Sunday, June 30, 2013

Phil attends the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL: Day Three-June 30, 2013

Greetings and salutations everybody and welcome to the third and final day of the 16th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival! A lot of fun and excitement took place on Sunday, so folks, if you don't mind, let's get this day started!

I arrived at the Edison Theater where I along with over two dozen silent film fans took a WALKING TOUR OF NILES! Led by David and Rena Kiehn, the tour consisted of visiting various locations and landmarks in Niles that the Essanay Film Studios used for their films. From the old building that used to be original location of the studio itself, David and Rena gave a fun and informative tour! Also as an added bonus, David included the locations that he used for his new silent film BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET!

After the tour, we all returned to the Edison Theater for the next screening. STUNT LOVE is an half hour Australian documentary focusing on stunt pioneers (and real life Hollywood couple) Helen Holmes and J.P McGowan. Interviewed in the documentary were David Donaldson, Richard Maltby, Geoff Mayer, modern day daredevil Zoe Bell. It also contained movie clips and archival footage of this powerful dynamic couple!

The film was introduced Shirley Frietas, J.P. and Helen's granddaughter. And after the screening, their was a discussion about the subject moderated by board member Sprague Anderson and featuring silent film actress and author Diana Serra Cary and author/historian Bob Birchard.

Afterwards there was an hour break, then the fun continued with closing night film! But before the film, Rene announced the winners for the raffle as well as the silent actions that was happening during the festival. Ukulele sweetheart and singer Janet Klien performed a couple of songs (using her ukulele that lights up in the dark), and John Bengston (author of the Silent Echoes series of books) gave a presentation on the various locations that the great Buster Keaton used in tonight's film.

The museum had an encore screening of their new silent film BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET. At this screening, many of David's family members were in the audience, including of the film's stars: Diana Serra Cary!! After the screening, it was time for the main feature!

SHERLOCK JR. (1924): In the movie Buster Keaton plays a projectionist (and janitor) in a movie theater. However, he's also studying to become a detective. He's also in love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire), but he has competition in the form of Ward Crane. One day he is accused of stealing his girlfriend's father's watch and thus is told he can never see her again. He goes back to the theater, where he falls asleep and dreams that he's a Sherlock Holmes-type detective, solving the case of who stole a valuable pearl necklace.

This was a clever film-within-a-film movie that really showed off Buster's amazing acrobatic abilities while also creating a witty and loveable character that we all cheer for! Buster directed the film and he did all of his own stunts as well as for actor Ford West (in the scene where the motorcycle he is driving with Keaton on the handlebars, hits a deep pothole and bucks him off flat on his behind). Also, there's the scene where Keaton was hanging off of a tube connected to a water basin. The water poured out and washed him on to the track. It was here where he suffered a broken neck, but he was unaware that he did it. It wasn't until he saw a doctor years later that he discovered this fact out courtesy of a X-ray that he had gotten. The film was released to theaters on April 21, 1924. The movie was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress in 1991.

Well folks, there you have it! Another great festival and another great time at the museum. Remember that the museum has weekly Saturday shows, and they will also be showing Laurel and Hardy talkies on Sunday afternoons. To learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, how to become a member, and view their film schedule, visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil attends the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL: Day Two, Part Three-June 29, 2013

Hello my friends, and welcome to day two of my trip to the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum at the historic Edison Theater in the Niles District of Fremont! My up to the minute review continues with this evening's program!

Before the night's films, both Rene Kiehn and museum president Dorothy Bradley present the Ray Hubbard Award Recipient for 2013 to Walter and Marcia Levy. The Levy's have been major supporters of the museum long before the museum even existed. I have seen them in attendance at the museum every Saturday night since I've been coming since 2006. I didn't know them well, but they were very nice and loved watching silent films. Walter passed away back in October 2012. A couple of weeks ago, the museum visited Marcia to present her with the award in person. She was very excited and honored. She passed away a couple of days ago. They will be missed here!

After the Hubbard presentation, archivist David Kiehn came back up to discuss about the short film we were about to see, which was the hilarious...

SOPHIE'S HERO (1913): The film was part of a series of western comedies called Snakeville comedies. In the short, three and a half local cowboys (one is about 5ft tall so he counts as half) are vying for the affection of Sophie Clutts (Margaret Ike), who is the only woman in the town of Snakeville. Also starring in the film are Essanay actors Harry Todd, Fred Church, Victor Potel, and Alkali Ike (he left for Universal Pictures to star in his own series, but it didn't last).

After a brief intermission, the show continued with...

HIS NIBS (1921): Directed by Gregory La Cava, the film stars vaudeville comedian Charles "Chic" Sale. The comedy takes place in a movie theater called The Slippery Elm Nickelodeon, where an old and craggy projectionist named Theodore "His Nibs" Bender (Sale) is showing a movie called HE FOOLED THEM ALL, starring...yup, you guessed it...Sale!! He played SEVEN different characters in the film! Besides Bender and the boy in the film, Sale also portrayed Wally Craw, Mr. Percifer, Elmer Bender, Peelee Gear Jr., and Miss Dessie Teed. The clever movie-within-a-movie premise provides Sale an opportunity to showcase his comedic timing and talent that he used in his vaudeville acts. Starring as his love interest is none other than Colleen Moore, in one of her early screen appearances! The film was released by Exceptional Pictures on October 22, 1921.

And that was it for Day Two of the festival!! Remember the Broncho Billy Film Festival concludes this Sunday! So make plans to attend this event! To purchase tickets and passes, view the festival's film schedule, and to become a member, visit the museum's official website at http://nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Phil attends the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY FILM FESTIVAL: Day Two, Part Two-Jue 29, 2013

Hello again folks and welcome back to my up to the minute coverage of the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL! The afternoon show was entitled "Essanay Films Made in Niles." Six historical film were screened, featuring Broncho Billy himself: Gilbert M. Anderson! On the piano for the afternoon was David Drazin!

THE MAKING OF BRONCHO BILLY (1913): The film is an early attempt as what we would call a "prequel." After making several Broncho Billy shorts for the past couple of years, G.M. Anderson decided to give his character a backstory, giving audiences a look at how Broncho Billy came to be. Basically, the East Coast transplant Billy is pretty mush a wimp. He drinks soda pop in a salon, which gets him teased by the locals such as Wilkes (Brinsley Shaw). Soon Billy gets a gun and practices until he becomes an expert marksman. He then sets off to find Wilkes to prove his manhood. This 16mmprint came from the museum's own vault!

WHY BRONCHO BILLY LEFT BEAR COUNTY (1913): This print is from the vaults of the NESFM! Broncho Billy helps out his friend Marion Rivers (Marguerite Clayton) with carrying her drunk father home. Marion repays the favor by preventing Broncho Billy from robbing a stagecoach. Unfortunately her father does rob the stagecoach, so it's up to BB to save the day!

BRONCHO BILLY'S GUN-PLAY (1913): Broncho Billy gets called in by Sheriff Waters (Brinsley Shaw) to help round up a bunch of fierce bandits led by a man called Hawk Eye (Fred Church). The 35mm film print came courtesy from the British Film Institute.

BRONCHO BILLY'S GRATEFULNESS (1913): Broncho Billy wonders in the country with a terrible fever. He stumbles across the home of John Harding (Brinsley Shaw) and his wife (Evelyn Selbie). He gets better and says if they need anything let him now. When Fred Church comes back to attempt to blackmail Mrs. Harding with her old love letters, John hunts him down to kill him. So she aks BB's help to save her husband. The 35mm film print came courtesy from the British Film Institute.

