ILC does #NYCC2015: A Singular Experience

Two weeks have passed and I am still processing my NYCC (New York Comic Con) 2015 experience. It was fun to be sure but definitely was “one to grow on” so to speak.

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I mean look at that crowd. Quite overwhelming to say the least. And this is just the entryway.

I had individual Friday-Saturday-Sunday tickets but ultimately bailed on the last day (previous engagement). Upon reflection, you realize that is one of the ways you are “had” – not in a bad way – the time gap between ticket sales and the actual event almost requires that you purchase a multi-day pass or individual tickets for multiple days. The reasoning being (of course) that you never know what is going to happen and when. In the lead up to the actual event, NYCC planners stagger the release of information of screenings, panels and other entertainment appearances.

Also important to note, that, unlike its older sister/cousin, SDCC, there is not a whole lotta movie-related stuff going on here. This is a convention dedicated to comic enthusiasts, with a bunch of sci-fi fantasy/TV/gaming opportunities and tie ins thrown in for good measure. So set your expectations right.

My first day was spent mostly walking the convention floor to get a lay of the land. I have to say it was definitely packed but after you take it all in – it is quite fun. There are giveaways galore. Sure you will probably get home with a “swag bag” wondering why the hell you have TWO posters of the cover art for Dark Horse Comic’s Fight Club 2, remember all part of the experience.

My last day was a bit shorter. I walked the floor (rather quickly) and headed straight to my two panels. Still felt it was well worth the time spent on a lovely Saturday.

Let me close out this post with a few of pointers for any and all who are considering attending NYCC next year or in future years:

  1. GO TO PANELS – As this was my first Con and I will feeling the whole thing out, I only attended a couple of panels (there was one that I had to skip due to a travel delay) but I think this is where you get the most bang for your buck. Otherwise
  2. Speaking of panels …. for the big ones, arrive EARLY. Sure the doors officially open at 10:00AM, but if say there is an X-Files panel at 1:00PM, you may want to get there is the 7:30AM-8:00AM window to guarantee a seat. Trust me on this one.
  3. A last item about panels … the Main Stage (where the aforementioned X-Files event took place) clear out after panels, the other smaller rooms do not. So … I am not saying I did this … but you could theoretically look at the schedule (plan ahead!) and if you feel like a panel you want to attend might reach capacity, just attend a panel (or two) before and park yourself in for the day.
  4. When purchasing tickets – go for the 3 or 4 day pass. There is an economic reason for it (cheaper per day, assuming you attend all days). But it is also simply convenient. If these are not available I would definitely target Friday and Saturday next in the queue.
  5. Oh yeah did I mention PLAN AHEAD. While the meat of the event takes place in Javits Center, I noticed that there were quite a few events that took place at other venues. The panels that took place here had a decidedly TV theme to them.
  6. If you want a photo op/autographs, be sure to bring your checkbook. This is not really my thing, but the prospect is appealing to others. If you decide to forgo this one-on-one experience, you can still walk around the autograph area to catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrity. But hope you have a photographic memory — because photos are not allowed to be taken in the area.
  7. The signs are everywhere but as a reminder, you are not allowed to take pictures of cosplayers unless you are granted permission to do so by said cosplayer. Sounds obvious but I guess it needs to be said (they even have signs posted around the convention reminding us of this). Most of them do not mind at all; but for me, it was enough to simply sit back and watch the passing parade.
  8. Bring your walking shoes – especially if you plan to camp out for several hours or all day (not my recommendation personally), you will do a LOT of walking. Seating is scattered to say the least so you may even find yourself aimlessly wandering around the convention floor while waiting for that panel that you are dying to see.
  9. Don’t like what is on offer to eat at the Con site? Well you have bring your own food and bevvies, but know that you can venture off during the day if you are there for a spell. Your badge grants you re-entry on the convention grounds (until 8:00PM). So no worries – take a two hour break eat at your favorite Midtown (?) spot, or just chill for a bit, and come back to enjoy the fun!

So there you have it – I could try to be clever and round out this list at a “top ten,” but I am tired and still recovering from a late night last night (Blur was worth it though).

Did any of you attend NYCC, 2015 edition? Share your experiences with all!

The Ingrid Bergman Tribute at BAM

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the kick off event for BAMcinematek’s Ingrid Bergman Film Retrospective. Created and written by Ludovica Damiani and Guido Torlonia (also the director), the evening featured live performances by Bergman’s daughter, Isabella Rossellini and Academy-Award winner Jeremy Irons.

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What a creative way to mark the centennial of Bergman’s birth – combining personalized, “autobiographical” narratives of her life and work with featured clips of those seminal works, including Casablanca (of course), Anastasia, and The Bells of St Mary’s, to name a few. The audience was also treated to home movies from Ingrid Bergman’s personal collection, including (amazingly) several stills and moving images from her early childhood.

