Reel World

Animal House; I Can't Sleep

Animal House
Jane Tollini's bawdy San Francisco Zoo tours, as the cognoscenti know, have been a sold-out Valentine's Day tradition for 11 years now. "Basically, Jane has a stand-up comedy routine she does about animal sex," explains local filmmaker Dan Hubp on the phone from Manhattan, where his 70-minute portrait, Me, Jane, premiered last week at the New York International Independent Film Festival. A music video and television veteran, Hubp garnered some attention for his blackly comic short Y2K (watch it at www.ifilm.com), before turning his DV camera on Tollini. "I worked quickly," Hubp says. "I like to get in and get something done."

Me, Jane dispenses with the tired grammar school voice-over narration, slow pans of childhood photos, and wimpy music of traditional nonfiction films. "It's an MTV kind of piece -- quick-cut, soundbite-driven. I sent it to a couple of documentarians and they hated it," Hubp admits. One blunt filmmaker, in fact, told Hubp that Me, Jane wasn't a documentary since it lacked structure, theme, and dramatic tension. "I'm trying to decide what to call it," Hubp says. "It's its own animal in a way."

While Tollini's spiels on the birds and the bees have goosed zoo attendance -- and, incidentally, educated hordes of adults about animal rights and animal testing -- they've also sparked controversy. "There are new people at the zoo who would like to see the tour go away," Hubp reports. "They feel it's inappropriate for children." But if Me, Jane raises Tollini's profile (no S.F. screenings have been scheduled yet), the zoo may find it harder to silence her. "Jane's a personality who could do the Conan-Leno circuit, and she could easily become the Dr. Ruth of animal sex," Hubp says. See for yourself at www.me-jane.net.

I Can't Sleep
Ever since the S.F. International Film Festival wrapped in May, staff have been debating ways of making amends to its members for that aggravating ticket debacle (Reel World, June 28). An envelope with some nifty bennies will turn up in members' mailboxes in a few weeks. ... NBC has OK'd a miniseries about several San Francisco girlfriends (according to the Writers Guild bylaws, one must be named Jennifer) tracking a serial killer who preys on newlyweds. It's too early to say when First to Die (adapted from James Patterson's forthcoming novel) will shoot exteriors here for approximately 3 1/2 days, but one thing's for sure: The four-hour thriller is bound to dampen our hamlet's rep as a honeymooners' oasis when it airs in May 2001. ... Takeshi Kitano's Kikujiro bounced from the Clay to the Embarcadero to the Opera Plaza and out in successive weeks. Don't wrack your brain for a deeper meaning. ... Industrial Light & Magic is working on a spate of artistic and cultural milestones -- uh, I mean, special effects breakthroughs -- for your inner adolescent, namely the Mummy, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars sequels, and Jerry Bruckheimer's bombathon, Pearl Harbor. Oh yeah, Steven Spielberg's A.I., too. ... Speaking of youthful enthusiasm, happy 20th birthday to the Red Vic Movie House. May you never grow up.

Michael Fox is host ofIndependent View, which airs Fridays at 10:30 p.m., Saturdays around midnight, and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on KQED (Channel 9).

 
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