Sunday, April 25, 2010

THAT'S A WRAP ! The12th Ebert Fest behind us

I attended my 10th straight Roger Ebert Film Festival this Saturday, although I only got to catch two films of the twelve films screened. In the past 5 years I've been a pass holder & viewed the normal 8-10 films each year. I really hate it that I was unable to see Pink Floyd's "The Wall", "Apocalypse Now Redux", and missed a chance to meet Charlie Kaufman (who makes very few public appearences). However, just in the short time I was there, I was quickly reminded of what makes this event so special. Before one of the films screened, they showed a short musical montage of musicians around the world. It immediately struck me. This festival always has & I believe always will, celebrates "Diversity". Film makers from around the world come here year after year, to be apart of the love fest of cinema that we call "The Roger Ebert Film Festival". If we could live in a world like the one that exists in those 5 days in Champaign, Il. every April in the Virginia Theatre, well that would be nirvana. I enjoyed another bonus short entitled "Plasic Man" that was voiced over by the German film-maker Werner Herzog. The two feature films we attended were "Trucker" & "Barfly". "Trucker" was one of the most overlooked films of the year in 2008. Michelle Monaghan turned in a performance that was Oscar worthy, as a female truck driver who is suddenly faced with her young son coming to live with her when her ex-husband becomes critically ill. The film also had fine performances from Nathan Fillion (of "Castle" fame), Benjamin Bratt, and Joey Lauren Adams(of Oxford, Ms.,and"Chasing Amy"). My wife & I were able to visit with Michelle Monaghan after the show and she was simply charming. "Barfly" was directed by Barbet Schroeder and based on the screenplay by Charles Bukowski. The film is a loosely based look at Bukowski's earlier days in bars in L.A., fighting, drinking & eventually writing, usually in that order. Mickey Rourke plays the role of Henry (Bukowski) & Faye Dunaway stars as Wanda, his equal in all ways & the love of his life. If you love Charles Bukowski's writing, ( I DO ! ) then you'll probably find this one pretty interesting. Others will hate it. Bukowski wouldn't care either way. Following the film there was a terrific Q & A with the films director Barbet Schroeder. Here was a man who knew Bukowski well and loved to talk about it. A real gem. He was also kind enough to hang around after the show to sign autographs & take photos and visit with guests. As I look back on the past 10 years, all I can say is, "THANK YOU ROGER EBERT". You have made our lives better and we will always be in your debt. With gratitude.

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