Saturday, November 8, 2008
AFI Fest...Matthew Modine appears in Black Leather at premiere! Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy articulate ideas! Game on Columbine angers press!
Matthew Modine strode onto the carpet in a black leather jacket, Danny Boyle appeared for all-the-world like a mischievous wizard, and "Full Monty" screenwriter Simon Beaufoy was surprisingly down-to-earth.
Amid the dizzying red carpet glitz, security was tight, the press was antsy, and AFI Staff bent over backwards to please their honored guests.
Bright and early this morning, I am still a little overwhelmed by all the tantalizing events that unfolded before me at the Cinerama Dome last night.
In sum, AFI fulfilled its mission this year, in my estimation.
After all, the eleven-day Festival (to wind down November 9th) provided a forum for - an exchange of ideas, insightful forays into the creative mind, a perch for a smattering of showbiz luminaries to alight and share their visions, and - last but not least - thought-provoking topics to mull over.
For starters, I was particularly thrown a little by Mr. Modine when he sauntered into the room a bit cautious - but confident - none the less.
His fashion choice - a black leather jacket matched up with sexy tight-fitting jeans - jarred the sensibilities a bit.
When I took a poll around the AFI party-scene after the carpet event - many (who weren't at the premiere) - painted a portrait of Modine similar to the one oft-seen onscreen: middle-American, white-bread boy, squeaky clean.
So, when the strapping 6' 2 (plus?) actor sauntered over to have a one-on-one, I seriously had to wonder, who exactly was Matthew Modine?
A couple of my personal questions (are you content right now?) elicited an intriguing response.
"Such personal questions," he mused, a bit hesitantly.
I noted that if he preferred not to go there, that was OK.
On the heels of this comment, after the first bit of posturing between us, the magic door opened wide.
Suddenly, he relaxed.
Undoubtedly, there's a lot of soul to the man, submerged beneath a calm surface.
Still waters run deep?
Although he generally doesn't discuss the premise of a film beforehand, he gave me a scoop on "I Think I Thought".
The fictional tale is about a man - people assert - "thinks too much".
So, to appease his accusers, he seeks out "Thinkers Anonymous" to get a grip on the dilemma.
A couple of comments about the project prompted me to ask if this was a take-off on Orwell's 1984 (controlled societies) or a concept about "thought" Police.
At this juncture, the floodgates opened and his thoughts spilled out.
"Are we headed in that direction," I started to ask.
"Well - "
The look on his face spoke volumes.
"You think we're there already," I quizzed.
"Sure. This past eight years of the Bush Administration was bad. Rights were violated and the U.S. Constitution was trampled on."
Of course, he was referring to powers of the FBI that were extended in one fell swoop - and in the aftermath - the intelligence agency's alleged involvement in wrongful conduct.
What many perceived as illegal wiretaps, for instance, and a government philosophy that smacked-of and turned-on the unjust concept of "guilty" until proven innocent.
Un-American, from the get-go.
Should be an intriguing film!
On the other hand, Danny Boyle struck me as a sort-of whimsical "wizard", what with the granny-style specs, greying hair, and character-driven face.
Tell me about "Sunshine".
He appeared to be flattered that I mentioned a film that was obviously very special to him.
"The idea of space. It intrigued me."
He asserted that every director should have a project like "Sunshine".
"Once they get it out of their system, they'll move on."
"Sunshine" review: Post 11/01/07
The new film - "Slumdog Millionaire" - came by way of a script submission out-of-the-blue.
Essentially, the fictional tale is about a game-show winner who is accused of committing fraud.
"It was fascinating subject for me. With a great script by Simon Beaufoy."
Actors, take note.
Mr. Boyle is open to using "fresh" faces whenever the opportunity arises.
"A Quiet Little Marriage" also premiered last night.
Essentially the story focuses on a young married couple and a drama which unfolds when the young woman expresses her desire to start a family.
The director - shy, but very real - apparently worked closely with the actors to develop their characters.
I pointed out to Mo Perkins that there were a slew of films at the festival which threw the spotlight on a myriad of far-reaching topics.
