The 2007 Donnybrook Writer’s Strike Averted
It’s laughable to think that you’re as distinguished as Dr. Fritz Godard when it comes to navigating a film festival; so for the next five [week]days leading up to the 30th Starz Denver Film Festival, Fritz will be sharing his killed-for knowledge with thee. You may thank him in Armagnac Twisters and sexual favors; please hold your applause until the end.
The past week there was a new addiction that fit nicely into the hole currently being occupied by frequent trips to the Methadone clinic. The 30th Annual Starz Denver Film Festival consumed me. The world around me was dead, the only thing that mattered to me was watching screeners and finding youtube links to previews. Typing until the early morning hours and waking with the sun to chart my festival days to the minute was more than burning the candle at both ends.
Yesterday, I decided to treat myself and sleep in until 7 a.m. and give myself a few Festival-free hours. However, I soon began a shaking fit from film withdraw, and went for a quick visit to imdb.com.
Upon this visit I was reminded that I had completely missed the launch of the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike. Realizing what this meant, I immediately called editor-in-chief extraordinaire Angora Holly Polo and demanded my hard-earned DVD and syndicate residuals. Not even four minutes into the conversation, Angora moved into primadonna-whisperer mode. Not only did she show what it takes to run a successful Writing Academy, she also talked me into writing the concluding entry in my festival preview with no name.
The reasoning made perfect sense; I had yet to introduce the hard-working-most-likely-not-yet-affiliated-with-the-Writers-Guild-of-America filmmakers competing for the Emerging Filmmaker Award. It would be an injustice to writers everywhere if I maintained the work stoppage simply because the rules of organized labor demanded it.
The five finalists for the 2007 Emerging Filmmaker Award have already accomplished larger feats in their short careers: 1) Getting a feature film produced 2) Beating out the Sundance hero James C. Strouse’s debut film Grace is Gone starring John Cusack. Having a first film star John Cusack is a lot like owning a trampoline when as a child, the kid may have been cool, but it probably tied pretty close to the springs of the tramp. Kudos for the jury seeing beyond the celebrity to nominate genuinely worthy filmmakers.
American Fork proves to the world that there can be a subtly hilarious fat man. This film is more of a human rights film, showing that no longer do the large have to be delegated to roles of slapstick and over-the-top comedy. Screenwriter and star Hubbel Palmer stars as Tracy Orbison, an assistant manager at a grocery store with a binge eating problem. The film follows the same formulaic rule for episodic geek films: show the outcast with no friends. Give the outcast an equally outcastey friend. Send the two through embarrassing adventures. Then the lead outcast finds friendship/love. Roll credits.
Yet, this film is bigger in the humiliation of its lead outcast. Hubbel Palmer isn’t an actor that can take off the funny glasses, go to the trailer to get into his Dolce jacket and pick up women while sipping designer mojitos at hot spots. Before he says a single word, four-hundred plus pounds of Tracy Orbison drips with low self-esteem. For any type of social acceptance Tracy institutes an eager to be taken advantage of attitude, which brings on even more painfully humiliating situations. With Chris Bowman’s eye, the film is able to stay big in awkward, but subdued in the use of comedy. This allows the audience to laugh at Tracy, but leave the theater feeling empathy for his plight.
The Memory Thief walks an extremely fine line. The film is about an alienated youth looking for spiritual guidance, mixing comedy with the Holocaust, but leaving out the heartwarming element that made Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful so endearing. After seeing this movie I can only come to one conclusion: Gil Kofman must have the nerves to shave with a light saber. The line is so fine, actually, that I choose to resume to stop writing and not to let my fellow writers fight the good fight alone. Until I receive my DVD residuals, this will be the day the writing died.