Life in the Slow Lane

April 30, 2009

‘Happy Hooker’ documentary not what one might expect

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 2:33 pm

As far as artistic inspiration go, Xaviera Hollander presents about as broad and vibrant a muse as can be had.
The legendary call girl-turned-author could fill 50 films with her X-rated exploits alone, but documentarian Robert Dunlap chose not to focus solely on that part of her life.
That’s not to say that “Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary” lacks for ribaldry, but as far as films about the author of the largely autobiographical best-seller “The Happy Hooker” go, this is about as sterile as the subject matter could be treated.
With Hollander narrating the 68-minute film, which will be shown during the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, the documentary goes all the way back to her infancy, which was spent in a Japanese concentration camp in southeast Asia (she and her family are of Jewish heritage).
After the war, the family returned to Holland, where she grew up (kinda) normally. She claimed the “Miss Tick” prize as Holland’s best secretary, then made her way to New York City, where she took a secretarial job that failed to offer much fulfillment.
Instead, as the title of her first book suggests, she took an unorthodox route to happiness. The film uses commentary from several of today’s leading experts and writers in the field to discuss the impact of “Happy Hooker” and the dozens of follow-up books (both fiction and fact) that came from Hollander.
Where such a field was considered beyond taboo in those days (her lawyer recalled his experiences negotiating his “first book deal in a … house of ill repute”), her work was considered a key part of the feminist movement that opened people’s minds on the subject.
The film takes the viewer up to present day, with Hollander happily pursuing her artistic endeavors back in the Netherlands — receiving inspiration the same way she inspired so many others during her life.
To be clear: This film is not for youngsters, due to subject matter and some of the imagery presented. But it’s the film’s inspiration that dictates the use of such material, and Dunlap does a masterful job of avoiding gratuitous footage or soundbites when it would have been ever-so-easy to go that way.
Whatever one might think about Hollander or her career choice, viewers of this film will leave the experience feeling as far away from dirty as possible.

IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Screening of “Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary”
• WHEN: 9 p.m. May 7
• WHERE: Market Arcade Film & Arts Center, Main Street, Buffalo
• MORE INFORMATION: Visit buffaloniagarafilmfestival.com

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More from ‘Poundcake’ creator, Buffalo Niagara Film Festival

Filed under: Life,Movies — pauljlane @ 10:14 am

Following is the complete, unedited e-mail Q&A I conducted with Kevin Logie, the Town of Tonawanda native who co-wrote the comedy “Poundcake” that’s playing at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival. In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that Kevin and I graduated in the same class from Kenmore East High School.

Here is a review Variety did of “Poundcake.”

Where did the idea for the film come from?
My writing partner Troy Hall and I were working on a sketch comedy show. We had met doing improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater. We are actors first and wanted to work. It made sense to us to write our own projects, so we got together to start working on a sketch comedy show. Unfortunately around the same time, my parents were going through a divorce. Naturally the events that were going on in my life found their way into the sketches we were writing. As we continued to write, it became clear there was a much bigger story to tell. We combined stories from my life and Troy’s life to create the world that the Morgan’s live in. All of that turned into “Poundcake”.

Is this your first film? What was the experience like?
This was my first film. First screenplay. First job as an actor in a feature film, and first time producing a film. It was a first for a lot of us on this film. Our director Rafael Monseratte, this was his first feature film and it was also the first feature for our editor, Anthony Ripoli.

In planning to make the film we made a conscious effort to work with people who were like minded and had the same drive and desire to make films. Bringing together a team like that really made the making of this film an amazing experience. There was a comfort in knowing we all were working towards the same goal. We all supported and trusted each other. When you have that, it makes the work so much easier.

Plus we filmed the entire film in Buffalo. Growing up here, it was a dream come true to be able to work on my first feature film in my hometown. It doesn’t get much better than that. The film honestly couldn’t have been made anywhere else. The people in Buffalo were so critical in getting this film made. We are a truly independent film that depended on the good will of Buffalo. People took the time to donate food, cars, clothing, equipment, locations. I think the support we recieved shines through. I can’t thank the people of Buffalo enough. They helped make this a film Buffalo can be proud of.

