Thursday, October 26, 2006

Austin 4: Saints and Party Girls

There were a lot of people at the Austin Film Festival, but not so many that you didn't start making friends and seeing some of the same people over and over.

I made friends with an actress/writer/director named Suzanne, a very nice woman living in Austin who writes very different styles of scripts than I do. But that was part of the fun of the conference, finding different perspectives to things.

Saturday night we went to see "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" starring Robert Downey Jr., Shia LaBoeuf, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palmentieri and others. It's not the sort of movie I'd really have gone to see normally, but Suzanne had wanted to go and it was free (if you count a $300-plus badge to the conference as free).

Movies like "Saints" are the reason why I hate independent, Sundance-style films. I find that most of these movies are extremely personalized, appealing to the narrowest audience possible, and fully of characters that are made too deliberately quirky.

There's no other way of saying it, but "Saints" was terrible. Excruciating, really. With a cast as good as the one it had, I expected a little more, frankly. The actors did fine, but they had little material to work with. The story is the autobiography of writer/director Dito Montiel; if you're the type of person that loves sitting through other people's family photos, then this was the movie for you.

First off, considering the guy was directing his own life story, no one seemed to know how to pronounce his name. Half the time, it was DEE-to, half the time it was "ditto." That was a bit annoying. Second, the story seems to spend 90 percent of the time setting up the characters rather than have them do anything. The "payoff," for want of a better word, occurs in the span of about 10 minutes. And the payoff as such is the main character realizing, "Oh, maybe I shouldn't have left New York all those years ago. Oops."

After the movie, we went to the closing night party held at a local Austin gallery. I've never been a huge modern art fan, but there were plenty of free drinks and beautiful women, so it was worth the jaunt. Of course, walking up to a beautiful woman and saying, "Well, darling, I'm a screenwriter," doesn't really work if the party is at a conference for screenwriters, most of whom are more successful at it than I am.

Plus, the art was really disturbing. It was various paintings of these naked women in quasi-erotic poses. The artist, however, was trying to make a statement on how young women mutilate themselves to conform to society's standards. As I was trying to not stare at the artwork, one of the volunteers came up to me.

"What do you think of the art?" she asked.
"Well, normally, like any other red-blooded male, I wouldn't mind pictures of young, beautiful naked women, but these are kind of freaking me out," I replied.
"Yeah, when we rented the gallery, none of this was on the wall. We were a little surprised when we started to set things up here today," she told me.

Anyway, the gallery eventually closed and everyone headed back to continue the party at the famed Driskill Hotel, the center for Festival.

THURSDAY'S BEST BET: New episodes of "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.), "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) and "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.), but reruns are starting to creep in, thanks to the World Series (Fox, 8 p.m.)

Viewers who missed the season premieres of "My Name is Earl" and "The Office" (NBC, 8-9 p.m.) get a second chance. This installment of "The Office" is a good example of why it's TV's best comedy, as Michael Scott (Steve Carell) accidently outs a gay employee in the most cringe-worthy way imaginable.

Viewers who missed the pilot for "Shark" (CBS, 10 p.m.) also get a second shot. The show has been picked up for the full season.

Embattled NBC will be making over its Thursday nights starting Nov. 30, when "Scrubs" and "30 Rock" occupy the 9-10 p.m. slots, replacing "Deal or No Deal," which is on pretty much every other night of the week. It's actually a pretty smart move for a network that has made a lot of bone-headed ones of late, giving NBC arguably the best two-hour comedy block on TV.

Fans who can't wait for Fox's "The O.C." to debut next week can find the pilot on, beginning tonight. For the rest of the world who can wait, "The O.C." debuts Nov. 2 at 8 p.m.


Zodin2008 said...

Interesting Austin stories, Phillip. I am still hopeful you can get your scripts sold.

As for tonight, I can't believe NBC is already rolling out re-runs, but truth be told, 8 PM on Thursday is so frakking crowded, that a night off from one of my 3 8 PM choices isn't the worst thing since I still have "Smallville" and "Ugly Betty" to watch.

Phillip Ramati said...

Yeah, I'm hopeful to.

I can understand why networks don't want to burn off original episodes when going against major events like the World Series. Plus, they don't want to get too far along in a season in which new viewers can't jump in, which is probably why they are re-airing shark's pilot tonight.