Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jason goes to Indiefest--Day 12

Now we're into the final stretch. Two movies every night from now until Thursday.

First up on Monday was a short music video EVERY LITTLE THING YOU LOVE by the Bynars. Geeks are hassled by greaser jerks. Geek girl falls in love with an alien. Geeks get their revenge, with the help of a brain-melting gun they win by eating lots of Frosted Frogs. Yup, pretty fun.

And that was a perfect match for the feature, THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X, which I had seen at its world premiere at Cinequest. Let's see what I said back then:

Then I was over to the fabulous California Theatre for the world premiere of THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X. First a little pre-showgeeking out, seeing Will Keenan again (who I met at Indiefest with CHOP) and having him introduce me to Reggie Bannister (of the PHANTASM movies.) And then settle in for a rocking good time. Jonathan Xavier (Keenan, going nuts on screen as usual) is a rebel who just can't play by the rules, so the grand Inquisitor (Kevin McCarthy, in his final film role) sentences him to a horrible fate--banishment on Earth--only to return if Johnny can finally perform an unselfish act. There his gang of 1950's style juvenile delinquents become known as The Ghastly Ones. They terrorize the squares, all while singing and dancing (oh yeah, this is a musical.) And what else...he has a resurrection suit that lets him control the motion of anybody else. His Coca-Cola loving best girl has stolen the suit and ran out on him. Reggie Bannister shows up as a down on his luck concert promoter who needs a big hit from Mickey O'Flynn, the man with the grin (Creed Bratton, channeling a sort of demented undead Johnny Cash.) Oh, and Johnny's right hand man Sluggo has even ghastlier plans. And then somehow Paul Williams shows up as a midnight talk show host! This movie is an amazing ball of crazy showmanship, a ton of fun, and worth multiple viewings.
Yeah, that's all still true. And I discretely avoided the incident in the Q&A when Will allegedly jumped from the balcony of the California and broke both of his feet (since I heard them talking about it at last Friday's Q&A, I figure I'm allowed to at least mention that it happened--allegedly.) What I will add is that at Cinequest I saw it in a beautiful 35 mm print. The Indiefest audience last Friday also got to see the 35 mm print in the Big Roxie. But last night it was in the Little Roxie and although they can play 35 mm they didn't want to platter the film for just one screening (Big Roxie has a changeover system so it's easier to play 35 mm as a one-time event.) The fun of the story and the showmanship totally holds up to multiple viewings, and it didn't lose too much playing on Blu-Ray...on the little screen...that's kind of warped...and the projector has a dead pixel so there's that damned red dot in the lower-right quadrant of the screen!!! Okay, it was just so much better in 35 mm, here's hoping it gets some theatrical play on 35 mm in the Bay Area before its home video release (which should be around June.)

Then a change of pace to a very serious documentary INSIDE LARA ROXX. As a young 'wild child' Lara Roxx (her stage name, of course) moved from Montreal to Los Angeles for a career in porn. Within two months, she contracted HIV. This documentary takes the long view of her (ongoing) life, starting when she contracted HIV in 2004. At first her case becomes a sort of cause célèbre, with her appearing on Maury Povich and starting a foundation for education and protection of the performers. And it keeps following up on her year after year. It shows her returning to L.A. and confronting people in the industry (and showcasing either the callousness, duplicity, and/or willing blindness of those in the industry.) It shows her returning to Montreal, getting addicted to crack, and living in a squalid ghetto. And it shows her at least trying to pull herself together and go into drug treatment. It's sad and often frustrating to watch her making so many bad decisions (after all, the story starts with bad decisions.) But any temptation to lay all the blame at her feet are quickly stamped out by examples of people in the industry doing exactly that. The worst case is the de facto father figure Papa Bear who at first offers her a comforting hug but then goes off on how HIV is somehow both very rare in the industry and an expected hazard of the job and it's her fault that she "walked on razor blades and got cut." As she left his office in tears, I couldn't stop thinking 'You asshole! I don't care if the chances to getting HIV are a million to one, and neither does she. She already got HIV, so for her the statistics are 100%!' It's frustrating, but the fact is if we actually cared about the safety and well-being of porn stars, they wouldn't be doing porn in the first place.

Total Running Time: 197 minutes
My Total Minutes: 316,354

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