Thursday, June 29, 2006

LA Film Festival (6/29/06)

Tim and I went to the first of five (!) events we're attending this weekend at the LA Film Festival. Although the festival happens every year here, we've never gone because it's been in Hollywood, which is now too far to travel unless the event is really, really special. But this year, it moved to Westwood—just a 10-minute ride on the freeway—so we bought tickets to not one but *five* movies, which may never see the light of day outside the festival.

I had read in the paper that lines were starting to queue up at least an hour before each film. Since the movie was starting at 7PM (Wed. night),we decided not to fight traffic and so instead caught the Culver City bus, which goes directly to Westwood and UCLA. Our first coup of the night: Tim got to ride the bus as a senior!

Tim to bus-driver: "How much is the fare?"

Bus-driver: "It's 75 cents for her. You ride for 35 cents."

We laughed all the way back to our seats. Forty minutes later, we were standing on line at The Majestic Crest, a small but beautiful old (1930s?) theater that became "Majestic" after a recent renovation. The movie was "The TV Set," a comedy starring former X-Files actor David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, and sit-com star Justine Bateman. I was there to see Duchovny, whose most successful post-X-Files project has been voice-over work for dog food commercials. The line wasn't long, but by Hollywood standards we were very early (6:10PM). In fact, the standby line of people hoping to snag last-minute tickets was longer than ours. Tim spied a couple of non-Hollywood types who we always see at sneak previews.

I had to use the restroom, so walked a block away to the local branch library. By the time I returned, Tim was already inside. Outside there was now quite a flurry of people trying to get tickets. There was a very short red carpet, but even it was all but obliterated by the throngs of folks trying to get in.

The Crest is truly a magnificent theater—one of those hidden gems that only locals know about. Inside the auditorium are murals of old Hollywood, done partially in fluorescent paint so that when a blacklight shines on them, the signs above the fake skyline appear as neon. Anyone who loves Los Angeles must visit the Crest at least once to pay homage to the way things used to be.

Because we were so early, Tim was able to find us the perfect seats right in the middle. While he was off buying snacks, a woman sat down next to me and proceeded to introduce herself! (When's the last time that happened to *you* in a movie theater?!) Turns out, she was part of a larger group there to support one of the minor actresses in the movie. They cheered when her name appeared in the film credits.

Tim returned with tales of seeing at least two celebrities: Willie Garson, who played Carrie's gay best friend in "Sex and the City," and some kid who used to be in "The Wonder Years" (not Fred Savage). We also spotted someone whom we decided must be in the movie because everyone kept hugging him. Sure enough, it ended up being Jake Kasdan, the director, who introduced the film before it screened.

The movie was good, but probably of very little interest to people outside the West LA area. The plot involved a writer-producer (Duchovny) who was trying to get a TV pilot made and sold. Despite his determination not to sellout to the studio, he does indeed sellout and ends up with a big hit. The audience absolutely loved it! There was hardly a moment when someone—including us—was not laughing. But will people outside the Los Angeles area ever understand what's really going on in the movie? We doubt it and so Tim is predicting that it will go directly to DVD and never see the inside of a theater again.

After the showing, Kasdan, Duchovny, Bateman and Willie Garson, who played the director in the film, got up in front of the theater to answer questions from the audience. We stayed long enough to see them all—Duchovny looked very good (tall, thin and handsome)—and then quickly left to catch our bus home. If we missed the 10PM bus, we'd have to wait an hour for the next one to come by, so we quietly slunk out with all the other Philistines.

We've got four more films to see—including two tomorrow!—so more news from the trenches this weekend!