I and some other critics are on a panel discussing 3-D this morning, to be streamed live on IFC.com. The IFC Crossroads House has taken over a vacant office building on a corner downtown. I show up in time to wander around the lounge for badgeholders. In a dim alcove near the breakfast buffet is a Sega gaming station, where a few people are playing Sonic the Hedgehog or whatever by themselves. At another table, badgeholders are eating breakfast burritos and playing Connect Four.
I am led to the green room, which is curtained off from the rest of the floor but has the same drop ceilings and elementary school carpet. There’s beer in the fridge and several Gibson guitars on stands along the back wall, at which point I remember that most of the live webcasts IFC is doing here do not involve film critics. Matt Singer picks up an acoustic and suggests we each take one to strum on during the panel.
The studio is glassed off, fishbowlishly, from the rest of the House. The technical staff—producers, camera-people, the guy who clips on my microphone—outnumber the full and part-time editorial staff of The L; the other panelists, who have done this before, say funny things during their mic checks.
I stammer through the two or three talking points I’ve prepared, and mostly stay quiet when the conversation diverts away from them, which is fine, as Aaron Hillis has opinions and Rocchi has rehearsed wisecracks and anecdotes. I talk extemporaneously about John Ford and sound like I have any idea what I'm saying, which makes every penny my parents spent on an NYU undergraduate degree worth it. Afterwards, we pose for this picture.
I was hoping the rain would drive people out of the line for Aaron Katz's Cold Weather, but it doesn’t look like I’m getting in. I meet Gabriele Caroti, the critic and publicity guy for BAM’s film programming, who tells me that BAM is screening the film in June. I tell him I’ll just ask him for a screener in a few months, and head to the Hilton. There are panels called “Accountability’s Hot, Anonymity’s Not,” and “How to Save Journalism,” but instead I watch Skeletons, a British movie about a short guy-tall guy team who go to people’s homes and extract their buried secrets and memories. The existential metaphor made flesh, and personal warrens of memory, are pretty clearly Charlie Kaufman-esque, but the widescreen framing is deadpan-balanced and the quirks have genuine regional flavor. It’s the movie you were expecting Cold Souls to be before you actually saw Cold Souls.