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Previews and Features

29 Apr 2014
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Christopher Perry loves old silent movies—so much, in fact, that he has developed a new and intriguing way of presenting them. See for yourself at the Silent Movie Comedy Festival, taking place at the Rancho Mirage Library at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 30. The films that will be presented are pure comedy gold, featuring legends like Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Charley Chase and Snub Pollard. However, the special treat is not just watching the silent movies—but seeing and hearing the Photoplay Ensemble present an authentic score along with the movies. Yucca Valley musicians and film buffs Christopher Perry and Henry Lozano constitute the Photoplay Ensemble. Perry, aka “Doctor 3D,” has been fascinated by silent films since he sat in a silent-movie theatre in Hollywood as a third-grader in the 1960s. Fast-forward a couple of years later, when he was the proud owner of the legendary book Pictorial History of…
15 Jan 2014
It’s rare experience for an audience to spontaneously break into full-throated laughter or even applause in the middle of a movie—but such visceral reactions were frequent during the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Student Screening Day, on Monday, Jan. 13. More than 1,000 students from nine valley high schools were selected by teachers and administrators to fill the auditorium at the Palm Springs High School on the final day of this year’s film festival for screenings of Wadjda and The Crash Reel. They also participated in Q&A sessions after each showing. “It’s been a sensational day,” said PSIFF director Darryl Macdonald. “I’m willing to bet that for the vast majority of our audience today, this film (Wadjda) was the first subtitled film they’ve ever seen. … It teaches them how people of their generation live on a day-to-day basis in Saudi Arabia—and their response was just overwhelmingly wonderful.” For…
10 Jan 2014
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The late Gore Vidal was a lot of things—playwright, screenwriter, novelist, man of letters, historian and political commentator. Nicholas Wrathall’s documentary Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia gives a look at all those facets of the late author’s life in detail. All of three of the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s screenings of The United States of Amnesia sold out. During the Thursday, Jan. 9, screening at the Palm Canyon Theatre, there was not an empty seat in the house. After nine months on the film-festival circuit now, The United States of Amnesia deserves a wider release. Another publication’s review of the film stated that there were many surprises in the film; however, fans who have read both of Vidal’s autobiographies—–Palimpsest and Point to Point Navigation—won’t find many surprises. His feuds with William F. Buckley, his split with John F. Kennedy over foreign policy, and his arguments with Truman…
10 Jan 2014
It was Day 5 of the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and I wanted to talk to the leader of the festival’s critically important volunteer team. Of course, this was not the best time for Rochelle Koch to take a few moments to chat with a pesky reporter. To put it mildly, she was kind of busy. However, Koch, who is in her third year as the PSIFF volunteer coordinator, seemed happy to take some time to chat about her “wonderful team.” “It’s my volunteer family, is how I refer to it,” said Koch (pronounced “Cook”), who comes across as a focused bundle of energy. “‘Our Volunteers Are The BEST!’ is what I put on my business card and on my emails—and it’s the truth.” Festival director Darryl Macdonald was also happy to take a few moments out of his busiest week of the year to share his perspective.…

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