2006, The Remix

Susan Gerhard December 27, 2006

SF360.org ended the year the same way we started it: Asking enormous favors from some of our favorite filmmakers. Three of those, Caveh Zahedi, Sam Green, and Danny Plotnick — who were all early and eager contributors to the Found section of SF360.org — opened this thread by answering a not-so-simple question: “What was the strangest or most amazing thing that happened to you this year via film?” We expanded the thread to include many other contributors to SF360.org not already occupied waiting in lines in airports, as well as other members of the Bay Area film community who wanted to offer their thoughts or top 10s for the films of ’06, as well as their hopes for the coming film year. What follows is a series of observations, appreciations, and complaints on film to keep you occupied through the holidays, until SF360.org resumes a more regular publishing schedule on the first Tuesday of 2007. Cheers.

Danny Plotnick
filmmaker, exhibitor, teacher, and host of the art & culture podcast Nest of Vipers available in February 2007

The most hotly anticipated movie in my world in 2006 was “A Scanner Darkly.” Philip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors and Richard Linklater is one of my favorite directors. This was a can’t-miss proposition and an opportunity to do Dick justice on the big screen. I loved the film, though to be fair, I’m not sure how much resonance it’s had as the year has progressed. At the time I liked it enough to drag 30 high school students to see it as part of a film field trip. Our destination: The Arclight Cinema in Los Angeles.

Now let me say, if you’ve never driven around LA in a chartered tour bus, you should consider yourself lucky. Breakdowns, psychotic drivers, and drivers with no directions and no general knowledge of the LA street scene seem to be endemic in the trade. On this night, the driver seemed nice at first, but as we approached our destination, she began to freak out about where to park the bus. Problems arose when she asked me where to park. What the hell do I know about parking a 100-foot-long bus in a city that is not my hometown? When I suggested that she let us out in front of the theater and figure it out herself she became mildly enraged and refused to let us out until she could secure parking. We began passing numerous parking lots. When I suggested she park the bus in one of these she refused, insistent that she could find a better deal elsewhere. Twenty minutes later and after a quick fight with a parking lot attendant we disembarked.

At the theater confusion reigned. The movie was R-rated and one of the cashiers blanched at letting a bunch of underage kids into the movies. We squared things away, but were then confronted with the concept of having to choose assigned seats at a movie theater. In theory I have no problems with such seating arrangements. However, when you’re with a group of 30 people spread out over five cashier lines, things start to get ugly.

On the way home the driver was coming unhinged. She started berating my students for swearing. All the while she was leaning out the bus window screaming, albeit not swearing, at transgressive motorists. Sheesh.

As a bonus, one of my students from Amador County managed to leave his wallet at the theater. I was willing to drive back into LA from Santa Clarita to pick it up. He was certain I didn’t need a note assigning me permission to pick up his wallet. I should be smarter than to trust a 15 year old, but I’m a fool for the innocence of youth. I returned to LA and of course the theater was not willing to let me pick up the wallet without a consent form. Ultimately I managed to talk my way into possession of the wallet. The paltry contents of the wallet may have helped bring a quick resolve to the situation. I mean, how long is it worth haggling over a library card, a laundry card, a frozen yogurt punch card and no money?

So was it a good movie? Did the kids like it? Who the hell knows. But what I do know is that if you queue it up on Netflix and watch from the safety of your own home, you won’t have as much fun as I did.

Rod Armstrong
Programmer, SF International Film Festival

I’m picking films that have shown (or press-screened) in San Francisco in 2006. Some great ones to come in 2007, that