What aspirations do you have for the film?
The film takes a heart felt yet comedic look at a serious subject, divorce and the effects on the family. I think what we tried to do was put a comedic twist on it but still keep a serious aspect to it. We have been getting similar reactions after screenings where couples come up to us and want to say thank you and shake our hands. After seeing the movie the message rings true to them, that when you are in a relationship you need to check in with the other person once and awhile and make sure the both of you are doing ok. Without doing that you won’t know what needs to be worked on. Also, it’s a very commercial film, obviously we want people to be entertained. We want them to laugh, to cry and feel for the Morgan Family as they go through this moment in their lives.. If we can do that, then we would be pretty happy.

Has it been distributed on video, or is there a chance of it appearing in theaters?
Last fall, Poundcake made its world premiere at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, since then our film has been making the rounds in the festival circuit. At the Florida Film Festival, Poundcake won the Audience Award as well as the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay. Most recently at the Nashville Film Festival,  Poundcake was awarded the Regal Cinemas Dream Maker Award – Honorable Mention. There has been a wonderful buzz surrounding our film and we couldn’t be more excited to be bringing Poundcake to the Buffalo-Niagara Film Festival. We are currently working on acquiring distribution. As of right now our goal is to get the movie out by November of this year. You can follow us on our website and also you can follow us on facebook. Join the Poundcake group for updates.

What has the response been thus far to Poundcake?
The response for the film has really been great. Since we premeired last fall, every festival we attend, the buzz surrounding the movie has continued to grow. We have been selling out theaters and winning some amazing awards, but the coolest thing is meeting people after they see the movie. It’s always fun to hear everyone’s individual take on the film. I would get in trouble if I didn’t say it, but the most important response was from my Mother. She gave full approval of the movie. As long as Mom loves it that’s all that matters. Haha.

Do you have further aspirations as a filmwriter/actor?
Absolutely! The whole point of beginning this film was that my Co-writer Troy Hall and I wanted to work. Hollywood isn’t going to come knocking on the door of a bunch of nobodies. So we had to introduce ourselves. This has hopefully been the first step in a long career. It’s not an easy road but it certainly is an interesting one.

April 24, 2009

My son the Internet sensation

Filed under: Life,Parenting — pauljlane @ 1:13 pm

Here’s a short movie of Rigby smiling. Watch it, love it, watch it again.

Nintendo cereal: Best … commercial … ever

Filed under: Entertainment,Games,Life,Television — pauljlane @ 9:53 am

I stumbled upon this while surfing the Internet this morning.

I mean, WOW.

First of all, I’m disappointed that I don’t remember the Nintendo Cereal System  being on the market at all. But I’m glad I’m at least late to the party.

I’ve been humming the tune in my head all morning. With lyrics like “Nintendo … it’s for breakfast now,” it’s hard to forget. And pay attention to the acting on the part of the kids. Why don’t they make cereal commercials like this anymore?

I don’t know what a “cereal system” is, but I know I like it.

April 22, 2009

Does Disney set a bad example of home life?

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Movies — pauljlane @ 11:41 am

An interesting point came up the other day during a3-wallpapers-beauty-beast
discussion at home about Disney cartoons (there are a lot of those when you have two young children in the house).

While I have no problem showing Penny the many Disney film titles that are available on DVD (most of which are pretty good for adults, too), there is at least one glaring commonality that might upset purists.

Nearly every family in these films is a broken household. Consider:

• In “The Lion King,” Simba only has his dad Mufasa around – and that’s only until he’s killed early on in the movie (he does have a mom, Sarabi, but she’s nonexistent in his life).

• In the film that bears his name, Bambi’s mom is shot and killed, and his absentee father only comforts him with a gruff, “Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”

• Cinderella’s father tried to give her a normal home after her mother died, but upon his untimely demise she’s trampled upon by her stepmom and stepsisters.

• We have no idea who Snow White’s parents are. All we know is her stepmom, the queen, hates her guts and puts a hit out on her.

• Ariel’s mom is never heard from in “The Little Mermaid,” only her father and her many sisters.

• Same thing with Jasmine’s mother in “Aladdin,” the mother of the kids in “Peter Pan,” Pocahontas in her film and Mulan in hers.

• The Beast in “Beauty and the Beast” has no parents at all. We know that the curse that made him a monster becomes permanent on his 21st birthday, and that he’d been in that form for years before the events of the film took place, so that means he’s been a prince living alone in that giant castle since he was about 16.

• At least Beast had servants to help him. Poor Mowgli in “The Jungle Book” was left in a basket in the jungle, with only a few primates and felines to raise him.