BRONCHO BILLY AND THE SHERIFF'S KID (1913): Our friend Broncho Billy breaks out of jail and hides out in the back country. While the sheriff looks for him, his daughter, while walking home from school, falls down a step cliff. BB finds her and takes her home to her mother. While fetching the town's doctor, he gets shot by the sheriff, but when makes it to back to the sheriff's house, his wife has a story to tell him! The 35mm film print came courtesy from the British Film Institute.

THE SHERIFF'S WIFE (1913): A pair of thieves try to rob the sheriff's house where his wife is safe guarding a bag of gold that was confiscated. Little to the thieves realize is that this one sheriff's wife that you don't want to messed with!!  The 35mm film print came courtesy from the British Film Institute.

And that's it for this afternoon! Now I'll be back later on to talk about the afternoon show! Remember the Broncho Billy Film Festival is going on all this weekend! So make plans to attend this event! To purchase tickets and passes, view the festival's film schedule, and to become a member, visit the museum's official website at http://nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL: DAY TWO, PART ONE-June 29, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome back to my coverage of the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL! I'll be giving all of you the latest screenings at the festival. Providing the musical accompaniment was the always amazing Judy Rosenberg. So let's not waste anymore time and let's talk about Saturday morning's event!

At 11am the museum had author Gary Lee Parks give a slide show presentation entitled CLASSIC BAY AREA THEATERS. An avid theater lover, Parks gave us a tour of movie theater from all around the country, with many pictures of theaters located here in the Bay Area. One of the pictures shown was the old Jose Theater located in my hometown San Jose. The Jose is now the Improve Theater, the popular comedy club in the heart of Downtown SJ. I also saw a picture of the Golden State Theater in Monterey (I've seen several silent films there back in the day), plus theaters from Watsonville, Santa Cruz, Oakland, and of course, San Francisco. After his presentation, he had table set up where he signed several copies of his books.

At 12:30, our next speaker Professor Russell Merritt introduced the next segment of the morning: animation! However, he focused on the animation that was coming out from Europe. He spoke about Emile Reynaud, the forgotten pioneer of animation. He talked about how the animation from America was mostly based on comic strip characters like Felix the Cat or Koko the Clown, the European animators were creating experimental and avant garde animated short films that were really extraordinary. He screened two shorts and a main feature.

PAUVRE PIERROT (1892): This simple cartoon featuring a love triangle between two men who are both in love with the same woman. What really surprised me the most was that the short still exists! The cartoon is 121 years old! And it was cute and quite funny! It was just astounding to see history being screened right before my eyes! The film was directed by Emile Reynaud.

THE CAMERMAN'S REVENGE (1912): The titles sounds like a typical, rambunctious cartoon, full if slapstick and sight gags. However, in actuality, it's a stop motion animation short with dead insects being animated to walk around like people. Yes, it was crazy bizarre, but really funny to watch! Directed by Ladislas Starewicz, the short is also known as REVENGE OF THE KINEMATOGRAPH CAMERMAN.

After the two shorts, then introduced the main feature of the morning.

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMEND (1926): Directed by Lotte Reinger, the film is considered a landmark film in the world of animation. Telling that tale of the beloved classic Arrabian Nights, the film was made in silhouette using animated puppets to tell the story. I had the opportunity to see the film years ago at the Castro Theatre during the San Francisco Silent Film festival and it was amazing to see the genius of the film again. Of course credit goes to Lotte Reinger, who animated a truly original work of art!

What a great morning program of films! Now I'll be back later on to talk about the afternoon show! Remember the Broncho Billy Film Festival is going on all this weekend! So make plans to attend this event! To purchase tickets and passes, view the festival's film schedule, and to become a member, visit the museum's official website at http://nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends the Opening Night of the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL-June 28, 2013

It's hard to believe it's that time again, but it's back! I'm here in the historic Niles District attending the 16th ANNUAL BRONCHO BILLY SILENT FILM FESTIVAL! Held at the Edison Theater, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is celebrating two historical events! First it's the theatre's 100th anniversary and it was also 100 years ago this year that the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company began making movies here in Niles! It's a double centennial celebration!!

The festivities began Friday night with a gala reception over at the Fremont Bank Building, located a couple blocks from the theater. There were foods and refreshments to enjoy, plus as an added bonus, live music courtesy of ukulele sweetheart and singer Janet Klien. Klein hails from Los Angeles where she has a band called Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Specializing in performing naughty and lovely tunes of the teens, 20's, and 30's, have released a staggering seven CDs! She's a very talented ukulele player as well as a having an angelic voice, look for her and her band performing in a town near you!

After the reception, everybody made it over to the Edison Theatre for a night of silent film celebration, and there was a lot to celebrate that night. Janet Klien once again performed a couple of songs. Board members Michael Bonham and Rene Keihn welcomed the sold-out crowd and introduced the films we were going to see, especially the brand new silent film that archivist/historian/author/ projectionist (and now director) David Keihn has been working on for the past year! Performing on the piano was the always fantastic Bruce Loeb!

BILLY McGRATH ON BROADWAY (1913): Once believed to be lost, a rare nitrate print of the film was discovered in a projector in the basement of a home in Grand Junction, Colorado! After Billy's sees a terrible play, he comes up with the idea of producing a play of his own. However, when the entire casts walks out on him, the stage crew helps Billy out by becoming his new cast. Like the old saying goes, the show must go on! The film was made at the Essanay Chicago studio.

BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET (2013): The brand new short film that museum has been working!  Directed by David Keihn, with scenario by Keihn and Sprague Anderson, the film was made using the same cameras and techniques that were used during the silent film era! The film is a western, filled with train robbers, the local sheriff, and the man himself, Broncho Billy Anderson, back up on the big screen where he belongs! In their intro, both Keihn and Anderson mentioned that their new film was the workprint, meaning that this was a rough version of the film. It still needs a little more work, but what from I saw, it looked incredible! Many of the actors were in the audience, dressed in their costumes! I can't wait to see the final version of this soon to be silent classic!

After a brief intermission, the show continued with:

SHOW PEOPLE (1928): Directed by King Vidor, the film stars Marion Davies as Peggy Pepper, a Southern Belle who comes to Hollywood with her father to become a star in the movies. However, she has to start at the bottom, and in Hollywood, that means starring in slapstick comedies, a far cry of her dreams; becoming a dramatic actress of period films. She befriends comedian Billy Boone (William Haines) who shows her the ropes and helps her with realizing her dreams. Once she makes it to the top, will stardom go to her head? And what will happen to her loveable Billy?

Marion Davis had fantastic comedic timing and execution, and she loved making them. However, her lover William Randell Hearst thought comedies were beneath her and she should star in dramas and period pieces. King Vidor did a great job of capturing Davis' comedic performances. The film was released by MGM in 1928, just as the silent film world was in transition of becoming "talkies."

What a wonderful night! Spirits were high, the crowd was awesome, the films were funny, what could be better? More movies, maybe? Well guess what? The Broncho Billy Film Festival is going on all this weekend! So make plans to attend this event! To purchase tickets and passes, view the festival's film schedule, and to become a member, visit the museum's official website at http://nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends FRAMELINE 37: Day Four-June 23, 2013

Welcome back to my final day of attending the Frameline37: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival!! I saw another three outstanding films on Sunday, so sit back, relax, and enjoy my reviews!

The first film I saw was the documentary THE CAMPAIGN. This locally produced made film chronicled all the hard work and grass roots activism that transpired back in 2008, when the evil Prop 8 Bill was put on the ballot. The documentary showed all the volunteers that worked hard in defeating Prop 8; all their blood, sweat, and unfortunately, their tears. When Prop 8 passed, it devastated the queer community, especially here in San Francisco. The film spotlights those who really made an impact during the campaign.