Most striking and resonant for me? The irreverence and honestly her personal accounts were given – the triumphs were given equal weight with the tragedies and controversies … it was a refreshingly honest insight into the world of a performer, an artist, a human being. Equally poignant was that fact that her own daughter, who bears a striking resemblance to her, is uttering these words.

It is a wonder that all of this took place over the course of a breezy, uninterrupted 90 minutes. Unfortunately we were restricted from photographing any of the event; hopefully there will be a recording somewhere for those who wish to see it.

If you missed this extraordinary event, have no fear – from now until the 29th, BAM will be showing 14 of the cinematic icon’s greatest performances.

ILC’s recommendations: Notorious (1946), Journey to Italy (1954), Gaslight (1944).

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Ingrid Bergman in a still from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious” (1946)

Sundance Screenplay Reading Series: Franny

This past Monday I had the great pleasure of venturing down to the 52nd Street Project Theater in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen to witness something wonderful – that is, to be a part of a cinematic “work-in-progress.”

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In association with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA), this event was part of the Sundance Institute’s Screenplay Reading Series of Works in Progress. The star of the show on this evening was the screenplay for a film entitled Franny, written and directed by 2013 Screenwriters Lab Fellow Andrew Renzi.

Over the succeeding 90 minutes, audience members were treated to a live reading of Mr. Renzi’s story of a young married couple moving back to the wife’ native Philadelphia and their relationship with the larger-than-life but clearly damaged man, who them is trying to recreate the past relationship he had with her late parents.

ILC’s Take: this event was a wonderful insight into how screenplays come together. It is equally delightful to see the actors slide into their roles.

I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend a live reading of a screenplay to do so. It is more exciting than you can imagine!

(Photo Credit: Sundance Institute)

Run-up to the Olympics: Chariots of Fire (1981)

Continuing on the Olympic theme I started yesterday, I have decided to spotlight a couple of Olympic-themed films.

Let’s start in the location of this year’s games – the United Kingdom, or rather England to be exact. The first film I will highlight is the multiple Academy Award winning feature, Chariots of Fire. 

SYNOPSIS

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. (Source: Wikipedia)

This is a film I have only seen within the past five years – as a youth I always felt that this film was always inaccessible to me. It always seemed a bit cold and remote to me.

After having seen it, I can honestly say that the needle has shifted, if only slightly. Do not get me wrong it is a well-crafted film, but the performances in particular felt a little stilted and stagey for my tastes. One would think that a film about running would have some “pace” to it; instead, I feel like the film was dragged down as a result of it. You certainly felt all of the 124 minute running time.

On the positive side, I did like the framing device by which the story was told – and oh yeah and that musical score (Vangelis) is iconic.

On This Date (June 7th)

Today , let’s take a music -movie interlude. I tried to also tie in a little history. On this date in 1969 the Supergroups, Blind Faith (Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech) performed their first concert in Hyde Park, London. In particular, I am a fan of Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton and this collaboration did produce a couple of awesome songs, some of which I heard live in concert in 2009.

Going back to 1969 – for those of us who were not ‘around’ to enjoy the event, in 2006 a DVD was produced commemorating the event. Check out the trailer below:

While I have not seen the film myself, it is yet another entry on my must-see list.

As for the movie tie-in … after some thought and some digging around, I decided to put together a list of films that features some of their songs. Can’t Find My Way Home seems to be the most popular song used in movies (according to the IMDB 6 titles in total – their song Sea of Joy appeared in Werner Herzog’s 1971 sci-fi drama Fata Morgana):

Here is a clip of the end scenes from the film Fandango, starring Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson; Can’t Find My Way Home appears in the end credits:

 

I had no idea about this film until I stumbled upon my research for this post. By all accounts that I have read, the film is a hidden gem – a youth-inspired road movie.

Have any of you seen this film? If so, let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

 

Another Classic Graces the Silver Screen …

Happy Monday all and sundry!

As I was watching TCM, I saw that TCM is teaming up with Fathom Events again. Most recently we were treated to classics Casablanca and To Kill a Mockingbird and now, in honor of the 60th anniversary of its release we have a chance to catch Singin’ in the Rain on the big screen.

The musical comedy stars Gene Kelly (who also received co-director credit with Stanley Donen), Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor and chronicles the struggles a silent film company and cast encounter as they make the difficult transition from silent motion pictures to sound.

This one time event takes place on July 12th, 2012 at select theaters (tickets go on sale 6/8). Be sure to check the Fathom Events website for event locations.

Repertory Cinema: What Do You Think?

