Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not Quite Hollywood a.k.a. The Bill Murray Experience

Soooooooo in conjunction with the Fantastic Fest repertory series about Ozploitation, the festival screened the new documentary, “Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!,” from director Mark Hartley. Hartley was at both the “Dark Age” and “Razorback” screenings and projected an interesting awkwardness on stage with both Zack and Lars; I think perhaps this was due to his sense of humor being somewhat different than ours. Either way, he seemed like a very knowledgeable guy and pretty friendly.

The documentary covers the renaissance of Australian film-making that occurred in 70's and 80's that manifested itself as Genre and Exploitation films. Covering a wide number of films, mostly Sex-Comedies, Action, and Horror, the documentary does a wonderful job of functioning not just as a Greatest Hits compilation of Nudity and Violence, but also as a crash course in the unconventional, unsafe, renegade-style of film-making that transpired at the time. It's genuinely enjoyable to watch these guys reflect fondly on their days of amateurish, yet invigorating productions. Watching their faces light up as they relay their crazy stories from back then, I had to wonder if modern film-makers will ever experience this much fun on the set.

At this point in the review, I have to step back and make a confession: About 30 minutes into the movie, our waiter brought my girlfriend her food, but when she looked at it, she informed him that it wasn't what she ordered. He then apologized and said the kitchen was “really crazy right now because Bill Murray is in the lobby.” My girlfriend and I looked at it each other in disbelief.

As most of the Fantastic Fest attendees knew (hell, I knew and I wasn't an attendee), the closing night film was going to be “City of Ember,” and although rumor had it that some cast and crew were going to be there, no one seriously thought Bill Murray was going to show up. I mean, it's BILL MURRAY!!!!

At any rate, we quietly left the theater and went out into the lobby where Mr. Murray was standing, giving interviews in a sort of musical chairs fashion. Standing on the other side of the ropes, only 6 feet from him, I felt a warmth in my body; I don't know how to explain it. Something about seeing him in the flesh just made me so happy; perhaps it's all the nostalgia, I don't know. I snapped a bunch of photos of him being interviewed, while everyone in the lobby watched on in awe.

My girlfriend watched, paced, and somehow found time to take a smoke break!?! It was obvious that she was determined to meet him. A couple of months prior, she was in Chicago and went to a charity event where Bill Murray jumped out of a plane. She was determined to meet him then, but didn't even come close, and now she was just a mere 6 feet away.

I kept going back into the theater to check on our tab, and I would see glimpse of the film that looked absolutely great, but I would then remember that Bill Murray was outside and exit back into the lobby. After my final exit from the theater, Mr. Murray had finished the interviews and he was standing near the box office with security around him. He was looking at local publications, fliers, that sort of thing, and he asked an employee about, I believe, Austin City Limits, and after the employee answered his question, he asked Bill Murray if he could take a picture with him. After that, there seemed like there was a group of passive, quiet, vultures circling him in the lobby, all of them too afraid to be the first to speak to him. My girlfriend, brazen as ever, blurted out “I kiss your feet!! If you let me take a photo with you!?!” To which Mr. Murray, dryly responded, “Really? That seems a little excessive, and I don't really want to take my shoes off.” What resulted afterwards was this dimly lit, blurry photo of Heather, Bill Murray, & I.

I had always heard strange stories about people meeting Bill Murray, tales that verge on the edge of urban legends. I remember reading a story years ago about a guy who was waiting in a subway station, and suddenly Bill Murray showed up, gave the guy a noogie, and whispered in his ear: "No one will ever believe you." My friend Patricia once marveled me with a story about her Mom and her meeting Bill Murray on the beach in Florida. She was 7 or 8 years old and she saw a man walking along the beach that looked like "the ghostbuster." Her mother went over to the man with her and said, "My daughter thinks that you are man from the 'Ghostbusters,' is she right?" To which he replyed, "Yeah, I'm the ghostbuster," and looking down Patricia, he said, "don't worry, there's no ghosts on the beach." I've also always heard rumors that he was bit of a jerk in real life, much like you hear about every celebrity...maybe, who knows? I only met the guy for 30 seconds, but he nicer than he had to be to me.

As for “Not Quite Hollywood,” the whole thing wasn't a loss. For starters, the Alamo is bringing it back sometime in the Winter or Spring, and I will definitely be there in full force. Plus, as a result of the bits that I did see, I ordered some films online that night, “Dead-End Drive In,” “Road Games,” and “Patrick.”

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