The film was a painful reminder for me about what happened during that election. Even though the country made progress my electing Barrak Obama as president, the passing of Prop 8 was like a slap in the face! It became clear to me that even though we live in the 21st century, the thought of gays and lesbians getting married was blasphemies. To me the issue was more about civil rights than gay rights. I voted against Prop 8 while members of my own family voted for it. Of course we know how the Mormon church got involved with the Prop 8 campaign and how the used their money to swing the vote for their side. But history has been made and a grave mistake has been corrected. Even as I type this, DOMA has been defeated and Prop 8 no longer exist. Gay and lesbians have been getting married in masses. And I for one am very happy to see all my queer friends get married! After the screening, many of the film's cast and crew participated in a Q&A session. This was such a powerful, moving, emotionally charged film!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

The second film of the day was another amazing documentary. I AM DIVINE tells the story of the beloved Divine, the infamous underground drag queen starlet that rose to fame through the films by his best friend John Waters. Appearing in such classic trash films like PINK FLAMINGOS, FEMALE TROUBLE and LUST IN THE DUST, Divine went from a Baltimore drag queen to Hollywood superstar, thanks in large part to Water's first mainstream film HAIRSPRAY, which garnered her acclaim and attention. But on the eve of Divine's Hollywood debut, she passed away. Those interviewed for the film include Mink Stole, Tab Hunter, Ricki Lake, members of the legendary Cockettes, and of course John Waters.

The film was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jeffery Schwartz (he made last year's outstanding documentary VITO), and was largely crowdfunded through Indiegogo and Kickstarter. For me, I loved Divine. Ever since I first saw her in HAIRSPRAY, I knew that I wanted to see all her films. She has become a drag icon in the gay community and she and her legacy will forever live on! Many of the film's crew and interviewers were on hand and conducted a Q&A session with the audience. Another  superb and loving tribute to the one and only Divine!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

The third and final film I saw on Sunday was the hilarious comedy WHO'S AFRAID OF VAGINA WOLF? Meet Anna (director Anna Margarita Albelo), a forty year old, latino, lesbian filmmaker who lives in her friend's garage and chain smokes while trying her to do list: lose 20 pounds, find a girlfriend, and write the script for her feature film debut. Oh she also dresses up in a vagina costume. When she meets Katia (Janina Gavankar) she finds the inspiration to write her film (but plans to use the film as a way to win Katia's heart). Joining Anna on her madcap adventure are her two best friends, Penelope (Guinevere Turner) and Chloe (Carrie Preston), but things don't work out well for the film or for Anna. Will she able to make her film and make Katia her girlfriend or will she go back to square one all over again?

The film is funny from beginning to end! Anna does a great job at both acting and directing, and seeing Guinevere Turner up on the big screen again was just icing on the cake! Our two leads have great on-screen chemistry (of course it also helps that they've been friends for years) and their comedic timings are outrageously funny! After the film both Anna and Guinevere conducted and interview and a Q&A with the audience. A terrific lesbian comedy that will have you laughing down the aisle! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

And there you have it! My very first trip to a Frameline Film Festival! I had so much fun at this festival that I'm already planning to attended more screenings at next year's festival. In the meantime, the festival continues until June 30th so there's still time to check out all these amazing films! To purchase tickets, passes, and to view the screenings schedule, visit their official website at www.frameline.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends FRAMELINE 37: Day Three-June 22, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome back to Day Two of my trip to Frameline37: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival!! On Saturday I saw three films, including a midnight show featuring the one and only Peaches Christ!! Keeping me company on my trip was my best friend and make-up artist Michelle Snyder. So let's get this party started!!

The first film we saw was a documentary called BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON. Poet, author, filmmaker, trickster, artist, James Broughton was all these things and more.  He was part of the San Francisco Renaissance. He was an early pioneer of the experimental film movement in America. He was also the inspiration of the beat movement. He was part of the Radical Faeries as well as a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence named Sister Sermonetta. He had love affairs with both men and women, and briefly lived with the film critic Pauline Kael and they had a daughter named Gina. But it wasn't until Broughton met student Joel Singer, that he had finally fallen in love. And Joel became his muse, and created several new short films as well as new poetry books. James and Joel remained together for the next 25 years until his death on May 17, 1999.

The film was simply wonderful as well as inspiring! Here is an artist who made art his life, his passion, and his career. While he was making his incredible body of work, he was hiding in the closet, which affected his art because he was acting straight. But he followed his dream and became an acclaimed and award winning filmmaker and author. To the artist inside of me, I wished I could've been more like him! Truly an inspiration! After the screening, the producers as well as people interviewed in the film came onstage to conduct and funny and touching Q&A. Just a fantastic documentary! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

The second film Michelle and I saw was the new film by the award winning lesbian director Jamie Babbit. BREAKING THE GIRLS is one outstanding thriller that features some great thrills and jaw dropping twists and turns! Sara Ryan (Agnes Bruckner) is young law student who works as a bartender. One night her friend and fellow classmate Eric (Shawn Ashmore) walks into the bar and somewhat flirts with her. This does not sit well with Brooke (Shanna Collins), who's dating Eric. Broke begins to sabotage Sara's life and until she has nothing left (she loses her housing, her scholarship, and her job). Enter Alex (Madeline Zima) a striking, mysterious, wild, beautiful and spoiled rich bitch lesbian who comes to Sara's rescue. The two women instantly bond and soon a love affair begins to bloom. But then things become complicated as lies, deceit and murder begin to consume Sara's life, thanks to Alex. To save her life, she reaches out to Eric and to Alex's gold-digging stepmother Nina (Kate Levering) for help, but will it be too late?

The film is easily her greatest production to date. Sporting a top notch and professional cast, high production value, and one outstanding script (courtesy of iconic lesbian actress/screenwriter Guinevere Turner), Babbit breaks the mold of what a lesbian film could and should be! And by working in a totally different genre, she gets to stretch out her wings as a director and really venture into a whole new world with new toys to play with. Interesting set-ups and lighting, long takes, and intricate characters are what we find in the film. Plus not too mention, hot steamy lesbian action that well make you sweat! An amazing piece of cinema from beginning to end! Destined to become a true classic!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

Before the screening, the festival presented Babbit with the Frameline Award for her contributions to queer cinema and even showed a reel with clips from her work in film and television. After the screening, she and Turner took the stage for a fun and interesting Q&A session!

After the screening Michelle and I went and had a few drinks over at the bar Twin Peaks on the corner of Castro and Market. Then we dashed across the street for some very yummy pizza! Then it was back to the Castro Theatre for the special midnight show!!

For this year's Frameline, the festival teamed up with the iconic Peaches Christ for a Midnight Mass extravaganza! Peaches screened one of the greatest queer horror films of all time: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY' REVENGE!! And she had a very special guest for the show: the film's scream queen star himself Mark Patton was there live and in-person!! Michelle and I made our way to the front row so we could see all the action!

The show began with a horrifying and scary (in a good way of course) opening act with our hostess dressed up as Peaches Krueger doing was she does best; torturing a young nubile teenage boy in his sleep while leading a dance number with hot and sexy gay guys dressed up in leather! Peaches' make-up was just incredible! I think even Robert England himself would be impressed!

After the song and dance, Peaches thanked the audience and welcomed the return of the Midnight Mass!! She then wasted no time in bringing up Mark Patton for a very interesting and quite informative interview. Mark recalled the making of the film, the long hours, him knowing how queer the film was and so forth. He also talked about coming out and living in South America. Peaches had another surprise up her sleeve, as she called up the film's cinematographer Jacques Haitkin to the stage! After the interview, both Mark and Jacques took questions from the audience. There was also a costume contest, and then it was movie time!!

