Monday, August 11, 2008

Travel Logs

I'm back from a very pleasant and rejuvenating trip to Costa Rica- my first time in Central America. Since it had been quite a while since I had a vacation that involved neither family nor a film festival (or both), I felt like I was getting some much-needed perspective while there. But though most of my time was spent in rural areas and wildernesses where it was easier to view monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds than movies, my thoughts did turn to cinema from time to time. I tried to be on the lookout for traces of homegrown Costa Rican filmmaking but came up empty. I did catch a broadcast of Ernst Lubitsch's charming Bluebeard's Eighth Wife the one time I stayed in a hotel room equipped with television. And I at one point made a foray to a mini-multiplex in the country's second-largest city Alajuela, where I caught a dreadful Hollywood product (X-Files: I Want to Believe), picked from the four available options -- all big-budget films from major North American studios -- because it was the only one not dubbed in Spanish and that seemed less likely to feature more explosions and adolescent power fantasy than my travel companion and I were in the mood to suffer. Too bad it was still such a bad movie- succeeding at simulating the veneer of intelligence but nothing more. Anyway, for the most part this trip was a real break from cinephilia.

Back in Frisco, where the options for moviegoing are more varied (more on that soon), I was pleased to see that the interview I conducted with Guy Maddin last May was published at GreenCine during my absence from the blogosphere. I hope the conversation is as enjoyable to read as it was to have. The occasion of the interview was the San Francisco International Film Festival's screenings of Maddin's tongue-in-cheek travelogue of his hometown, My Winnipeg. If you missed this film at the festival or during its brief run in town, it's still playing through Thursday, August 14th in San Jose, at the Camera 12 cineplex. Definitely a film worth a little travel time to get to see on a big screen.


  1. Brian,

    I was riding the 2 Clement bus towards BART on my birthday this weekend and the woman behind me mentioned to the woman she was sitting with that her brother was from Winnipeg. Having been anxious to talk to a Winnipegger about MY WINNIPEG. I anguished about whether the woman would find it rude or not to tell her I had heard she said she had family in Winnipeg. (Why is that way of initiating a conversation considered rude anyway? Like, can you really, honestly, keep from hearing conversations close to you on the bus? We need a wider vocabulary of descriptors for ‘eavesdropping.’ Maybe we can push for ‘eavesleaves’ for the words in a conversation around you that cause you to startle to attention and want to speak to the person who emitted those words, implying something you do as a reaction, not as a conscious, concentrated effort as is implied when ‘eavesdropping’.) I deferred to avoiding being accused of being rude and did not tell her I heard her mention her brother was from Winnipeg.

    Instead, I decided to take an alternative tactic. I began talking with my girlfriend about MY WINNIPEG. My plan worked. The woman quickly tapped me on the shoulder and told me she was from Winnipeg and had read reviews about that movie. The reviews she read actually turned her off. She received the reviews as telling her the film was slamming Winnipeg. I told her otherwise, seeing it as an affectionate take and strongly encouraged her to go see it, prepping her for the dream-in-place-of-narrative tactic. I think I won her over mentioning the films sympathetic inclusion of the hockey club the Winnipeg Jets.

    Look forward to reading your interview when I get to the G’s in my Sony eReader where I’ve stored your little conversation for my reading pleasure later.



  2. Thanks so much for sharing that story, Adam. Here is a terrific Canadian perspective on Maddin's film.

    In an age when commuters wouldn't think of boarding a bus without an ipod connected to their ears, I think your suggestion for an update on "eavesdropping" is especially timely. I like the rhyming aspect of "eavesleaves" but am not sure it's self-explanatory enough to stick.

    And Happy Birthday, of course! May this year be full of many (but not TOO many) cinematic and geographic explorations!

  3. Miriam "Anchovies, please" Montag8/25/08, 10:50 AM

    Dollface Brian,

    Thanks for linking to a previous post of yours that provides more evidence for our view of you as a pizza-vore of the highest order.

  4. Franklin Pangborn8/26/08, 5:57 PM

    BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE was Hollywood product, too, my dear young man. We were just pretending to be in Paris.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. That's true enough. Hard to imagine fingerprints from the Lubitsch touch might be found in today's Tinseltown though.

    Thanks for stopping by and giving me a hankering to watch Hail the Conquering Hero right now.