"OPEN YOUR MIND, COMPANY GEEK, AND LET THE WORLD IN!" - Hollyshorts, Part 2

Ah, the '6os.  When simplistic lines like that actually seemed to mean something.  When there was a "them" and an "us," and you knew which side you were on.  But not anymore.   While there are great causes and great moral questions aplenty, the morality of any particular individual has never been more self-centered and pragmatic than it is  now.

"Never?" you may ask.  "Never?"  How can you quantify that?

Because cell phones in particular - and technology in general - has made information available to the individual in an  unprecendented way, that allows us to manipulate reality, and be manipulated by others, in ways that never existed before.  That is, the individual has never had more powerful means of communication at his or her control, especially in Western societies, where net neutrality exists, and the government doesn't control the flow of information.

At the same point, the individual has never been more disposable and replaceable than now, and this is certain to increase, as AI and robotic technology advances, and the individual worker in almost all fields becomes more obsolete.  This makes for a very interesting crossroads in world history, which the filmmakers of today are chronicling in ever-burgeoning numbers.

They have the tools.  They will not be stopped.  But who exactly is there to listen to all these trees falling in our cinematic forests?

Yours truly, the Twisted Hipster.

Here now are some of the best "fallen trees" from the recent Hollyshorts Festival.  These are the more obscure ones, with few celebrity connections to make them stand out - just talent.  I am bringing them to your attention in the hope that you will be able to track down the ones that appeal to you most and see for yourself.

DOCUMENTARIES

Wally Green, who produced/stars in "The Tables," abt ping-pong salvation

THE TABLES by Jon Bunning - This tells the true story of what happened when Wally Green (the "Tony Hawk of table tennis") paid to have two all-weather ping-pong tables installed in the middle of Bryant Park.  All of a sudden the drug addicts were pushed out, replaced by a (mostly-male) group of ping-pong fanatics, who have tournaments long into the night, even during snowstorms.  Wally Green himself, charismatic and gap-toothed, makes a brief appearance near the end of the film, but mostly he leaves it to others to express the ways in which this changed their lives for the better, giving hope to the homeless and others.  It's a fun and affecting peek into the lives of some hardcore New Yorkers.  Not my favorite documentary, but it was awarded Best Documentary at the Festival.

ONE WAY HOME by Qinzi Fan - This is an extraordinary documentary as well as an act of great bravery.  It depicts the education of Tibetan students by the Chinese government.  To quote the film's website: "What is the cost of free government-sponsored education?  Tibetan children Tashi and Tuju were chosen to study in Mainland China, chosen to study with thousands of Tibetan kids in the schools for only Tibetans.  These boarding schools prepare them to return to Tibet as China's new elite, but the "first-class education" comes with a deep loss of identity, language and culture."  I don't know how Qinzi Fan was ever able to get permission to tell this story, but if you want to see how "1984" really happens - how a government tries to wipe out a people's identity - then watch this film.

WOODY'S ORDER by Ann Talman -  This is the film version of Ann Talman's play about her brother Woody, who has cerebral palsy.  We finally see Ann perform her play for Woody, who doctors said would only live to be 12 but who is now almost 70.  The relationship between Ann and her brother is deeply-moving, and having these home movies of the two of them playing together as children is beautiful and heart-rending.  That said, I prefer the stage version, because Ann is such a great actress, and seeing her take on her brother's personality as well as her own creates something magical, of the imagination, that is somehow more enduring and deeper than than the thing itself.

REFUGEE by Joyce Chen and Emily Moore - This was my choice for best documentary, and a very good one it is - perhaps even a classic of its kind.  The filmmakers follow around Aicha Diop, a solitary but indomitable West African woman in her 60s, living in New York City, as she does battle with the forces of Immigration, struggling to bring her five children over to join her.  I can't imagine a more relevant story or one more filled with mind-blowing twists and turns.  The filmmakers frame it in such an intelligent way that. even while you're rooting for Aicha to succeed, as she cleans houses and does whatever it takes to re-unite her family, you are still allowed to ask the question: is it a good thing for the rest of us to have Aicha's children here?  Quality work by first-rate filmmakers.

NARRATIVE FILMS

THE HISTORY OF MAGIC: ENSUENO by Jose Luis Gonzalez - This was the only animated film I saw in the festival that stayed with me, both for its originality and authenticity.  The southwestern Chicano imagery has great flow and humor and a seemingly endless sense of inventiveness.  This ballad of a young girl's bike ride home gives us her hopes, fears and dreams in six minutes.  It's a small segment of a much larger tapestry - can't wait to see the rest!

