Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Say Yes to No

Here is what we DO NOT want our theater to look like on November 3.

We want every seat filled, because next Sunday we will be showing the fabulous film from Chile, No. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign film this year.  You don't want to miss this one. You definitely want to say yes to NO.

In case you're not sure what the film is about, here's the trailer:


John Anderson's Questions to Ponder
1. How did the 1973 coup in Chile, and Pinochet's free market policies, create a generational rift in his opposition as depicted in the film, and how is that reflected in the NO ads and in Bernal's performance?
2. In what ways does Pinochet's openness to U.S. marketing and media undermine the authority of his leadership?
3. In what ways do the "Yes" ads present an alternative vision of the themes in the "No" ads?
4. Does the film take a positive, negative or neutral stand about the use of mass market advertising in politics?
5. Why was a "low def" look chosen for the film's cinematography?

Early Memberships

If you want to avoid long lines before the upcoming films to sign up for next year's membership, you can sign up early starting now. Memberships are $10.00. You can send your check to:

North County Film Club
PO Box 56
San Luis Rey, CA  92068-0056

Or bring your check to the next two films on Nov. 3 or 17.

Why buy a membership? Here are the reasons:
1. You help to support the club with it's various expenses
2. You are eligible to nominate and vote for the next group of films
3. Members are invited to free showings of new films
4. You help to support independent and foreign films in San Diego County

Critics Corner - Enough Said
by Gail Brown
Enough Said starring James Gandolfini is his last role, Julia Louis-Drefus, Toni Collette and Catherine Keener. Adult romantic comedy, rated PG-13.
IMDB give it a 7.6 and Rotten tomatoes a 7.7. Everyone in our group, including two strangers that heard us giving ratings, rated it an 8, 8.5 or a 9.
The film is about a divorced man and divorced woman with daughters leaving for college. They meet at a party and an unlikely romance begins with some interesting and predictable challenges.
One critics comment:
This pleasant adult romantic comedy with a steady stream of low-key laughs allow the late James Gandolfini to take his final bow as a nice guy instead of a wise guy.
Just my opinion...
If you are a Julia Louis-Dreyfus fan, you will not be disappointed. She gives a very likable performance...she sparkles on screen. I was not sold on their chemistry though.
I thought it was okay, but not a "must see".

Book Nook

Is it alright to do a book review of a book you haven't actually read? I don't suppose it's a good idea, but I'm going to do it anyway. Mainly because this book looks very interesting.

Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell are the authors of this book about the greatest bad movie ever made. My vote is for the Mexican film "Santa Claus vs. the Devil". Other's might think "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" should win. But Sestero and Bissell write the history of The Room which has become a cult classic and their choice for the greatest bad movie.

Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film which they say doesn't make any sense at all. The Room is considered in the category so-bad-it's-good films. Fans pack screenings where they perform raucous audience participation rituals.

According to Jim Ruland of the L.A. Times who reviewed this book, "The Disaster Artist" is not only the terrifically engaging tale of a bad Hollywood movie, it's one of the most honest books about friendship I've read in years."

I've ordered my copy and can't wait to read it. I love books about bad movies.

Board Meeting
Here are some of the members of the board planning next season's slate of films:

Marny Fischer, Jim and Shar Hamilton and John Anderson tally the votes and get ready to submit the list of films to Digiplex. We'll post the final list soon. Stay tuned.

Leaving a Comment
If you'd like to leave a comment on the blog and have never done so, here's a little instruction on how to do it:

1. Scroll down to where it says "0 comment" for instance. It might say "1 or 2 etc comments" Click on that.
2. A box will come up for the comment. Type in your comment.
3. Under "Choose an Identity"
There is a category for "Open ID"
where you can leave your name. You don't have to enter a URL.
4. you can choose "anonymous"
but then when you comment your name won't show up in the blog so
be sure to add your name to the comment.
5. Then click the "Publish Your Comment" button.

That's all there is to it. Try it some time. We'd love to hear from you.

See you on Sunday for No.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

About movies and books

Cinema audience in the 1940s, you could even smoke in the movies back then!
This past Sunday, we had the pleasure of seeing the film Any Day Now. From the sound of the applause after the film, I think most everyone enjoyed it. John Anderson, in his discussion prior to the viewing, told us that film festival audiences loved the film and it seems our membership did too. He also said that critics weren't as enthusiastic and felt the film was a bit melodramatic.

The discussion after the film centered mostly on adoption laws in previous years and how unfair they were. It seems we've come a long way from the 1970s, the time period of Any Day Now.

