Posts Tagged ‘Around the Bay’

Alejandro Adams Film: Extras Needed

Steve Voldseth

Steve Voldseth

It was during Cinequest 18 that I first met Steve Voldseth. He was starring in the Alejandro Adams film, Around the Bay. I am so pleased to report that Steve and Alejandro are once again teaming up. And to top it off, extras are needed!!!

Date: Saturday, June 27th. Location: West San Jose. Time: 3:30 – 5:00 PM. All ages welcome.

Contact Alejandro – alejandroadams@gmail.com for the, location, wardrobe and scene details.

See Variety

Around the Bay, a film by Alejandro Adams

Viewed Saturday, June 12 at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, along with Passion Flower (review following).

Daisy rides the train with her brother Noah

Daisy rides the train with her brother Noah

If TS Eliot came back to life reincarnated as a filmmaker, he would be Alejandro Adams. This is what I wrote on my notepad halfway through this movie, and while I firmly believe this comparison, it also makes a review of his movies very difficult. How could you write a one page review of Eliot’s The Waste Land and make the average reader understand the greatness of the work? I missed this film when it played at Cinequest 2008, so I was very happy to have this second chance to see Adams’ first feature film.

Like The Waste Land, it is difficult to adequately review an Adams film without writing an entire 10 page essay. His films defy a one or two paragraph blurb; there is far too much going on, too much you have to figure out yourself. This is the beauty of his first two films; he will never tell you what is happening, and nothing will be explained to you. You are merely an observer in the film’s world and it is up to you to decide what the story is about. While this film had more of a beginning-middle-end configuration than did Canary, his second film, it is still just a section of time in the lives of these characters.

Around the Bay is a movie with four main characters: all four are protagonists of their own story, and antagonists in another. Such is real life. The four characters are all interrelated in some way: you have a father, a daughter and a son by two different ex-wives, and a girlfriend. The truth of this plot is that none of the four characters really know any of the others as they should, and they battle through the film trying, and failing, to understand each other. I could spend time explaining the intricacies of the plot, but the experience of watching the film is much more important than the details of the story.

Little snippets of scenes spliced here, there, and everywhere; some with jarring blackout cuts, some scenes and their dialogue simply overlapping each other. An unsettling puzzle of quiet scenes that ensure you will never know for sure what is coming next. Such a quiet movie with so little written dialogue, but it also contains so much noise; there is a constant stream of crickets or train noises drowning out everything else. Adams knows how to manipulate this minimalist use of sound to create a cacophony of unrest. If you took out all background sound and dialogue, and replaced it with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, you would still have the same experience watching this film.

Instead of written dialogue, many scenes are spent watching the characters sit silently; it is up to us to read their thoughts. This can frustrate the average moviegoer, but is also the beauty of Adams’ films; like a great poem, the viewer must interpret what is going on in the minds of the characters. This contributes to the feeling of being a voyeur into this world. At times the screen just goes silent – often when the character of the father is almost experiencing some emotion, as if he’s trying to use silence to drown it before it surfaces.

Will Alejandro ever get rich with his films? Probably not with this film, but I don’t think he cares. He is a true artist-slash-genius such as many literary authors who were never given the fame they deserved while alive. I predict his films will be taught in film school one day, but this does not mean the average viewer should forget his name. If you ever get your hands on a DVD of Around the Bay I suggest you set aside 96 minutes of quiet time to sit and observe the entire film in one viewing. When it is over you will be happy that you gave the film the attention it deserves.

I also saw the documentary film Passion Flower, by Jarrod Whaley.

Skip Cisto prepares the tattoo for Ann Law

Skip Cisto prepares the tattoo for Ann Law

This was a beautiful film about a woman with a double mastectomy who decides to get a passion flower tattooed around the area of her scars. The woman, Ann Law, is a dancer who has decided against being fitted with prostheses or submitting to reconstructive surgery. The entire film is set in the tattoo parlor, and Ann arrives with friends while chatting happily. Throughout the film she explains her story as tattoo artist Skip Cisto proceeds with the process. We see everything from the drawing being transferred to her skin, to the coloring in of the tattoo. Cisto treats Ann and her story with great respect, almost reverence, and appears to be aware of the part he is playing in this metamorphoses. Ann even chats happily about the rain outside. She says that the rain makes her glad she’s there in the parlor, that if it were sunny she would want to be playing outside. But of course the rain is also a symbol of rebirth, and it marks the transformation of Ann from cancer survivor to a work of art. When it is over she stands up and admires with the rest of us her perfectly smooth torso that is now a canvas for the passion flower. There is no cringing or wincing from anyone on film or in the audience as she displays her bare chest, just as there is no longer any sign of a scar. Her metamorphosis into a whole woman again is complete.

Bay Area filmmaker Alejandro Adams‘ first feature, Around the Bay, appeared on several critics’ top ten lists at the end of 2008. His second feature, Canary, prompted Dennis Harvey of Variety to hail him as “an arresting talent.” Babnik, a Russian-language sex-trafficking thriller, is currently in post-production. Amity and Child of God are currently being filmed.

Jarrod Whaley of Oak Street Films currently resides in Chattanooga but preparing for his move to the Bay Area this summer. He has also written and directed the upcoming dark comedy Hell is Other People.

My afternoon on the Amity film set (My house)

I met the very talented director Alejandro Adams and his brilliantly artistic wife Marya Murphy at Cinequest this year.  Their second film Canary had its premiere there and had a greatly divided audience reaction.  I was in the “I LOVE IT” camp and am still quite fascinated with its meaning and implications three months later.  Their first film, Around the Bay, was highly regarded at a previous Cinequest and by critics everywhere, and will be showing again at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on June 12.  I was not able to view it at Cinequest and am quite excited to see it in June.  Their third film Babnik is currently in post production.

Alejandro and Marya have kept in touch with me since the festival and I knew they were preparing to begin their fourth film, Amity.  So when Marya recently asked if they could use the front of my house to shoot some scenes I jumped at the chance.  I had no desire to be in the film myself, but I am a firm believer in Alejandro’s genius and was honored to be able to help.  I offered to supply refreshments while they were there and just planned to stay out of the way as much as possible.

Of course, the reality of having your house in a film shoot in June means that you should finally take down the Christmas lights that are still hanging, and wash off the fake window snow (oops).  Also make sure your lawn is mowed, flowers trimmed, driveway swept, porch washed and cars parked elsewhere.  In addition, the cast and crew need access to a bathroom, and don’t forget you volunteered to provide snacks.  It was a lot of hard, happy-to-help work getting the house prepared.

Actor Michael Uimari eyes craft services as Sam Lopez takes still shots

Actor Michael Uimari eyes craft services as Sam Lopez takes still shots

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