FISHER COVE by Sean Skene - There's a mysterious force loose in Fisher's Cove that keeps tugging at the line of Sean Skene's fisherman and then disappearing.  The fisherman takes this personally, and he refuses to leave until he finds out who or what is behind this.  When he finally does, in a death-defying manner, I just wish that he'd had a more interesting interaction with what he finds.  Despite this, Skene's visual style is so memorable and compulsively watchable that his short film stays in the mind long after it's over.  Also, second most adorable dog in the festival.

NILES CANYON, directed by Sallyanne Massimini -This film is a little bit cheesy and a little bit over-familiar in subject matter, but it rises above others on the considerable talents of writer/actor David Paul Francis. Telling the story of a man's redemption by a mysterious woman found bleeding by the side of the road, Mr Francis also plays the main character.  Large in size, he also has an enormous emotional depth.  His speech to this woman about the darkness inside him and the regrets that have driven him to the brink of suicide pierced through the mass of words and imagery from this festival and found a permanent place in my heart.  Thank you, Mr Francis, you are a talent to be reckoned with.  Here's hoping you have many more opportunities to showcase your pain.

JUST GO! by Pavel Gumennikov -  This film won Best Romance at Hollyshorts, but it is less a film than an excuse for an extended chase scene; as such, though, it is pretty spectacular.  Just is a handsome, athletic 24 year old man who lost his legs in a childhood accident.  He is flirting with a pretty girl when two bearded thieves steal the girl's purse and make a quick getaway, not believing they have anything to fear from the disabled man who pursues them.  Oh, how wrong they are!  The film showcases both Just's physical dexterity and his ingenuity.  In a basic sense, this film harkens back to early filmmaking and the kind of simple storytelling that featured physical elements and chase sequences that could never be matched in effectiveness in any other art form.

LACRIMOSA by Tanja Mairitsch - This is a sublimely beautiful exercise in surreal filmmaking.  It centers on a young woman's dream world, where she encounters her lost lover.  He was a painter, and she is delighted to see the work he's done since his untimely death.  It's easy to take a film like this for granted as the kind of dazzling stylistic piece that one expects to find in such a festival.  But the way that Mairitsch keeps her imagery connected to her main character's dealing with the loss of her first love is anything but "typical."  And then there are those underwater sequences, so hauntingly lovely.  Again, filmic in a pure sense, what film was created to do.  Brava!

LIMBO by Konstantina Kotzamani - This 30 minute film won the top award in Hollyshorts as BEST SHORT FILM GRAND PRIZE, and it is truly remarkable.  But what is it about?  I still don't know.  On IMDB, it is described as: "The leopard shall lie down with the goat. The wolves shall live with the lambs.  And a young boy shall lead them."  All I can say for sure is that, while watching it, it seemed to communicate directly with my unconscious.  A profound if puzzling experience.

WOMAN WITH AN EDITING BENCH by Karen Pearlman - This is a very effective film and festival favorite about Elizaveta Svilova, the dedicated editor behind Dziga Vertov's revolutionary documentaries in Stalin's Russia, most notably his masterpiece, Man with a Movie Camera (No. 1 on the list of Best Documentaries of all time, according to 'Sight and Sound').  This film employs Svilova's own innovative editing techniques in telling the story of how she outwitted the Soviet censors and kept Vertov from being deported to a gulag.  In paying homage to Svilova, this film celebrates all those who dedicate their lives to giving form to creativity despite the dangers and hazards that may be involved.  A must-see for all film-lovers.

THE FARE by Santiago Paladines - This was the AFI thesis film for an Ecuadoran filmmaker with a very bright future.  He takes on the subject of human trafficking, and he does an excellent job of creating that world, in which Johnny Ortiz plays Javier, a trafficker-in-training.  His boss, Wellington,  puts Javier in charge of Cristina, an 11 year old middle-class girl, forcing him to rape her to show his allegiance.  Paladines demonstrates a sure hand throughout, and he gets a much better performance from Ortiz than John Ridley & compay did in American Crime.

