Archive for the ‘Provincetown International Film Festival’ Tag

Multiple Maniacs (1970)   6 comments

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Question: How do you know you’re watching a John Waters film?
Answer: When the film opens with a carnival barker luring unsuspecting victims into a tent full of fetishists so he can rob them, you’re in a John Waters film.

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Mr. David hawks the Cavalcade of Perversions.

Yup. Lady Divine (Divine) and her cohorts put cigarettes out on each other, sniff a topless woman’s armpits and eat vomit. Then, when the square suburbanites can take no more, Divine brandishes a revolver, robs the crowd, and shoots any dissenters, cackling all the while.

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“Say what again.”

After the robbery, the gang flees and we discover that Mr. David (David Lochary), the barker and lover of Lady Divine, has fallen for another woman. David keeps the affair a secret because Lady Divine threatens to tell the police he was in on the Tate murders. It IS 1970. Lady Divine, gets word of David’s betrayal and vows to kill him.

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Edith Massey drops a dime on Mr. David.

On her way to commit murder, two lowlifes accost her and drag her into an alley. Dazed from the attack, Lady Divine runs into a toddler dressed as the Pope who leads her to a church. Lady Divine prays for guidance. As she kneels in prayer, she meets Mink Stole who clearly has eyes for her. It’s a John Waters film so the two women have sex in a pew using a rosary. Now Lady Divine has an accomplice. The two lovers head to Lady Divine’s apartment to snuff Mr. David.

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Lady Divine walks with a tiny Pope.

Mr. David and his oversexed lover await the pair in Lady Divine’s apartment where they’ve accidentally killed Divine’s ever-topless daughter. Now there’s no turning back. There’s a nutty bloodbath with one survivor. As Lady Divine lies on the sofa surrounded by the bodies of her enemies and crowing about crimes to come, a huge lobster crawls into her living room and rapes her. I never thought I’d write that sentence. Anyway, stuff, like a crucifixion, happens after that, but who cares? A giant lobster rapes Divine. Needless to say, the scene catches you off guard.

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“Quick! Get the drawn butter!”

John Waters wrote, directed, produced, and shot Multiple Maniacs in his native Baltimore. During his introduction to the film at the Provincetown International Film Festival in June of 2016, he said he filmed the Cavalcade of Perversion on his parents’ front lawn. Waters cast friends Edith Massey, Mink Stole, Pat Moran, David Lochary, and Divine in lead roles. Friendship trumped acting ability, but that’s not important. This is not so much a film as a happening. It is also, as film critic J. Hoberman notes, John Waters most overtly Catholic film. Janus/Criterion just restored the film and it looks great. It’s also weirdly entertaining. Everyone is crazily over the top and the whole film is a riot. I watched Multiple Maniacs for the first time in a full theatre with John Waters in attendance and the place went nuts.  It’s vile, disgusting, and fun to watch.

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Rating: 4 Lobsters

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Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (2015)   Leave a comment

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PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT tells the story of a woman born into a wealthy family who decides to collect art.  It doesn’t sound terribly exciting until you learn that she promoted and supported Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Motherwell, and Pollock.  She had affairs with or married Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Samuel Beckett and many others.  She created galleries in London and New York and a museum in Venice which bears her name.  Without her efforts at the start of World War II, many works of art and artists themselves might have been lost to the Nazis.  She may have been a fascinating character, but all we learn about her is that she loved to collect modern art and lovers.  All anyone in the film says about her personality I that she’s odd and a black sheep.

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Shades of Venice

The film touches on the eccentricity of the Guggenheim family as well.  According to the film, Peggy’s sister, embroiled in a contentious custody hearing, pushed her two kids off the roof of a New York skyscraper.  No one pressed charges.  Aside from her unbalanced sister there’s Peggy’s father, Benjamin, whom she adored and who died on the Titanic, famously giving up his seat on a lifeboat to another passenger.  Peggy’s uncle Solomon, founded the Solomon R. Guggenhein Museum in New York City.