So I ask you, where did the women go? Were they too difficult to animate? Were the Disney illustrators anti-females? Is there some mythical cartoon waiting room where all these mothers are gathered, helplessly watching their children struggle before their inevitable victories?

To be fair, many Disney films are rip-offs of old fairy tales, which might have been written minus moms. The absence of these mothers generally isn’t integral to the plot of any of these films, but the frequency of this occurrence is something to ponder.

April 8, 2009

Get your Kiss on: Bring the band to your town

Filed under: Music — pauljlane @ 1:38 pm


Kiss is getting interactive for its next tour, allowing the rock band’s fans to decide the group’s entire itinerary.

American and Canadian fans can log on to a Web site that allows them to vote for their hometowns. The top-polling cities will be the places that Kiss will visit on the tour, which is set to start in September. Voters will have early access to tickets in their towns.

As of when I voted Wednesday afternoon, Buffalo was 45th on the list of nearly 5,700 communities.

This puts some smaller communities at a disadvantage, but all in all it’s a great idea. It gets people involved, and it could allow some normally excluded markets to see the glam rockers live.

Sure, they’re just doing it for the money and the press, but a good idea is a good idea.

April 6, 2009

‘Fast & Furious’ infuriates this film fan

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 2:19 pm

How can it be that the American movie-going public would combine to spend $72.5 million during its opening weekend?

Don't ask me why, but people seem to enjoy watching Vin Diesel and Paul Walker perform their sub-par acting while driving shiny cars and spouting dialogue that a fourth-grader could have improved.

Don't ask me why, but people seem to enjoy watching Vin Diesel and Paul Walker perform their sub-par acting while driving shiny cars and spouting dialogue that a fourth-grader could have improved.

Have people lost their minds? Are shiny cars THAT impressive? Are we so simple that it’s worth sitting through 90 minutes of drivel (not to mention the $20 admission price, plus concessions) to watch attractive people do nothing?

Never mind that a mere 24 percent of the nation’s film critics approved this film (most gave it one star out of four or less). Who actually woke up Friday and thought, “Gee, I can see the fourth chapter of a film franchise that was played out in part two. Sign me up!” This retread film was as necessary as a baseball glove for a quadroplegic.

The first “Fast” film was OK, but “2 Fast 2 Furious” was a disaster, repeating the same junk in a different place. The third part, “Tokyo Drift” was even worse, so they opted to get all the same stars as the original, put them in the same place and have them do EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

If you want to watch them that badly, rent the first film (it’s a lot cheaper). Thanks to you people who went to the film, there’s no avoiding a fifth chapter, then a sixth, and … well, you know what you did.

On behalf of movie fans who do not like feces on film, thanks for nothing.

April 1, 2009

You can bring ‘Wolverine’ premiere to WNY

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 2:57 pm
Wolverine could soon come to a town near you.

The executives behind the “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” film debuting in May are holding a contest whereby the town with the most votes will host the world premiere.

Fans van visit the film’s Web site and cast a vote for their hometown. Voting runs through April 17, with the winning town being announced April 20.

The winning town will host the premiere April 27, and some members of the film’s cast — including Hugh Jackman — will make the trip. The event will be complete with a red carpet and all the other premiere trimmings.

“Origins,” which details how the X-Men character Wolverine came to be, opens May 1.

Mmm, stamp glue … Simpsons to appear on postage stamps

Filed under: Life,Television — pauljlane @ 10:04 am

This is from The Associated Press, which reported that The Simpsons will appear on a series of U.S. postage stamps. simpfamily_vertical2fI am as big a Simpsons supporter as there is, but even I have to wonder how far the USPS’ bar will dip in terms of who’s honored on stamps. It will surely sell stamps, though, and that’s what the USPS needs in a time when mail may no longer be delivered six days per week and the entire system is threatening to crumble under massive debt.

•••

Don’t have a cow, man! The Simpsons will appear on postage stamps.
America’s most enduring — or is that endearing? — dysfunctional family will be honored on their own stamps, the Postal Service announced.
It’s been 20 years since Homer, Marge and family invaded the airwaves on Fox television, and the Postal Service says it plans five stamps featuring the couple and their offspring, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.
No word on their dog, Santa’s Little Helper. And it seems that even — or is that evil? — Mr. Burns was not able to pull enough strings to get his own stamp.
Artwork for the 44-cent stamps was done by Simpsons creator Matt Groening and will be available for preview April 9 at usps.com. At that time the post office plans to announce the date the stamps will go on sale.

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