Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TCMFF – Initial Wrapup

Gathering my thoughts quickly on my way home from the TCM Clasic Film Festival (TCMFF), it's little hard to even put coherent words together. Possibly, this is an indication that I'm trying to do this too soon. I think I'll just cover a few highlights.

Jasmine and me
Probably the biggest highlight was having my 15-year-old daughter Jasmine along and getting to experience the TCMFF with her and see the films through her eyes. Everyone's reaction to her was so positive. I got literally dozens of compliments, how smart or cool or funny or pretty she was. She made me very proud. I kind of expected as much. She's a really good kid, but she did by far surpass any expectations I had of her.

Related to that, both of us were a working as TCM Social Media Producers at TCMFF. According to the TCM folks, the program was a huge success. #TCMFF was trending on twitter, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and we like think that what we were doing helped push that along.  Primarily, as Social Media Producers, we were doing a video blog called Reverse Angle, where we turn the camera around an point it at the people attending TCMFF. I made a playlist of all of the  #tcmff Reverse Angle videos.  It was a blast. There's a sense of comradery you have with the people you're working with and feeling you're helping in a small way to make something big and wonderful a little bit better.

The best thing Wednesday was getting to go to pre-TCMFF press conference. I think my favorite moment was one thing that Ben Mankiewicz (@BenMank77) said. The question was about how the people on the panel got their jobs at TCM. Ben explained that he had been doing a news show. He said that when he did that show, he interviewed lots of famous people, but he never became friends with any of them until he got to TCM.

Too Late For Tears was awesome and a complete blast to see with an audience. It's very rare that you see a film where the main character has virtually no redeeming qualities. I was in the Roosevelt bar late Thursday, and @CineMava said something brilliant about the film. I'm paraphrasing but the gist was that anytime you have someone so crazy they make Dan Duryea back down, that's pretty crazy.

It's hard to pick any one of the screenings over the others, so I'm going to make this one be about me. Last year I had planned to get a white dinner jacket for TCMFF, but I couldn't find one that fit me properly, at least, not at a price I wanted to pay. This year I broke down and bought a new one. The original plan was to wear it opening night, but when they announced the schedule and had On Her Majesty's Secret Service playing late Friday night, it seemed like a no brainer to wear it then. So my favorite thing from Friday was having two different groups of people pull me off my stool in the Roosevelt bar late that night to take a picture with me.

Norman Lloyd makes a point in his interview. Photographer: 
Edward M. Pio Roda. TM & © 2015 Turner Classic Movies. 
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Used 
with permission.
A Conversation With Norman Lloyd was amazing. He was so sharp and told the coolest stories. What I found amazing was that he would go off on tangents and still remember to come back to the original question, something I can't even do at 52. When Ben Mankiewicz introduced him, he said that he had known Norman Lloyd for 4 years, which meant that he had known him for 4% of his life. He told stories about everything from Hitchcock to Orson Wells to Denzel Washington to Chaplin to working with a Jamaican rapper on Trainwreck, coming out in July. The absolute favorites were his story about going to the 1926 World Series and when he pantomimed the fall from the Statue of Liberty in Saboteur.

Rebel Without a Cause was great and really caught me off guard with the emotions it brought up. Jasmine loved it as well. Her job as half of our Social Media Producer team was to do reviews of all the films we saw on twitter in addition to doing the camera on the Reverse Angle videos I was doing. This was her review of Rebel Without a Cause:

Let's get one thing straight I'm not crying, I'm sweating from my eyes

This was the one tweet that the official TCM Film Festival twitter feed retweeted. If you want to read more of Jasmine's reviews, https://twitter.com/hashtag/tcmff15yo will show the top ones and a link at the bottom will show you all of them.

Late Saturday, we were waiting in line for Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913, and Jasmine said something along the lines of this was going to be all over tomorrow night, and she didn't want it to end. So not only did Jasmine have a good time, but she was with it enough to anticipate the inevitable TCMFF postpartum blues. I thought she's one of us, which of course caused me to chant, Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, one of us, one of us...." This freaked her out despite her never having seen Tod Browning's film, Freaks.

