Who Says You Need Money To Have A Good Night in LA?

Tuesday night.  Hollywood Boulevard.  AFI Fest 2009: while standing in the rush line to see Werner Herzog’s remake of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I half-jokingly propose to a German girl I barely know.  She laughs and says I should have asked two months ago.  The movie’s filled to capacity so we dash across Hollywood Boulevard, dodging behind an illuminated red carpet and lots of star-struck tourists to make the rush line for the latest Cormac McCarthy adaptation, The Road. Thanks to a friendly AFI attendant named Leonard—who thinks the German girl looks like Natalie Portman—we get into the movie last minute, just in time to catch a pre-film tribute and live interview with Viggo Mortensen, star of The Road.  Viggo chats it up, the German girl takes pictures, the director John Hillcoat introduces the film, it’s every bit as bleak and beautiful as the novel, the movie ends and we’re about to get up when we notice that a good portion of the cast and crew is sitting in the row directly behind us.  Oh, and did I mention this entire night was free?

In case you missed the first eight days of the alarmingly stacked 2009 AFI Fest—which included the premieres of such films as the final Heath Ledger vehicle, The Imagnarium of Dr. Parnassus, Wes Andersen’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, and Kirk Jones’ Everybody’s Fine—you’ve got one last day of free movies, courtesy of AFI.

This Saturday November 7th, at the Laemmle Theatre in Santa Monica, start off your morning with an 11:00am screening of A Town Called Panic, the absurdist, Belgian, stop-motion animation picture about the misadventures of Cowboy, Indian, and Horse.  Immediately following that, at 1:00pm, the Harvard University duo of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Lisa Barbash bring you their poetic, observational documentary about sheep-herders in Montanta, entitled Sweetgrass.  At 3:00pm: a tribute to veteran actor Christopher Plummer, along with a second chance to catch his incredible performance in Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station, a look at the dying days of novelist Leo Tolstoy, also starring James McAvoy, Paul Giammati, and Helen Mirren.  Finally, at 5:00 PM, the 2009 Fest comes to a close with the world premiere of After.Life, newby director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s creepy throwback to 1950s horror films, starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, and the ever-present Justin Long who’s sure to be in attendance.

Which reminds me: at the end of my AFI night on Tuesday, I ask the German girl if she had fun and this time she proposes…that we go again this weekend.

The 2009 AFI Fest ends on Saturday, November 7th at the Laemelle Theatre in Santa Monica.  For more information, please visit www.afifest.com or call 866-AFI-FEST.

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