Reel World

A lot of people have told writer/director Nick Katsapetses that his new comedy is too dark. But he seems enthusiastic anyway.

Crimes and MisdemeanorsNick Katsapetses (Get Over It, The Joys of Smoking) isn't one of those Wunderkind filmmakers who got a camera as soon as he was old enough to cry. "My parents sent me to hockey camp instead," the Boston émigré recalls, "where I learned what a bunch of misogynist bullies the majority of men are." It's all grist for the mill for the writer/director, who's gearing up to shoot his third ensemble feature, The End of Grace, this fall with a blend of 35mm and digital video. The film takes Katsapetses to a new level. "We always did our films paycheck to paycheck, and the actors would come back six months to a year down the road [to finish their work]. This is the first time we'll have an established start date and finish date," he says, acknowledging receipt of the Film Arts Grants Program's annual Robin Eickman Feature Film Award of 10 grand in cash and 40 grand in services.

The End of Grace is a darkly comic family saga in the vein of Happiness and Your Friends & Neighbors. "I can count on my hand six times over how many people have told me this film is too downbeat," sighs Katsapetses, who co-manages Gramophone Video on Polk. "But there's definitely a niche for this kind of comedy." A '94 grad of the S.F. Art Institute, Katsapetses freely admits he was a fish out of water there. "I'm an extreme film buff, so I went in with a full head of narrative. But it was the perfect school for me because you're not trained in narrative. I learned that applying experimental techniques to a narrative project gets you something unique." His previous films made the festival circuit, and this one seems destined to follow their precedent.

Raging BullBack in early May, the straight-talking Jon Favreau wowed a crowd of college students at an Embarcadero Center preview screening of his directorial debut, Made. Here's Favreau on sequels: "We didn't want to make Swingers 2: We're in our 30s, chasing women. That's just pathetic." Favreau on the "skill" of improvisation in movies: "A lot of times when you can't think of what to say, you use the word "fuck.'" On acting in his own scripts: "The last thing I want to do is come off cool in anything I'm writing. It's too easy. The most fun is when you can take the piss out of yourself." On Hollywood career strategy: "The only way I got people to read my script [for Swingers] was by making it into a movie." Too bad Favreau's a lot more likable than Made, which opens Friday.

Living in OblivionBet you didn't know that a modern-day, English-language remake of 1975's The Story of O is coming out this fall or that its witty L.A.-based writer and director, Phil Leirness, is in town this week with his cynical 1998 comedy, The Party Crashers. "Focusing in part on a gigolo who is clinging to his last vestiges of human decency only to sell that scrap of decency to the highest bidder, the film is a fairly honest depiction of living and loving in Los Angeles," Leirness muses. The Party Crashers marked the first starring role for Josh Randall of NBC's Ed, and its director of photography went on to shoot Requiem for a Dream and Josie and the Pussycats. The flick was originally scheduled for distribution last fall through Turbulent Arts, only to slip into limbo when the S.F. distributor imploded. The Party Crashers is currently at the Towne in San Jose and opens Friday at the Parkway in Oakland, where Leirness and actor Peter Murnik will hold forth at the 9:45 p.m. show.

 
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