Posts tagged ‘brenden theatres’

UNLV film school brats face off at annual CineVegas showcase

June 18th, 2008

UNLV showcase
Scenes from UNLV’s shorts: Clockwise, from top left: Are You Sleeping, Brother John, 48 Hours – The Mockumentary, Don’t Spill the Beans, Thin Walls.

It’s tough enough being a student at UNLV in general – looming budget cuts, bottom-ranked football team, questionably valued degrees – but for UNLV Department of Film majors, it’s perhaps even tougher. I mean, what famed director ever talks about their education at UNLV? USC, UCLA, The New School, sure — but Tumbleweed Tech? Not so much.

However, that’s not to say these kids don’t try. The highlight of their year for the film school, one must assume, is the UNLV Showcase at the CineVegas Film Festival, where the top shorts by UNLV’s film students get their time in the (potentially) international spotlight on a big screen at The Palms’ Brenden Theaters. Of course, there is typically barely any room for the outside world even to get a look at these mini-movies, as seats tend to be filled with hundreds of the filmmakers’ friends, family and crews.

But I digress. This year’s showcase seemed to offer less memorable offerings than the 2007 version, though the general production values seem overall better. Sitting through the two-hour cavalcade of amateur filmmaking was, at times, alternatively tedious, joyful, tear inducing boring and enjoyable. Though the student filmmakers should be applauded for their efforts no matter what, that doesn’t mean we’re going to go easy on ‘em all. Here’s the lowdown on the 15 shorts through which I endured last night: (more…)

‘Chelsea on the Rocks’ – best served stirred, not shaken

June 16th, 2008

Bijou Phillps and Abel Ferrara
Abel Ferrara directs Bijou Phillps as Nancy Spungen in a scene from Chelsea on the Rocks.

Day 4 of the 10th annual CineVegas Film Festival (day 2 for us here) saw the usual bizarre mix of filmmakers, press and tourists swarming the Palms on Sunday. I believe I’ve said it here (or somewhere before), but it’s a bit surreal for such a high-profile film festival to be held (mostly) at cinemas located not only within a casino property but abutting a food court, from which the red carpet is located no more than 10 feet. Hence you get a scene like the one yesterday afternoon, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson making a red carpet appearance as gawkers abandoned the snack bar and Panda Express counters to applaud or snap photos of the wrestler-cum-actor with their phones.

I was there not to match raised eyebrow with The Rock but to check out a screening of one of two Abel Ferrara entries in this year’s festival, Chelsea on the Rocks. It’s a documentary about New York’s famous (infamous?) Chelsea Hotel, temporary home to untold numbers of artists, actors, filmmakers, poets and even some plain ol’ ordinary folk over the many decades of its existence, which sees its future in question under new ownership and new management. The casual conversations between Ferrara and various past and present residents of the Chelsea — including Milos Forman, Ethan Hawke and Robert Crumb — would have made for an engaging movie on their own, as well as the atmospheric scenes of the lobby and neighboring businesses that evoke the collective vibe of the property.

But Ferrara intersperses the interviews with unnecessary recreations/imaginings of “famous” situations at the Chelsea, such as Nancy Spungen’s mysterious death and drug overdose-inducing partying by Janis Joplin. Those vignettes, combined with time-killing transitional elements, extend the film about 20 minutes longer than it needed to be, and take away from the colorful, intimate anecdotes that really should be the meat of the film. Overall, it’s an intriguing look at a New York institution, but it’s a bit dizzying with its distractions. The audience’s own ambiguity toward the film may have been evident in the stalled, subdued applause rendered Chelsea in comparison to the enthusiastic reception given to its preceding short, To Kill an American, an inspiring, three-minute short by actor-turned-director Matthew Modine.

Ferrara could not attend the screening, but here’s Chelsea on the Rocks producer Jen Gatien introducing the film:

VEGASinsight finally gears up for CineVegas X

June 14th, 2008

CineVegas X

Yes, I know CineVegas Film Festival started on Thursday, June 12. I know this because I was supposed to review the opening-night film, The Rocker, and attend the CineVegas 10th Anniversary bash the following night at Palms Place. But thanks to our prolonged spring here in Las Vegas this year (typically we’re already in the 100s by now), my season-changing cold came about a month late, which of course coincided with the start of CineVegas.

Well, I’m still not at 100 percent, but I did manage to get down to the CineVegas Headquarters inside The Palms this afternoon to pick up my press credentials and put in ticket requests for the rest of the week’s screenings (not all of them, mind you — just select films in which I had interest). I probably won’t get rolling on the action until tomorrow, but hang tight as I’ll be dropping in reports more often throughout the week including reviews, celeb spotting and other nonsense. Sadly, I won’t be reviewing Choke, the new film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, because I was informed today it’s sold out. Sigh … that’s what I get for being sick.

Either way, I won’t be wanting for comfort during my time at The Palms, as CineVegas has set up a pretty sweet lounge for its volunteers, staff and media members, complete with complimentary Red Bull, multiple TVs, comfy couches, sponsor magazines and a ping pong table:

CineVegas lounge

CineVegas X honors Huston, Caan

May 27th, 2008

Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle
Don, we can’t take our eyes off Rosario either.

Can you feel it in the air? No, we don’t mean the encroaching heat. We’re talking that rare, popcorn-smell-tainted buzz that comes to Las Vegas every June for the last 10 years: the CineVegas Film Festival.

Yes, kids, it’s the 10th edition already of the ever-growing film festival, which – much like all other major Vegas festivals and conferences – is really just an excuse to throw awesome parties for a week. But we digress; CineVegas – held this year from June 12 to 21 – affords locals one of the few opportunities to check out the latest in cutting-edge filmmaking from around the world and our own backyard.

Jackpot Premieres this time around include Big Heart City, Dark Streets and South of Heaven. There will be shorts programs featuring both Nevada filmmakers and UNLV auteurs. And one of the rare features of CineVegas, Le Próxima Ola — featuring groundbreaking Hispanic film making — returns once again. (more…)