Wanted: little-known gems

Luckily, you won’t have to wait to see the show

I’m always keen for a good movie-watching recommendation, especially if it’s something I’ve never heard of, or at least heard of but haven’t seen. We all know a few of those.

So here’s your chance to shed a little light by a film (or films) that you’ve always enjoyed, but a lot of people may not be too familiar with.

Here are three of mine:

The Kid Brother (1927) An amazing piece of work from Harold Lloyd. Worth watching for the boat sequence alone. Plus it has a monkey in it.

ffolkes (1979) Roger Moore at his most un-James Bond-iest. A somewhat dated but still very entertaining action-thriller.

Whip It (2009) A charming and fun story that combines equal parts comedy, drama and women’s roller derby. Features a lot more name actors than you realize, and Drew Barrymore’s directing debut.

It doesn’t have to be a classic, nor does it have to be “a cinematic masterpiece”. You get a kick out of it, and think the rest of us would too. Just write down the title and what you like about it in the comments below.

Happy viewing!

Location, location, location!

I can’t explain it, but I think trying to work/write in a traditional setting is counterproductive.

When I do the midday traffic reports and am firmly planted in the studio, I’m practically gushing with creativity.  Sitting in the bleachers at the ice rink while V has hockey practice, I can get past a scene that’s been bothering me for a few days.  Today while V had her dentist’s appointment, and I’m sitting in the parental waiting area, I came up with a sequence that perfectly fits into my first ten pages.

When I sit anywhere inside our place, such as at the desk or at the dining room table, I get nothing. Zilch. Nada. A big fat goose egg.

Which leads me back to my opening line.

I’m going to have to figure out the best way to take advantage of this newfound enlightenment.  I can’t afford to hang out in a coffee shop, even if I get tea, so that’s out.  San Francisco has a bit of a homeless problem, so sitting on a public or park bench is also not a great choice.

There are two public libraries nearby, and finding an empty seat or table is usually pretty easy, so those are maybes.

But with the weather turning nicer, I keep returning to one spot that may be ideal.  Our place has a very small deck off the dining room.  About 5 by 12, with very high frosted glass walls.  If it’s a nice day, I can step outside, plop myself down in a lawn chair and see what happens.

Definitely an experiment worth trying.

-Movie of the Moment: A triple-header today.

Finished THE KING’S SPEECH. Since I have to see a few more Best Picture nominees, I can’t compare it to them, but I enjoyed it.  I was expecting something a little more complex, but there were only a handful of characters and a minimal number of settings; it seemed much more play-like.

I can see why Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush were both nominated; each gave a phenomenal performance.  Their scenes were a joy to watch.

Movie #2 was WHIP IT, the roller derby movie directed by first-timer Drew Barrymore.  I loved it.  I thought it was a blast.  Some of the storylines and characters may be a little cliched, but the sum is definitely greater than the parts.  Just a lot of fun.

Movie #3 was THE ILLUSIONIST, the third of last year’s three nominees for Best Animated Feature (the other two being TOY STORY 3 and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON). This was done by Sylvain Chomet, the brains behind THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE and based on a script by Jacques Tati; the title character is even drawn to look and act like Tati.  The wonderful but incredibly sad story of an unremarkable stage magician fading into obscurity as TV and rock & roll gain in popularity.

I read a couple of reviews that say the young woman who follows him from a small Scottish village to Edinburgh believes that his magic is real, but I didn’t catch that.  I thought she saw him as a fascinating man living a life of adventure, and wanted to tag along.

For the most part, this really is a silent picture.  There are some snippets of dialogue in English and French, but the storytelling is all done visually, and quite beautifully at that.

Don’t go into this thinking it’s a film for kids, ’cause it ain’t.  Nothing bad happens, but *SPOILER* it’s not easy to explain why the magician has to let his rabbit go into the wild, or why the ventriloquist’s dummy  is marked down to ‘free’ in the pawn shop window.

If you watch this, prepare to have your heartstrings given a good solid tug.