In the film, Mark portrays Jesse, the new kid in town who's family has just moved into Nancy Thomson's old house on Elm Street. However it doesn't very long till he's having the same horrific nightmares that plagued poor Nancy had about Freddy. Jesse befriends his neighbor and classmate Lisa, whom he tells about his horrible nightmares but she doesn't believe him. That is until she starts having the same nightmares herself. After doing some research on Freddy, she finds out that he's planning to take it over Jesse's body, but she may be too late. When he does takes over Jesse's body, all Hell breaks loose.

In hindsight, it's a wonder that no one in the film, cast or crew, noticed or questioned some of the material in the film. After watching it years later as an adult, I was flabbergasted on just how gay it was! The gay innuendos, the coach being tied in the shower and being whipped by towels, the leather bar scene, the list goes on and on. Go back and watch it again. It looks a lot different as an adult than it did when you were a kid! The film has gone on to become one of the greatest homoerotic horror films of all time!! And Mark has been hailed as a scream queen icon!

And that was my second day at Frameline37!! Remeber the festival continues until June 30th so there's still time to check out all these amazing films! To purchase tickets, passes, and to view the screenings schedule, visit their official website at www.frameline.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Phil attends FRAMELINE 37: Day Two-June 21, 2013

Greetings and salutations everybody!! This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out some of the amazing films being screened at the Frameline37: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival!! Started back in 1976, it is the first and oldest gay film festival in the country. For years I have always wanted to attend the festival. Even though I'm straight, I love to watch all kinds of cinema, regardless if it's gay or straight. Cinema offers people to travel different places, back through time, and to learn about lives of people from all around the world. I missed out on the opening night film and party on Thursday, but this past weekend I had the opportunity to check it out the festival and see some amazing films, which were all screened at the majestic Castro Theatre!

The first screening I attended on Friday was the shorts program entitled KISS ME SOFTLY. The program consisted of five shorts from all across the globe!

HOMOPHOBIA: A young man in the Austrian Military experiences homosexual feelings towards one of his comrades. The suppressed conflict bubbles up during their last night at the border, socially isolated and armed with loaded weapons.

KISS ME SOFTLY: 17 year old Jasper lives in a very grey, small town. In his family, he cannot be himself. Jaspers dad is a singer, named Lukkie Luk. All the attention in the family goes to his career. Jasper searches a way to handle this and is faced with the typical questions in the live of an adolescent. Questions that will not be answered when he stays in his own routine.

JULIAN: Set in a year 4 classroom in 1981, "Julian" explores a day in the life of a 9-year-old boy. Julian's need to speak his truth and his strong urge to do what he thinks is right begins to unravel his world. Throughout the day Julian is forced to deal with a bully, an impatient teacher turning a blind eye and a principal with a secret. As Julian faces these challenges we begin to see the qualities that will inform the man he is to become.

A THOUSAND EMPTY GLASSES: A drunken evening exposing long-held secrets forces a young man to make a life altering decision.

HATCH: A newborn's destiny hangs in the balance, as grownups come to terms with what they can't have.

The next film I saw was PIT STOP, which was directed by Yen Tan. Set in a rural small town in Middle America, the film focuses on two gay men, Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda) and Gabe (Bill Heck) and their particular situations. Ernesto lives with his boyfriend, who he has just broken up with a month ago. Gabe has an ex-wife and a daughter, but his wife wishes that he wasn't gay.  Both men attempt to move on with their lives and search for love and companionship while trying to work out their problems. And on a side note, the film contains of the longest, most realistic (and steamiest) love scenes ever captured in queer cinema! My glasses fogged up from all the heat that was coming off the screen!

Tan does an incredible job of directing this remarkable and heartfelt film. Using long takes with no cuts, close-ups, long pauses with no dialogue, he is able to convey emotion and longing with such conviction and authenticity! We care so much about these two gay the men that we are so emotionally invested with them that by the time the film ends, we feel as if they are real people. This is thanks in large part to our two lead actors Heck and DeAnda (somebody give these guys and Academy Award nomination because they were incredible)! After the screening, Tan and DeAnda participated in an informative Q&A with the audience. Also announced during the Q&A was that the film has been picked up for distribution by my friends over at Wolfe Video, one of the oldest film distributors of queer cinema! When I was a film student at De Anza College I interned at Wolfe and I learned so much about independent film distribution and I watched so many great movies. So look for this to come out on DVD in the near future. Folks this is what a great indie film should be! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

Film number three was the German film FREE FALL (FREIER FALL), which tells the story of Marc (Hanno Koffler), a young police cadet with a beautiful pregnant girlfriend Bettina, who finds himself falling for his mysterious and rebellious roommate Kay (Max Riemelt). Soon Marc starts to live a double life: a devoted son-to-be father and provider and a man exploring his newly discovered gay persona and sexuality. Tensions flare up as Marc needs to decide who he is and what (and who) he wants in his life or else he will lose everything he holds most dear.

Another intriguing gay film, director and co-writer Stephen Lacant does a superb job of creating an atmosphere filled with passion, longing, love, deceit, and self discovery. Both Koffler and Riemelt have great on screen chemistry, which made the audience sit on the edge of their seat to watch these two men love and fight over and over again. This was one great drama that will sure please audiences all around the world! Also announced after the screening was that the film was also picked up by Wolfe Video, so make sure you pay their website a visit soon! Another great dramatic film at Frameline! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!

The fourth film I saw on Friday was the locally made, lesbian film VALENCIA, which was totally off the hook! Shot right here in San Francisco, it was based on the novel of the same name by Michelle Tea. Our lead character is named "Michelle" and we see her life the way that she sees it, and we witness her life and the all her girlfriends that seem to come and go. In the end, Michelle is linked to that famous (or infamous) street and is used as a metaphor about life in the city. Filled with lesbians, butch dykes, punk rockers, hipsters, riot grrls, artists and such, the film had an infectious DIY attitude and was very reminiscent of  The New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990's

Now the film wasn't shot like your typical movie. Instead 18 different cast and crew made the film, each one covering one of the 18 chapters in the book! And each chapter of the film uses a different "Michelle" to show the audience that everyone at one point in their life has been her. This unique filmmaking approach made the screening exciting, bizarre, funny, and cool, hip, and unconventional.  After the screening, a majority of the cast and crew (including the author herself) came up to the Castro staged and participated in a rousing and fun-filled interview and Q&A. Raw, unflinching, and very experimental, VALENCIA is a perfect example of San Francisco filmmaking! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!

That last film I saw was the special midnight screening of the adults-only documentary entitled KINK. Directed by Christine Voros and produced by James Franco (yes that James Franco), the doc features the inner workings of Kink.com, the popular BDSM and fetish porno company based in the historic San Francisco Armory on Mission and 14th Street. People interviewed for the documentary include the founder Peter Acworth and several of the company's directors, as well as some of the performers. Laced with sexual exploration, bondage, gay porn, sex machines, and lesbian dominatrix, the film is an insightful and senses enticing look at life at those who work within the Armory.