 

IT'S JUST A GUN, written by Daniel Klein, directed by Brian Robau - This thesis film for Chapman University is notable for some jazzy camera movement and the dexterous use of cross-cutting to tell the heartfelt (if somewhat familiar) story of how the "good luck" of finding a discarded firearm can quickly turn fatal.  Director Robau and writer Klein have the good sense to frame this in an unexpected way, showing how the gun has the potential to save some young public school kids from being bullied by the older kids at their school.  I wish they'd found an equally inventive way to get the cops involved - right now it seems fairly lame. Nevertheless, lots to admire here.

THE SUITCASE by Abi Damaris Corbin -  This is a flawed but exciting 9/11 thriller by a USC student who graduated high school at 13 and got her B.A. by 17 (so maybe she isn't a student anymore).  It dramatizes the story of a corrupt baggage handler (Mojean Aria) who pilfers items from traveler's suitcases.  On 9/11, he happened to look inside one suitcase which contained items of no value for him, but whose significance he realized after the planes hit the World Trade Center.  He tries to alert his boss - who sees this only as an admission of the handler's thievery - and then the SWAT members who swarm the airport, but no one will listen.  The handler then goes on a frantic search for the luggage, at great risk to his own life.  All that is well done, and the film comes off interestingly as an indictment of the police/military mindset in much the same way that the first Diehard movie was. The problem is that we see the same dynamic played out again and again, and it strains credulity that the baggage handler keeps being able to gain access to restricted areas.  But this is still a nail-biting thrill ride by a director with skills and smarts beyond her years.  I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

WATU WOTE: ALL OF US, written by Julia Drache, directed by Katja Benrath; and LUNCH TIME by Alireza Ghasemi - Two festival favorites from abroad, both extraordinary films.  The first is drawn from a real-life 2015 event, when Al-Shababb terrorists attacked a bus, intent on killing all the non-Muslims.  The second is an Iranian film about a 15 year old girl who goes to the morgue to identify her dead mother's body, but the officials there won't let her see the body because of her age.  Both movies show the cruelty and the compassion that people are capable of.  Both leave us with a sense of the heroism that everyday people can demonstrate in terrible situations. Both should be seen by well-fed Westerners, who forget how many individual freedoms we take for granted.

CROWBAR SMILE by Jamie Mayer - This is a coming-of-age story about a young pool boy (Tristan Lake Leabu) who falls in love with the 30-something college professor whose pool he attends to.  It's an intelligent and well-directed example of the genre, and the Holly-shorts folks thought enough of it to put it on the Opening Night roster.  I'm not sure it's that good, but it has a sweet and believable twist when the boy and professor seem about to get it on, and the director really knows how to portray the awkwardness of adolescents waiting around for their lives to begin. But what's up with that title? Yikes!

EMERGENCY by Carey Williams -  This is a one joke comedy-thriller, but it's a very good joke.  A few members of a minority fraternity on an urban college campus come home to find a scantily-dressed white girl passed out on the floor of their front room, probably from a drug overdose.  They know that someone has to call 911, but who? Three of the students are dark-skinned, and the fourth is Mexican.  Each of them spins a horror story of what would happen if he were to make the call - all the imagined stories end with the caller either shot or locked up for what has happened to the girl.  They call around, trying to find some white friend who can come over and notify the authorities.  ("Hey, you know White Jason?  Have you seen him around campus lately?  Do you have his number?")  But all their calls to white friends go straight to voicemail.  Meanwhlle the girl starts choking on her own vomit, and somebody has to do something. Will they ever find a person light-skinned enough to call the cops?  The answer is both satisfyingly funny and sadly believable.  A trenchant piece of satire which has been made just realistically enough to keep it from getting smarmy or overly smug.  (It reminded me a lot of early Spike Lee, both in its POV and its style.)

BENNY GOT SHOT by Malcolm Washington - Another AFI Thesis Film and Festival darling - it won BEST DRAMA at Hollyshorts - it's another urban film exemplifying how black people fear that their lives may really not  matter, at least when it comes to the authorities.  Iantha Richardson plays Naomi, an autopsy assistant at the L.A. coroner's office, whose kid brother has gone missing on the same night that there's been a police shooting in the area where he had been headed.  Naomi calls around desperately, praying that the next body she sees on a slab isn't him.  Director Washington does a nice job of keeping it real, letting the tension rise of its own accord, forgoing musical underscoring or any other well-worn device to remind us of how much is at stake.

