Saturday, April 18, 2009

Other Hollywood Adventures

Besides venturing into Hollywood on Tuesday for the PaleyFest event (see post below), I made two other trips to Cinemaland recently.

On Thursday, April 9, we went to the Knitting Factory (amazing -- a down-and-dirty rock club ensconced in a shiny shopping center, complete with underground parking) to see a concert by Voltaire. Voltaire is your average everyday School of Visual Arts Professor/animator/comics artist/goth-rock-swing-klezmer-caberet performer. He sings what he cheerfully describes as "death death devil devil devil evil evil evil songs" with a tremendous amount of stage presence and a maniacal gleam in his eye. His recordings are fun, but they can't compare with the sheer entertainment value of his live performances.

On Sunday, Amy was out of town, and I drove to the Egyptian Theater for that evening's installment of the American Cinematheque's annual Film Noir festival. The theater served up a double feature of Fritz Lang's last two American movies, both from 1956 -- WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. The former is a wild mashup of two diverse plotlines: the noir story of a comic-book-crazed serial killer, played by John Barrymore Jr. in a black leather jacket and Greek fisherman's cap, pursued by an investigative reporter; and a newspaper version of "King Lear," in which feckless media company heir Vincent Price forces three potential candidates to run his company to compete for his attentions -- by trying to capture Barrymore. The latter is an 80-minute bundle of complicated plotting with almost none of Lang's trademark visuals -- but, as the erudite host for the program pointed out, lots of visual symbolism. The host stated that book-length essays have been written about this film in France. I don't know if there's that much there, but it was a diverting 80 minutes.

Part of the fun of attending a film noir festival is people watching, as the film noir fanboys and fangirls showed up in pinstripes and fedoras.

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