Monday, March 12, 2007

SXSW: Heroes Everywhere

Once again, I am completely inspired by the intense focus and dedication of the people around me, no matter the intention.

The photo at left shows two of the stars of "Confessions of a Superhero" hanging out in the press room. The film documents the people who take it upon themselves to dress up as superheroes for the delight of Hollywood tourists. Apparently, they begin to take on the characters in a serious way and ultimately have to deal with identity crisis. I'm screening this tonight - should be interesting.

Of course, at right is legendary news anchor, Dan Rather. While I was always more of a Tom Brokaw gal, Fang has enlightened me to the hokey ways of Rather - so human and brimming with great intent - the man has my respect. He spoke yesterday and the one hour was, quite frankly, too short. He talked about the dangers of a journalist getting too cozy with their sources, "You get so close that you become part of the problem." He had a ton of great quotes but my favorite: "I've never really liked the term 'investigative reporting', it seems redundant to me."

My first screening of the day was "Audience of One", a documentary about an evangelical minister who sees his first film at age 40 ("The Lion King" of all things) and receives a message from God to build a movie studio and make biblical films. It's a hard film to watch because the guy has no clue whatsoever yet he drags his entire congregation (First Pentecostal Church in San Francisco) along with him. They travel to Italy with no shot list and no idea how to load film. They burn through thousands of dollars and, at the end of it all, end up with two shots. To my surprise, the preacher dude showed up to the screening after watching an audience of mostly filmmakers laugh at his misguided naivete. When asked in the Q&A how it felt to watch this documentary, he said, "It felt like watching yourself go to the toilet." Still, he talked on about how he was not swayed but realized he just had to learn more. Said he woke up one day and thought, "Wow, look at me. I'm a fat, white, cracker preacher. How can I do something extreme and think outside the box?" He wanted to change, to do something different in his ministry and for that, the man has my respect, even though I think he is nuts.

I then attended a panel: "Do You Blog on the First Date?" It included bunch of romance and sex columnists (i.e., Carrie Bradshaw) who blog about their personal lives as a paid profession - all women, of course. I went because as an amateur blogger, I was curious to see how they dealt with it as a job. Bottom line, they have mixed feelings but it certainly seemed to wreak havoc with their personal lives. I certainly didn't blame the men in their lives who felt weird about it. One woman said that when she starts dating a guy, she tells him what she does for a living with this caveat: "I won't blog about you until you dump me and then you are fair game." Oh, wow ... that'll get him in the mood, fer sure. Then someone else asked, "What about if you dump him?" And she said: "Same thing." Which led to another question: "Do you take notes as the relationship is going along to post later when he's out of your life?" She admitted that she did. Ugh. I'm no Princess of Blogger Piety here but that seems a bit sordid to me. It made me quite happy not to be a pro-blogger, on this topic, at least. My romantic life has enough challenges as it is.

"Knocked Up" - The latest film from Judd Apatow, starring Seth Rogen ("Freaks and Geeks" and "40-Year-Old Virgin") and Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy") about two opposites who spend a drunken night together and part ways, until she finds out she is pregnant. Admittedly, I only went to see this film because I know this will get distributed widely (coming out in June) and I need those films for the listeners of the radio show - the entire reason I am here. ("Movie Magazine International" on 90.3FM KUSF-FM out of San Francisco but broadcast nationally.) The film is so hysterically funny and yet rather poignant. Ben (Rogen) is an unemployed stoner who hangs out with a gang of equally unambitious gents while Allison Heigl) is on the TV entertainment fast track. When a fetus starts growing between them, they decide to try and make it work and awkward hilarity ensues. The real treat was watching Rogen and Paul Rudd, who plays Allison's brother-in-law, Pete, connect comedically. Some things never change.

"Smiley Face": At last! The world's first stoner movie told from an entirely female perspective! Oh, how long we stoner gals have waited for this. Anna Faris is Jane F., an out of work actress who accidentally ingests her roommate's pot-laced cupcakes on top of already being very stoned and she tries go about her day and make things right again. (This actually happened to me in college, when I accidentally ate a roommate's pot brownie and then went to work driving a limo on New Year's Eve on one of the foggiest nights in Los Angeles. FUCKING SCARY.) The film is so authentic - especially for any stoner who has had long extended inner conversations.

An apology: While I had every intention of attending the screening of "What Would Jesus Buy?" I actually made a geographical miscalculation and ended up in the wrong theatre. When the lights dimmed and sub-titles popped up, I realized my mistake but since I'd already ordered my french fries and was snuggled in, I opted to stay for "Exiled" a Hong Kong action flick that was actually quite enjoyable, very Sergio Leone and with a great mix of violent grit and silly brotherly behavior. A shoot 'em up flick that I probably would have not seen otherwise, such is the inevitable magic of SXSW.

I tried to go to a midnight screening last night of "Kenny" a loving portrait of a porta-potty cleaner in Australia who dispenses wisdom and insight at every turn. His philosophy: "Everybody poops," seems like something thatI could relate to. However, a torrential thunder/lightening storm damped my mood, as did my inability to locate the correct theatre on the map.

We'll give it another try today ...


Howard said...

It's almost, but not quite like being there! Thanks for the updates!

If only respect were our currency...

Kath said...

Am going next year FOR SURE!

ClizBiz said...

I was just thinking today how much more fun this would be if I was here with my blogger gang. SERIOUSLY - let's think about getting a posse together next year!

Kath said...

Oohh...let's see if they would let The Denver Bloggers (TDB< trademark>) give our own panel.

Free Jager Shots for all!

That would reel them in.

And we could title it something like "The Manifestations of Social Blogging Networks From The Skewed Vantage Points of Bloggers".

Yeah. That would work.

hubs said...

"In addition to discussion panels, SXSW features an interesting mix of daily keynote speakers, including Sims and Spore game creator Will Wright; Phillip Torrone, the senior editor of Make magazine; and, of course, cyberpunk visionary Dan Rather. Who better to talk about emerging technology than the septuagenarian former broadcast news anchor who still refers to his (unused) computer as an 'electronic pickle barrel' and the internet as 'the World Wide Possum Stew?'"

from here:

funny. i can't wait to see all those movies. i wich i was there. i think.

hotdrwife said...

(Raising my hand to be a part of the posse)

Miss you, honey! Came back soon so we can meet up for drinks and catch up.