May Day, May Day

The only distress I was having this 1st of May was that I was marooned on my couch all day and never left the house. You’re suppose to get out and enjoy, I know. But I really wasn’t feeling up to it after this weekend. Yes, inspired by all the seasons movie festivals, I spent the entire day watching movies. Earlier this month The 5th Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) was in full swing with 165 films from 27 countries. I’ve picked up one of the hits of DIFF, 13 Assassins, but I haven’t managed to watch it yet. And for some obvious reasons (note the title) I’ve decided it best I watch Language Of A Broken Heart. Clearly I could have written this one.

 

Dallas has dueling festivals this time of year so this weekend also marked the start of the 41st USA Film Festival (USAFF). On a personal note, it was the premiere of The Locker, a psychological thriller produced in Texas and including my little brother Craig Cole as Dr. Price. The fest also showed the 3D film Drive Angry with Nicholas Cage (he’s really a Coppola by the way) and USAFF honoree William Fichtner. As another sidebar and plug for my little bro, he also worked on Prison Break.

 

Another whirlwind film fest (It’s just 4 days) taking place in LA is the TCM Classic Film Festival.  There were only a few films on the Essentials list I had not seen. But since I couldn’t be there in person, I did the next best thing — I fired up TCM on the tellie to see some films I’ve not watched. First up was the TCM showing of the WWII spy film Where Eagles Dare (1968). This I especially liked for the action and adventure, the great shots of Austria and Bavaria including the fight on top of the cable car, and because it starred Richard Burton and a very young Clint Eastwood who laid waste to more characters in this film than any of his Dirty Harry body counts.

 

I followed it up with a softer touch from Humphrey Bogart and the beautiful Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa (1954). I mean who can resist Boggie and a film where Gardner’s character, Maria Vargas, is called “The World’s Most Beautiful Animal”.

 

Then there was a movie on MGM I have watched so many times before but can’t seem to pass up — The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). Mel Gibson is on my hotseat these days with all his crazy antics but I think it’s one of his best movies and it includes Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt. Set during the rule of the first President of Indonesia, Sukarno, it’s about revolution and politics, ethics in journalism, expat living, loyalty, and love, amongst other things. Some notables from this film. It is no tale but reality that over half a million people were killed during the attempted coup of 1965. Also worth mention is that Linda Hunt, who played a man, was the first actor to win an Academy Award (Oscar) for portraying a member of the opposite sex. I still cry every time Billy (played by Hunt) meets his demise.  

I’ve got a couple more classics lined up this week. I’ve seen them both before but no matter. Bogart and Bacall in The Big Sleep (1948) is worth seeing again. We are talking murder, blackmail, and dare I say love. Then there’s also a TCM showing of one of my favorite Cary Grant films — Hitchcock’s mistaken identity thriller, North By Northwest (1958). It’s no mistake at all I’ve seen this movie 20 times already.

As for more film fests, I’ve been checking out what’s what this year at some of the well known events. The Sundance Film Festival has plenty of video with YouTube at the core and a mobile app/event guide for iPhone and Android ($4.99). Yes it’s a paid app but the proceeds go as a donation to this non-profit organization. The Sundance.org website was also nominated for a Webby Award in the Cultural Institutions category. From Sundance, Kinyarwanda, a film about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is getting a lot of buzz so I will check that out.

I really liked to see innovation in this space because I think it’s critical. And I hope to see how it converges in with Mobile TV and Tablets. I have already streamed a movie or two to my iPad. I liked the way the 10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) opened up for the second year now an online screening room. Both Sundance and TFF are topped up with social integration with Facebook pages and twitter streams. There’s social sharing galore, plenty of related links to film info, ratings, reviews and recommendations. TFF also offered a mobile app to guide attendees through this year’s 93 feature films and 60 short films from over 40 countries. Some of the standouts here seem to be Last Night full of emotion and jealousy and Detachment by American History X Director, Tony Kaye about a man who may find emotions a bit difficult to latch on to in the end. I think I’d also like to see The High Cost of Living and VOD (video on demand) can make that possible.  

I also have my sights set on actually attending a few festivals this year like the 10th Annual Transilvania International Film Festival 2011 (TIFF). I’m following TIFF and a few others on MUBI. The site is billed as the online cinema where you can watch films anytime, anywhere. It’s also about discovery and discussion. From their daily digital film magazine, The Notebook, to all of it’s rocking social cinema features — the MUBI site is engaging. I really like the experience and I’m slowly building a film library. MUBI lets you take your cinema journey to undiscovered entertainment possibilities like the 7th Libertas Film Festival in the old Croatian town of Dubrovnik or perhaps Rome or Goteborg or Toronto. The options wonderfully endless.

I’ve become a fan of TIFF on MUBI and added some films like the Romanian drama Tuesday, After Christmas to my watchlist. Tuesday made its mark at both Cannes and New York Film Festival in 2010. That said, I’m hoping to enjoy TIFF in person this year in Cluj, Romania. I’d also like to attend the 24th Annual Helsinki International Film Festival (HIFF) held in September. It would mark my third time with the The Love & Anarchy festival if I’m lucky enough to work out the plans. One difference with this film fest is that it’s competition free. I’m looking forward to seeing A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop. I mean who wouldn’t right? If the Cohen Brothers liked it then it’s perfect for me I am sure. But it seems I’ll have to wait a bit longer for any details on the lineup for HIFF 2011.

So…that was May 1. No May flowers. Something more like a mini movie fest day. Let’s see what 2nd of May brings.