As much as I like classic cinema, the idea of watching an old movie on the big screen never really appealed to me for some reason. That was until I saw a re-mastered print of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo when I was in college. Up until that time, I suppose I took for granted that at one time these were the films that drew audiences to movie houses, and not the CGI-special effects laden fare which we are currently accustomed to.

Here in New York City, many theaters and centers of film study have repertory film programs, such as the nonprofit Film Forum in Lower Manhattan.  These outlets provide audiences the opportunity to re-watch some of their favorite films in the way they were originally produced; in addition, this format has the potential to introduce a whole new audience to films they might not even have heard of.

This week I was informed of another film (a staple in our household growing up) that will get such a treatment – Monty Python and the Holy Grail is coming to the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. Like many films that get re-released for theatrical distribution, this is a re-mastered print, formatted for the latest hi-definition standards. In addition, patrons will be treated to a featurette, Terry Gilliam’s Lost Animations.

What are your feelings about seeing classic/restored prints of films on the big screen? Or are you content watching them at home?

Please share your comments below.

 


* Monty Python and the Holy Grail will be playing at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema (143 East Houston Street, NYC) from Friday, March 30th through Thursday, April 5th 2012.

A Sunday Afternoon Chat with Carey Mulligan

Today I had the privilege of attending The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend talk with award-winning actress Carey Mulligan.

For over an hour, New York Times journalist Charles McGrath spoke to the young star about a career, which has included a string of highly, regarded roles on both stage and screen.

Hers is a journey of a girl who had a theater in her blood and despite no formal theatrical training, found herself making her film debut as a supporting player in Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice.

From there, she went on to co-star in well-received The Seagull first at the Royal Court Theatre (UK) then on Broadway. McGrath and Mulligan then went on to discuss at great length some of her most popular roles to date – her breakthrough performance in An Education; the largely under-appreciated Never Let Me Go; and two critically acclaimed films of 2011 – Drive and Shame; each discussion was accompanied by a clip from the film being discussed.

At the tender age of 26, Carey Mulligan finds herself in an enviable position that many other actors could only dream of. Clearly she is a fan of the medium because, as she says, partly what attracts her to the roles she seeks is the opportunity to work with people whose work she greatly admires. This was the case with Drive (director Nicholas Winding Refn) and Shame (director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender)

Ms. Mulligan came across as an affable person who is passionate about her craft and seeks to challenge herself at every possible opportunity. During the audience question and answer period, she was very open and engaging.

She mentioned a couple of her upcoming projects as well: finishing touches on Baz Luhrmann’s highly anticipated The Great Gatsby and preproduction on the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis.

Film Shorts and Sweet Shiraz

Some time ago, I had the pleasure of attending a film screening event in Harlem at the Nectar Wine Bar. I was invited by Tyson Hall, founder of the SOL Film Festival (who will feature in a follow up piece here at i luv cinema).

For those in attendance, the evening featured a series of short films including – Repercussions (directed by Dallas Alexis) and Whatever Happened to Black Love? (directed by John Smooth). Anita Bryant, Marketing and Promotional Director of the Sol Film Festival presented each film.

The first short of the evening, Repercussions is a narrative piece with a very interesting plot twist. Based on the positive audience reaction, I am sure the filmmaker feels encouraged and will continue to create intriguing and audience-accessible stories. You can view the trailer here:


The second feature was an unfinished documentary entitled Whatever Happened to Black Love?  The filmmaker, John Smooth, conducted a series of interviews in which the respondents spoke openly about love, relationships and the like. Based on the portion of the documentary that we watched, Whatever Happened to Black Love? has the making of a fascinating look at real people and their experiences, hopes and fears. During the Q&A session that followed, this seemed to be the prevailing view of many in the audience, to which the director was very receptive. You can catch that trailer here.

I encourage anyone interested in film to seek out opportunities like this in their own areas. Not only is it great to see what people are out there creating, it also gets you closer to the whole filmmaking process.

* Stayed tuned to this space for a similar posting on an event I will be attending in NYC as part of the Sundance Institute’s ‘First Look’ Screening Series.

Blondes in Film (w/ Focus on Hitchcock)

The slideshow featured in the Guardian(UK) is an extension of  the film festival titled “Birds Eye View” and in particular the BFI’s Blonde Crazy season which is a complementary piece to the festival. One theme that was highlighted during this season at the BFI involved taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s Blonde. A featured presenter during this festival/season was Laura Mulvey, who composed the seminal essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema in 1975 and is a leading authority in feminist film theory.

Here is a video from the BFI which offers a little more insight in to the Blonde Crazy season:

As I previously stated I am very interested in the aspect of this piece that primarily deals with Alfred Hitchcock. For those interested in academically studying this topic I promise that it is very fascinating.