In recent weeks, smallish films deserving a second look have found a home in Huntington Beach. Actually, two homes if you count the Regency Charter Centre (formerly an Edwards), which has shown a penchant for holding on to some worthy flicks even as the huge summer blockbusters roll into town. For instance, though The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand are swallowing up seemingly every other screen in the county, when the titles change on Friday Charter Centre will still be holding onto the smallish, critically acclaimed Akeelah and the Bee and Thank You for Smoking. (Don't award them any prizes yet; the moviehouse is also holding on to gawdawful The Benchwarmers and Silent Hill.)
The more intriguing theater is Pierside Surf City--the former Mann's Pierside at PCH and Main Street. Through its presenter The Movie Experience, Pierside is setting aside screens for Summer Flashback Features. (If that sounds like the identical name of the series the Edwards/Regal chain and partner the Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) screen at Edwards South Coast Village in Santa Ana and Edwards Rancho Santa Margarita, that's because it is.) Tonight's Flashback at Pierside is Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
This Friday, Pierside is bringing back two indies that recently left the first-run circuit: Brick and--in a double feature with the Jennifer Aniston starrer Friends With Money--The Notorious Bettie Page. Brick, of course, has Orange County pedigree, being set in San Clemente and written and directed by Rian Johnson, who hails from that southest South County beach town. Here's what our film man Greg Stacy wrote about Johnson's "juvie noir":
Brick is a film so desperate to dazzle you with its ingenuity that you sit through the first half-hour or so feeling like you're watching a juggler as he strains to keep one chainsaw too many flying through the air. It's impressive but exhausting, and it takes a while for you to spot the intelligent and surprisingly affecting little movie under all that ostentatious cleverness.
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And how, Greg asks, is Brick clever? He counts the ways here. And he chats up Rian Johnson here. (In the interest of full disclosure, we must mention that our reviewer Ella Taylor was none to impressed with Bettie Page, as you'll discover here.) But Your Favorite Showtimer was impressed with Zen & Zero: An Austrian Surfextravaganza:
So wack you're unsure if it's all a put-on, Zen follows five Austrian guys as they fly into LA, buy used cars and make the long trek to Costa Rica, surfing along the way and, once they arrive at their destination, selling the vehicles to live off what they make so they can surf some more. The surf footage is fine enough, but this doc is really about the trip and characters met along the way, including a leather-faced gent who surfs by day and says the most profound things around the campfire at night. Now, it's just as possible this was shot in the mid-1970s (that's how the thing looks) and some jokester has recorded an updated tale in English over the original, mundane Austrian narration. What's Up, Tiger Lillehammer? Nope, wrong country.
The recent NBFF award-winner screens at Pierside at 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, June 8, with all sound effects, dialog and music performed in person by Austrian composer Herwig Maurer and his LA-based group New World Revolution. According to Maurer's bio, he provided "atmospheric sonic backgrounds" to The Passion of the Christ and is working with Mel Gibson again on Apocalypto. Maurer, who co-founded an alt.-electro act called Mankind Liberation Front, also cites musical work on K-Pax, Ghost Ship, Hate Crime and TV's C.S.I.
This multi-media extravaganza is brought to Pierside by HB-based Big Red Productions, which has continually brought surf film events to that same theater since those crazy Mann days.