Last week, David and I attended the AFI Fest (a film festival in Hollywood.) We had known about it for years but did not realize until a couple of weeks ago that it was free and that you didn't need to spend hundreds of dollars to attend. I scooped up several free tickets every day to a variety of films. For five days, we were in a little bubble in Hollywood going back and forth between the Egyptian Theatre and the Dolby Theatre (where the Oscars are held.)
Sunday night, my good buddy, Connie, raced me home from teaching in Arizona in time to catch Chuck Workman's Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles. I've raved about Workman before and if you haven't seen Precious Images, it's worth the seven minutes of your time.
I enjoyed seeing the film. I loved seeing the clips of Welles and those who knew and loved him. I was very happy that Peter Bogdanovich was in attendance (I would've loved it if he had been on stage with Workman instead of answering questions from the audience.) My biggest complaints about the film would be the focus on Welles' weight (enough already) and the time wasted listening to folks (whose work I like but...) who didn't know Welles, blather on about how wonderful Welles was (Richard Linklater, for one.) They also overlooked Welles' politics in the film. All of that said, I was very happy to see the film and it is definitely worth seeing.
Monday afternoon, David and I trekked back to the Egyptian to see Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. What a film! I loved it and would definitely recommend it. Fun to see on the big screen.
We quickly left the theatre, ran across the street to grab dinner (pizza at Stefano's which I wouldn't recommend) and got back in line to see one of my all time favorites, Cinema Paradiso.
The only thing you need to know about this film is that if you see it (and you should), make sure that it is the 124 minute cut. Trust me on this one.
We go to the Egyptian a lot and I've never seen this before. Most of the theatre was reserved for folks in the business. We found out when we left that not only did we watch the film with the director, Giuseppe Tornatore in attendance but Al Pacino was there, too! It's not every day that you get to watch a film with Pacino! Danny DeVito had a seat reserved in the front row next to the Italian Consul! Here he is doing a little dance for me:
On Tuesday, we were in Hollywood by 3:30 but were told that we could not line up until 6:30. Well, it turns out that they let folks line up about 6:10 once they cleared the insane line for Selma. It wasn't done in the safest way as we were all hovering across the street and we were nicely "in order" over there. David and I were about the tenth and eleventh people in line. Well, a woman screamed that we could line up now and people started RUNNING across the street. Not so safe, people. We ended up being 39th and 40th in line by the time they started handing out the damn tickets (people saving spots for their friends!) My biggest complaint about this festival is that (like San Diego Comic Con's Hall H Line) tickets need to be given out AS people get in line. Not an hour or so before the film starts. We barely made it into see the not so secret showing of Clint Eastwood's American Sniper.
Clint Eastwood spoke for about two minutes before the film began. It was great to see him in person even if it was only for a short period of time.
I'm glad that I saw it but it was awfully hard to watch. I had no idea going in that it was based on a true story. I would recommend if you don't know anything about it and you plan on seeing it, don't read anything about it until AFTER you see the film. David summed it up best, "It was interesting to see but I wouldn't see it again."
Wednesday night found us in line again extra early for the big Gala tribute to Sophia Loren. By the time we got in line, we were 59 and 60. By the time they handed out the tickets, we were 119 and 120. WTF, people?!
We sat in the orchestra section, about six rows from the stage. Neither one of us had ever been in the Dolby Theatre before and I was surprised at how small it was. (This is where the Oscars have been held the last few years.)
Sophia walked across the stage in high heels to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
It was great to hear Sophia tell her tales of working in film. When asked about Marlon Brando she said, "Meh." She explained that she was always the first on the set. Brando was always late. She didn't like that kind of attitude about the projects that she was working on. Loren said Chaplin asked Brando if he was going to continue being late and if so, he would get another actor.
We left after Sophia spoke as I really wanted to see Jauja with Viggo Mortensen in attendance. I will never forget the look my husband gave me when it was announced that Viggo wasn't going to be there.
I loved the film. It's definitely not one that everyone will appreciate. It was worth it for scenes like this one (my favorite shot from the film):
If you didn't know already, Viggo is a visual artist as well as a poet and photographer. I bought his art books and loved listening to him talk politics before I found out that he was also an actor.
The last film of the week for us was Foxcatcher. We ended up second row orchestra on the left hand side of the Dolby Theatre this time. I took a few photos of the crew and cast (Steve Carell is in the above shot.)
This was another film that I knew absolutely nothing about going in. David told me that it was about wrestling and I just rolled my eyes. The acting in this film is freaking amazing. It's totally an actor's film, completely character driven. You've never seen Steve Carell like this before! Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum were also amazing (especially Ruffalo.) I would recommend seeing it but again, if you don't know anything about the film, don't read up on it before you go.
(From Cinema Paradiso and how I feel when I watch a film.)
It's always surreal going to a Comic book convention or anything that puts you in a little bubble for a short period of time. You even go through withdrawals afterwards. You feel like you should be running to a panel or a film instead of standing in line at the post office.
I'm not one to watch a film (or read a book or make art) because I want to escape. I watch films because I want to be open to possibility. I want my eyes, ears, heart and hands open to the world around me. Film is a way of looking at the world and seeing how others around me see it, seeing the potential that all of us have and wondering how we can reach that potential. It's not just sitting in the dark. It's having my eyes wide open.
How many more days until AFI Fest 2015?