There was something that Eddie Muller of The Film Noir Foundation said in his introduction of Nightmare Alley. I'm paraphrasing, but he said that you shouldn't look down on people who haven't seen a film you think they should have. Just be happy for them that they get to see it for the first time.

Then the closing night party was a blast. It's nice being able to wind down and geek out with your old movie friends about all the great stuff that just happened.

There is one thing on Monday that sticks out. We were taking the train back home to San Diego. LA to San Diego on the train is not an expensive trip, and it's only about twenty dollars to upgrade to Business class. In Union Station, they have a Business class lounge, so we went upstairs to relax for the hour or so before our train left. When it was time to board our train, they asked if we wanted a red cap to take us to the train. I decided it was worth the cost of a tip, partly out of laziness, but mostly because of its association with North By Northwest.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Last TCMFF Top Five, I Swear

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm going to redo my top five list of things I'm looking forward to at the TCM Classic film Festival (TCMFF). Who am I kidding? I am repeating myself. I might as well admit it. However, the other times it was before the full schedule had been released, so hopefully, you will cut me some slack.

5. Being on vacation. Admittedly, I do have the TCM Social Media Producer thing. I'm on the hook to do video interviews of people at the Festival and make sure my partner in crime, my 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine, comes up with something cogent to say about the films we see. Trust me, this is not an issue. I don't think I could keep her quiet if I tried. And yes we do have to spend a certain amount of time monitoring social media, which I'm not even sure what that means. So yes, we do have some responsibilities. but it's not like real work. If something weird happens, my phone is not going to ring. I know that it takes a lot of work to pull off an event like to TCMFF, and we are helping out, but we are a very very small part of all of that.

That said, my real work, my day job, the way I pay the mortgage, has been kind of on the sucky side lately. So being away from it all for almost a week, running around having fun, despite having some responsibilities, I think I'll cope.

4. Desk Set. Okay, admittedly there are probably other films I'm looking forward to more, but this is a huge favorite of mine. It's one of those films that I end up watching about once every three or four months and never tire of. When am I ever going to get a chance to see it on the big screen again, and even if I do, it won't be the same as watching at TCMFF. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn always have great chemistry, but in Desk Set, it's especially good. I like that what attracts Spencer Tracy to her is that she's smart. Tracy's rival Gig Young likes that she's smart, but mostly because it helps him further his career. Once he makes Vice President, he'd be fine having her never say another thing. The other thing I love is that it has Joan Blondell, one of my favorite 1930s actresses. When she was young, she was absolutely gorgeous. I gotta say even fiftyish, heavyish, Joan Blondell, she still kind of does it for me.

On a side note, I had Jasmine read the descriptions of all the films we are going to see, and I don't even think this was a blip on her radar. Still, I think she's going to dig it.

3. The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913. If you ask, this would one of Jasmine's top picks, and if we were to limit it film screenings only, it would be mine as well. This is mostly due to Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon and it's connection to Hugo, especially for Jasmine. And me too. For me, I'm also looking forward to Suspense and The Great Train Robbery as well.

2. Hanging out with my old film cronies. I spend a lot of time online talking about old movies, and live-tweeting films being shown on TCM on twitter using the #TCMParty hashtag.

Now, I have no allusions. I know that the connections you make with people online are not the same as the people you know in real-life. But just because they are not the same, that doesn't mean they are not real. You meet people online because of common interests, not because of proximity, so the connection is real. Meeting these people at TCMFF solidifies that.

Also, it's not just online people, it's anyone you meet wearing a TCMFF badge. If I make a Rock Hudson/Doris Day joke at TCMFF, people will get it. If I made that same joke at work, I would have to spend 5 minutes explaining it. That's why I don't consider the Social Media gig real work. It's what I would be doing anyway.

1. Sharing TCMFF with my daughter. This one by far trumps all of rest. Being able to come up and hang out with my daughter and share really great films with her is just awesome. Thinking back when I was 15, the last thing I wanted to do is hang out with my parents, but Jasmine likes hanging out with me. I have no idea how long that is going to last, so I'm going to hang on to it as long as I can. And getting to share her thoughts on great films at TCMFF through the TCM Social Media Producers program (on Twitter with a #TCMFF15YO hashtag), I don't see it getting a whole lot better than this.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

TCMFF Survival Guide

This will be my second year at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), so I may not be the most experienced person about the festival, but I have been attending Comic-Con and other fan conventions for a lot of years. I know what it’s like to spend four or five days in a strange city living out of a hotel room, and running around from the time you get up in the morning until the time you collapse in your room late at night. 

