The Nutty Professor
It's a scandal! It's a travesty! It's a mockery of a sham of a -- okay, it's an infinitesimal blip in the grand panorama of our miraculously rich and meaningful lives. What's the rumpus? Scotty has been barred from the UC Berkeley campus! The beloved balloon-shredding Scottish terrier who warms up the crowd before Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation will not be allowed to: a) fulfill his destiny; b) practice his art; and c) entertain drunk freshmen from Lodi when the bad-taste toons unspool April 6-9 at Wheeler Auditorium. Apparently, a strictly enforced edict from the UCB brain trust forbids canines on campus. (So much for one of the all-time great pickup aids on the quad.) Although Alan Dershowitz has declined the case, all is not lost: Scotty will imbed his incisors in blowup dolls and inflatable pool toys at S.F.'s Palace of Fine Arts, where the Sickfest screens weekends at midnight beginning April 28. Let freedom ring!
The Wrong Trousers
The Spike and Mike family show, meanwhile, features all of the Academy Award nominees for animated short, including a little gem from Canada called Bob's Birthday. This particular Oscar nomination marks the 60th such accolade (including nine winners) in 56 years for our northern neighbor's National Film Board. The institution has funded some 9,000 films in its lengthy history -- a remarkable testimonial to the value of public grants. By the way, Academy members must see all the short films (animation and live-action) or they can't vote; the screening for Bay Area Academy members is today, coincidentally ... Speaking of Oscar, one of our local candidates, Deborah Hoffmann's richly poignant Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, continues to pick up devotees everywhere it plays. The 44-minute film received a pair of honors at the Berlin Film Festival, and was selected for PBS' highly visible summer documentary series, P.O.V. Prior to its TV airing, however, the film returns to the Castro Theatre (where it debuted last July in the Jewish Film Festival) for a boisterous three-day run, May 17-19.
On the Town
Our source, who shall remain nameless but is much appreciated nevertheless, confided over hummus that Crumb is one of the three opening-night films at the San Francisco International Film Festival. A similar mix of genius and dysfunction will also be on display at the fest in I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, Don Was' sympathetic profile of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Other tidbits gleaned from reading between the lines of a press release: The presentation of the Kurosawa Lifetime Achievement Award to Stanley Donen (and the accompanying screenings of Singin' in the Rain, Funny Face, Indiscreet and Charade) will lend the festival a welcome patina of light romantic fun -- much as the Jacques Demy salute did in 1991. One of the highlights of the Les Blank tribute and retrospective will be Blank's rarely screened Burden of Dreams, which documents Werner Herzog's maniacal completion of Fitzcarraldo. And director Bertrand Tavernier will accept the Mel Novikoff Award on behalf of the Institut Lumiere; one can only hope that the most contemplative and consistent contemporary French filmmaker brings The Bait, his latest deeply satisfying film, on the plane.
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