Our next film, Le Havre will be shown Oct. 27. It's the story of a shoeshiner who tries to save an immigrant child in the French port city Le Havre. I have a feeling it's going to be good because of that dog peaking around the corner. Study up on your French for this one, but of course there will be subtitles if your French is a little rusty.

John has come up with some questions to ponder as we view this upcoming film.

1.  In what way does the town of La Havre become a character in the film.

2. Both LA HAVRE and ANY DAY NOW depict young people endangered by the arms of the State, and the efforts of adults to save them.  How do the films differ in terms of how they approach the subject.

3.  How does the film's photography, acting, production design, and editing eschew the realist aesthetic we associate with movies concerning working class life.  Why did the director, Aki Kaurismaki decide to do this?

Please stay for the discussion after the film. It's always interesting to hear everyone's comments.

Critics Corner

About Time

New members Jane and Jeff Gorman from Carlsbad, took advantage of the club perk of viewing previews of new films. They recently saw About Time in San Marcos. Here are Jane's comments:

If you love "Ground Hog Day" and a coming of age movie featuring a deep father-son bond and portrayed by excellent English actors, then you will find this beautifully shot, well written piece of cinema fun, light-hearted and eventually wringing emotion from the depths of your memory.  It has much the same rhythm of the "Best Marigold Hotel", a little slow at times, but alive with excellent acting combined with an excellent musical tract and a total get-away to the coast of England during the summer.  Your patience with the plot development will be rewarded with an evening well spent at the cinema.


Reviewed by club member, Gail Brown
A true story of the competition between two race car drivers in the mid 70s and the horrific car crash that almost took the life of one of them. Rated R for some nudity, I suspect. 
-That Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek, Avengers) reminds me of a young Brad of those actors that are a pleasure to look at!! He plays the playboy, James Hunt.
-Daniel Bruhl plays Niki Lauda, a very serious and competitive racer.
-Well directed by Ron Howard, produced by Brian Grazer and of course great edge-of-your-seat racing scenes.
-Most reviewers and the two of us gave it around a 7.5 to an 8.
-Racing scenes were exciting and well done, but I think I wanted more character development.
-Not a "must see" but all-in-all an entertaining movie.

Book Nook
Every now and then, I'll include an interesting book that pertains to film. I received this one as a gift from a friend who really knows my interests. 

This book, The Film Snob's Dictionary by David Kamp and Lawrence Levi is a handy reference guide for the sort of movie obsessive for whom the actual enjoyment of motion pictures is but a side dish to the accumulation of arcane knowledge about them.
It's in dictionary format containing actors, films, directors, etc. There's lots of information about very obscure films that I've never heard of, the type of trivia that would be welcome at any cocktail party. 

If you loved or hated Any Day Now, leave a comment below and let us know what you think. Or leave a comment about anything - films, books, past showings, future showings, whatever's on your mind. We'd love to hear from you.
See you on the 27th. 



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Time to Vote

Yes, it's that time of the year again - elections for films for the winter season. Check out all of the nominated film's trailers (see Jim's email of 10/4/13 for the list). If you can't find Jim's email, here is a list of the films (titles only). Check IMDB to see the trailers.

Fanie Fourie's Lobola
The Discoverers
The Sapphires
Fruitvale Station
20 Feet from Stardom
The Girls in the Band
In Darkness
Hitler's Children
Goodbye First Love
Like Someone in Love
After the Wedding
The Hunt
Something in the Air
Blue Jasmine
The Kid with a Bike
A Bag of Hammers
Much Ado About Nothing
The Way, Way Back
Before Sunset
Divided We Fall
In a World
The Attack

You must be a NCFC member to vote. Vote for your favorite EIGHT films by emailing your selections to The deadline is Oct. 13.

Our next film is Any Day Now which will be showing Sunday, Oct. 13. John Anderson has made some excellent, thought provoking notes about the film so we can come prepared (just like a film class!).  So study up and come to the film with questions and comments for the discussion session.

The term “independent film” can be interpreted in a number of ways:  It can be a film produced outside of a major studio, a film supporting the unique view of its director, or a movie whose point of view is outside of traditional societal norms.

For a number of decades, movies catering to or depicting what we would today call the L.G.B.T community fell automatically within the latter definition.  Besides prevalent public disapproval of homosexuality, the M.P.D.A. Production Code, which the major studios upheld from 1934 until 1968, all but forbid specific references to its existence.  When Hollywood films rarely broached  the subject, as in Tea and Sympathy and The Children’s Hour, it served as a catalyst for advancing the subjects of rumor and scandal, not gender and sexuality.