Most of what follows are tips to help you get the most out of the Festival while hanging on to your sanity. Also I've included some links to some other general attending TCMFF blog posts at the bottom. Lots of good info there as well.

Food, try to eat some
I know you’re going to be running around trying not to miss anything, but seriously, try to get something besides just movie theater popcorn and Red Vines over the four days. There’s a Fresh and Easy market on Hollywood Blvd., a block west of TCL Chinese IMAX. They have things like pre-made sandwiches and fresh fruit. Easy to eat while you're walking from one venue to the next or to put in your bag for later.

  • Breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Yeah, I know I sound like your mother, but if you skip breakfast, you’re already messing up the food-try-to-eat-some thing. Me, I’ve never been real big on the granola bars, but if you like them, and they work for you pick up a box and take with you. Bring a couple extra. You might find yourself in line with someone who’s totally famished. A 75-cent breakfast bar could earn you a friend for life.
  • If you get to a screening too late and get shut out or have a block where you're not psyched on anything, take advantage of it. Go get a real meal, where it’s hot and they bring it to you on a real plate. It might be the only one you get over the four days.
  • Hungry late? A good bet is In ‘N Out Burger, a Southern California Burger chain. They are located at 7009 Sunset Blvd., corner of Sunset and North Orange Dr., three blocks south of the Roosevelt. They have a really simple menu, but have a secret menu that is probably the worst kept secret ever. My favorite is protein style burger, no bun wrapped in big leaves of lettuce so you can eat like a normal burger, great if you’re doing the low carb thing. They are open until 1 am, Sunday-Thursday and 1:30 am Friday and Saturday.
  • Water – You should try to do some of that too.

Plan everything including your breaks
Okay, so you’ve figured out what you want to see. You should probably try to get to events a half hour ahead of the start time possibly earlier, especially, if it’s something you’d be crushed if you missed. How do you make that happen? You should be able to figure out the end times by looking at the schedule. Anytime you have a longer break between events is a good opportunity to get some food that doesn’t come in a bucket with fake butter and salt or wrapped in plastic.
Keep in mind that getting around is going to take you longer than you expect. Figure that if you’re going from one screen in TCL Chinese to another screen in TCL Chinese, five minutes from getting out of one theater and back in line for the next is a decent bet. Everything else is going to take longer, and very likely way longer than you think it will. 
If you look Google Maps, the distance from TCL Chinese IMAX to the Egyptian looks like it’s about 2 and a half blocks, but if you look at the way the surrounding streets are laid out, it’s closer to four blocks, or at least a long two blocks. So you figure you walk fast, you should be able to walk four blocks in about 7 minutes. Think again, if you’re on Hollywood Boulevard, the sidewalks are going to be packed, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s not just TCMFF people, it’s tourists, it’s the guys in the cheesy Spiderman costumes, people stopping to take pictures or answer a text, all in your way when you’re trying to get somewhere fast. The sidewalk might be closed for construction, forcing you to go back half a block to cross to the other side when you weren’t planning to. If you can figure out a way to avoid Hollywood Boulevard altogether, that might be a good idea.
If you’re planning to change clothes between the daytime and nighttime screenings, figure out which break you’re going to use to go back to the hotel and change. Stopping for a quick snack, look around and see if there is anything you can pick up for when you’re famished later.

