Out and about back in New York this week…It was hotter than heck here, summer continues unabated. Tuesday night in New York, numerous comedians jammed into the not-so-big DGA Theater on 57th St. for the premiere of “The Aristocrats” a new documentary that was funnier and more entertaining than expected (the South Park bit was one of the funniest things I have seen in a movie theater in a long time). The post-party at Caroline’s Comedy Club was quite fun and an easy-going atmosphere for mixing and mingling. Reviews of the film seems quite positive and from what I’ve heard in distribution circles today, the film is off to a great start on its opening night. Distributor ThinkFilm is no doubt thrilled to have a hit after the slow start it has seen with their release of “Murderball”.
[Pictured above, a quick shot of Rufus Wainwright in the lobby of the Chelsea West theater, before the security crackdown nearly got us kicked out. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE.]
Everywhere I go lately, industry-wise that is, people are buzzing about the “Murderball” grosses. The film debuted with weak numbers much to the surprise of numerous insiders. Outside a party this week, someone very close to the movie greeted me with, “Eugene, please tell people to go to (‘Murderball’).” While later a doc insider questioned the marketing strategy that pitched the film as a sports movie. Meanhwhile, another person involved expressed amazement at the film’s poor performance, but noted that the grosses seem to be stabilizing a bit. Here’s hoping that’s true, its a terrific film.
On Wednesday night, just as the intense heat and humidity was broken by a thunderstorm, guests arrived in Chelsea for the NY premiere of Jim Jarmusch‘s latest, “Broken Flowers”. Its worth noting right up front, this is one of my favorite movies of the year so far. Watching it a second time on premiere night, I think I enjoyed it even more: Bill Murray shines, but is almost outdone by a cast of terrific supporting performances.
Perhaps the surprise of the evening was the fact that at Focus Features, premieres are serious business, or at least they are to the security teams they hire. At no time in indieWIRE’s 9 years of attending and covering gala events have we encountered such confrontational security. Brian Brooks attempts to grab a few casual iPOP shots were thwarted by rude guards, and a fellow reporter faced equally bad treatment at the hands of red carpet security. At one point after I’d already entered the theater lobby, I was trying to make my way to greet Focus co-president James Schamus who was talking casually with someone, a guard stopped me and asked me where I was going and I told him that I was trying to talk with someone. He then saw Brian carrying a small camera and said, “Are you press?!” We acknowledged that we were from indieWIRE and he said, “Well, then you can’t be here.” I explained that we were both invited and showed him my ticket and he said, “Where is your press credential?” And I said, “What do you mean?” He concluded, “If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you need to leave.” Shocked, I was luckily able to grab the attention of a PR friend from Focus and we were allowed to proceed, but we wouldn’t be allowed to take any photos unless we went back outside. We polititely told our Focus friend no thanks and decided to simply go sit down. (A friendly tip for party planners, how about encouraging security to be polite to your guests, rather than have them create unnecessary conflicts that simply aggravate people who are supposed to be there to have a good time.)
For the post-screening party at The Maritime, name celebs were shuttled the few blocks to the venue in luxury Mercedes vehicles, but the weather had cooled significantly so the walk was quite enjoyable. Jarmusch, Murray, Jessica Lange, and others mingled casually at the comfortable after-party. Mixed rum drinks were quite a hit with the crowd, especially the mojitos. The only unfortunate casualty that I witnessed was one notable guest’s inability to nab an appetizer. A handsome waiter carrying a full tray of bite-sized nibbles was trying to make his way through the crowd and a filmmaker tried to grab a bite, seeing the arm heading his way the waiter pulled the tray back and said it was for someone else. He then took it a few steps and began feeding a group of what seemed to be his friends. A few minutes later, a different handsome waiter with another full tray took the same route, the award-winning director reached out to grab a bite, and was this time told the tray was “reserved.” (A friendly tip for party plannners, how about encouraging waiters to be a bit more gracious in the way they distribute food, if a tray of food is meant for special people fine, but you never know which of your notable guests just might be offended in the process.)
So, enough about that. Tonight, I had a chance to finally see one of the few unqualified hits of the summer, “The March of the Penguins”. What an amazing story, with incredible visuals and cute furry/feathery animals…marred by some occasionally super hokey narration. Still, its a winner of a film. Check it out.