Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ebertfest 2010 Preview

Back in the late eighties, I had three really tight friends. We did everything from just hang out together to running for (and winning) our senior class officership. We listened to the same music and developed our mutual love of film together. I ran with that last one a little further than the other guys did. Probably our favorite band at that time in our lives was Pink Floyd. They were trippy and angst ridden, depressed and rebellious. Everything a teenager needs in an emotional outlet.

We were so obsessed with the band, we were racking up frequent renter cards renting the movie “Pink Floyd: The Wall” alone. When our town obtained its first WalMart, “Pink Floyd: The Wall” was one of the titles featured in their ridiculously small by today’s standards video department. This was not yet a time when it was common for people to own home videos, but at $19.99 for a VHS copy of our favorite film, we were on the hook.

The thing is none of us really had twenty bucks to drop on a movie we’d already seen plenty of times, so we decided to go in together. And hey! Why should we pay for it? No, we didn’t steal it. We devised a plan to allow our schoolmates to “donate” to our Pink Floyd fund by “borrowing” quarters. It was fairly common practice to ask some one for a quarter for the vending machines, and we figured we’d pay it forward eventually by reciprocating on future begs from them. It became a sort of contest to see who could beg the most quarters, and within a week the movie was ours.

Imagine my delight when I learned the opening film of the 12th Annual Roger Ebert Film Festival was going to be “Pink Floyd: The Wall”. Well, you might be able to imagine it, but I can’t since I won’t be attending it for the fourth time since I said I’d never miss another. The economy got me this year and I just couldn’t eke out the funds for the guaranteed best film festival around.

Not only will the folks gathering in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois April 21-25 have the opportunity to witness my precious Pink Floyd film on the big screen when Ebertfest 2010 edition kicks off in the classic Virginia Theater, but they’ll be seeing it in glorious 70mm. *sob* whimper *sob*. Why? Why this year Roger? And get this, on Friday they’ll be watching one of my all time favorite films “Apocalypse Now” in its restored and expanded “Redux” version. Oh, cruel fate!

Other wonderful films featured at this year’s festival include, the Swedish series of fixed camera vignettes “You, the Living”, the Rwandan exploration of prejudice between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes “Munyurangabo”, the 2009 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film about an unemployed cellist who takes a job as a preparer of the dead “Departures”, the silent classic “Man with a Movie Camera” with musical accompaniment by the always delightful Alloy Orchestra, Ebert’s favorite film of last decade “Synecdoche, New York”, the English period drama “I Capture the Castle”, and my own top ten entry from last year “Trucker”.

Of course, those are the movies that I will actually be watching at home along with the film festival this year. As always, when I am not able to attend the festival, there are several titles that I cannot acquire for home viewing as they are either not yet released on a home video format, or are long out of print. There are four this year. Two documentaries (which I will probably find a way to see by year’s end): “Vincent: A Life in Color” and “Song Sung Blue”. “Vincent” looks as if it may contain the same charm as “The Real Dirt on Farmer John”, the wonderful doc featured a couple of years ago at Ebertfest .

I’ll also be missing out on “The New Age”, the 1994 film about a Hollywood couple who open an elite boutique shop to raise money for their divorce. And, almost as painful to learn of as the Pink Floyd screening, is the Saturday evening screening of the barroom drama “Barfly”, with a screenplay by and based on the life of one of America’s greatest writing talents, Charles Bukowski. I suppose it will remain unseen by me unless someone can lend me a quarter or two.


SD said...

Have you ever seen Barfly? It's brilliant. Definitely in my top 10 favorites of all time. I had no idea the DVD was out of print--new copies sell on Amazon for over a hundred bucks! I have a copy I lent to someone over a year ago. I need to get it back immediately.

Andrew D. Wells said...

Hope it hasn't gone the E-Bay way. And No, I've never seen it. I picked a terrible Ebertfest to miss this year. The one positive is that other than those last four films, I'm able to stream all the others over my Wii. Except for the Floyd and Apocalypse, which I own.

SD said...

Dude, the next time you're in Chicago we must watch Barfly. I feel like this is an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Andrew D. Wells said...

It is an injustice. That's what I'm saying. Of all the Ebertfests to miss.