Whip It! Jucket!

Junket is my new word for the week. I had never even heard of the word (amazingly) until yesterday when I actually went to one in LA for the movie, Whip It! starring Ellen Page and directed by Drew Barrymore.

Yesterday’s junket for Whip It! was a larger-than-life event that took place in the LA Derby Dolls’ Doll Factory in Historic Phillipino Town.

The excitement started out with Har Mar Superstar, aka Sean Tillman, performing the national anthem. I really didn’t pay much attention at the time so I didn’t realize that he was one of the actors in the movie (playing the coach to Juliette Lewis’s team) and that he has a song on the soundtrack called “Never My Love”.

Then the LA Derby Dolls Tough Cookies took the track against the Varsity Brawlers in the most publicized, over-the-top production for a practice bout ever. It was a thrilling bout that included a leg whip by Crissy Crassy and Leguna Beyatch, and at least one skater, Jacq Pot, flying over the rail. They will be playing again this Saturday for their regular season. The Tough Cookies won over Varsity Brawlers, one hundred and something to something less than that. Tough Cookies are currently undefeated, as are The Swarm (San Diego team).

Singer and actor, Landon Pigg, who plays Ellen Page’s boyfriend in the movie, performed the song “Hightimes” from the movie during half time. Again, I really didn’t pay much attention here, I was taking a look at the production booth, watching the emails fly in with questions for Drew.

At the end of the bout, the cast of the movie and Shauna Cross (aka the real Maggie Mayhem), skater and author of the book “Derby Girl” of which the movie is based, came out into the middle of the track for a Q&A session moderated by Axils of Evil, a popular KPCC radio host.

Here is the best photo I could get of the Q&A session with my camera phone right before it ran out of batteries.

Director and actor, Drew Barrymore plus Eve, Alia Shawkat, Landon Pigg, Zoe Bell, Har Mar Superstar, Juliette Lewis, Shauna Cross, Ellen Page along with LA Derby Dolls’ Rachel Piplica (aka the real Iron Maivon) and Kristen Adolfi (aka Crissy Crash) all shared the mic for an inspirational Q&A session. My favorite moment was when Juliette Lewis shared that she really just wants to work on her form (getting low and her starts to be specific).

Over 2,000 people watched the event online at http://www.derbydolls.tv. You can watch the entire event (in two parts) on Justin.tv. Check out some photos from the event HERE.

I managed to walk away from the event with a a prize pack from Fox Searchlight that included promotional items including the soundtrack, the book (renamed to “Whip It!), pins, sweatbands, a cup and a t-shirt. Definitely a sweet package, but no celeb meetings. That’s fine, I would rather see them on the track.

I did find out that the reason that celebs don’t skate is that the insurance with the movie studios doesn’t allow or cover it. I guess Patricia Arquette tried to join LA Derby Dolls in the past.

The Whip It! soundtrack comes out today via Rhino Records and the movie also officially premieres today at the Grauman’s Historic Chinese Theatre.

Everyone’s a Critic

Last night Roger and I had the chance to watch Heckler, a sort of documentary on heckling. This is a subject that is close to my heart for many reasons: 1) I used to work in a comedy club, 2) I dislike heckling but I find the behavior interesting, and 3) I love studying human behavior and it is part of the reason I enjoy writing.

Moreover, the movie covered much more than just hecklers, it also delved into critics as a whole including but not limited to film critics and bloggers. Basically analyzing and slightly degrading individuals who have opinions and choose to broadcast them in one way or another. Interesting perspective, at times, that allowed me to be a bit introspective; hopefully without becoming hypocritical.

I have an opinion just as everyone else in this world. As a blogger and a writer, I chose to express my opinions through my website, tweets, verbally to friends, and in personal writings that may or may not become public one day. I am a critic. I view the world in a subjective manner. Rarely does any critic take an objective view.