Know your venues
The important thing to keep in mind about the venues is where they are and how big they are. I’ve arranged the venues in order by how close they are to the Roosevelt Hotel, since that is the host hotel:
  • Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – Home to Club TCM and the Poolside screenings. Club TCM is where a most of the guest interviews will be. Last year, there was a fairly low stage, rows of chairs and a standing area behind the chairs. The important thing here is that if you’re at the back of the standing area, you might not be able to see very well. If there is an event that is really important to you, make sure you get there early. The pool is just that a swimming pool. I didn’t go to any of the poolside screenings last year, but everybody says get there extra early if you want one of the lounge chairs.
  • Chinese Theatre IMAX (920 seats) – This is the old Grauman’s Chinese theater. If you cross Hollywood Blvd. from The Roosevelt, you’re there. They run the lines up the stairs up into the Hollywood and Highland mall. Don’t panic if the line goes back a long way. It’s a big theater. It was recently renovated with stadium seats and state-of-the-art projection and audio equipment, while still retaining the original decor. 
  • TCL Chinese 6 Theatres is located inside the Hollywood and Highland mall. They are using three screens. The thing to keep in mind here is the last two of the following are fairly small, and they are the most likely to fill up and have to turn people away:
    • House 1 (477 Seats)
    • House 4 (177 Seats)
    • House 6 (210 Seats)
  • El Capitan (988 Seats) A great old theater built in the 1920s and restored to its former glory. Located on Hollywood Blvd just across the street from the Hollywood and Highland mall, about a half a block east of the Roosevelt on the same side of Hollywood Blvd. They have a pipe organ that plays movie-related music as you enter. At least, they did last year. Hopefully, they will again this year.
  • Egyptian Theatre (618 Seats) – Another great old theater, built in the early 1920s. Personally, I like sitting in the balcony because you get a better view of the Egyptian Frescos in the ceiling. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either two long very long blocks or about four normal size blocks away, so allow yourself some extra time to get there.
  • The Montalbán Theatre (500 Seats) – Venue for Conversation with Norman Lloyd and Robert Osborne interview with Sofia Loren. Last year there was a shuttle, but not this year. It’s about 12 blocks from the Roosevelt, so you can probably figure on a 15- to 20-minute walk each way there and back. You could probably take a cab, but with traffic on Hollywood Blvd. that might not save you very much time. There's also the LA Metro with stations at Hollywood and Highland and Hollywood and Vine, both putting you fairly close to your destination. Then again time savings might be negligible.
Line numbers
When you get in line for a screening, you will be given a number in the order you enter the line, this means you can leave the line and go do something if need be, use the rest room or grab a snack. I would check to see when they're going to move the line. Usually the people giving out the numbers have a good idea. That way you know how much time you have. You need to make sure you get back in in line before your number moves in. They will not hold a seat for you just because you have a number. Take advantage of it when you can. It could be the difference between a sandwich for dinner and Jujubes.

Hollywood and Highland mall
The TCL Chinese 6 is located in the Hollywood and Highland mall. The mall is sort of a tourist mall. Most malls are fairly easy to get around in. This mall, not so much. It was designed so that you could explore, with an eye toward wandering around and getting lost. This means that you may not always be able to tell what level you're on or how to get up or down one level, or most importantly if you're on the correct level for the movie theater. If you have a spare hour before the festival starts, go over and find the TCL Chinese and figure out how to get from there to the Chinese IMAX and how to get out of the mall itself. It should be easy. It’s not. Note any stairs and escalators you run across. The time you get lost is bound to be the time you have least time to spare. If you see any interesting fast food, see if they have a To Go menu. It might be the only hot meal you get.
A friend Will McKinley did a post similar to this last year. (link at the end). He’s the one who suggested avoiding Hollywood Blvd altogether, good call. He also suggested coming in from the back. If you cross Hollywood Blvd. from the Roosevelt, you'll be standing in front of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. If you follow the sidewalk to the left of the museum (north on N. Orange Dr.), you'll come to a traffic circle where tour buses line up. Follow the traffic circle around to the back, and there's an entrance to the mall. My mistake last year was to not follow that route all the way to the movie theater. Got distracted by things in the mall. This year I plan to fix that and make sure I know exactly how to get to the movie theater that way.
If you're staying at Loews Hollywood Hotel, there's a walkway that leads directly into the mall. I would find that and make sure that you know exactly how to get to the movie theater. If you oversleep some morning, you'll thank me.

Read everything you can
Take the time to read everything you can find on the website, http://filmfestival.tcm.com/. Search for blog posts like this one. A good source of info is Twitter, search on the #TCMFF hashtag. There will be lots of good tips there. Google the people being listed as guests, you never know, you might be standing next to one of them at Starbucks and it will give you something to talk about. If they are showing one of your all-time favorites, read the Wikipedia page about the film. You’re to pick up some interesting tidbits that most people don’t know.

