Halfway to Hollywood


Another week, another film festival. Just a day after FilmFest KC packs up its prints, Halfway to Hollywood starts its own run through ten days’ worth of fringe fare. In the past, Halfway has complemented the drama-heavy FilmFest, emphasizing camp and amateurism over subtitles and cineaste-courting formality. This year’s Halfway program adds a couple of FilmFest-style squares to its hopscotch game, but even things that sound like concessions to arty dullness (Jeremy Irons in something called And Now … Ladies and Gentlemen? You got it) promise enough kink (Irons’ character is a disguise-wearing thief named Valentin Valentin) to make Halfway’s cracked sidewalk more attractive than FilmFest’s side of the street — and not just to the geeks who will mob Ray Harryhausen when the visiting stop-motion-animation pioneer attends a screening of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (one of four appearances he’ll make). Below are our day-by-day picks for Halfway to Hollywood, which plays through Sunday, September 21, at the Glenwood Arts Theatre (9575 Metcalf in Overland Park). Call 913-642-4404 for information. — Scott Wilson

Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary Pleasingly bizarre Canadian silent filmmaker Guy Maddin (Heart of the World, Archangel) was down in the filmmaking dumps a couple years back. To get out of his dry spell, he started accepting assignments. But once a filmmaker of cult status, always a filmmaker of cult status. Filming the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Dracula for Canadian TV totally absorbed Maddin.

“I ended up smothering my DNA all over the project,” he explained to New York Public Radio’s Leonard Lopate earlier this year. The film earned Maddin an International Emmy and has since been released theatrically. What’s the last time that happened to a filmed ballet? 7:30 p.m. Saturday (also 4:45 p.m. Sunday) — Gina Kaufmann

The Event Assisted suicide isn’t exactly something the major studios are itching to tackle, so leave it to the indies. Writer-director Thom Fitzgerald assigns Parker Posey the role of an investigator delving into one such act, that of a man with AIDS who lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. That he went out in a celebratory mood provides conflict for costars Olympia Dukakis Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter) as his mother and sister. 7:15 p.m. Saturday (also 7 p.m. Sunday) — Steve Walker

Shtickmen Eric Jewell and Jeff Hays’ film features one Jerry Martin, a small-time comic and defensive-driving instructor who creates a class in stand-up technique. Signing on are a potbellied grease monkey, a woman whose role models are DeGeneres and Poundstone, and a buff male stripper. It’s a dubiously successful homage to Christopher Guest, though its publicity materials accurately warn that “necrophilia and unrestrained hysteria aren’t all that funny.” 7:45 p.m. (also 5:15 p.m. Tuesday) — Walker

In the Mirror of Maya Deren The work of filmmaker and writer Maya Deren remains a staple of experimental-film classes. Documentarian Martina Kudlcek’s interviews with Deren’s surviving contemporaries and ex-husband aren’t framed with much narrative structure, and their commentary doesn’t illuminate Deren’s art. But Kudlcek convincingly romanticizes 1940s Greenwich Village, which here seems like the ultimate destination for a Russian-immigrant artist with a Socialist background, an Ed Wood-strength passion for inscrutable personal vision and a burgeoning obsession with the Haitian occult. 7:45 p.m. Tuesday (also 8 p.m. Wednesday) — Wilson

You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story It’s almost a disappointment when Gary Wilson shows up midway through this bleak documentary, which does for avant-garde garage bands what Roger and Me did for Flint, Michigan. There’s no Harry Lime moment of smirking confirmation when Wilson turns out to be alive; he’s walking his dog, empty plastic sack at the ready, gray hair in a limp ponytail. Wilson’s lone album, the 1977 artifact (reissued last year) that gives the movie its title, sounds like Frank Zappa parking the Cars. Wilson’s former collaborators, now in their forties and stuck in the burg they grew up in, praise their MIA friend and prove Wilson was ahead of his time; only now do they seem almost as creepy as Wilson did in the early-’70s footage included here. 5:15 p.m. Wednesday (also 9:20 p.m. Friday, September 19) — Wilson

Next Week
Charlie: The Art and Life of Charlie Chaplin A film critic for Time since 1972, Richard Schickel comes to Kansas City for Sunday’s screenings of his must-see Chaplin documentary, which delves into Chaplin’s Oliver Twist-like London boyhood, his silent-film success and America’s distaste for his far-left politics. (Critics of his 1940 Hitler spoof The Great Dictator bizarrely accused Chaplin of being “prematurely anti-fascist.”) 2 p.m. and 7:15 Sunday, September 21, at the Englewood Theatre (10917 Winner Road in Independence, 816-252-2463)— Kaufmann

Categories: Movies