return of the Secaucus 7” was in 1980.
Director Lindsey Copeland’s second feature “Hedgehog” fails one of the most basic tenets of storytelling. If you can’t make your lead character likable, at least make them compelling. And if you can’t make them compelling, at least make them interesting. And if you can’t make them interesting, at least make it worth our while to follow them.
Although I missed out on a couple of early day screenings I really wanted to see, I did finish out the festival on an extremely high note with the Festival’s big closing night presentation, of a newly restored print of Fritz Lang’s 1927 “Metropolis.”
After picking up a very classy looking commemorative journal pad and pen at the TCM boutique I headed over to the encore screening of “The Stunt Man” at Mann’s. Although I was tempted by “Saboteur”, but I made a choice this year to select films I had never seen before over one’s I know well. And I was pleasantly surprised to find the director, Richard Rush in attendance to provide a thematic context for the film. Good thing too, since it is a strange and unusual film, but well worth watching, particularly for Peter O’Toole’s Oscar nominated performance as an egomaniacal director who will do anything to make a hit movie. As someone who works in the business I can say that many of the situations were not all that ridiculous. And then there was “Metropolis”. At 5:30 in the afternoon the line for the 7:15 screening was already forming.
I started the day off at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and a new print of John Huston’s “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Both Angelica and Danny Huston were there to talk about the film, their father, and even their grandfather Walter, who received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this film. Even better than that… Robert Osborne moderated the discussion.
The print itself was simply gorgeous, luscious even. It was so nice to see a film in Black and White with such clarity and detail I actually found myself discovering new details previously missed on a TV screen with an over worked print. If “Treasure” shows again anywhere, I encourage you to go see it. It’s worth it. Later I stopped in at the Roosevelt to catch a piece of the panel, “The Greatest Movies Ever Sold”. However I didn’t stay long. Although it was full of some very informative and experienced people it reminded me too much of my film school days. And I decided my time was better spent watching Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” with a live orchestra at the Egyptian, introduced by Leonard Maltin and Lloyd’s granddaughter.