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Uncle Solomon’s garage.

I enjoyed PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT although the film does less to enlighten us on the life and personality of the subject and more to name drop artistic and literary giants of the twentieth century.  That said, it was fun seeing Picasso and Max Ernst clowning around and Jackson Pollock smiling as he straddled a huge canvas on his Long Island lawn.  That lawn, the house on it, and the food Pollock ate subsidized by Peggy Guggenheim, by the way.

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Mural by Jackson Pollock

Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the granddaughter-in-law of fashion writer Diana Vreeland, directed the film as a survey course on the life of Peggy Guggenheim.  I left knowing more about Peggy, but not a lot more.  Whether the subject and her friends balked at saying much about her or Vreeland just wanted to whet our appetite is unclear.  It does seem that a Jewish woman who smuggled valuable modern art out of Paris as the Nazis marched in and who had a headboard designed for her by Alexander Calder warrants a more exciting treatment.

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Peggy and friends under her Calder headboard.

I saw PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT at the 2015 Provincetown International Film Festival.

The Wolfpack (2015)   4 comments

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The six Angulo brothers and their younger sister live in an apartment on the lower east side of Manhattan.  Since they rarely venture out of their apartment, they learn about the world outside by watching and reenacting movies.  They painstakingly transcribe dialogue and recreate props and costumes from their favorite films and act them out in their cramped apartment.

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The Angulos’ cardboard and duct tape Batman

That part is fun.  Then, there’s real life.  The boys live with their mom and dad, too.  Dad, part cult leader/part drunken asshole, decided years ago that the kids would be home-schooled and rarely, if ever go outside.  Dad only goes out for groceries and wine.  Mom, who drank the Kool-Aid years ago, rarely goes out herself since her husband has the only key.  Neither he nor his wife has a job.

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The boys watching a film in their apartment.

The kids, the oldest of whom is about 18, sport thigh-length hair because Dad says so.  They seem remarkably well-adjusted despite their veal-like upbringing.  The boys are bright, curious, and articulate.  Most people would have gone out of their tree a long time before this, but they’re resourceful, loyal, and quick to smile.  First time director Crystal Moselle hit the jackpot with THE WOLFPACK.  According to Moselle, she ran into the six boys during one of their rare field trips into the world.  She befriended them and they invited her into their home to film.  The family makes for a fascinating subject.  Even footage of their making dinner and watching movies entertains.  As harrowing as the kids’ lives are, they maintain a positive outlook and there is hope.  When one of the older boys goes over the wall one day, it opens the door for the others to follow.  Soon they’re walking down the street together and even going to see a movie.

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A happy excursion

THE WOLFPACK documents the lives of children deprived of the normal social interaction they need to learn and grow and how resilient kids are.  It also shows that power-crazed idiots shouldn’t have children.

Highly recommended.

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I saw THE WOLFPACK as part of the 2015 Provincetown International Film Festival.

Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)   Leave a comment

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Based on the book Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star written by Tab Hunter and Eddie Muller (film noir guru), TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL chronicles Hunter’s life from his childhood through his early years as a matinee idol and pop singer to his foray into B films, dinner theatre, and John Waters.

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That face!

Along the way, Hunter struggled with his homosexuality, religious conflicts, and family duty.  He worked with the biggest stars of the day and tells some good stories, but he doesn’t gossip.  Hunter talks about his own life, but leaves his friends alone.  He does share some interesting truths about the studios of the 1950s.  When a tabloid threatened to break a story about his homosexuality, the studio came to his rescue.  After he broke with Warner Brothers, he was on his own.  What’s funny is that the squeaky clean image Hunter portrayed on screen is a near reflection of his own life.  He just happens to be gay.  In spite of the scandal, Hunter remained popular.  Always conflicted about his sexual orientation and religion, Hunter finally accepted himself and rediscovered his faith.  He also discovered his love for horses. TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL is an entertaining look at the taboos of 1950s America and how they shaped the lives, careers, and films of that era.  It’s also a refreshing story of a sweet, wholesome guy.