I am not a heckler… the difference (which was surprisingly not discussed in the film) is in the means of the critique, not the motive. A heckler voices their opinions during the performance whether it be a stand-up performance, live TV show, theater, or sports, thereby interrupting or interfering with the performance at hand. The motive, which was covered in the film, can range from verbalizing personal opinion (“This sucks”) to attention seeking to the belief that they are actually helping the performance to downright hatred.

The heckler is usually drunk, but always acting inappropriately. The heckler in my mind is an uncontrolled critic who doesn’t know or doesn’t accept the role in which he or she is placed. The one on stage, with the mic, is the one with ultimate power. They are the ones getting paid; while the heckler usually paid to watch, yes, watch not participate. Those are the rules, written or not.

I also believe that it is up to the club/venue to help control this behavior, not the performer. However, the performer should have some capacity to stand up to the heckler, but ultimately the venue should be responsible for saying, “This is not acceptable.”

I truly enjoy my role as a critic, but I have also set some ground rules for myself:
1. I am not out to offend.
2. I attempt to look at the work, not the individual.
3. My opinion is my own.
4. I will never claim to represent others.

That being said, the movie, Heckler is worth a watch. A subplot of the film shows Jamie Kennedy as he takes on the world of hecklers and critics who have adverse opinions of his work. The interviews of stand ups, musicians, club owners, film creators and celebrities are provocative and fascinating. The live shots of performers on stage being heckled was stirring, particularly watching comic legend Bill Hicks oust a chatty woman from the club. Big fans of Lewis Black will appreciate his insight to critics and hecklers. Thank you Michael Addis at your attempt to show the world that heckling is not ok.

If you do watch this movie, you need to check out the deleted scenes, particularly the phone call to Bob Saget. I was dying… Great footage that didn’t make the film since it didn’t really fit, but hilarious none the less.

Double Feature: Man On Wire and Bottle Shock

Something I never do (until this past weekend)… go to a movie to see a movie (one movie) and end up staying for a second movie. I even went back out to the ticket counter and paid! I have no idea what got in to us. It at least saved us a trip back, as we knew that we wanted to see both movies.

Roger and I don’t really even go to see movies in the theatre, but the two movies that went to see were truly exceptions. And since we really don’t see many movies, I really haven’t reviewed any. So here is my stab at convincing you that you go to see these movies in the theatre and not just waiting around to rent them on Netflix…

By the way both of these movies are currently playing at Hillcrest Cinema, so do not delay… get out to see these before they have moved on. Oh and funny enough, they both take place in the mid-1970’s.

Man On Wire
Roger had heard about this one. Being from New York (and I guess actually living during the time period), Roger remembers as a child seeing photos of a man walking a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center. This man’s name is Philippe Petit.

From the day he heard about the twin towers being built, Philippe dreamed of stringing a tight rope between them. Part historical documentary and part criminal caper, Man On Wire bring to life Philippe’s love of his art, bringing out the beauty and precision of this death-defying and societal-defying adventure of a lifetime. Yeah, these are my words, not those of the PR staff. It is compelling and artistic and a “must see,” so go see it.

Bottle Shock
I had heard about this movie from a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in years. We keep in touch, he lives in LA, yet we seem to miss each other every time one of us is visiting the other city. Well, I got an email saying that he was in this movie coming out called Bottle Shock. I figured I had to see it… especially since last I had heard that he was doing kids television shows. I wonder whatever happened with that.

Anyhow, the story revolves around the famous wine tasting event, Judgement of Paris that put California on the map in the viticulture community. It stars Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman as well as other prominent actors and actresses. Moments of compassion and triumph as well as humor infused at appropriate moments (though Roger and I cracked up every time that we saw my friend, Hal B. Klein playing a very convincing stoner named Shenky). When I first saw the trailers, I thought it would be more like Sideways in it’s humor, building to the ridiculous. But since it is based on a true story, the plot is more defined, leaving not much room for insanity. I don’t feel like I have done this movie justice in my description… my best advice is go see it for yourself. If anything, the more people that go see this movie, the more likely it will have a wider release, meaning my friend will make more money 🙂