Man Bites Dog
It's not uncommon for a distributor to pull a film in midrelease -- Miramax is legendary for jerking filmmakers, publicists, and critics around with its schizo marketing schemes -- but that's little consolation to the legions of Bay Area cultists and gorehounds who've been salivating for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 2. Originally set to open locally this Friday (Sept. 11) at the Four Star, writer/director Chuck Parello's sequel to John McNaughton's creepy classic was yanked three days before the press screening by Maljack Films (a division of MPI Home Video). "San Francisco was always kind of a maybe," Parello confided when Reel World tracked him down in New York. Henry 2 opened to positive reviews last month in New York, L.A., and Chicago, providing MPI with plenty of flattering blurbs for the video box. "They felt like they had what they needed," said Parello, a Chicago native who worked for McNaughton for several years and promoted the first Henry. But he's got no gripe with MPI: "So many people have movies in the can that will never go anywhere. To get any kind of release is pretty thrilling." The R-rated Henry 2 isn't as bloody as the original, but don't expect a family flick: "It's got a reputation to live up to," Parello declared.
After nearly 14 years at the Examiner, lead film critic Barbara Shulgasser -- the only female critic at either daily, incidentally -- left the paper Sept. 2 and moved to Santa Monica the next day to marry actor Norman Parker (Prince of the City) and pursue a career as a screenwriter. (Shulgasser, of course, wrote the script for Robert Altman's Pret-a-Porter.) Reel World tried to bait her into a going-away jab at the Chronicle's laughably dimwitted series on arts criticism, but Shulgasser took the high road. "Criticism can only be as good as the material that it's criticizing. As the quality of movies goes down, so does the quality of criticism. It seems like a waste of time for a thoughtful person to analyze garbage." Given the absence of intelligent female voices in the dailies' entertainment sections, Reel World will be the most surprised guy in the house if the Examiner doesn't hire a woman to fill the spot.
Heartiest congratulations to Marie-Pierre Macia -- one of the S.F. International Film Festival's quartet of stellar programmers -- who's landed the plum post as head of Directors Fortnight, the prestigious Cannes Film Festival sidebar spotlighting new talent. Come next May, it could be especially good news for a few Bay Area filmmakers. ... Battling divas: How in the world did the Chronicle omit Tallulah from its fall arts preview? The one-man show, performed by a certain Chron film critic, plays Sept. 24-26 at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint. And just in time, too, since Kathleen Turner begins work imminently for the London premiere of her salute to Ms. Bankhead. ... Critic B. Ruby Rich's personal history of the movies, Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (Duke University Press, $18.95) hits bookstores this month. No local readings (or signings) have been announced yet. ... Rob Nilsson's gritty Chalk opens Oct. 9 at the Lumiere. ... Our heartfelt best wishes go out to Robin Eickman, longtime director of the San Francisco Film & Video Arts Commission, who's been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The consummate pro, Robin has masterfully smoothed the way over the years for dozens of studio producers as well as local independents to shoot their movies in San Francisco.