Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: TCM Classic Film Festival

It’s a Wrap

The TCM film festival is over. It was a blast. There was such a varied audience at the screenings — from twenty-something hipsters to senior citizens. Thank you Jane Devin for the intro to the cool people at GM.

By the last screening, I was feeling very sentimental. My father was a big movie buff, and I saw many of these films for the first time on our old RCA TV, sitting with my father in his bedroom. He would have loved to see these classics such as Casablanca and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on the big screen, in Hollywood. It was especially cool to see Tony Curtis, another favorite actor of my father’s, at a screening of Some Like it Hot.

My father always told me this story — which I only half believed — that he was stationed in Hawaii during the filming of “From Here to Eternity,” and was used as an extra in the famous fight scene between Maggio and Fatso (Frank Sinatra and Ernest Borgnine). Ernest Borgnine was at this festival, speaking about one of his other films. I tried really hard to meet him and tell him this story, but kept missing him by a few minutes.

There was one famous classic film actor who I avoided all weekend for the oddest “six degrees of Hollywood” reason. When I was in film school, I was making this twenty-minute student film, and cast this actress. By the second week, I wasn’t happy with her performance, so I hired a replacement. Believe me, it was excruciatingly difficult to do, one of the reasons I ran to “writing” and not “production” after graduation. The original actress was angry at me over my betrayal, and wrote me an email saying something like “You’re going to go far in Hollywood because you’re such an asshole.” Years passed. One day, I see a photo of this famous older actor who has appeared in 100 films with his new girlfriend, a much much younger woman — yes, her — the actress who thinks I am an asshole because I fired her from a student film. And there they were at the film festival together this weekend, still a couple — this famous actor and his long-time girlfriend who hates my guts. Do you think maybe she forgot about it by now? Do actresses every forget?

Anyway, for now —


— Hollywood has gotten back to business.


Across the street from the Hollywood Roosevelt, three working actors, Marilyn, Freddy Kruger, and Beetlegeuse discuss their latest screenplay at the Coffee Bean.

When I first stepped out of my house this morning, there was a new neighbor checking out my Buick Lacrosse in the drive-way.

“New car?” he asked.

“Kind of. I’m just testing it.” I answered.

I didn’t feel like it was necessary to go into all the details about my blog and the film festival. I was also trying to impress him.

“It looks like an upscale Lexus.”

I made note of his comment. I had never met this neighbor before, and for a second I wondered if Buick had paid an actor to come over, as a subtle hint that I should write more about the car on my blog.

The neighbor started asking me all these car-oriented questions. “What is the mph?” “How many cylinders?” Etc. I had absolutely no idea. I knew the car looked and felt good, and was impressed that the steering wheel could HEAT UP! Luckily, Sophia came out and DID know the answers, considering that she has a subscription to Car and Driver.

Afterwards, Sophia scolded me.

“Buick sponsored you to go to the festival. You should at least know SOMETHING about the car other than the fact that you can listen to Oprah on XM radio!”

She’s right. It’s time to start blogging with integrity. Today, I am going to be driving all around town so I can give you my honest opinion of the Buick Lacrosse. I have only owned Japanese cars since moving to Los Angeles. Will this car change my mind?

First up — I will play with all the cool buttons on the dashboard.

“Have you ever made out in the back of a car?” I asked Sophia.

“Yes.”

“Yes?! With who? You never told me that.”

“Haven’t you?”

“Uh, no.”

I still haven’t.

You ever notice in car commercials and advertisements the person driving his car is always completely alone on the road?

Isn’t reality more like this? —

Live from TCM Classic Film Festival!

I expected blogging to take me to new places, but filming a promotional video for Buick on Hollywood Boulevard is certainly a very weird and exciting surprise! It was a surreal experience There are so many classic Buicks in these films, and now I was driving around town in a cool new Buick being filmed myself.

Ryan Seacrest — watch out!

Saturday’s highlight was seeing a screening of “Singing in the Rain” at the Egyptian Theater. Sophia and I had the best seats in the VIP section. Before the screening, the director of the classic musical, Stanley Donen, stepped in front of the audience and was interviewed by TCM host Robert Osborne. Stanley Donen spoke about his experience working with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Conner, and Debbie Reynolds. He also told us how he was only nine years old when he first saw Fred Astaire in a movie, and how this inspired his career, and when he was twenty-five, he was already directing Fred Astaire in a film. After the fascinating conversaton, Stanley Donen sat in the audience to watch his own film — in the seats RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. Talk about a story to tell your grandchildren. I saw “Singin’ in the Rain,” one of the greatest movies ever, while sitting behind the director — Stanley “Freakin'” Donen!

TCM Classic Film Festival

After years in Los Angeles, I finally made it to the red carpet of a star-studded premiere. And ironically, it was blogging that brought me there. Danny and I are attending the TCM Classic Film Festival, thanks to the recommendation of blogging friend Jane Devin and the cool people at Buick. There are movies and lectures about classic movies from morning until night. Hey, Roger Ebert, is it humanly possible to see five movies in one day?I once made it through a special showing of the Star Wars Trilogy, but I had a headache for a week, and I was drugged up on coffee.

My first post about the event is going to be a little short, because I am rushing to the Chinese theater to see King Kong! Most of the films are at the classic Chinese and Egyptian theaters in Hollywood, so that makes it extra special.

Last night was a showing of “A Star is Born” with Judy Garland, a favorite of anyone who has tried to make it in Hollywood, or any gay male. I have seen the movie so many times, but never on the big screen. At the party after the movie, there was much conversation about Judy Garland and James Mason’s teeth because the big image allowed us to see how imperfect and coffee and cigarette-stained they were. Imagine, movie stars with REAL TEETH! Ah, now that is classic cinema!

I love “A Star is Born,” but this was a re-mastered version where they added material that was edited out after the premiere. Danny explained to me that the movie was not a total success at first, so the studio edited out some scenes to quicken the pace, against the wishes of George Cukor. George Cukor is a brilliant director, but I think the studio was right. Do you ever see the extended version of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” where Spielberg added in a sequence of Richard Dreyfuss walking into the spaceship and meeting the aliens. Sometimes, less is more. However, it was cool that they tried to be historically accurate and show the movie exactly as it was during premiere night.

Since I have a guest pass, I’m bringing Sophia to many of the films. It should be interesting to hear her reviews.

Today should be a wild day of screening. Here is my schedule of what I want to see:

King Kong
Sweet Smell of Success (with Tony Curtis in attendance)
The Producers (with Mel Brooks in attendance)
Imitation of Life (with Peter Bogdanovich, Juanita Moore, and Susan Kohner)
Casablanca
Midnight Cowboy
and The Day of the Triffids at midnight

Let’s see if I can keep my eyes open. (but free popcorn and soda!)

Since Buick is a sponsor of the event, they are also MY sponsor. For a week, I can drive around in a fancy, classy new Buick Lacrosse, a really cool car. Buick is smart. They are aware that some of us still think of a Buick as “Dad’s car,” rather than something cool, hip, and timeless — like Casablanca.

“So if they want to position themselves as cool and hip, why did they ask YOU to do this?” wondered Sophia.

Nothing could be farther than the truth about Buick being old-fashioned. This is one nice car, and even I’ll agree that I looked sexy driving it.

More later, including OFF-CENTERED photos of me ON THE RED CARPET.