SWEET MADDIE STONE by Brady Hood - Maddie Stone is many things, but "sweet" is not one of them.  Street smart, tough as nails, hates to lose at any cost - now you're getting closer.  Maddie Stone's dad is a notorious criminal, and she's ruled the yard in her Glasgow school as a result.  But now her dad has been sent away to prison, and she has to instill fear on her own.  Jessica Barden plays her with a ferocity that doesn't obscure her extreme vulnerability - in fact, it emerges directly from it.  An older - and much taller - student (Barney Harris) senses her weakness and takes over as the school drug-pusher.  He offers to take her on as his assistant, but her sense of importance does not allow her to accept.  When she finally swallows her pride and agrees, he rejects her, laughing in her face.  Maddie's response to this gets her kicked out of school.  What will become of sweet Maddie Stone?  Her future may not look bright, but it will not be boring, that's for sure.  Brady Hood has created a resonant character, and I hope she re-appears in a feature-length film.

 

THE LANGUAGE OF BALL by Ramon Rodriguez and THE CAGE by Ricky Staub 

These two movies about basketball and teenage guys couldn't be more different, but both are spectacular in their own ways.   Both use almost no spoken words to convey their messages.  The Language of Ball  tells the story of a young man (Eshan Bay) who speaks no English and has just moved into an urban neighborhood, going to the local basketball court with his ball.  He is taken up by another young man at the court, who goes around with him to all the courts in the city, playing two-on-two competitions.  In the course of the day they bond and get to know each other through "the language of ball."  While in The Cage, the focus is one young black man in North Philadelphia who struggles to break free from "a cycle of betrayal, anger, violence and death."  The intensity of the images is raw and visceral, and the performances from William Lee and all the other amateur actors are remarkable.

FIVE MINUTES WITH MARY by Matt Beurois - This is one of those films that goes by so quickly, with such a deceptively simple concept, that it's easy to miss its brilliance and the way it captures a huge event in such an off-handed way.  The film begins with Daniel, a bearded young white guy - probably a student - hiking a solitary trail in Joshua Tree National Park.  His cell phone rings, and he sees that the caller is his friend Charlie, who Daniels knows is on vacation in Paris. Except it's not Charlie on the phone, it's Mary.  And Mary is at a rock concert in Paris where a horrific terrorist event is still going on.  All of a sudden we - along with Daniel - are plunged into the violence of the modern world.  It's something we can never get away from, no matter how safe and removed we may seem.

THE LIGHT IN THE AFTERNOON by David Steiner - I'm ending this reviewpalooza with a 15 minute French film that was screened by a screenwriters group called Stage 32 at Harmony Gold, where the closing awards festivities for Hollyshorts was held.  This is an intriguing and oddly romantic film about the life and death of a couple.  Narrated first by Shannon (Morwenna Spagnol), we are introduced by her to Aurelian (Writer/director David Steiner), a French intellectual who expresses only contempt for "the  mundanity" of daily life and for "the mediocrity" of other people.   Shannon is repelled by his attitude, saying that he can afford these elitist views because he doesn't have a job and doesn't worry about a money.  She does have a job, and she does worry about money, and she keeps urging him to try experiencing daily life and see how that made him feel.  He agrees to do so if she will be there with him.  After some hesitation she agrees - and then comes the twist that changes everything and leads to the second half of the film, narrated by Aurelian several years later.  The film has a beautiful arc, and it results in a sense of wisdom genuinely earned.  Like so many of the best short films discussed here, "short" does not mean "small."  Like any successful work of art, they open up vistas that allow us to see with greater clarity and a sense of wonder what has always been right in front of our eyes.

 


WHY HAROLD CLURMAN WOULD HAVE LOVED THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGE

I went to the Hollywood Fringe Post-Mortem two weeks ago at Sacred Fools. 10 people there. Including Ben Hill and Matt Quinn.

Remember the crowded parties? Lots of empty seats here.

The party was still going on for a few shows, but this felt more like a wake.  Which was cool.  As wakes go, this one was more productive than most, with some genuine introspection from Ben and Matt and Richard Lucas (from Bono and the Edge Waiting for Godomino's) and Steven Vlasak (from Nights at the Algonquin Round Table) and a few other hardy souls.  There were only 2 women present, and I think both of them were on the administrative side with Ben and Matt.  Why was that, I wonder?  If I was writing the scene, I would probably have had more women than men there, because I'd feel that women in general cared more and would have more passionate feelings about how the Fringe could be improved.  But no.  None showed up.  Just shows you that life is always surprising and most assumptions are wrong.

