We wrap up our Ebertfest 2012 coverage from the Valois Cafeteria in Chicago IL, with an in-depth chat about A Separation, Take Shelter, Higher Ground, and the meaning of faith in the universe. Special bonus: surreptitious Q&A audio clips!
Live from the Aroma Cafe in Champaign, IL, we continue to recap Ebertfest as it happens. Today we discuss the beautiful film Terri, a terrific program of shorts accompanied by the Alloy orchestra, and our thoughts on a panel about VOD vs. the future of theatrical moviegoing.
Mamo comes to you from Champaign, Illinois, the home of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival – Ebertfest! We sit down on a park bench to discuss the festival and three of its films: Joe vs. the Volcano, Big Fan, and Kinyarwanda. Plus a big shout-out to the Jane Addams Book Shop.
Mamo road trip! We stop at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a catch-up show. We talk Catching Fire, Avengers, the next Batman, James Cameron, the 3-D 48fps Hobbit, and the future of all mankind (and movies).
Tomorrow morning Matthew Price and myself point the Mamomobile south, to kick off 2012’s official Mamo Road Trip. We’ll be heading to Champaign, Illinois for five days, for the 14th annual Ebertfest. I’m thrilled beyond words with the programming we’ll be treated to - Joe vs. the Volcano for opening night; a Patton Oswalt double on Thursday with the actor presenting both Big Fan and Kind Hearts & Coronets; and one of my favourite films from last year, Take Shelter, presented on Saturday night by Michael Shannon and Jeff Nichols. We will, as usual, record a podcast or two from the road, and I’ll be sending back photos and blog posts from wherever there is wi-fi.
You can follow the podcast, as usual, at our web site, mamo.ca.
They keep setting ‘em up and we keep knocking ‘em down! The film festivals don’t stop coming, and even with ActionFest and TIFF Kids behind me, and the Mamo road trip to Ebertfest this week, there’s still Hot Docs to look at, which runs in Toronto from April 26 to May 6.
I’ll be missing the first half of the festival to spend time with Mr. Ebert, but I still scanned the book and brought back my picks for the highlights of the festival. To everyone who comes to me annually asking for help picking their films, you can peep ‘em here.
The Magic Piano… is not just the best film I’ve seen at TIFF Kids, but one of the best films I’ve seen all year. It also has the distinction of being a truly marvelous 3-D film, making exceptional use of the technology to create a time, place, and sense of elevation and transportation (literally in both cases).
First Position is about young people between the ages of 9 and 19 competing in the Youth America Grand Prix, which is described as one of the key ballet competitions for young people in the world. Older winners (i.e. 14 and above) get scholarships to prestigious dance schools all over the world. Younger winners (i.e. the terrifying young people who can contort themselves into the size and shape of hand luggage) get glory, and plenty of eyes on them as they advance into their careers.
This momentary detour provides a dollop of Herzogian wildness in an otherwise by-the-numbers nature documentary, the kind that schoolchildren have been schlepping into IMAX theatres to see since time immemorial, and which – indeed – a cadre of such children witnessed alongside me at the OMNIMAX theatre at the Ontario Science Centre last week.
This is a greatly appealing concept for me – a movie about an adventure involving a centuries-old brown bear the size of an apartment complex, who has concealed himself successfully in an ancient forest for so long that a grove of trees has taken permanent residence on his back.
ActionFest ’12 ended strong. Immediately today I realized that we are on to the next thing quite directly – I spend this week watching TIFF Kids movies, and then in just ten days, Price and I are off to Ebertfest; when we come back, it’s straight into Hot Docs for the back half of their calendar. By the time I’m watching The Avengers on May 4, I’ll likely have seen 40 more movies. May they be as enjoyable as the ones I saw today.
Bad Ass is a magnificent monstrosity, a great self-important hulk of a movie that nonetheless manages to be sidesplittingly fun – and almost always intentionally. But my hat goes off to them for conveying the veneer of utter low-budgetness for the first 87 minutes, and then exploding into an absolutely berserk final confrontation where Danny Trejo (who becomes a vigilante by stopping an altercation on a city bus) and Charles S. Motherfucking Dutton (“Kick his ass, Alien 3!”) square off on rival, stolen passenger buses and demolish most of downtown Los Angeles – where the fuck did this come from?! I mean, I had assumed given the setup that the final battle between Bad Ass and his ganglord enemies could only take place on a bus, but this shit was off the hook! I can only assume the buses, and most of downtown Los Angeles, are either models or CGI, which cannot be said for Dutton or Trejo, both of whom are very, very real.
Mamo comes to you from ActionFest 2012 in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina! We chat up the film festival with a body count while contemplating the warm welcome our American cousins have given us all.
The burrito recalled only two words: “Apocalypse Rising.”
I don’t know what possessed me to attempt to break the Papa’s & Beer record from last year – if such a thing exists. Really, the story is just fine on its own, wherein – confronted by a burrito the size of a human head – I folded like a cheap suit after less than a third of its total mass. (In fairness, I’d eaten roughly two meals’ worth of guacamole and queso at that point.) Last night I made it all the way to two thirds of the same burrito, and pushed even a bit further than that, and spent the next two hours half-lucid and dying. The horror finally broke at around 1:00, in the midst of a 3-D screening of Comin’ At Ya!, where everything that could have been, very nearly was. Though – and I need to make this point very seriously – I fail to see the use of putting what was, quite simply, the most dedicatedly amazing sideboob I have ever seen, in a 3-D movie. Spears and rats and flaming arrows, Comin’ At Ya! – but those magnificent breasts couldn’t make a quarter-turn to the right?
I was likely no more than five minutes till the end of a screening of Transit, at around 11:00 last night, when Matty Price tapped me on the shoulder. He had left the film near the midpoint, during a prolonged sound problem. Now he was in the row of seats behind me, mouthing frantic information to me, with the moderate complication of having the lower half of his face falling below the shadow line of the row of seats, so all I could really see was a pair of eyebrows gesticulating wildly. He finally managed to convey to me that Kat was marooned in Charlotte, NC, and someone had to make the midnight run to go get her. This is, after all, Actionfest – so off we went.
The skies of West Virginia (go on for ever and ever)
Many bridges were crossed to get here. The advertised 13-hour drive took an unimaginable 15 hours when all was said in done, getting us into AVL about ten minutes too late to reasonably make it to the red carpet premiere, which evidently included a man arriving on a jet pack. (To be fair, we missed by ten minutes because, at 7:30 and with no seeming hope of making it to Asheville in time, we stopped at a chilly, damp twilight for a moment at a scenic overlook in a drop-dead, blue-shadowed valley in Tennessee.) The driving, though, was steady, enjoyable, and uneventful. We picked apart my careers both at Telus and not; spitballed ideas endlessly for a mooted four-hander short film starring me, Mark, Anita, and Natalie; and otherwise just cracked wise and shot the shit. We discussed Breaking Bad a lot, and I mean a lot. (Advantage: I finally understanding money laundering.) We left at ten after five in the morning, and we brought our own Coke.