Why, then, did Perkins choose old-familiar territory on the subject of marriage?
Did the insightful director feel she could cover new ground somehow?
"Relationships are important to me. It was a good script in that respect."
Who knows, maybe the subject matter is timely - in view of the fact the issue of "Gay Marriage" - is now gearing up to go forward in the courts in the wake of the passing of Proposition 8 in California in the past election.
The two stars (Cy Carter as Dax and Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Olive) - who played the married couple - were gorgeous!
The actor, reminded many of Christopher Atkens (Blue Lagoon) when he was younger.
I expect exposure in this film may catapult his career into lofty realms as a romantic leading man.
The fan magazines will be buzzing, no doubt.
Simon Beaufoy - who wrote the English feature - Full Monty (directed by Peter Cattaneo) - was a surprisingly down-to-earth when he glided up.
My jaw dropped when he stated - matter-of-fact - that he didn't make films to rustle up "money".
I noted I was a big fan of "Monty" and that I recalled the initial reaction to the sensational strip scene.
Although I thought the titillating reveal was all about selling tickets and stirring up controversy, Beaufoy assured me that wasn't his intention.
"It was all about humiliation. It was a metaphor."
In contrast, the scene was a liberating one, to me.
In that project, he chose to go under the radar in his choice of actors.
"I'm inclined to go that way when necessary. A less-recognizable face is sometimes more appropriate in a particular circumstance."
Tonight, the effervescent screenwriter was in attendance to take in the premiere of - "Slumdog Millionaire" - a project he penned the script for.
Anil Kapoor - a Bollywood star - was also on hand to chat up his current feature-film release, "Slumdog Millionaire" (Danny Boyle).
A separate post on that interview will publish in a day or two since the whole topic of "Bollywood" warrants a separate piece on that film phenomenon.
Some of the press folks on hand were angered by the appearance of one director - Danny Ledonne - and refused to interview him about his project, Playing Columbine.
Playing Columbine is being promoted as a video game that allows players to reenact the Columbine massacre.
One newsie from a local TV Station angrily noted in an aside to me:
"I won't give him any publicity for that."
Like the 9/11 tragedy, many feel Columbine should remain on sacred ground, not to be tampered with, exploited, or made light of.
I pointed out the controversy to the young director, and he argued that maybe we - as a society - need to "go there".
"The purpose of the Columbine project was to get people to talk about subjects they normally wouldn't."
But, as I emphatically put forward to him, the word "game" tends to suggest a leisure activity, something that is "playful", and not to be taken seriously.
That's why people are upset.
This was a tragedy. Turning it into a game - to many - is not only shocking but sick.
I pointed out that I would double-check the dictionary definition of the word "game" before I wrote this piece to determine if there was any validity to his bold-faced arguments.
As expected, one dictionary referred to a game as:
"An amusement or pastime, as in children's games."
Was Columbine about killing for sport or amusement?
Or, simply the twisted actions of a demented person?
A second definition defined game as a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of the spectators.
Weren't the victims here just "picked off", and murdered in cold bold, without any set of rules that could have possibly changed the end scenario?
Was anyone at Columbine amused by the deadly game that unfolded that day on campus?
One reference noted that in a game, a number of points are required to win.
In this instant case, a body count would be required, right?
One analysis is intriguing, though.
It described games as a pursuit, attack, or an abuse.
"The new boy at school was fair game for practical jokers," was cited as an example.
Were the victims at Columbine fair game by any stretch of the imagination?
After raising these points initially - the director emphasized that his film - "Playing Columbine" - was all about role-playing; video games, he asserted, focused on stealth play, stalking, and - yes - even murder.
Was he trying to say that these activities may have caused the murders in Columbine?
If so, surely there was a more respectful way to meet the challenge of expressing those thought-provoking ideas in a more meaningful constructive way.
"We'll all be role-playing one day," the computer whiz quipped.
Personally, I don't think so.
George Eliot once opined:
"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to stay, abstains from giving us worthy evidence of the fact."
In my opinion, people should articulate their rage.
Let's pray that "Playing Columbine" doesn't even go straight to DVD.