There and back
Whenever I go to an event like TCMFF, I like to take Airborne the morning I leave and each day while I’m there. Does it guarantee that you won’t get sick? No, but it doesn’t hurt. Remember that read everything you can. Well, I know how you can get busy and time can get away from you, especially when preparing for a trip/vacation. Most people are going to have a good 5 or 6 hours travel time getting to TCMFF. Make some printouts or save copies to your tablet or whatever to read in the airport and on the plane.
Are you the type who likes to buy souvenirs? If so, are they going to fit in your suitcase? You might want to consider bringing a Priority Mail Flat-Rate box. If you’re worried about items getting lost or damaged in the mail, you can always mail home your dirty clothes. There is a Post Office at 1615 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028, about another four blocks passed the Egyptian. It might even be worth calling your hotel and see if they can mail for you.

Weather, there will be some
I can guarantee you that it will not snow. Beyond that, all bets are off. Personally, what I like to do is check the 10-day forecast about a week out. That should give you a ballpark idea of what to plan for. Then check the forecast again, a couple of days before you leave and make any necessary adjustments. I’ve lived in San Diego my whole life, and we have weather pretty comparable to L.A./Hollywood. Generally speaking, weather in Southern California is pretty mild in the Spring. It might get a little chilly in the evenings, but most of the time a light jacket or sweater is good enough. Having said all of that, what you mostly need to worry about is two rather obnoxious extremes:

  • Extreme heat – While not common in April, temperatures in the 90s do happen (it was 86 degrees at lunch in San Diego just yesterday), and bear in mind that you might be standing in line in the sun during the hottest part of the day. I honestly don’t remember standing in the sun last year, but I know that at the Egyptian, they run the lines in the courtyard in front of the theater, so if you’re there in the middle of the day, you’re going to be in the sun. Even if we get mild weather, sunscreen is highly recommended and maybe even a hat. If you don’t have room to pack a hat, consider buying a cheap one when you get here and just toss it at the end of the trip.
  • Rain – The song says, it never rains in Southern California, but people always forget that the end of the verse is, it pours, man it pours. Very very true, both literally and figuratively. L.A. doesn’t get a lot of rain, but there are times, when it comes down in buckets. Because we don’t get a lot of rain out here, we tend to hopelessly ill-prepared for it. Streets flood. Hotel lobbies flood. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but it could. That’s where your forecast will help. If you’re coming from a different part of the country, you’re probably already way better prepared than we are here. Even if the forecast doesn’t call for rain. If you have an umbrella that packs easy, bring it. You're  not going to be able find one easy walking distance from the Festival, especially if it's raining.

Good and plastered
Very few of us can pull off the ice pack hat
as well as Myrna Loy
We all like to think we can hold our liquor like Nick and Nora Charles, but realistically no one can. I know we’re on vacation and want to have a good time, but keep in mind, you’re probably going to want to be up early the next morning for whatever screening. If you do overdo, take some aspirin and force yourself to drink some water before you collapse in bed. It won’t prevent the inevitable hangover, but it might take the edge off a little bit.

What to wear 
By and large, California is pretty casual. You often see people in nice restaurants looking like they just stepped off the beach. If you’re attending the opening night Red Carpet screening of The Sound of Music, a suit for men and cocktail dress for women is recommended, although a Tux or formal gown wouldn’t be out of place either. 
For the rest of the Festival, some people dress up and some people dress down. Me, I do a little of both, shorts and a t-shirt during the day and something dressy at night. I even managed to procure a white dinner jacket this year. Originally I wanted to wear it to the opening night party, but decided that the Friday night screening of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was more appropriate. If you want to wear a cowboy outfit to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, more power to you and you probably won't be the only one.
All things considered, most everything is pretty centrally located, but you will do a fair amount of walking and standing. You can pretty much guarantee that at some point you're going to feel like you’re bouncing back and forth like a pinball. If you have new shoes that kind hurt your feet and you think it will get better, it won’t. If you dead set on wearing them, at least consider changing into them late in the day. If you have one pair of shoes that are really really comfortable, bring ‘em, even if the make you look like you like your Great Aunt Matilda.