Ben Hill at the Post-Mortem

Way back in May, when Enci and I were gearing up to cover the Fringe, I was contacted by a freelance reporter who had somehow gotten hold of some angry words I had written about Fringe 2013 at its conclusion. Something to the effect that it was just a scam, the means for a few people in power to fill their pockets, at the expense of the artists.  I would say now that this can be true - and may be true for some of the participants - but in general my views have evolved.  I think that Ben Hill and Matt Flynn and most of the folks running venues involved in the Fringe work very hard and do try their best to make this a good experience for the participants.  But Fringe is, in fact, a game - a game that some play well, while others play poorly.  The game involves crafting an irreverent and/or clever entertainment that has a powerful but easily grasped message and that can be loaded in and loaded out of a theater space with speed and economy.  Those who understood how to play the game did well.  Those who didn't, didn't.  That simple.

Back when I was but a lad of 24, I had the great good fortune of studying with Harold Clurman at the Actors Studio in NYC.

Harold was the driving force behind the Group Theatre in the 1930s, which is still the most influential collective in shaping the American aesthetic, the homegrown American style of making theater, as opposed to the one we inherited from our British forbears.  Harold also wrote my favorite book about the American theater, The Fervent Years, which is his personal history of the Group.

Harold was always fond of saying that it took hundreds of theatrical misfires to make it possible for a great play to be born.  This is not to say that the shows in the Fringe were any more or less good than any of the productions at more established LA theaters - only that there were more of them, and that they were often different in kind.  So while there were productions like The Motherfucker with the Hat, which in fact had had a "regular" theatrical run, most of the Fringe plays were only an hour or less in running time and would likely never be seen again after the Fringe.  Or were so offbeat in their conception (something like Too Many Hitlers comes to mind) that it is hard to imagine any other forum in which they might be presented.

Which is just why Harold would have loved them.  It was precisely the enormous variety which the Fringe offered that represented for Harold what a healthy and vital American theater would look like.  And why I think it's a shame that so many theater professionals and artistic directors stayed away - and felt somehow proud of having done so, referring to the Fringe as a distraction and heaving a sigh of relief at its departure.

Well, folks, I caught a final wave of shows, and I do believe that they are  worth taking a look at.

HOT DATES by Shiragirl

So, from Harold Clurman to Shiragirl - a transition that Harold would defiinitely have loved, since he was  partial to blond young women and often had one on each arm.  And Shira Leigh is a very sexy and attractive performer, who basically does an emotional striptease for her audience, confiding her sexual journey from naive high school girl to sex with studley young guys to a passionate lesbian relationship to a traditional hetero marriage to ... uncertainty.  Looking for love and having a very hard time finding it.  But it didn't feel like Shira was really searching for love - rather, she was searching for the comforting embrace of fame, that warm Kardashian glow that would give her the security of being worshipped by multitudes.  This made the first part of her show seem very calculated and, well, manipulative.  It's evident that Shira is also very smart, and she understands that if adoration hasn't been achieved yet, the odds were no longer with her.  This lends the latter part of her show some poignancy, as she contemplates her current state of alone-ness. Hopefully she will transition into the more truthful and self-examining show that she appears to be capable of.  But then again, dancing to techno music is such a crowd-pleaser, maybe she won't.

THE PLEASURE PROJECT, Written and Performed by Ava Bogle

The plot of Ava Bogle's 45 minute show - and there is a plot of sorts - is that there are aliens among us, and their minds have been blown by the massively earth-shaking power and pleasure of the female orgasm.  They would gladly hang around our planet for all eternity experiencing this, except that the earth is due to explode on November 8th of this year, so they have to return to their own dull but secure planet.  We see Ava playing all of these aliens on tape as they meet one last time, then the video ends, and she comes out as each alien in turn to examine and dramatize their feelings about having to leave.  It's not really the most dynamic idea, and I can't say that my mind was ever blown by any ability she showed to morph into different characters.  No, what made her show memorable - and it is just that - is her capacity to beguile us with her innocence.  There is a purity to her odes to the vulva that is really quite wonderful to behold.  And, unlike Shiragirl, she never tries to bend us to her will, never demands our adoration, never seems to want anything from us except to convey her own love of and gratitude for the orgasm.  She's really like a cheerleader for sexual pleasure.  There's something so refreshing in that, so un-puritanical, that I can only admire the single-mindedness of her focus.  I am, again, old enough to remember flower children and Woodstock and all those emblems of innocence before they became so badly tarnished.  Ava Bogle somehow manages to channel these forces in the time machine of her artistry and touch on something child-like and wondrous in sexual feelings that is so difficult to express anymore.   Before such guilelessness, this critic can only lay down his pen and let it wash over him.