Back in December of 2012, I took a took at the famed Armory and I have to tell you, it was one of the most interesting tours I have ever been on! The air in the building was filled with sex, fun, and it was intoxicating! There are so many different rooms catering to a specific fetish, it's astonishing to witness it all (especially when you visit the Upper Floor)! The film was very informative, funny, introspective and sexy as hell!! After the screening a couple of Kink.com directors and one performer came up to do an interview as well as a Q&A session. Overall, KINK is definitely not for children, but for all you consenting adults out there, this is one documentary that you really need to see!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

And folks there you have it! My first day at Frameline37!! Even though I'll only be here for this weekend, the festival continues until June 30th so there's still time to check out all these amazing films! To purchase tickets, passes, and to view the screenings schedule, visit their official website at www.frameline.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees MAN OF STEEL (again) at the Cinelux Almaden Cinema-June 17, 2013

Hello there people. So after spending the weekend attending the Hitchcock 9 over at the Castro Theatre, I wanted to see a film that was the complete opposite to a silent film. So after work I went to see MAN OF STEEL over at the Cinelux Almaden Theater over by my house.

OK, so I said in my original review that I really enjoyed the film. Well, after seeing it a second time, I still enjoyed the film. Now I have been receiving a lot of slack because I liked it. From family members to filmmakers, a lot of people really don't like the movie. My take on this can be boiled down to this one simple statement: it's just a movie. That's it! It's there for my amusement and entertainment. Was I entertained? Yes. Was I blown away by it? Yes. Did it have a good story and interesting characters? Yes. Did it have cool special effects? Yes? Did it offer action, humor, and drama? Yes. So, I liked the movie. Deal with it people!

MAN OF STEEL is currently playing in both 2-D and 3-D in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cineluxtheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends THE HITCHCOCK 9: Day Three-June 16, 2013

Greetings everybody and welcome to the third and final day of the HITCHCOCK 9 film event at the majestic Castro Theatre in lovely San Francisco! I saw another four films on Sunday so let the good times roll!!

Lillian Hall-Davis and Jameson Thomas in THE FARMER'S WIFE.
Film number one was Hitchcock's sixth silent film THE FARMER'S WIFE (1928), which was one of the funniest films this weekend! Tibby, the wife of Samuel Sweetland (Jameson Thomas) dies, and shortly afterwards his daughter marries and leaves home, leaving him on his own with his two servants. His wife had told him that he should remarry after her death, so he pursues some local spinsters who were at his daughter's wedding after he and his housekeeper Minta (Lillian Hall-Davis from THE RING) make out a list of possibles. Needless to say, the possibles provide many hilarious scenarios! However, in the end, Samuel finds the love of his life, and it was right in front of him the whole time (in case you can't figure it out, it's Minta).

Once again the Master of Suspense shows us all that he defiantly had the chops to make romantic comedies. Also look for supporting actor Gordon Harker as the handyman in the film. Here's another fun film fact: Harker also appeared as the father in CHAMPAGNE and Jack's trainer in THE RING. Yup, it looked like Alfred had his own stock company!

Accompanying the film was the one-man-band himself Stephen Horne. I think he played another four to five instruments again. I know one was the grand piano. I think he played the accordion again. Maybe a flute too. Probably. I lost track folks.

Isabel Jeans (L) and Robin Irvine (R) in EASY VIRTUE.
The second film of the day was EASY VIRTUE (1928), the seventh silent film Hitchcock made. The heroine Larita (Isabel Jeans from DOWNHILL) is married to a drunken brute. After he catches her almost being seduced by the artist who has been painting her picture, he brings suit for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Since she is now a disgraced woman of "easy virtue", Larita leaves for the French Riviera, where she meets and marries a rich younger man, John Whittaker (Robin Irvine also from DOWNHILL). She does not tell him about her past, and they return to England to meet his family. His mother strongly disapproves of her, suspecting Larita of immorality. Her past comes to light and she decides to allow John to divorce her so he can marry Sarah, a local girl whom his mother had in mind as a suitable match.

Both this film and the last one showcase once again that obvious word called misogyny. In the FARMER'S WIFE, the misogyny was played for laughs and silliness and absurdity. However here, it's just blatant and kinda ugly. Everything that Larita has to endure is because the society of that time has declared her unfit and she's just treated so cruelly. By the end of the film, you really sympathized with her. You feel sorry for her because she didn't do anything wrong really. She's just a victim of the times. Fun fact: the film is loosely based on the play Easy Virtue by Noël Coward.

Returning once again to the grand piano was the incredible Judith Rosenberg! One of the pianist that plays at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and over at the Pacific Film Archives in Berkley, she was just amazing! After this weekend, I sincerely hope that the SF Silent Film Organization asks her to return again in July!

Miles Mander (L) gets friendly with a native in THE PLEASURE GARDEN.
The third film screened on Sunday was Alfred Hitchcock's very first film! OK, it's his first completed film (his first film NUMBER 13 was never finished). THE PLEASURE GARDEN (1925) is about two chorus girls Patsy Brand (Virginia Valli) and Jill Cheyne (Carmelita Geraghty) that work at the Pleasure Garden Theatre in London and their troubled relationships. Jill's fiance Hugh (John Stuart) arrives with a colleague named Levet (Miles Mander). Soon he and Patsy become very close while Jill is being pursued by a number of rich men, particularly a Prince Ivan after becoming famous in the show. Hugh is sent to Africa by his company and Levet soon follows, but not before marrying Jill, which leads to their material problems. Jill believes in her husband, but once in Africa, Levet becomes involved with one of the locals from the nearby village. When Hugh becomes sick, Jill rushes out to Africa to save him and to find out what happened to her beloved husband.

On his first outing as a director, Hitchcock was already showing his genius behind the camera. Using simple but effective set ups, suspense, comedy, and nice twist at the end, this was one helluva debut! Here's another fun film fact: The film was shot in 1925 and shown to the British press in March 1926 but not officially released in the UK until 1927.

Back on the grand piano was the one-man-band himself Stephen Horne. Look, he played everything again during the film. I'll just leave it at that. The man is a musical genius!!

Actor Ivor Novello in THE LODGER: THE STORY OF THE LONDON FOG.
The fourth and final film of the day, and the closing night film of the festival was Hitchcock's greatest silent film ever: THE LODGER: A STORY OF THE LONDON FOG (1927). A number of fair-haired young ladies have been murdered on successive Tuesday nights in London, and the police basically have no clue as to the killer's identity. The only clue they have is that the killer (calling himself The Avenger) leaves a triangular note at the scene of his crimes. On the heels of the sixth murder, a stranger (Ivor Novello from DOWNHILL) comes seeking a room at the lodging house of an elderly couple. They're put off because he's dressed up like The Avenger. Then he's taking down all the pictures of fair-haired girls in his room, and sneaking out for a half hour on the next Tuesday night, returning just after a fresh murder had been committed down the street. The couple worries about their daughter Daisy (June Tripp but credited only as June), who has taken a definite shine to the strange young man, much to the chagrin of her traditional suitor, Police Detective Joe Chandler (Malcolm Keen from THE MANXMAN), who just so happens to assigned to The Avenger case. Determined to keep Daisy away from possible danger, her parents nevertheless manage to let her go out with the lodger the next Tuesday night, and this serves as the setup for the culminating scenes wherein Detective Chandler accuses the lodger of being the infamous Avenger.

The movie would introduce many themes that would run through much of Hitchcock’s later work: the innocent man on the run, hunted down by a self-righteous society, and a fetishistic sexuality. The film was based on a novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes, about the Jack The Ripper murders, and on the play Who Is He?, a comic stage adaptation of the novel by the playwright Horace Annesley Vachell that Hitchcock saw in 1915. While Hitchcock had made two previous films, in later years the director would refer to THE LODGER as the first true "Hitchcock film". After seeing the film again, it's hard not to argue with this statement!

