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Mise En Scene June 10
The Singularity is Near is Getting Nearer
After many write-ups in Fortune, Playboy and Rolling Stone, starting in earnest around 2006, Dr. Ray Kurzweil became known as one of our most outspoken futurists. Within five years, claims Kurzweil, we will solve both global warming and dieting, probably our two most pressing problems, and not unrelated. Within 35 years, computers will equal us in intelligence and we will get to live with and thru them forever – perhaps not such a great thing.
All this is detailed in “The Singularity is Near” a new doc directed by Anthony Waller. Kurzweil is a co-director and writer as well as subject, along with a long list of notables, from Alan Dershowitz to Tony Robbins and other futurists like Alvin Toffler and or the “future worrier” Bill Joy (who fears those damn computers, once smart enough, will want to get rid of us).
Either way, the filmmakers are undoubtedly right that “the 21st Century will be an era in which the very nature of what it means to be human will be both enriched and challenged,” according to their site. We, who are beta-testing the future in Silicon Think Shops as well as passively around the Bay, would be well advised to take the “social and philosophical ramifications” and “the threats they pose” very seriously, along with Kurzweil’s “genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.”
Interviews are by Toshi Hoo, who also produced along with Kurzweil and Ehren Koepf, who tells me he is having a bit of struggle coaxing Kurzweil to a final cut, which will live forever in digital time – a singularity, as it were. Things are getting tight, since “The Singularity” is scheduled to premiere at the Breckenridge Festival of Film on June 12 and the World Technology Summit & Awards, at the Time & Life Building in NYC later that month, see
. Hopefully, they’ve locked picture but, if they’re like most of us, they will use every last second to tweak the mix.
Aside from the “Singularity’s” hair-raising finish, Koepf is starting to think about other projects. “I’m in the process of optioning a pysch-thriller, a one-location screenplay that takes places in a psychiatric ward,” he said. “I also have a top secret mini-series in development and another low budget pysch-thriller script that I am polishing for my own feature directorial debut.” Evidently, not that much recession in the pysch-thriller or futurist documentary neck of the woods! – D. Blair
Touching Home's Two Firsts
The Miller Brothers’ miraculous first feature, “Touching Home,” enjoyed its worldwide premier in San Rafael on April 29. It was also the debut release for CFI Releasing, the distribution arm of the California Film Institute (CFI), which mounts the Mill Valley Film Festival. Indeed, the theater was packed with cast, crew, and the public – celebrating both the film and the Miller brothers’ emergence as producing, acting, and directing talents.
The gala evening was hosted by CFI director Mark Fishkin, who interviewed the twins Noah and Logan Miller, and their co-star, Ed Harris, who has become a sort of surrogate father/mentor. In addition, Jeromy Zajonc, the film’s producer, Gordon Radley, executive producer and former Lucasfilm president, and “Touching Home” editor and Academy Award nominee Robert Dalva were in attendance.
“Touching Home” opened that night in Sacramento and San Francisco, and expanded throughout the Bay Area on May 7. It’s national roll-out includes Tampa, St. Louis, Phoenix, New York, and other cities. It has received strong reviews in the “New York Times,” the “New York Observer,” and HuffingPost.com. “Entertainment Weekly” called it 2010’s most heartfelt movie. – D. Schwartz
SF Black Film Festival
SF’s great black film festival was run by Ave Montague, until her untimely death last year. Now her son, Kali Ray, formerly of Atlanta, has come back to keep it going. The fest screens June 17 - 20 at the Sundance Kabuki.
One interesting film, “Mountains That Take Wing,” is about Angela Davis, a Bay Area treasure, who survived the Black Panther’s ’60s escapades to teach middle class white kids invaluable lessons in the ’80s and ’90s. The 97- min. doc, by C.A. Griffith and H.L.T. Quan, is about her and her friend, the 88-year-old scholar-activist Yuri Kochiyama. See
. – D. Blair
Pixar Premieres In Scotland
The premiere of “Toy Story 3,” Pixar’s next possible half-a-billion grosser (the 1995 “Toy Story” did 200 mill and 1999’s “TS II,” 250 mill) will have its international premiere on June 19 at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
The Disney/Pixar pic, directed by Lee Unkrich (“Finding Nemo,” 2003 Pixar’s biggest grosser, 864 mill), continues the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack, and adds newcomers Timothy Dalton and Michael Keaton.
Disney chairman Rich Ross recently spring cleaned the Mouse House. He introduced a new marketing head and strategy, and said they’re shooting for 14-16 movies per year. This includes a sequel for Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” and “Brave,” (a new title for the original fairy tale, “The Bear and the Bow”), both slated for 2012.
On top of that, Pixar is following through with previously announced plans to move from one film a year to two, bringing on line the new state-of-the-art Vancouver, Canada campus. Although there has been little news since 2009, one film next year may be their “1906,” a high action and romance story of the earthquake, that actually occurred here, and was originally penned by the hardest-working writer in Marin, James Dalessandro. It would be Pixar’s first live action, presumably to offset brand fatigue.
In point of fact, there’s no recession at Pixar. They’re completing a large building across the street from the Emeryville’s cute city hall and the local late-night eatery, Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe. Rudy’s certainly won’t go under now, no matter how vicious the recession on the streets, unless the Pixarians have some sort of deluxe in-campus cuisine and never-ever stray outside. – D. Blair
San Francisco-Connected Acting Couple Make Morning
Jeanne Tripplehorn, the actress known for “Big Love,” is associated with San Francisco through her brilliant sexy psychologist in “Basic Instinct,” and her husband Leland Orser. Most recently of “ER” fame, Orser was raised in SF, where he attended the Cathedral School for Boys, and they’re considering moving back.
Moreover, Orser just wrote his first script, “Morning,” which he initially concealed from Tripplehorn. They both produced and acted in it and it just premiered SF International. “Morning” concerns the horror of a couple loosing a child and a crippling grief period.
Tripplehorn jumped in when he finally showed it to her, saying (according to SF Gate, 4/24/10), “If this script was sent to me by my agent or manager, I would do anything to have this role.” The couple was also concerned about fallout on their son, only eight, so they worked from a separate office and hid some details.
Although they are well known Hollywood, the movie was not accepted by a studio and proved hard to make. With the recession, funding almost fell through, and the 21-day shoot was tight and tough. Fortunately, actors Laura Linney and Elliott Gould added important small roles, and composer Michael Brook (“Into the Wild”) an intriguing score, which injected powerful production values far beyond “Morning’s” under-$1 million budget.
“It was kind of a life-changing experience,” says first-time director Orser. “I went from the world of big studios and networks back to the very basics of what art and filmmaking and acting are all about.” He’s already writing his next, and hiding it from Tripplehorn. – D. Blair
Talking Film in Mendocino
Filmmaker Haskell Wexler will share his vision when picking up the 2010 Albert Maysles Doc Award at the Mendocino Film Festival, taking place June 4-6. Daniel Ellsberg will be there to talk about his “Most Dangerous Man in America,” and, on a lighter note, Wavy Gravy will probably goof about his doc “Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie.” See
– D. Blair
Posted on Jun 04, 2010 - 03:12 PM