On the Town The Little Tramp fingers the brim of his bowler, coyly cocks his head, and mouths a question. "So you can see?" the intertitle reads. Cut to the flower girl -- but before she can reply, a soft ding announces that the elevator has reached my floor. Welcome to Le Parker Meridien in midtown Manhattan, where a screen in the lift serves up vintage scenes and cartoons. I'm here for the DreamWorks junket for Woody Allen's charming but slight The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Much as I'd like to catch the end of City Lights, I've got people to see.
Round tables are a surreal staple of junkets: Each table of 10 "journalists" gets 20 minutes apiece with Dan Aykroyd (working both sides of his comic/dramatic persona), David Ogden Stiers, Elizabeth Berkley (a nice Jewish girl from suburban Detroit sporting a vanilla blazer, sans blouse), Helen Hunt (demonstrating that cordiality is truly skin deep), and the Woodman himself. "I would much rather be Eugene O'Neill or Tennessee Williams than a comic playwright, but that's not who I am," Allen says thoughtfully. "But I would love to try some more dramas before I'm finished working. Maybe over the years I've developed enough skill to do them better than I've done them in the past. I'm sure I would [draw on my own life] because it's the path of least resistance, and I always take that."
Whistling in the Dark Outfitted with an Indiana Jones hat and a flashlight, Doug Jones of the S.F. International Film Festival led an expedition into the bowels of the St. Francis Theater last week. The mission: Rescue some 40 Taiwanese films left behind after the Market Street cinema closed last November. A rep from the Taiwan Film Archive was on hand to claim the cans, which contained mostly exploitation titles from the '70s with irresistible appellations like The 10 Fingers of Death and Fist of the Unicorn. The TFA haul also included a sizable cache of Taiwanese movie posters, sufficient to allow Jones and a Pacific Film Archive emissary a reward for their trouble. In the St. Francis shadows Jones discovered lobby displays for Willard and Every Which Way But Loose, destined to occupy positions of honor in the SFIFF offices.
I Can Get It for You Wholesale Construction begins July 9 on the Little Roxie (that's the working title), the 49-seat screening room two doors down from the Roxie Cinema. An October ribbon-cutting is anticipated. ... S.F. filmmaker Gabe Weisert's searching-for-Bigfoot comedy Cow Monkey is one of four world premieres in the second edition of Digital Underground, the fest of digitally produced/digitally projected work set for July 26-29 at Zeum at Yerba Buena Center. Get the lowdown -- digitally -- at www.sfindie.com. ... Music is the theme of "Celluloid Sounds: The New Yorker goes to the Movies," the mag's second annual film series at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The fest opens Sept. 17 with Downtown 81, a disarmingly droll sashay through the artsy Manhattan music scene starring Jean-Michel Basquiat. Shot in 1980 but unfinished until recently, the flick also rocks the Red Vic Sept. 26-29. ... It's not too early to get excited over the top-rank revivals and restorations headed our way in the fall, including Melville's Bob Le Flambeur, Godard's Band of Outsiders, and Buñuel's That Obscure Object of Desire.