And there you have it folks! What an amazing time I had!! And now I can't wait for July 18-21 for the SF Silent Film Festival!! Tickets for this event are now on sale so buy them before they sell out! To purchase tickets, and to learn more about the SF Silent Film Festival, and how to become a member, visit their website at http://silentfilm.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends THE HITCHCOCK 9: Day Two-June 15, 2013

Hello again folks and welcome back to my trip to the HITCHCOCK 9 at the historic Castro Theatre is beautiful San Francisco! On Saturday, I had the privileged to see four classic Hitchcock silent films, so let the fun begin!

Betty Balfour in CHAMPAGNE.
First film of the day was the comedy CHAMPAGNE (1928), which was Hitchcock's eighth movie he made. The film's about a young woman named Betty (Betty Balfour), an heiress whose very frivolous with her daddy's money. You see, she flies out to the middle of the ocean to meet up with a cruise ship which her fiance (Jean Bradin) is on! Yup, she's spoiled. But when her father's champagne fortune is lost because thanks in large part to Wall Street, she must learn responsibility and is forced to get a job. The results are hilarious and touch!

Believe it or not, before Hitchcock became the Master of Suspense, who made light hearted comedies. A lot of you out there may not have known this. I sure as heck didn't know this fascinating fact. And you know what, he was very good at this. Comedies are hard to do, but Hitchcock was able to make a film that made me laugh. Again, very interesting camera set ups and angles, plus a really neat shot of seeing Betty and Jean as seen through the bottom of a champagne glass!!

On the piano for the screening was the incredible Judith Rosenberg, who was making her SF Silent Film Fest debut! In case you forgot, Judith is one of the pianist that plays at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and I was so excited to see her performance! She just nailed it! She was fantastic!!

Isabel Jeans (L) & Ivor Novello (R) in DOWNHILL.
Up next was Hitchcock's fifth film he made DOWNHILL (1927), a very powerful and controversial drama in my humble opinion. The film first takes place at English boarding school for boys and features actor Ivor Novello as Roddy Berwick, who's life goes completely south, or should I say downhill. First he takes the blame for his best friend Tim Wakely (Robin Irvine) who gets the local waitress Mabel (Annette Benson) pregnant, because if Tim gets expelled, he won't win a scholarship to attend Oxford University. So Roddy takes the blame for Tim. Then his parents kick him out of their house. So what's a strapping, young, ex-rugby player dropout to do next? He becomes an actor, and then marries the leading actress Julia (Isabel Jeans) after inheriting a large sum of money from a relative. After she's done spending all of his money, Roddy becomes a becomes a gigolo in a Paris music hall and dances with old women for money. After he quits his job at the dance hall, well, it just gets worse.

However, the film does have a happy ending, but only after we learn some very valuable lessons: never help your best friend out and never trust women because they will wreck you life! Sounds misogynistic, doesn't it? Well this is what I got out of this film as well as the previous one. Women had a rough time back then. Women having premarital sex and partying and having fun? Blasphemous!! FYI: the film's American alternative title was When Boys Leave Home.

Providing musical accompaniment was the amazing Stephen Horne, who played the grand piano, accordion, flute, and....to be honest I lost track on how many instruments he played! The man is literally a one man band!!

Lilian Hall Davis (L) & Carl Brisson (R) in THE RING.
The third film I saw was THE RING (1927), which was Hitchcock's fourth silent film he made. It centers on two friends and boxers: 'One-Round' Jack Sander (Carl Brisson) and Bob Corby (Ian Hunter). They both are in love with the same woman: Mabel (Lilian Hall Davis). She becomes engaged to Jack and the soon marry. But while Jack trains and begins to slowly move up in the rankings, she finds comfort in spending time with Bob. This sends Jack into fits of anger and jealousy. Soon, Jack has his shot at the championship against the reigning title holder: Jack Sander!

Here we see Alfred Hitchcock making a film that is not the norm: a boxing film! So far I have seen a crime thriller, a comedy, a drama, and now a boxing film! This proves that he was more than capable of making specific genre pictures. Now what's really interesting is that each film showcased his use of experimentation with the camera and using his unique techniques towards storytelling. We will see the love triangle scenario come up again, but this is the only time we will see a boxing film! Another fun film fact: THE RING is Hitchcock's only original screenplay although he worked extensively alongside other writers throughout his career.

Once again the Mont Alto Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment, along with a Foley artist to provide the ringside bell sound. Everybody was amazing, as always!

L-R: Carl Brisson, Anny Ondra, & Malcom Keen in THE MANXMAN.
The fourth and final film of the day was THE MANXMAN (1929), the ninth silent film that Hitchcock made. Appearing in the movie once again is Carl Brisson, who plays a fisherman Pete Quilliam who lives and works on the Isle of Man (Manxman is the term of a resident of the Isle). He's childhood best friend is Philip Christian (Malcolm Keen,) a lawyer who is destined to become a Deemster (a fancy name for judge) on the Isle. Both are in love with the same girl: Kate (Anny Ondra from BLACKMAIL), the landlord's daughter at the local inn. Pete wants to marry Kate, but her father Old Caesar (Randie Ayrton), refuses to consent to their marriage. So Pete sets off to Africa to seek his fortune, and asks Kate to wait for him until he returns. He also asks his old friend Philip to watch over her while he's gone. Feelings grow on Philip's part, but he keeps them in check. But when the receive word that Pete has been killed, Kat reveals to Philip of her feelings for him! Surprised, right! Oh wait, it gets better. No sooner than Philip and Kate plan for their wedding, Pete comes back!! Didn't see that coming, did you?  Now Old Caesar agrees to let Kate marry him, and neither she nor Philip have it in them to break Pete's heart. The rest of the film is one big twist and surprise after another. They don't make films like this anymore.

This was my favorite film of the day! It had it all: a great love triangle, forbidden love, lies, secrets, and betrayal! It contains all the hallmarks of a great Hitchcock film! Most of these themes would reappear in many other of Hitchcock's movies. But I think this is one of best and is largely overlooked. I hope all of his fans will rediscover this overlooked cinematic classic!

Stephen Horne once again provided the accompanied, and was just fantastic! Joining him was Diana Rowan on the Celtic harp. These two make beautiful music together!!

Day Two was just amazing!! Remember tickets for this event are still on sale now so buy them before they sells out! To purchase tickets, and to learn more about the SF Silent Film Festival, and how to become a member, visit their website at http://silentfilm.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Phil attends the opening night of the HITCHCOCK 9 at the Castro Theatre-June 14, 2013

The wait is finally over! After waiting patiently since the announcement back in February during the Silent Winter Event, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, in conjunction with the British Film Institute (BFI) presented the HITCHCOCK 9 event! Over the course of the weekend, silent film fans were treated to all nine surviving silent films that the Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock made (FEAR O' GOD aka THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE is considered to be lost)! And all my friends were there on opening night! There was my partner-in-crime Jason Wiener, the mastermind behind the film blog Jason Watches Movies. And I also finally got to see my friend Lara Gabrielle, who's amazing film bog Backlots is one of my favorites to read and follow. The air was filled excitement as silent film fans poured into the Castro Theatre, my home for the next two and a half days! Yup, this is how all weekends should be spent!!

Before the screening, the festival's artistic director Anita Monga greeted the audience and gave us some interesting info about tonight's film. First off this Hitchcock's last silent film and was actually shot twice: a silent version for those theaters that didn't have sound capability and a "talkie" which has been the more popular and the most seen version. Plus, this film has the longest cameo appearance by the Master of Suspense himself: a whole 20 seconds, to which he is a passenger that's being pestered by a kid on a train. It's a classic cameo! After Anita's lovely intro, the lights dimmed and we were suddenly transported back in time!


