Post-Tromatic Success Disorder—The 2nd annual TromaDance New Mexico film festival (Oct. 21-23) seemed to bring out the crowds with an impressive lineup of five feature films and 40-plus shorts, all produced through the blood, sweat and tears of local filmmakers. When the dust settled, the Audience Choice Awards ended up going to Scott Phillips' twisted superhero parody “Scream, Science Bastard, Scream” in the short category and to Richard Griffin's hillbilly monster movie Seepage in the feature category. The Burning Paradise Independent Spirit Award went to Heidi Griffin's documentary “The Subject to Change,” while the “El Quemado” Grand Prize went to Cyndi Trissel's horror parody “Phone Friends.” Congratulations to Burning Paradise, Troma Entertainment, the Guild Cinema and to all the filmmakers for their success.
I'm just guessing here, but I would assume that filmmaker Atom Egoyan is a bit of an anomaly in Canada. Egyptian-born, Armenian-blooded, but raised in the chilly wilds of Western Canada, Egoyan has, for decades, been one of the premier agent provocateurs of the indie film biz. From the voyeuristic edge of his early work (Family Viewing, Speaking Parts) to the kinky kick of his middle-period films (The Adjuster, Exotica) to the mathematically precise heartbreak of his masterpiece (The Sweet Hereafter), Egoyan has created a body of work that excites and intrigues as many as it it offends. Among the clean cities, polite citizenry and universal healthcare of Canada, Egoyan and his sexually explicit excoriations of modern media and popular culture must seem--I don't know--a bit out of place, eh?
It's sink or swim time for Disney. After enduring years of declining profits and management shake-ups—not to mention more stock market woes than Martha Stewart—the Mouse Corporation is releasing its first fully computer-generated feature cartoon made without the able assistance of Pixar. Having provided Disney with basically all of its unqualified successes in the last 10 years or so (Toy Story, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles), Pixar is now eager to dump the ungrateful Disney in favor of greener pastures and a bigger share of profits. Which leaves Disney in the unusual position of having to prove itself as an animation studio.
Comedy Central has finally found a perfect companion to its hit series “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” by commissioning a spin-off series for regular contributor Stephen Colbert. The show is styled after personality-driven talking-head TV commentators, pundits like Bill O'Reilly who don't report the news so much as parrot party-line opinions about the news so that like-minded individuals can feel good about themselves by agreeing wholeheartedly.
“Secrets of the International Spy Museum” (Travel Channel 7 p.m.) Heck, if any place has got secrets, it's the International Spy Museum.
“Smallville” (KWBQ-19 7 p.m.) Talk about whipping out your big-time star cameos just in time for Sweeps Month! Good ol' boy John Schneider (playing Superman's dad) is joined by former sidekick Tom Wopat. It's like a “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion. Where's Cooter when you need him?
“Real Time With Bill Maher” (HBO 12 a.m.) Boy, Bill Maher picked a poor time, politically speaking, to head out on hiatus. I mean, look at all the juicy jokes that the current administration is supplying comedians with. Still, Bill does get extra credit for assembling one of the oddest guest combinations ever for his season finale: shock filmmaker John Waters and the former president of Ireland.