MEXISTANI! Growing up Mexican and Pakistani in America by Sofie Khan

At the opening of her excellent one woman show, Sofie Khan rightly calls herself the poster-person for Trump's anti-immigration policies.  Born to a Mexican mother and a Pakistani father, she grew up to discover that she was also bi-sexual.  All of this gives her a very unique and provocative angle of perception on the current immigration crisis, not just in this country but in the world.  Fortunately, she's also personable and relatable performer who brings us into her world with great ease and lets us experience both the small and the large miscarriages of justice that are visited on people everyday who have been categorized as "the other."  Her show is so effective because we identify so completely with Sofie and share her experiences of "other-ness" with the same outrage that she felt.  She's a great ambassador for Mexicans, for Muslims and for the LGBTQ community, and I imagine that she will be very busy in the immediate future giving versions of her show at schools and community centers, as well as at comedy shows.  I'm really glad to be introduced to her work, and I wish her all the luck in the world in bringing some sanity to what has become such an insane and regrettable situation in our society and beyond.

SO YOU WANT TO BE A VAMPIRE, Written by Marni L.B. Troop

Though this was my first encounter with it, I see that this show has been around Los Angeles for a while, having first been done at the Eclectic Theatre in North Hollywood in 2014 and reappearing around Halloween since then.  It tells the story of Brenda, a young Goth woman so bored by the predictability of life that she only wants one thing - to become a vampire.  She only has one close friend, another Goth girl who she's grown up with, and there's a potentially interesting story about their friendship being tested by their vampiring yearnings, but this play isn't interested in telling that story.  It has an interesting twist at the end which is genuinely twisted, but the journey getting there just feels like a gimmick, a sketch.  It doesn't really feel substantial enough to be a successful Halloween standard, but it could be.  I just don't think the playwright really wants to work that hard.

TOYS, created, written and performed by Christina Evans

Sex trafficking is a terrible crime.  Sex trafficking and all such exploitation of children everywhere should be wiped off the face of the earth.  I hope that, whatever differences of opinions we may have, we can all agree on that.  And the fact that most of us can and do also mutes the power of a show like Toys, which tries to shock us with the inhuman cruelty of such crimes.  If I was a child or perhaps even a teenager, I would be troubled by it.  But this is one case where I think film is much more effective in conveying how human beings can inflict this kind of atrocity on each other.  When you get the full impact of an image in the first 10 seconds, and then the piece goes on for another 17 minutes, I just don't think it effectively rouses us to action, which is what it clearly wants to do.

THE SECOND COMING OF KLAUS KINSKI by Andrew Perez

This is a very odd show.  It's odd in the way that shows are that become cult hits or attract a following, which this show very well may do.  Is it good?  I don't know.  Andrew Perez has certainly immersed himself in the consciousness and worldview of the 20th century actor Klaus Kinski, who achieved fame in the remarkable Werner Herzog films (now classics) Aquirre, Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo and Nosferatu, as well as in Herzog's documentary about him,  My Best Fiend.  Kinski has nothing nice to say about Herzog here, but then he eschews niceness and the niceties in general for exclamations of disgust with people and contempt for the human race.  Perez does a generally good job in maintaining an insane intensity far past the point where most others could.  The experience reminded me of Peter Handke's play Offending the Audience mixed with a reading of anything by the French novelist-philosopher Louis-Ferdinand Celine.  I kind of enjoyed it because it was so emphatically unpleasant and abusive, two things that Southern Californians avoid being in public at all costs.  I mean, you can die of niceness here.  Kinski's hideous behavior, his unrelenting horror at the misery of human existence, was kind of a tonic, shaking me out of my Jamba Juice haze, my Pinkberry daydreams and reminding me of how ugly so much of the world is.  If it comes around again, I recommend giving it a try, if only to experience something completely different.  But please, don't bring the kids.