The film BLACKMAIL (1929) is about the daughter of a London shopkeeper named Alice White (Anny Ondra), whose Scotland Yard detective boyfriend Frank Webber (John Longden) seems to be more interested in police work than in her. This causes Alice to secretly arranged to meet another man named Mr. Crewe (Cyril Ritchard) for a drink. She then agrees to go to see his studio, where he tries to rape her. Alice defends herself and kills the him with a bread knife. Her boyfriend is assigned to investigate and soon determines that his girlfriend is the killer, but so has someone else and threatens to blackmail them both.

It's really interesting to see Alfred Hitchcock's roots in the world of cinema! During the silent film era, he was more experimental with his set ups, panning the camera, extreme close-ups, and fades. One can obviously see the genius of Mr. Hitchcock, and with this film, you can tell he was going to make cinematic history!

Now to bring this film to life was the incredible Mont Alto Orchestra, whose music was just outstanding!! They were on fire at the screening!! Their music was the perfect fit for this Hitchcock classic!!

What a night!! Remember tickets for this event are still on sale now so buy them before they sells out! To purchase tickets, and to learn more about the SF Silent Film Festival, and how to become a member, visit their website at http://silentfilm.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Phil hosts the Cult Movie Screening of TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose-June 13, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Month Five of the 2013 Cult Movie series at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! Now for those of you who are late to the game, let me explain this cool series. In 2011 the Camera Cinemas started up the Cult Movie series (which for years had been called the Midnight Movie series). They would show one cult film twice a month (Thursday nights at 9:30 and Saturday nights at midnight) from February through November. Tonight we screened the David Lynch's 1992 cult film TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. Once again yours truly was back as the host for tonight's screening. Prizes were donated by Streetlight Records and by Time Tunnel Toys, both located here in San Jose. There were also yummy donuts to eat, courtesy of Psycho Donuts located in the lobby.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1992)
Essentially a prequel to David Lynch and Mark Frost's earlier TV series "Twin Peaks." The first half-hour or so concerns the investigation by FBI Agent Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak) and his partner Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) into the murder of night-shift waitress Teresa Banks in the small Washington state town of Deer Meadow. When Desmond finds a mysterious clue to the murder, he inexplicably disappears. The film then cuts to one year later in the nearby town of Twin Peaks and follows the events during the last week in the life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) a troubled teenage girl with two boyfriends; the hot-tempered rebel Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and quiet biker James Hurley (James Marshall), her drug addiction, and her relationship with her difficult (and possible schizophrenic) father Leland (Ray Wise), a story in which her violent murder was later to motivate much of the TV series.

If you have never seen this film before, it's a freaking trip! It's not for the faint of heart. Don't watch this before you go to bed because it will give you nightmares. Seriously, it will. It will f*ck with your head so badly you will seek psychiatric help. It's an amazing film, don't get me wrong! But it's a pretty f*cked up movie. But then again, we are talking about David Lynch here. The man who gave some truly outstanding and sureal cinematic gems such as ERASERHEAD, BLUE VELVET, WILD AT HEART, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, and ISLAND EMPIRE. A true definition of the word auteur, you will never mistake his films with any other director!

The film was released to theaters by New Line Cinema on August 28, 1992. The film's budget was an astounding $10 million dollars. Unfortunately, it only grossed $4,160,851. It literally bombed at the boxoffice. The only people who saw the film were the die hard fans of the show and Lynch's loyal fans. But when it was released on VHS, that's when word of mouth began to spread, and the film is now regarded as one of his best films!


Remember folks, the Camera 3 will be showing one cult classic film every month from now till November. Next month we'll be screening Steven Spielberg's 1981 action film RAIDER OF THE LOST ARK on July 18th and again on July 20th. So make plans to attend this screening folks! To view their upcoming schedule, visit the Camera Cinemas website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends a very special advanced screening of MAN OF STEEL in 3D at the AMC Saratoga 14-June 5, 2013

In December of 1978, my mom took me to see director Richard Donner's SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. I was five years old and it changed my life forever. From that moment on, I believed that a man could very well fly. Star Christopher Reeve literally flew out of the movie! Since then I've been a huge Superman fan. I started reading the comics at a feverish pace. Eventually I soon saw the sequels as they were released to theaters. Unfortunately, each one was worse than the previous. Shorty thereafter, Superman disappeared from the silver screen. Then in 2006, he returned to the big screen in SUPERMAN RETURNS, which was directed by Bryan Singer (X-MEN, X-MEN 2, and THE USUAL SUSPECTS). While the film had good intentions, it received a lukewarm reception from moviegoers and mixed reviews from critics. These factors caused the film to fail in relaunching the franchise. It looked like Superman's future at the movies was over.

Then in 2010, it was announced that director Zack Snyder (300, THE WATCHMEN, DAWN OF THE DEAD) and producer Christopher Nolan (director of the DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY) were teaming up to reboot the franchise and bring the last son of Krypton back to the big screen. Fans around the world waited in anticipation, myself included. Which brings me to this past Wednesday, where I was standing in line at the AMC Saratoga 14 with my fellow film buff and screenwriter Danny Rubio to attend a very special advanced screening of MAN OF STEEL in 3D!

It's interesting to see in this reboot just how much the filmmakers used several ideas and references from the comic book. Unlike the cold, icy planet of Krypton as depicted in Donner's 1978 classic, this Krypton is a perfect hybrid of organics and alien creatures as well as hi-tech battleships and cities. It's here that we are introduced to Superman's parents: scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer). History repeats itself as Jor-El stands before the council about the impending doom of their home planet, but this time we get to see an event that was only mentioned in the 1978 film: the nefarious attempt to overthrow the council by the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon). Once again he and his army are thwarted and they are sentenced to spend forever in the Phantom Zone. But during this attempted coup, Jor-El sends his infant son to the far reaches of space. Soon after, Krypton explodes and Kal-El reaches Earth.

What Nolan and Snyder do differently is that we don't see young Kal-El aka Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) grow. Rather we see him in his youth in a series of flashbacks, like what Nolan used in the DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY. In fact, the beginning of the film features Clack trying to figure out who he is and to find his place in the world. What's this your asking? Superman is suffering from self doubt and ponders his existence in the world? Well, yes. Here we have our lead, our hero, dealing with the issue of self doubt and self discover, which makes him more relatable. However, let's not forget, this is an action packed superhero movie, and when he finally dons his costume, he then becomes Superman. Cavill portrays both Clark Kent and Superman with such convection, strength, and vulnerability. Truly this man was born to wear the suit. He brings a new dimension to this iconic superhero.

Now there's another interesting twist that the filmmakers have made to the film which involves the famous Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Here, she is a Pulitzer prize investigating reporter, and in the film, she does something that the other previous incarnations have never done. Now I don't want to spoil the surprise, but this change was a welcome surprise. For the past 75 years, Lois never put the pieces together to deduce that Clark Kent was Superman, and that made her look a little stupid. Well, Nolan and Snyder has remedied this problem, and I thought it was a brilliant move. Also Kudos to Adams, who turns in a great performance and has great on-screen chemistry with Cavill.

General Zod has never been so evil, and that due in large part to Michael Shannon. Now nothing against Terence Stamp from SUPERMAN II, but Shannon goes over the edge and really makes our antagonist just simply cold, a calculating vicious individual. But in his mind, what he and his minions are doing to the Earth is logical. His mission is to preserve the legacy of Krypton, and he does that with extreme prejudice. Truly one of cinema's greatest villains!

Currently as I am writing this, the film has broken records for the month of June, but there is also a backlash to the film, which surrounds the climatic finale between Superman and General Zod. So before I go any further, let me now issue a MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!!! STOP READING THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE YET!! STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW!!!!