[Updated 3/23, Just hear that DirectTV is hosting the lounge and charging station at the TCL Chinese Theaters. Thanks, @QuelleLove for the update.]

Think about the electronics you’re bringing. Are you going to be wanting to be posting on Facebook to make the friends back home jealous. If so, how well does your battery do? If it barely makes it through the day, sitting in your pocket you might want to consider getting one of those portable batteries to recharge during the day. It might not be a bad idea anyway. Sometimes when you’re in a strange city, your phone will die just by virtue of having poor coverage and constantly trying to find a signal. Did you promise your boss that you’d check e-mail? Can you get by doing that on your phone or do you need a tablet or laptop? If you’re counting on the hotel having Wi-Fi, it might be worth finding out whether that’s in your room or only in the lobby.
You’ll definitely want to have a camera. Think twice about how good the camera on your phone is. How well does it do if you have to hand it to a stranger to take a picture. Or in low light or at a distance? Obviously, you’re not going to be taking pictures in a darkened theater, but you might want to get a shot of whoever is introducing the film and movie theater house lights tend to be less than optimum for photography. You might be better off with a point and shoot or digital SLR camera. Make sure you take the time to empty the SD card or device's internal storage. The last thing you want is to find yourself standing next to Robert Osborne, and realize you have to figure out which pictures from your cousin’s wedding you can live without.
Obviously, all these gadgets will need to be charged, so don’t forget to pack the appropriate chargers. You might be able to find a charger for your iPhone or Android but probably not for your camera.

Be flexible
Despite all of your planning, leave yourself a little wiggle room. Last year, I completely changed everything I had planned for Sunday and was glad I did. They should announce the TBAs fairly late on Saturday. This could your chance to see something that you had to skip earlier in the Festival. Most of the TBAs last year we’re replays of screenings that had to turn people away the first time. Presumably it will be the same this year. Plus, you never know how you will feel. Say you just came from a really intense drama, and what you had planned for the next block was another really intense drama. It’s perfectly okay to switch to a comedy. You’ll be glad you did. Maybe, you figured that you’d be too tired for any of the midnight movies, but you get out of that last screening and feel really pumped and want to keep going. 
Maybe, there is a block that you’re not particular enthused about. This is the perfect chance to get a real meal or even sneak back to the hotel for a nap. Just remember, you’re there to have fun. It’s almost assured that you’re going to be running around a lot, but there is nothing that says you have to. It’s okay to take a breather.

Try to see something beside the inside of a theater
Even if you only have a couple of hours to spare, take advantage. Maybe you can squeeze in one of the tours. If you keep going east on Hollywood Blvd., things start to get less cheesy and you'll find things like Hollywood Book and Poster and vintage clothing stores. Also it seems like more of the sidewalk stars that direction are Golden Age Hollywood people. Me, I want to try to have a meal at Musso and Frank's, and trip to Amoeba Records (6400 Sunset Blvd.). Occupying an entire block, it's arguably one of the best record stores in the country. My 15-year-old daughter will be with me. This could get ugly.

Talk to people
You probably wouldn’t know but I’m kind of an introvert. Oh, I’m fine talking to people if I feel have a reason to or if I think I have something in common with them. The thing is pretty much anybody wearing a TCMFF badge is someone you have something in common with, probably way more than most of your friends back home. This is your tribe. Revel in it. By Saturday, almost anyone you talk to has seen at least one of the movies you have over the Festival. At any given time, there are about five things going on at once. If you’re standing in line, everyone else in that line has just passed up four other things that under normal circumstances they would love to see. If that’s not something in common, I don’t what is. If you’re shy, try the following conversation starters.

  • What have you seen so far? A lot of the time it’s things you saw too or something you really wanted to see, but had to skip for something you wanted to see more. If it’s one of those rare titles, you can find out whether it was worth it. This may help you decide on those TBAs on Sunday.
  • What’s your favorite thing so far? You might get some great stories: Oh, David Ladd was so funny. I was standing in line for coffee with Ben Mankiewicz. 
  • And don’t forget the standard ones: Where are you from? How was your trip?

Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Don't forget to check the links below. Good info there as well.

