24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Absurdism

Around town: Strange delights at Cinefamily's Everything Is Festival

June 30, 2011 |  1:10 pm


The 4th of July weekend is typically a big moviegoing time, with theaters full of extravagantly loud blockbusters packed with explosions, gadgets and the fanciest special effects. (Exhibit A: this week's release of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon.") But for those looking for a different kind of movie mayhem, there is the motley, oddball Everything Is Festival, which begins Thursday night and runs through Monday at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater.

Presented by Cinefamily and the group of "video alchemists" known as Everything Is Terrible, the mix of programs -- 19 events in five days -- includes three feature films, found footage presentations, animation, a panel discussion, a keynote address, and some events that rather defy description. Numerous events will be streamed online during the festival, now in its second year.

The festival exists at an unusual intersection among film and video, the alternative comedy scene and found footage culture, and that sense of strange uncertainty -- the "What the what was that?" sensation that many of the programs inspire -- is in no small part the point.

"When you see something and you ask where did it come from or what is it, that sense of discovery has its own pleasure," said Hadrian Belove, a co-director of the festival. "Anybody who's curating is in some sense showing and sharing discoveries and trying to excite the audience with that sense of possibility. There's an inherent pleasure in the slightly unfamiliar."

The festival kicks off Thursday night with a panel discussion featuring writers from the NBC and TBS eras of Conan O'Brien's late-night talk show. That will be followed by a tribute to the surrealist cooking show "Food Party" with an appearance by host Thu Tran.

Friday's events include a keynote presentation by Mark Hosler of the group Negativland, early practitioners of the sort of "culture jamming" celebrated by many of the festival's participants. Also on Friday will be a performance of "The Pelican Brief Project," in which music group Candybox Violence perform their own alternate score to the 1993 Julia Roberts/Denzel Washington thriller "The Pelican Brief."

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Wrestling stars will pile-drive the multiplex (but in family comedies?)

June 15, 2010 | 12:24 pm

Mixed martial arts star Rampage Jackson drew mixed reviews as B.A. Baracus, but World Wrestling Entertainment is hoping the fighters who occupy their own ring can carry some new films -- or at least play key character parts.

The Vince McMahon-run enterprise is pressing forward with its attempt to make modestly budgeted films that feature (but don't necessarily give lead roles to) the wrestlers whose careers they've helped cultivate.

The latest bit of development news comes with a new movie from WWE star Edge. The fighter-performer will star in "Chasing the Hawk," an action comedy about a New Orleans lawyer who loses a classic car he holds dear and then sets out to find it.

Principals at WWE Studios, the organization's film-production arm, say they hope to make more than just action films. One previously announced development project: "Inside Out," which stars Triple H, but in more of a crime drama, with the unlikely cast of Michael Rapaport, Parker Posey and Bruce Dern around him. The wrestler formerly known as Paul Levesque also will star in an family comedy called "The Chaperone," about an ex-con who tries to take his teenage daughter on a class trip but finds the past catching up with him, "Kindergarten Cop"-style.

There's precedent for wrestlers spring-boarding to acting careers, most notably with Dwayne Johnson, who of course began his career in the ring as the Rock before breaking through as a star in his own right.

For the last few years, John Cena had been the biggest hope for WWE. The star of "The Marine" (which grossed a not terrible $19 million at the domestic box office) stars in this fall's high-school wrestling movie "Legendary," as well as a new, untitled project the company is aiming for spring 2012.  Also up this fall for the WWE personalities is  "Knucklehead," starring wrestler the Big Show and centering on a get-rich quick scheme.

The easy knock on wrestler-centric films is that most fans tune in to see them only in WWE plots and subplots -- they want to see them in character, not playing someone else -- which limits box-office potential.

But WWE officials say that their wrestlers are born performers and that with lower budgets -- the goal is films at the $5 million to $10 million end of the spectrum -- they can manage their costs. (They also say they can shave marketing expenses by cross-promoting to the wrestling fans on their cable programs, saving money for the studios that distribute the independently made films.) WWE officials also say they're conscious that not every wrestler can carry a film, which is why you might see them only in a handful of scenes.

Professional fighters who've tried but failed to transition to acting are as prevalent as broken chairs at a Wrestlemania ring; the Stanislavski Method is probably not their forte. Still, they couldn't do much worse than Rampage.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from WWE's "Summer Slam Axxess" at Staples Center last year. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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If you thought 'Bad Lieutenant' was nutty...

April 6, 2010 | 12:15 pm

We have no idea whether these two videos actually come from Werner Herzog, or what hallucinogenic substance its reader had ingested prior to offering his, er, unusual take on these children's classics. ("A monkey has bested seven adult men -- this should give you a dim view of human potential.") But they're pretty funny just the same. Ze tiger, indeed, dreams only of death.

-- Steven Zeitchik

She is introduced in her underwear, as a nod to French sensibilities...


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