OK, let's discuss the ending, shall we? In case you haven't heard let me just say this outright: Superman breaks General Zod's neck. And he does this because Zod was about to zap a bunch of people and Superman comes to the realization that he had no other way to stop him. So he snapped his neck like a twig and let's out a horrendous scream. Now when I saw the film, and I saw what happened, I will admit I was pretty shocked by that. But then I realized something: In SUPERMAN II, Superman strips General Zod's superpowers, then crushes his hand, picks him up and tosses him to the bottomless pit of the Fortress of Solitude. Plus in the 1980s, Superman used green kryptonite to kill a General Zod from the "Pocket Universe." And let's not forget he was fighting to the death with the creature called Doomsday in the comics back in 1993. So he has killed, but very rarely. A lot of fans and critics are gripping big time about this incident, but remember the SUPERMAN II Hypocrisy!! How was that different than this film?!?

END OF SPOILER ALERT!!! END OF SPOILER ALERT!!! END OF SPOILER ALERT!!!

OK now that's over, let me state that I really enjoyed MAN OF STEEL! It was an excellent film, full of superhero action, romance, some humor, alien invasion, and one heluva super battle finale!! After 75 years, it looks like there's no slowing down for this iconic comic book hero!! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!


MAN OF STEEL is now currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the AMC Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://www.amctheatres.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Phil attends a special advanced screening of THE PURGE at the Century 20 Oakridge Mall-June 4, 2013

Every now and then I get passes for advance screening of films before they come out. This past Tuesday I was able to attend an advanced screening of the new film THE PURGE, which was held at the Century 20 in Oakridge Mall. After seeing the trailer for it for past couple of months, I was really looking forward to seeing the movie.

The film's synopsis: Set in the year 2022, in which the United States has become "a nation reborn", with crime and unemployment rates hitting an all-time low. To keep these rates low, the government has instated an annual 12-hour time period called "The Purge", during which people can vent their negative emotions because all crime (including murder) is legal and emergency services are suspended. During one of these free-for-alls, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family – wife Mary (Lena Headey), teenage daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and younger son Charlie (Max Burkholder) – are tested to see how far they will go to protect themselves when they give refuge to a stranger seeking shelter, and their home is subsequently invaded by a ruthless gang of thugs.

Written and directed by James DeMonaco, the film is an interesting mix of horror, suspense, thriller, and social commentary. The threat of home invasion is true modern horror and it's something that we all fear. But if we're in our home during the invasion, it only makes it ten times more horrifying. How far are we wiling to go to protect our family? Are we willing to kill? To shed blood on our hands? These are some of the questions that are raised within the film.

The other social commentary I noticed was this: We as human beings get angry. If you are not allowed to show our anger, we repress it. But what happens if we can't express this anger for an entire year? How explosive will we become when we are allowed to show this anger? I know that I get angry every day because I work in sales. And if I have a bad day at work, look out! But here in the America of 2022, they are only allowed to get crazy for one night. But some see this annual Purge as a means to eradicate those that plague society's utopia, namely the homeless. So it begs the question: are we using the Purge Night to release out anger and frustration properly or are we using it as a excuse to make the country the way we see fit?

OK enough with the movie analysis! Let's talk about what I thought of the movie!

While Ethan Hawke does an extraordinary job of bring depth to his character James, and it was cool to see Lena Headey's Mary evolve over the duration of the film, I found it somewhat predictable. Maybe it's because I've seen so many horror films, and thrillers, and suspenseful flicks that at some point during the film, I called out what was going to happen next. And about 90% of it I was correct. But both Ethan and Lena have great on-screen chemistry and you believe that they are married. And look for out Australian actor Rhys Wakefield as the film's antagonist Henry! Truly a chilling performance that will give you nightmares! But like I said, I found it predictable. However, don't let this deturate you from seeing the film. If you want to see the film, then by all means go see it!

Overall THE PURGE is a good micro budget thriller that will have you think twice about buying an expensive alarm system. I wouldn't be surprised if people, after seeing the film, run out and by an house alarm. Just make sure it actually works! 3 out of 5 stars! Worth a look! 


THE PURGE is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Century Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://cinemark.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Phil attends CHARLIE CHAPLIN DAYS at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-June 1 & 2, 2013

During the year of 1915, the world of cinema was making history. D.W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION  changed the landscape of cinema forever. Producer/distributor William Fox founded the new Fox Film Corporation. Also in the small town of Niles, California, a little comedian came into town, made about five films in three months, and then left. However, those five films helped paved the way for Charlie Chaplin's signature character The Tramp to become one of cinema's most beloved icons. This past weekend, the town of Niles, as well as the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, celebrated its most famous actor with its annual Charlie Chaplin Days, which are held every year on the first weekend of June.

Charles Chaplin (1889-1977)
Before I begin, let me tell you how Mr. Chaplin found his way to Niles real quick. In late 1914, Essanay Studio co-founder G.M. Anderson (also known as Broncho Billy, the screen's first cowboy superstar) signed the then yet well known comedian Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin had been discovered by Mack Sennett, founder of Keystone Films, the home of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, and the infamous Keystone Cops. Anderson offered the young comedian complete creative over his films: he would write, direct, and star in his films. To sweeten the deal, Anderson offered Chaplin a $10,000 signing bonus, which was a large sum of money back in late 1914. Chaplin made one film for the Chicago Essanay Studio branch, but he didn't get along very well with co-owner George Spoor. Chaplin soon left to make films out in Niles. During this time he made an astounding five films in just three months, as well as discovering his leading lady Edna Purviance. However, Niles was a little too boring and country-ish for Chaplin, who loved the city life. So with Anderson's permission, Chaplin took Purviance and a small crew to Los Angles, where he finished up his contract. The following year, Chaplin singed a deal with Mutual Pictures, where they offered him more money, his own production company, and a $150,000 signing bonus. But it was his time in Niles is where he developed his Tramp character. By combining pathos, sympathy, while still bringing a smile to our faces, Chaplin's Little Tramp became an overnight sensation, and thus creating one of cinema's most treasured characters.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum showed all five of Chaplin's films he made here in Niles: A NIGHT OUT (co-starring Ben Turpin), THE CHAMPION, IN THE PARK, A JITNEY ELOPEMENT, and his most famous film THE TRAMP, featuring the most iconic image and ending in film history of the Little Tramp walking away in Niles Canyon. One of Chaplin's most important films he ever made. Also shown on both days was the documentary short WHEN THE MOVIES GO WEST, a 1974 PBS short. The other documentary short, the 1964 KPIX WHEN THE MOVIES CAME FROM NILES was shown on Saturday afternoon.

Later that Saturday night, there was a show showcasing other Chaplin films. The first films screened were three shorts: MAKING A LIVING (a 1914 Ketstone film), A NIGHT AT THE SHOW (a film he made for Essanay in LA in 1915), and EASY STREET (from 1916, after he left Essanay for Mutual). The main feature of the night was 1918's SHOULDER ARMS.

On Sunday afternoon the museum held their annual Chaplin lookalike contest. Also there was a cool train ride through Niles Canyon, courtesy of the Niles Canyon Railway. It's the perfect way to see the canyon were film history was made 100 years ago!

This was such a fun filled weekend! I for one can't wait till next year's Charlie Chaplin Days! In the meantime, there are plenty more excitement happening at the museum. We have a weekly Saturday Night shows, including the extremely popular Comedy Shorts Night. The last weekend of June is their annual Bronco Bill Film Festival! So don't delay! Come on down to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, where silent films live forever!!

To learn more about Charlie Chaplin, visit the official website at www.charliechaplin.com. To learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, how to become a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!