Related links

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Going to See My Man Godfrey Because My Daughter Likes Ninjas

I was just about finished with my picks for the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), when I realized that there was one matchup that I wasn't sure what to do about. It wasn't a hugely agonizing decision or anything. It was two films (My Man Godfrey vs The Seahawk) where I would have liked to have seen both, but neither was a clear favorite. I decided to turn the decision over to my 15-year-old daughter. I told her that the one was a comedy and the other a pirate movie. I then had her look at the descriptions for both.

She barely glanced at the descriptions. "The comedy," she said. "I don't like pirates. I like ninjas."

I bit my tongue. I had an answer. It was a flippant answer, but an answer none the less. I know enough about Pop Culture to know that the debate over pirates vs ninjas is every bit as real and important yet utterly trivial to young people now as The Beatles vs The Stones was to my generation. I had my answer and I continued to bite my tongue.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March Movie Madness, Baby

Once again, I have decided to go with March Madness brackets for making selections the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). For the most part I have left off the panel discussions and guest interviews. I would rather see them for five minutes before a film I love than skip a whole block of films. The one exception is, A Conversation with Norman Lloyd. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do there. I did fudge the screenings around a bit to get the top picks to the top slots in the brackets.

This year at TCMFF I am bringing my 15-year-old daughter Jasmine. For the most part I am picking films that I think we both will like throughout the Festival, but on some of the really tough calls, I'm having her break the tie.

Early evening
With the very first block of the weekend, things are tough. If I was able to go to The Sound of Music, that would be the call, but since I can't, that makes it tough. Grease never really impressed me, so that brings it down to three. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is not super high on my list of top Westerns, but it is a very good movie. I haven't seen either Queen Christina or Too Late for Tears. The sexist pig in me really wants to see Garbo play bisexual, but I have a feeling Too Late for Tears is a better movie.

Since I was stuck here between The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Queen Christina, and Too Late for Tears, I gave Jasmine a little background on the three movies and had her read the descriptions and choose. Jasmine's choice, Too Late For Tears.

Thursday – Early evening
 Late evening
It really comes down to My Man Godfrey and The Seahawk. I really could go either way, so once again I am deferring to Jasmine, her choice, My Man Godfrey.

Thursday – Late evening

Here it really is a choice between Lawrence of Arabia and Inherit the Wind. Due to the length of Lawrence of Arabia, it would kill everything in the next block, edge Inherit the Wind. However, Lawrence of Arabia is playing at the El Capitan, big screen classic theater, Inherit the Wind, multiplex, smallest venue of the festival, edge Lawrence of Arabia. I described both to Jasmine. She thought Lawrence of Arabia sounded better. There you go.

Friday – Morning

This whole block is rendered moot by Lawrence of Arabia. My biggest regret here is missing Norman Lloyd introduce, Reign of Terror.

Friday – Mid-day

Not really much of a contest here. I would really love to see Limelight, but Pinnochio is probably my all-time favorite of the older Disney films. Also I don't think Jasmine has ever seen it. I know we used to have it on VHS, but Jasmine is young enough that I don't think we had a working VCR when she was growing up.

Friday – Afternoon

Early evening
This easily was the most agonizing decision of the weekend. Steamboat Bill, Jr. live orchestra vs Raiders of the Lost Ark, both in historic theaters. It's a really tough choice. Of course, I saw Raiders in the theater when it first came out and normally I would let that sway me to Steamboat Bill. Still Raiders Of the Lost Ark is such a great movie, and in terms of timing, Steamboat Bill would make it very tight on getting to On Her Majesty's Secret Service in the next block. Something had to give. Sorry, Buster, going with Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Friday – Early evening

Late evening
I would really love to see The Bank Dick. I do hope it shows up as one of the TBAs on Sunday. I think I would jettison one of my Sunday picks for it. But to be honest, there really is no contest. On Her Majesty's Secret Service all the way. This is such an underrated movie and George Lazenby in attendence. He was so good. I wish they had kept him as Bond, despite my love for Sean Connery. And yes, I am wearing the white dinner jacket I managed to find. Sturhann, Chris Sturhann. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but still.

