You Only Live Once
The latest word from Quentin Tarantino's world headquarters is that the man of the moment has persuaded Miramax to grant him his very own distribution arm -- not unlike the vanity labels the big record companies created for their top-selling acts in the '70s. Q.T.'s first pick is Chungking Express, a wonderfully messy Hong Kong special by Wong Kar-Wai that screens Fri, March 3, in the S.F. International Asian American Film Festival. That lone show is a guaranteed sellout (a few advance tickets are still available at the Kabuki box office), and the Roxie grabbed the film for its upcoming calendar. Once Miramax entered the picture, however, the Roxie had to pull the engagement -- although the theater is still a prime candidate to get the film after everything shakes out. There are several Asian films that Tarantino wants to get his mitts on, says the Roxie's Elliot Lavine, but he's hoping Q.T. leverages his 15 minutes of power in another direction. "I'd like to see him go to the major studios and say, 'You've had such-and-such movie in your vault for 30 years, and you're doing nothing with it. I'll pay for a new print and get it into theaters.'" Are you listening, Quentin?
An Empty Bed
Meanwhile, William Friedkin rolled out the red carpet and Evian water for Lavine on the set of Jade last week. Three years ago, Lavine invited the out-of-favor Friedkin and his equally overlooked Sorcerer for a jam-packed one-day revival. The gracious director partook in a lengthy Q-and-A with the crowd. The story has a sequel: The Roxie booked a brand-new print of Cruising for a one-week run in May or June. Perhaps the first movie ever to spark picketing and a boycott by the gay community, Cruising is still controversial in some circles. But as critic Raymond Murray acknowledges in his gay film encyclopedia, Images in the Dark, "Today the film proves to be an entertaining and (for those born too late to enjoy the sexual excesses of pre-AIDS gay life) fascinating if ridiculous glimpse into gay life ... Having lost its power to offend, the film is now part of queer film history and a testament to how a frightened Hollywood treated a disenfranchised minority." The real mystery is why, 15 years later, gay murderers are such a popular subject for queer filmmakers. Local filmmaker Todd Verow is putting the finishing touches on his debut feature, Frisk, while the notorious Canadian director Bruce La Bruce (No Skin Off My Ass, Super 8 1/2) is in preproduction on Homicidal, based on his original script about a gay serial killer. What's up with this?
A Prize of Gold
Skol to Bay Area filmmakers warmed by Oscar's glow: Deborah Hoffmann's Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter and Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford's Freedom on My Mind vie for the feature documentary trophy while Hoffmann's partner Frances Reid and Dana Mosbacher were nominated for best short doc for Straight From the Heart ... The Pacific Film Archive, drawing terrific crowds for its "Cinema Suzuki" series, will reprise the best of Suzuki in June. The last double bill in the current series screens Fri, Feb. 24 ... A public memorial and tribute to Mark Finch, former director of the S.F. International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, will be held Sun, Feb. 26, 10 am, at the Castro Theatre.