Striking writers, NOFF

Considering how much TV I like to watch, I’m surprised that I don’t really give a damn about the strike.  Yeah, I guess I’m on the side of the writers, but it’s not exactly the Montgomery bus boycott.  I think they deserve a cut from the webcasts, but I haven’t lost a lot of sleep for them.

Mainly, I’m surprised that I don’t miss the shows, and maybe that’s why I’m less sympathetic.  They’re doing a less essential job than I would’ve thought.  Even the shows that I get on the DVR (Daily Show, Colbert, Office) are pretty much not leaving a void in my life.  I guess I should take this as a lesson about my indulgences, but I expect I’ll be back to catching them when they’re back on.  For now, I’ll see a few more movies.

Speaking of movies, I thought I’d posted this a while back, but I seem to have lost my post.  It was belated then, and now it’s really belated.  Anyway, especially now that Diving Bell is getting wider release, I salvaged and thought I’d post from 24 October 2007:

Last year for my b-day, E got me a membership in the New Orleans Film Society (or Film Fest, depending).  It’s been great, as we’ve gone to a couple at the CAC (Helvetica & Crazy Love–both awesome docs), and now I finally did the Film Fest last weekend with my friend Joe who lives in Austin now (but he’s still a great guy).

Joe is my favorite movie companion because he loves ‘em, but he doesn’t talk.  I can’t tolerate people thinking they’re cute trying to crack up the surrounding viewers or people who act like they’re home watching DVDs.  Why do so many adults not know how to whisper?

Anyway, we both have the stamina to sit for hours on end (one of my few talents), so we went to 5 on Sat and 2 on Sun before he had to leave.  Here’s what we saw, in my order of preference:

  1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly–What a fascinating movie.  Based on the true story of the editor of French Elle, who had a massive stroke and could only move one eye.  Didn’t keep him from writing a book.  As if I didn’t feel badly enough about my own progress.  Gorgeous, claustrophobic, thought-provoking, funny, everything.
  2. Left Behind:  The Story of New Orleans Public Schools–Really well done.  Starts a little before Katrina and follows the hijinks of our screwy school system and a bunch of people who don’t give a shit about the kids.  The personal stories of some local students make the story especially poignant and moving.  In the end, not quite as depressing as you might think.  Let’s hope Vallas can get the job done.
  3. Killer of Sheep–Stunningly good b&w release from the ’70s about life in Watts.  Amazingly realistic performances.  Depressing at times, inspiring and joyful in others.  Gotta see it.
  4. Dans Paris–Your basic French story of life in a family in Paris.  Troubled relationships, joie de vivre, and depression.
  5. Grace is Gone–Somewhat disappointing John Cusack movie about a man whose wife dies in Iraq, and he can’t bear to tell their two daughters, so he takes them on vacation.  Sorta precious and self-conscious.
  6. Suffering Man’s Charity–Quite disappointing Alan Cumming movie about a musician who’s obsessed with a hustler.  Devolves into a slapstick thing.  I disliked it for the same reason I disliked Death at a Funeral.  Silliness posing as dark humor.  Still, Cumming was his charming self in attendance.  Said he thought NOLA was a great city to show a morbid movie and that Scotland has similar sensibilities.  Told a great story to illustrate:  U2 was in Scotland to give a concert, and Bono told everyone to be quiet.  At 1-sec intervals, he clapped in rhythm.  Clap.  Clap.  Clap.  Then he said that everytime he clapped, a child in Africa died of AIDS.  Lad in the front row shouts, “Why don’t you quit fucking clapping then!”  Choice.
  7. Flakes–I really really wanted to like this.  But alas.  I remember flipping out when we walked by Cafe Brazil and saw that it’d been turned into a cereal bar.  Felt silly when told that it was for a movie, but even pre-K we take our institutions seriously.  Fun to see Brazil, Marigny Bookshop, R Bar, Checkpoint Charlie….  Problem was the plot, with “manufactured conflict” as Joe called it (maybe that’s a common term, but I didn’t know it and it’s perfect).  Evil businessman wants to franchise Christopher Lloyd’s one-of-a-kind joint, and the good guys strike back.  Eh.

I was really disappointed to miss the Allen Toussaint Touch, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Faubourg Treme, the Untold Story of Black New Orleans, King of Kong, Tootie’s Last Suit, etc.

I’ll try to make time to see more next year, but they do a hell of a job.  Attendance at most of the shows was really good, and there were several that I couldn’t get to because they sold out.  I’ve noted to friends that everywhere else I’ve lived I’ve been disappointed when something’s sold out.  Here, I’m thrilled because it’s a sign of thriving.  Weird.


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