One of the great things about awards season is that studios and production companies, at least the cool ones, come up with creative and entertaining ways to draw attention to their films that often also celebrate the art of those films. On Saturday I was privileged enough to be invited to one of these events and this one took place on the rooftop patio at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions in Santa Monica.
The event was a cocktail reception and featured a mini-concert by an orchestra conducted by Oscar-winning (Up)composer Michael Giacchino. Selections from Super 8, Star Trek, Lost and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocolwere played and the musicians were amazing.
William Shatner poses after receiving the Nashville Film Festival’s 2009 President’s Impact Award, a specially designed Gibson guitar hand-painted by artist Mandy Lawson. This year’s fest saw the world premiere of “Willian Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet” from director Pat Buckley. Shatner was playful during the pre-screening presentation, remarking that in the 1950’s, he used to travel around with a fretboard, always intending to learn how to play. He never did, but at the screening he promised….himself, he’d learn. Alas, a rumored performance of Shatner and Ben Folds at the screening’s after party at the Gibson Guitar HQ never unfolded, as Folds was a no-show and Shatner only stuck around for 15 minutes. That said, word had it he was due back in LA at 10am the next morning, so I was disappointed but can’t be pissed at Bill! That said, I really would have liked to meet the legend, as his CD “Has Been” was in my top ten albums of 2004. More on the film in my indieWIRE Nashville Film Festival round up!
So the knock down, drag out, most boozingest fun 10 days in all of festivaldom kicks off in a scant two months from now and I will be on hand to provide coverage of as much of the tomfoolery as possible, not to mention pix and reports and footage of the films, bands and other goings on in West Texas. Look out, BBQ, here I come! This year I plan on making it out to the Salt Lick. Me need brisket. Another restaurant on my list? Hudson’s on the Bend. I mean, how can you argue with Wild Boar three ways: Masa crusted wild boar scaloppini, wild boar sausage and wild boar taquito with ancho Shiner Bock potatoes and chile d’arbol cilantro beurre blanc? Or how about Espresso-Chocolate-Chili smoked Elk Back Strap topped with Gulf Coast Crab and a Lime-Chipotle Beer Blanc? And for dessert? Rosemary Olive Oil Cake layered with lemon curd and butter cream icing on a prickly pear sauce. Oh, lord!
SXSW Film recently announced that Robert Luketic’s eagerly anticipated film 21 will open the 2008 South by Southwest Festival and Conference. Advance word on the film is positive and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
One of the other films announced has me doing a serious geek dance and that’s Erik Nelson’s Dreams With Sharp Teeth, a documentary about legendary science fiction author Harlan Ellison. SXSW Film Festival producer Matt Dentler has just informed me that Ellison will be in attendance. I’ve seen the trailer and all I can say is…Yikes! I am geeking out, big time. This guy is a serious legend. He wrote for the original Star Trek (“City on the Edge of Forever”) and The Outer Limits (Demon With a Glass Hand”), although he apparently is less than pleased with the final result of the former.
Also screening is Michael Radford’s upcoming heist thriller Flawless (Magnolia Pictures), starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore. I saw this film at the European Film Market in Berlin last year and while I wasn’t blown away, you can (and probably have) do a lot worse for a heist film. The robbery sequences are brilliantly filmed and will have you perched on the edge of your seat and Caine’s a joy to watch.
Rounding out the preview are two docs, including one that is causing a bit of a stir in the doc community and was written up in indieWIRE in November, Celia Maysles’ Wild Blue Yonder, about her father, David Maysles. The other, At the Death House Door from Hoop Dreams director Steve James and Peter Gilbert (prod. Hoop Dreams) deals with the wrongful execution of Texas inmate Carlos DeLuna. The death penalty is one of my hot-button issues so this is one of my most anticipated films @ the fest.
Of course this is just a sampling and I know for a fact there’s some more big news coming out of the SXSW Film camp before the fest, so stay tuned to SXSW Film, Matt Dentler’s blog and of course, The Rabbi Report!
Remember, Matt Dentler is watching.