Friday – Late evening

I can pretty much guarantee that Jasmine is going to bail on this, and I might as well. Of the Friday and Saturday night midnight movies, Boom! on Friday is the most tempting, but that may be just because some of old movie Twitter cronies are excited about it. Yeah, @joelrwilliams1, @salesonfilm, and @fallonthornley, I'm talking about you. Still, a really tough call between watching Boom! and the inside of my eyelids, especially with two full days to get through. I know this is a cop out, but I am going to just wait and see what happens.

Friday – Midnight

When I did my first pass picks for TCMFF, I realized that I hadn't selected a single screening at the Egyptian. That is too cool of a theater not to see anything in it the whole time.  I figured my best bet to rectify that was The Man Who Would Be King. Still, I would really love to see Norman Lloyd. I might jump ship here and catch Malcolm X in the next block.

Saturday – Morning

Rebel Without a Cause all the way, unless I do Norman Lloyd and go for Malcolm X instead. Still, the timing on Rebel Without a Cause is way way better. We could actually have something resembling real food for both lunch and dinner. I had heard rumors that you could get real food at TCMFF, but always assumed that was an urban legend. This might be the year for it.

Saturday – Afternoon

Early evening 
This another really tough call. I really love Mel Brooks, and I really love Billy Wilder. This is the one spot where I'm going to let celebrity sway me, Shirley MacLaine and The Apartment.

Saturday – Early evening

Late evening
Another tough call her. Adam's Rib is a great great movie, but when am I ever going to get to see hand-cranked silent films including Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon again, Return of the Dream Machine.

Saturday – Late evening

I think I'm going to opt for sitting in a bar and having a drink or six with some of my old movie homies.

Saturday – Midnight

Sunday has lot of open slots, where they repeat movies from the other days. I’m really hoping that some of the films I really wanted to see show up in some of these spots, so we can catch them. Last year, I pretty much blew off what I had planned for Sunday and was not sorry I did.

Nightmare Alley is my pick here, but if the first of the two TBAs looks good I might go for that. The second TBA would likely ruin my Mid-day block, so that's out of the question.
Sunday – Morning

I saw Psycho in the theater last year, so I'm going to eliminate it. To be honest, Gunga Din is not a huge favorite of mine but I'm expecting the presentation that goes along with it to more than make up for it. Still, I really really love Desk Set. It's one of those movies that I watch about every three months and never tire of. Also, Joan Blondell is one of my favorite 30s actresses. When she was young, she was absolutely gorgeous. I gotta say even fiftyish heavyish Joan Blondell, still kind of doing it for me.

Sunday – Mid-day

This is another tough call. I seem to remember that Out of Sight was one of Ben Mankiewicz's favorite movies. I could be wrong. For that reason, I have always wanted to see it, and I still haven't got a chance to.  That said, The Philadephia Story is one of the very best Screwball Comedies, a genre I really adore. Gotta go with The Philadephia Story.

Sunday – Afternoon

I actually know absolutely nothing about Marriage Italian Style. I do know that Sofia Loren is one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the planet (and probably the most beautiful 80-year-old currently on the planet). Now I suppose that if something weird happened to prevent me from seeing something at the Egyptian, I might do The Grim Game instead. Or if either of the two TBAs turned out to be really good, I might go for one of those. God, help me if that happens, because this is my one chance to see Sofia Loren.

Sunday – Evening

Other people's picks

Classic Movie Blog

Joel's Classic Film Passion

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

The Nitrate Diva

Once Upon a Screen

Somewhere in London

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stupid TCMFF Dilemma

I have kind of a stupid dilemma. Last year at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), I wanted to get a white dinner jacket to wear on opening night. There was a place locally that sold rental returns really cheap. They had dozens of them, but none that fit me. I lost some weight last year and was probably withing about 5 or 10 pounds of getting into the one that was closest to my size. I went back there this year, but they didn't have any. In fact, they couldn't even order one.

My goal last weekend was to find one and guess what? I did. Now here's where my stupid dilemma comes in. Now, that they have posted the schedule, do I wear it opening night? Or do I wear it on Friday night for On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I'm leaning toward the latter. If I was attending the opening night Red Carpet screening of The Sound of Music, it would be a no brainer, but I'm not. I told you it was kind of a stupid dilemma. Still, I don't know what to do.