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I saw TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL as a part of the 2015 Provincetown International Film Festival.

Wildlike (2014)   1 comment

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Ella Purnell gives a breakout performance as Mackenzie, a troubled teenager sent by her alcoholic mother to spend the summer in Alaska with her uncle (Brian Geraghty) while Mom goes to rehab.  The sullen teen soon warms to her friendly uncle and you’re cautiously happy.  It doesn’t last.  Soon Mackenzie’s on her own desperately trying to get back to Seattle and her mother.  On her journey she meets some odd characters and begins to both grow up and become a child again.  It’s a complex and gradual transition and Purnell shines in the role.  Bruce Greenwood brings his years of acting experience to the best part I’ve seen him in, in years and Ann Dowd steals every scene she’s in.  Geraghty plays the uncle with subtlety and in shades of gray.  Director Frank Hall Green keeps the pace slow and lets the camera linger on the actors’ faces and the gorgeous Alaskan scenery, but he can ratchet up the suspense when needed.

I love WILDLIKE.  It combines an original story with wonderful acting and a beautiful backdrop.  See this if you can.

WildLike Production Stills

I saw WILDLIKE as part of the 2015 Provincetown International Film Festival.

Roar (1981)   Leave a comment

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Tippi Hedren starred in THE BIRDS and MARNIE for Alfred Hitchcock before getting on his bad side.  Now instead of acting, she runs Shambala, a wildlife preserve in southern California specializing in lions, tigers, and other predators.  ROAR helps explain how Hedren made the leap from actress to cat fancier. The film shows Hedren’s then husband, Noel Marshall who lives with big cats on an African preserve.  When I say lives with, I mean it.  Lions tigers, leopards, and panthers roam freely on the grounds and through his house.

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“Whoa whoa!  Not EAT the Press!”

In one scene, Marshall takes a bath surrounded by huge lions who drink from the tub.  They stand on their back legs to hug him and seem to listen when he tells them what to do.  He even breaks up bloody fights between two alpha male lions.  In the film, Hedren and the couple’s three young adult children (including a teenage Melanie Griffith) come to Africa to live with Dad.  They arrive at his home early and meet his feline pals.  Of course they don’t know how to act around the creatures and hijinks of the ‘almost being eaten’ variety ensue.  Filmed using real wild animals who really get hungry and playful and mad, ROAR makes Marshall look both brilliant and foolish.  He has a way with these wild beasts, but he also takes a lot of chances.  It’s a weird mix of documentary and narrative fiction that did horribly at the box office when it came out in 1981.  It cost $17 million to make and made a whopping $2 million.  ROAR is a weird one.  Two weeks after seeing it, I’m still not sure if I liked it.  It was like a car accident.  I felt compelled to watch, but found it fascinating because I got to see professionals at work.  In this case, the professionals were lions.  Marshall comes off as a goofy, but dedicated naturalist who fell in love with jungle cats.  It’s an odd slice of life semi-rehearsed documentary.

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As for the injuries sustained during the eleven years of shooting on Shambala, stories vary.  Melanie Griffith got 50 stitches on her face, an assistant director was bitten on the throat and jaw and narrowly escaped losing an ear.  Noel Marshall was clawed so many times, he got gangrene.  Noel’s sons were bitten and clawed many times, and cinematographer Jan de Bont got 220 stitches when a lion lifted his scalp.

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Jan sports his new look

As you might have guessed, employee turnover was high and Hedren and Marshall’s marriage didn’t weather the stormy set either.

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“I think we need a new alarm clock.”

I watched ROAR at the Wellfleet Drive-In in Wellfleet, Massachusetts as part of the Provincetown International Film Festival.

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