July 23rd, 2006

Fun To Run A Newspaper

Comic-Con Report, volume 1

I got into the Comic-Con at about 11:30am to-day, and walked into hall H where, to my surprise, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were onstage, just starting to talk about their new "double feature" movie called Grindhouse. Tarantino wasn't listed in the programme for the panel, only for a signing to take place later. This was probably wise as the audience was much smaller than it would have been.

From the clips they showed us--yeesh, what a grand fucking movie Grindhouse is gonna be. A heavy bass soundtrack with an enormous, scab-red title preceded footage of Michael Beihn as a cop talking shit, of Rose McGowan pole dancing, some "babysitter twins" beating the shit out of a car with sledgehammers, Danny Trejo mounting a mini-gun on his motorcycle, and kung fu. The crowning image was Rose McGowan's amputated leg being replaced with a huge gun--like Rodriguez's Mariachi who, robbed of his ability to play guitar, makes of his guitar case a thing of violence, so the exotic dancer's leg becomes an instrument of carnage.

After the footage, dames from the movie joined the directors on the panel; Rose McGowan, Marley Shelton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Sydney Tamiia Potier, Rosario Dawson, and, the star of Tarantino's half of the double feature, playing herself, stuntwoman Zoe Bell.

A double feature it shall genuinely be, as Rodriguez and Tarantino are each filming full length movies, making for a roughly four hour experience. Tarantino's half has not yet been shot--all the clips were from Rodriguez's--but Quentin said that while Rodriguez's is a zombie film ("and so much more than that," McGowan was quick to interject), Quentin's is a slasher film with a villain played by Kurt Russell, with whom they had just made the deal last night.

So I'm pretty hyped to see Grindhouse now, a film I'd only barely heard of before this morning. But I had gone into hall H to see Kevin Smith, who was to be promoting Clerks 2--since it's been extremely hard to get into the rooms this year, I figured I'd beat the line by catching the preceding panel and just camping in the room all day.

But when Tarantino and Rodriguez were taking questions from the audience, one of the questioners, a meek-voiced bald man who turned out to be guy in charge of the Comic-Con, asked the Grindhouse panel to stay an extra thirty minutes because Kevin Smith was late ("Are you for real?" asked Rodriguez. "Yes--you can't buy these," said the administrator, holding up his black badge). Tarantino's not known for brief monologues and found no difficulty in filling another thirty minutes, chattering about his half of Grindhouse, called Deathproof, how he wants all the women from that movie in his next movie so that the trailers can say, "Those Deathproof girls are at it again!", and explaining to one beach-bum fellow that he didn't actually know Dick Dale when he decided to use his music for Pulp Fiction.

Finally, the Grindhouse panel had to leave, and the little Comic-Con administrator guy had time to fill because Kevin Smith was still stuck in traffic, twenty miles away. He said to the crowd, "Well, in room 20 upstairs, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, and Forrest J. Ackerman are conducting a panel. We can put up the video feed of that--" A few cheers came from the crowd. "--Or, Warner Brothers has provided us with footage from their upcoming movie, Beerfest." Lots of cheers, hoots, and applause came from the audience. "Well, okay," the little man said sadly, "I guess culture loses to-day."

Beerfest seems like a very dull movie.

Anyway, afterwards, the administrator returned and again asked if we'd like the feed from the Bradbury/Harryhausen/Ackerman panel upstairs, and this time a group of people somewhere in the middle of the hall cheered as hard as they could, and the feed was given.

Mostly Bradbury talked and took questions. He told stories about meeting Marlene Dietrich and W.C. Fields, about how he walked out of a talk show in England during the moon landing because the talk show host was more interested in hearing what Englebert Humperdink thought of the event. One questioner asked what it felt like to be in the creative process, and Bradbury replied, "It's like sex. So go home and write something." Everyone laughed and Ackerman said, "None of us can top that, so that concludes this panel . . ."

Afterwards, the room was without diversion again, so I took the opportunity to change the shoestring on my left shoe, which had broken earlier in the day. After a few minutes, Rosario Dawson came back on stage. Just visibly pregnant, the actress introduced herself as Kevin Smith and managed to blather fairly charmingly for a while, answering what questions she could about Clerks 2, plugging her own comic book, and even singing a song from Rent. One questioner suggested she call Smith on her cell phone. "We're not gonna have a Joel Siegel moment, here," she said, laughing. But, taking out her cell phone, she reached the man in his car, still miles away, who said to us, when the phone was put to the mic, "Hey everyone, it's Kevin; I was just talking to Joel Siegel."

He said he couldn't get to the Con because there were, "Too many fucking people walking around dressed like Robin."

I decided not to stay for the panels after that, because I was hungry and tired, and I've been going to a Mexican place called Pokez for lunch every day of the Con and they have wonderful tofu burritos. I'm kind of sorry I didn't stay for the Ghostrider/Spider-Man 3 presentation, which, according to this CHUD article, was pretty impressive.

Anyway, I was at the Con from 7am 'til 5pm on Thursday and Friday and I have lots more to tell, but now I must sleep, because I'm going again to-morrow . . .
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