Just a Singer in a Rock ’n’ Roll Band
For their closing night film, the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival’s presentation of Ramona S. Diaz’s documentary Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey seemed like the ultimate feel-good movie. Big-time rock band Journey needed a new singer for a major world tour. They found Manila-born and bred Arnel Pineda singing Journey songs with cover band Zoo after the videos were posted on YouTube. The unlikely Cinderfella story that results could as well be titled A Star Is Born. As a roadie on the band tour says, "To Filipinos, Arnel is like Elvis!"
The sold-out Castro Theatre screening erupted in wild audience ovations at film’s end, and the Q&A afterwards brought director Diaz and Journey players Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Deen Castronovo, and Pineda to the stage. The diminutive frontman proved to be charismatic and charming in the flesh - and he sure can sing up a storm. Tears were wept.
The glamorous afterparty was held at Sloane Square[d], a new club built into and beyond the old Headquarters space on Mission St. Our own basket of charm Pepi was rocking a new haircut, so he left his Newsies cap at home. "I now understand that I exist for you primarily as a plot device for your column," Pepi told us. Well, er, yes, as kind of a handsome plot device - but so much more!
The film fest’s presenting agency, the San Francisco Film Society, also announced this year’s Golden Gate Award Documentary Feature Winners, which include, winning for Documentary Feature, It’s the Earth Not the Moon, directed by Goncalo Tocha (Portugal), filmed on the Azores island of Corvo. Honorable Mention went to Meanwhile in Mamelodi by Benjamin Kahlmeyer (Germany/South Africa). The prize for Bay Area Documentary Feature went to The Waiting Room by Peter Nicks (USA), a day in the life of Oakland’s Highland Hospital. The New Directors Prize was awarded to Policeman by Nadav Lapid (Israel). Honorable Mention was garnered by OK, Enough, Goodbye by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia (Lebanon/UAE), a suitable wrap-up for this item.
Director Anne Renton’s new film The Perfect Family has already opened in Los Angeles and NYC last week, and opens in San Francisco on this Friday, May 11, at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. We think the film distributor’s synopsis sums it up. "Suburban supermom Eileen Cleary (Academy Award nominee Kathleen Turner) is the ultimate Catholic, and when she’s nominated for the coveted Catholic Woman of the Year Award at her local parish, it looks like she’s about to get the plaque to prove it. Only one final test remains, introducing her family to the church board for the seal of approval. Now she must face the truth about her nonconformist family - a truth she has been glossing over for years. With her gay daughter (Emily Deschanel) about to marry her life partner, her unhappily married son (Jason Ritter ) having an affair with the local manicurist, and her own marriage to a recovered alcoholic pulling at the seams, Eileen decides to take action, ramping up her meddling to hilarious new heights."
The casting seems well nigh perfect, and we’ll be interested to see if this works.
Up on the roof
Last week we also attended an opening party for the renovated City View event space high atop the Metreon mall overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens in beautiful downtown San Francisco. This once-beleaguered building has become newly lively again with new dining and retail space, a renovated AMC Theatres, and now City View on the penthouse floor. In late 2012, Target’s first San Francisco CityTarget is slated to open.
A lot about Metreon has changed over the years. Remember the Where the Wild Things Are attraction? Remember when the top floor was supposed to become a West Coast branch of Tavern on the Square? The renovated City View offers 20,000 square feet for special events indoors, 10,000 sq. ft. of outdoor terrace, 20-ft. floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views of the city. It can accommodate up to 2,000 guests. New features include a contemporary lobby, elevated DJ platforms, new flooring, adjustable "living wall" treatments, a coat check room, movable electric terrace heaters and new restrooms. It’s quite the party space. Bookings are being accepted for the next three years.
On the air & beyond
L.A. Theatre Works announced last week that it has recorded 8, a dramatization of the legal fight against California’s Proposition 8 written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, for release on audiobook and for broadcast on LATW’s nationally syndicated radio theater series. Directed by Rob Reiner and featuring an all-star cast that includes Kevin Bacon, George Clooney , Jamie Lee Curtis , Christine Lahti , Jane Lynch, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen and John C. Reilly , 8 will air on public radio stations across the U.S. during the week of June 9 (check local listings for times). The broadcast will also include conversations with Black, Reiner, Clooney and other members of the cast, as well as interviews with lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson, who led the charge against Prop 8.
Pepi wanted us to do an advance item about a film coming soon from his favorite filmmaker. The San Francisco premiere of Keyhole will open on Friday, May 25, at the Roxie Theater. From the press materials: "Turning away from ’cinematic rehab’ (his words), director Guy Maddin strikes out into pure narrative filmmaking with Keyhole, a rousing 1930s-style gangster picture set in a haunted house. A deadbeat dad returns home, but he doesn’t recognize his own son. He only knows he must make the trek through every doom-struck, ghost-ridden room in his house, to the marriage bedroom where his grieving, cancer-stricken wife waits - with her new lover! Starring Jason Patric , Isabella Rossellini , Udo Kier and Brooke Palsson. (Canada, 2012)"
Finally, actress Kim Novak, the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic San Francisco thriller Vertigo, will receive the San Francisco Cinematic Icon Award by Standing Ovations at a gala event on June 14 at the Old Mint in San Francisco. Standing Ovations is a benefit for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society , and will help support the SFMHS’ educational public programs, as well as its campaign for a new museum devoted to the history of San Francisco.
"San Francisco has always been my favorite city of all times," said Novak in a press statement. "I was privileged to feel a part of this magical place in two films: Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. What an honor it will be to receive this special award from San Francisco. It will be like coming home again!" But didn’t Thomas Wolfe say - oh, never mind!