NBFF: Whaddya Know?

John ratzenberger gets free luggage - Photo Hosted at BuzznetI do not understand you festival audiences.

You have standing before you John Ratzenberger, comedic genius from CHEERS and every Pixar feature ever. He’s improvising hilarious off-the-cuff remarks, and undoubtedly has great stories to tell. And what do you do? Ignore him, and ask the director the same stupid questions that get asked at every festival Q&A ever.

“What did you shoot it on?” “How long did it take?” “Was it close to the script or was there improvising?” “How long was post-production?” “How did you do the lighting?” “Are there any scenes you had to delete?”

All of these are things you can find out on imdb, so I’m convinced that the only reason so many people ask these is because they want to sound smart and film-savvy, maybe show off that they’ve learned something from watching DVD extras. In film school, the show-off kids used to do the same thing – phrase questions to the teacher in a way to demonstrate their own knowledge rather than actually gain some.

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Ratzenberger is the star of THE VILLAGE BARBERSHOP, the first barbershop movie in a while to deal with white people cutting hair. Based on the movies, it seems they aren’t as loud and amusing as black people in the same profession. The Ratz (as I’m gonna call him from now on purely because it’s quicker to type than “Ratzenberger”) busts out the occasional old-school laugh line, but we also get to see the pathos, the side of Cliff Clavin you knew was there but wouldn’t be funny enough to show on a sitcom. Here he’s an alcoholic widower in an old-time profession that’s becoming obsolete. The village in question is Reno, which gives writer-director Chris J. Ford an excuse to show some topless waitresses.

The Ratz’s world is rocked when a cute young white trash girl named Gloria (Shelly Cole, who looks like she could be the younger sister of NYT film critic Manohla Dargis) gets knocked up and kicked out by her idiotic trucker boyfriend, and answers the ad for an assistant barber. No, the two don’t fuck, thank Jesus, but they do teach each other valuable lessons. Still, as lame as that may sound, it works okay because it’s The Ratz, and he keeps it real. Also cool is that he hung out a long time at the after-party, enjoying the fountain of liquid chocolate.

I too enjoyed said party at the Aston Martin and Land Rover dealership, save for some annoyance at the end of the night when the valets couldn’t start my car and didn’t bother informing me. They asked me if there was a secret to it. My car is a secondhand ’95 stationwagon. No secret.

Oh, except this...turns out you have to put the clutch all the way in! Yeah, you see, back in the old days, we had what was called “manual transmission,” and if you haven’t heard of it, you should flunk the freaking job test to be a valet. Seriously.

And while they’re trying to figure out the mysteries of the clutch, this other valet asks me how’s it going. I tell him terrible, because they’re not starting my car, and I wish I could just have a shot at it myself. Does he offer? No. His response was, “yeah, I know what you mean, man.”

The guy who brought my car expected a tip after all that. Forget it. I tip well normally, but I’ve been getting ruthless lately about dissing people who mightily screw up the service. He also saw my electronic key fobs that get me into the OC Weekly office and asked if they were security codes for the car. Again, this is a secondhand ’95 stationwagon.

Opening day hiccups, maybe? I will say I heard the phrase “I don’t know” a whole lot today.

Are these computers the ones we can watch movies on? I don’t know. How do you plug in the headsets? I don’t know. Where’s the after-party? I don’t know. Who would know? I don’t know.

What’s the training like for staff? I don’t...ahh, forget it. Let’s talk about the HD projector that didn’t work.

That’ll be in my next post. Stay tuned.

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