Archive for June, 2009

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Seen at Silverdocs: Winnebago Man

18 June 2009

Washington DC’s Silverdocs festival, in its seventh season, has become one of the major US showcases of documentaries. Sponsored by the American Film Institute (AFI) and the Discovery Channel, the festival “has both bolstered and capitalized on Washington’s reputation as ‘Docuwood,’ a city that churns out more nonfiction films than anywhere else in the United States” (The Washington Post Weekend, 6/12/09). Films screen at the AFI Silver (a beautifully restored deco theater) and the Round House Theatre in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland (the ‘Silver’ in Silverdocs).

We saw one the screenings, Winnebago Man. I confess I was completely in the dark about the film’s inspiration: a videotape that was dubbed and passed around starting in the late ’80s, outtakes from an industrial film made for Winnebago showing the spokesman cursing his flubbed lines, the crew, pesky flies…. When YouTube appeared, the tape made Winnebago Man (sometimes called the Angriest Man in the World) known worldwide. Ben Steinbauer, a fan of the tape, was intrigued enough to search out the story behind the tape and track down the man himself, Jack Rebney. The portrait of the cantankerous but dignified Rebney is funny and bittersweet.

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After the screening, the director and two of the producers were there to take questions. Ben Steinbauer, the director, suggested giving Jack (who lives in a cabin in the northern California woods) a call. (See photo above).  Steinbauer held his iphone up to mic: we heard an update from Jack and some in the audience asked him questions directly. Mr Rebney left us with the directive to keep our wits about us and to (politically) “Act! Act!”

(One audience member was a young girl who, we assume, wasn’t fazed by the film’s blue language. She was interested: she asked a question and was standing waiting to talk to the filmmakers at the end of Q&A session.)

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Check out the original video and read more about the film here:

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Horror (With the Best Intentions): Shaun Luu HorrorFest, 6/13

10 June 2009

Attending the Palace Theatre for an evening of Sergio Leone’s Clint Eastwood westerns (Eastwood in Eastwood?), we realized this was another Syracuse movie venue we should note. (Spotted in the audience: OFG founder Jon Peck). This was a Brew & View evening (Saranac and Middle Ages beers on sale) with a discount for even a half-hearted attempt to dress in western or Civil War garb. Interestingly, the evening was sponsored by a local lodge of the Masons, who distributed literature on Freemasonry.

We also spotted fliers for this weekend’s Shaun Luu HorrorFest 2009. The festival (in its fifth year) raises money for University Hospital and the Golisano Children’s Hospital in memory of Shaun who was part of the city’s hardcore scene until his death from brain cancer at age 23. On Friday, the 13th, the festival will screen eight films (in 35 mm, if available) at the Palace Theatre. The following day, more than a dozen bands will be playing at the Wescott.

For more information, visit the Palace Theatre’s website (www.palacetheatresyracuse.com) and http://www.youtube.com/ShaunLuuHorrorFest

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from one of the scheduled films, Dario Argento’s Deep Red (1975)

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Suggested Theater Viewing: Up

1 June 2009

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The first animated feature to open Cannes (this past month)–a worthy choice. Beautifully nuanced details and textures. A highlight is early on in the film–the backstory Carl and Ellie, the couple who lived in that house that takes flight. The 3-D does not have that gimmicky “It’s coming right at you!” feel. Rather, it just enhances the whole experience. Highly recommended.

Check out the movie’s production notes: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/up/main.html#/epk/about/production_notes/1. The filmmakers explain their theory of  “simplexity” to get the right mix of realism and caricature. Also, the influence of directors Kurosawa (especially “Ikiru”) and Ozu as well as illustrators like Mary Blair and George Booth on the film. Plus, exactly how many balloons are holding up that house.

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from Disney artist Mary Blair

georgeboothfrom cartoonist and artist George Booth