Thursday, April 21, 2005

48th SF Intl. Film Festival - Opening Night

Firstly, and traditionally, Judy and I entered the Castro Theatre to see what was in this year's Swag Bag! It must have weighed 3 pounds! Mostly magazines, though, including a pair about Oregon. Yes. Oregon is a sponsor this year and would like you to come visit. Stella Artois is a sponsor this year and you like you to take a nifty beer glass with you! Skyy Vodka thinks you should have a shot on the road. Munchies included some madelines, Judy's Breadsticks, Ghiradelli chocolate and some shortbread. Oh! And the Sundance Channel included a nifty '3 pack' of dvds! "Die! Mommie, Die!" "Rick" and "Seeing Other People."

Speaking of 'seeing people' it was like a reunion! Since I've been pretty low key and out of the loop lately, I got stopped in the lobby (and at the party later) to talk about my colon, or lack thereof. Again. But I guess it is 'what's new'! ;-)

Anyway, the lights lowered and this year's Festival Trailer unspooled. It is dull. Oh, but the dullness didn't stop there! Oh, no. It was time for Roxanne Messina-Captor to do her traditional festival welcome speech. Which is neither festive nor welcoming, but basically a reciting of the first three pages of the official program. Rrrrrroxanne(!) never ceases to amaze me in her display of lack of any passion regarding the festival, much less the film society. I mean, these things MUST be an outrageous undertaking requiring enthusiasm and charisma. She displays neither when addressing the public. She was even dressed in a hideously conservative creamy Armani pant suit. NO jewelry was evident from where we were sitting. Last year, she was lent some from Bulgari (a festival sponsor) and made a point of showing it off. But this year? Well, she would be forgettable, except for being so DULL that one feels obligated to remark.

Anyway, she made a point of listing the names of the filmmakers present in the audience tonight, but asked that we wait and hold our applause until she was finished. At the end of her list, she asked them to stand up. As IF we were able to know who was who? Or I guess that wasn't what mattered? I don't know. It was almost like the 'requiem moment' from the Oscars or something. Just odd and uncomfortable. Rrrrrrroxanne(!) then introduced Costa-Gavras, the director of tonight's feature:

"The Axe" (La couperet) (dir. Costa-Gavras, France, 2005, 122 minutes) Costa-Gavras was greeted by a smattering of a standing ovation. I was sort of mixed about that. I mean, he did direct the classic "Z" amongst others, but I just wasn't moved to join in the S.O. Anyway, he didn't really have that much to say to introduce it. He turned it over to his wife and producer, Michele Ray-Gavras, who I couldn't really understand. I digress... "The Axe" is a WHOLE LOT of fun!! A man has been laid off ("downsized") from his job and concocts a bloody path to get a new job. He is played by Jose Garcia ("Talk To Her") with psychopathic glee! And Costa-Gavras has some really nice, nearly Hitchcockian flourishes and twists to keep you involved, in what is a pretty dirty business! (Ha! I just made a funny! Well... You gotta see it to get it, I guess...) Anyway, this is a good evil time, with some real intense socio-economic commentary running throughout. You must see this, if you get a chance! It was a FUN film to open a festival with!

Then, the party. It was held at Ghiradelli Square this year. Those of you out-of-town may not realize that this means it was outdoors. A block off of the Bay. At 10:00 p.m. Oh, my point being that it's a bit chilly to be having a party outside, on the Bay, at night. And risky, too! The restaurant and liquor representation was 'ok' this year. (Where was Vermeer Liqueur?!) I was pretty unfamiliar with the restaurants, though. (Where was Blowfish Sushi?!) Anyway, I was pretty finished with it within an hour. Which is sort of quick for me. harumph.

Overall, a 'good' opening. Usually the party is better than the film, so perhaps it is a GOOD SIGN that the reverse was true this year!!

More tomorrow....Apr. 21st, 2005|11:29 pm

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