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Reel World 

Flaming Creatures; Chungking Express; D.O.A.

Wednesday, May 3 2000
Flaming Creatures
Jon Moritsugu called with the welcome news that he's in production on his latest lurid low-budget feature. "It's an ensemble piece about the difficulty of creating art in this world in the year 2000," he explained, noting that the work touches on headaches like "life, death, responsibility, and rent." This would reek of pretentiousness coming from anybody else, but if you've seen any of Moritsugu's warped homages to late-stage capitalism (Fame Whore, Terminal U.S.A., Mod Fuck Explosion), you know that existential angst is just a pose. It's the set design that lights Moritsugu's fire, along with twisted laughs loosed by the melding of melodrama, debasement, and rock music.

The S.F. filmmaker's usual stock company is on board, including leading lady Amy Davis (playing a rocker), the exquisitely named Victor of Aquitaine, and the redoubtable Peter Friedrich and Jason T. Rail. Moritsugu also managed to get hot young talents Courtney Stephens and Kyp Malone under his sway, and their lives will never be the same. Andrea Sperling is producing the currently untitled flick, which Moritsugu is shooting on analog video (Hi8) "using a lot of funky old gear." That, he asserts, makes it a radical feature. "I'm saying 'fuck you' to the digital revolution," he declared. I'm down with that, I replied. Digital is just another way for The Man to keep the brothers and sisters down.

Chungking Express
Things I learned at the S.F. International Film Festival: Czech director Alice Nellis (visiting with her insightful debut feature Eeny Meeny) was asked by countryman Jan Sverak (who showed The Elementary School at the festival a few years back and later hit it big with Kolya) to shoot the "making of" documentary about his current film, Dark Blue World. "Ours is a small country," Nellis explained. ... The Q&As after documentaries -- such as the hourlong panel discussion following Josh Aronson's Sound and Fury -- are always better than those after features. Why? "With features, you can discuss the story, the casting, and the budget, and then what?" Aronson said. "Documentaries are about ideas." ... Jim McKay (Our Song) is based in New York now, and famously spent a chunk of time in Athens, Ga. (where he met Michael Stipe), but he also lived in San Francisco in the early '80s. "I went to film school here," he told Reel World. Where? "The Roxie," he replied with a grin. ... And Delroy Lindo confided to a festival honcho that he worked at the Castro once upon a time. So show a little respect for the person who rips your ticket.

Now it can be told: The Bay Area Icon British filmmaker Anthony Wall interviewed for the upcoming Akira Kurosawa documentary (see last week's column) was samurai Clint Eastwood. ... A Keith Moon biopic is in the very early stages of development in Hollywood, and Nicolas Cage has reportedly already expressed interest in portraying Pete Townshend. Cage has got the long face, and we know from Leaving Las Vegas that he can pound gin, but his windmill guitar move needs a lot of work. ... Coming next week: Reel World looks at Rated X, the Mitchell brothers story starring Charlie and Emilio (and directed by Emilio). Peter Bogdanovich has a cameo as a film professor -- but that's not why you're curious, is it?

Michael Fox is host of Independent View, which airs Fridays at 10:30 p.m. and Saturdays at midnight on KQED (Channel 9).

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Michael Fox


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