The absence of homosexuality in Hollywood cinema did not keep gays from attending the movies.  On the contrary, the melodramatic excesses of certain feminine romantic melodramas became campy fodder for the L.G.B.T underground film movement.  Jack Smith’s Burning Creatures paid homage to kitschy glamour queens such as Maria Montez, while Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising amplified the fetishistic undertones of B movie biker flicks.  By the end of the 1960s, the Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey collaborations offered a dead pan take down on traditional notions of tinsel town glamour. When representing homosexual themes was no longer verboten, art house  directors such as John Waters and Rainer Warner Fassbender refracted often dire depictions of the gay underworld through the prism of garish American melodrama.

What unified the independent L.G.B.T cinema during its formative years was a skewered, ironic take on the women’s weepies and domestic melodramas that gay men identified with when their identities were closeted by censorship, social conformity, and legal oppression.  Influenced by playwright Bertolt Brecht, L.G.B.T. cinema emphasized the artificial structure of film spectacle, making the audience aware that it was watching a movie, as opposed to trying to suspend its disbelief.  It attempted to transform the way that audiences saw movies: not as dreamers wafting through frenzied states of material bliss, but as alienated voyeurs forever removed from the fantasias of American consumer excess.

Since the 1980s, social forces have allowed movies to form a more accommodating relationship to traditional modes of movie storytelling.  Diminished public opposition to homosexuality, medical options for procreation, and the inheritance issues gay couples faced during the AIDS crisis shifted the community towards addressing its concerns through civil rights initiatives and family law.  Activism shifted from community consciousness- raising to a focus on individual rights and choices.  Consequently,  L.G.B.T. movies today frequently embrace the traditional  empathetic  style of Hollywood storytelling .  Longtime Companion, The Kids are All Right, and this week’s NCFC selections Any Day Now tug on the heartstrings without invoking self reflexive distance.

The irony of course, is that tear-jerkers, once a staple of Hollywood studios, are no longer produced en masse by major film distributors.  What were once mainstream movies have been shunted to independent models of distribution, and are independent only by the fact that they are shot without big studio financing.  By chasing the international market with big action/science fiction spectacles and talking animated animals, major companies have left the making of traditional genre films to the minors. Certain gay themed films are more mainstream in their attempt to make the audience feel the emotions of their characters, but the genres that these films invoke feel marginalized because they no longer fit the marketing demands of the old Hollywood system.

Any Day Now has been criticized in some circles for its overt sentimentality.  The story chronicling the trevails of a gay couple in the late 70s and early 80s as they adopt a jeopardized teenager with Down’s Syndrome, is shot in a highly immersive style with naturalistic performances by Alan Cumming, Garrett Dillahunt, and an utterly beguiling Isaac Leyva as the afflicted boy.  Our emotions are drawn out through the seductiveness of the characters, making their joys and sorrows become our own.  How do you respond to this type of moviemaking, and do you think it effectively stages the political issues surrounding sexuality and the family raised in the course of the melodrama?

Of course, one might argue that Any Day Now deliberately revises the traditional ways that independent L.G.B.T.  cinema structures the relationship between spectacle and spectator, allowing viewers to emotionally commit to the idea that normative familial structures and institutions are the most optimal path towards achieving emotional wholeness.  Is this a reflection of same sex relationships gaining more mainstream acceptance, or an acknowledgement that gays have a larger investment in protecting legal institutions that preserve their rights and property than in previous generations?

In any event, Any Day Now represents an era when the promise of family as a force for unifying the self is being extended to the L.G.B.T. community.  Whether or not the institution can sustain this sense of fulfillment beyond the sphere of cinematic illusion is a question that movies alone can’t answer.

Critics Corner
One of our members, Gail Brown, has been reviewing movies that she sees and has kindly agreed to  share her views of the new film Gravity with us:

I am still on ‘overwhelm’ from the movie yesterday.  Probably without a doubt, the best ‘space’ film of all time. Seven of us attended and we reviewed it between an 8.5 and a 10.  
If you are into the making of a movie, in terms of special effects…then you MUST see this film.  The visual effects are unbelievable…we did not see it in 3D but we felt like we did…Sandra Bullock was fantastic and believable considering she acted alone for most of the movie.  She will give Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) a run for her money for the Oscar no doubt.
Surprised that George Clooney took such a secondary role …but my guess is that he really wanted to be part of this project and work with this director. Kudos to the director, Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer, Emmanuael Lubezki for this groundbreaking film.
I am not a sci-fi fan at all but this one was well worth seeing…some of it is definitely ‘edge of your seat’ entertainment.  Those people who can’t wait to participate in space travel may be having some second thoughts after seeing Sandra’s ordeal!!!!

See you Sunday.