Friday, April 21, 2006

49th San Francisco International Film Festival - Opening Night

Woo hoo!!! It is opening night for the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival!

Opening Night is sort of divided into three parts: pre-show, the film and then the after-party.

There is Good News and Bad News. It is that the San Francisco Film Society has a new Executive Director, Graham Leggat, who comes here from Scotland, via an extensive career in New York at Lincoln Center, etc. He is charming, exuberant, well read and well exposed, composed, funny, endearing and sort of hot in a 'hot daddy' kinda way. The bad news is that he is not "Rrrrrrroxanne!" so I don't have a dummy to snark on this year! His opening presentation, which really is a list of acknowledgements and thank yous, went quite smoothly and actually had something of a self knowing wink to the audience that this is just about housekeeping, and not entertaining at all. He then introduced Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was in his usual overly groomed hotness. Almost TOO groomed, but... still... sigh.

After giving a breathless and fairly eloquent 'welcome' speech (he speaks like a cross between Kennedy and Clinton), which included a 'welcome letter' from Representative Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Newsom introduced Bertrand Delanoe, the mayor of Paris, France, and presented him with a key to the city. Delanoe was sort of charming in his stuttering English. Leggat then wrapped up that section of the evening (with perfect, yet uncondescending diction) and introduced Peter Ho-Sun Chan,the director, and Andre Morgan, his co-producer of the film for the evening. They were brief and quite modest in light of Leggat's overwhelming praise of the film, which is the first Asian film to open the SFIFF. Ever.

"Perhaps Love" (dir. Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Hong Kong, 2005, 106 mins.) is a musical by a director from Hong Kong, featuring a cast from Hong Kong (Jacky Cheung), Korea (Ji Jin-Hee), Japan (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and China (Zhou Xun), choreography by Farah Khan from India, cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Peter Pau. In other words, it's an international stew of a movie! And it looks and sounds like one, too. But these are good things. Though one could point at certain segments as inspired by, if not an homage to past screen musicals, the actual structure is quite unique and cinematically specific. In other words, this is NOT a filmed stage musical, nor could it be. The story concerns a pair of movie stars with a past history, which she would rather forget and he is unable to let go of. Therefore, his story is presented in flashbacks, while we see her present, and the emotional climaxes are played out in the movie-within-the-movie, which is actually a movie musical that the two are starring in. I found it delightfully impressionistic and it is BEAUTIFULLY photographed! The score itself, by Peter Kam and Leon Ko, is a bit schlocky at points, but then it has a couple beautiful ballads, too. The performances are no less than good and Zhou Xun does a nearly brilliant job as the actress who started out homeless and is now the DIVA. Overall, it was bright, stunning and a great way to sweep me away for the start of the festival! (Yes, I would search this out and BUY IT!)

We then drop our goodie bags (which were generously filled with goodies this year!) into the car and pop on down to the Regency Center (where the Regency Theatre used to be) for the after-party. I love it when it's at the Regency! It is a HUGE space where you NEVER feel too crowded. Food and the open bars are on two floors of ballroom space. Skyy Vodka did its overwhelming best, yet again! And the munchies were plentiful enough to fill me up! Also, it's sort of like a family reunion! (Hi Nicola!!!) The band downstairs was fabulous! (I don't know who they were.) There was an odd assortment of dancers/stilt walkers/I-dunno wandering through the crowd, doing... movement? Odd, but it did add an exotic atmosphere to the proceedings and was actually most welcomed over watching drunk white men attempt to dance.

Tomorrow: A slow start to a busy two weeks!


Maxxxxx said...

"Wanna come out! Wanna come out!"

Kevin said...

Thank you, Jay. I always feel like I'm attending the SFIFF, right along with you. By the way, I'll be on the road for the entire SFIFF. I'll be looking forward to your daily updates.

Stephen said...

That musical sounds kind of cool.

Anonymous said...

You're such a hoot! I just caught-up with your latest blogs!

I just wanted to be clear on location for the movies I have committed to.
They are both located at the Kabuki?

much laughter!

Lisa said...

Hooray -- I love to read these! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping I might spot you last night, but we must have been party
hopping opposite floors all night. Hopefully we'll bump into eachother at
some point over the next few weeks!

I'll dearly miss your blurbs on roxxxxxanne!!!, but hear hear to graham!