Special Report By Monica Sullivan
The indie fest swings into San Francisco for its second year, with tickets for the nine-day event now available in the Bay area at TicketMaster & Rite Aid outlets. Ash, best known for making "Bang" in 1995 on a budget of $20,000, now explores the world of a 12-year old gunman in "Pups," playing at the Lumiere on Thursday the 13th at 9:35 pm. Cameron Van Hoy as Stevie needs an inhaler for his asthma, but the last thing he needs is his mother's gun. After a fitful suicide attempt, he finds the gun one morning, & with no particular plan in mind, he winds up trying to rob a bank. Mischa Barton as his girlfriend Rocky is along for the walk, since neither can really ride. Neither knows what they really want (pizza, sports on television, a helicopter, whatever), but Stevie has a gun, hostage negotiator Daniel Bender (Burt Reynolds) is on the job. "Pups" is evocative of "The Petrified Forest," but it's hard to watch a pint-size Duke Mantee terrorising a group of adult hostages. Filmed before the Columbine High School tragedy at Littleton, Colorado, the tiny gunman in "Pups" is shown as more frustrated & miserable than as evil or calculating. The disturbing element here is Stevie's & Rocky's inevitable lionization by the media. For the powerless children who are mesmerized by their video images, it doesn't matter if their actions are good or bad. The main thing is that their faces are on the tube, so Stevie & Rocky are heroes, right?
"Detention," playing at the Lumiere on Monday the 10th at 9:30 pm, is Andy Anderson's modest proposal for high school violence. Toss the little bastards in a hot-wired pen & force them to study. If they refuse, play Toni Basil's "Mickey" non-stop until they beg to do their school work. This is the idea dreamed up by substitute teacher Mr. Walmsley who's fed up with being jerked around by bullies with libidos, knives & lawyers. Although clearly meant as satire, "Detention" is infused with the very real rage of pawns trapped in a politically correct game in which their own peace & safety is always sacrificed.
After you see "The Insider," you may want to check out "Smoke & Mirrors: A History of Denial" on Tuesday the 11th at 7:15 pm. Torrie Rosenzweig shows how a century's worth of tobacco industry advertising has manipulated consumers into becoming a planet of smokers. Sobering clips include a dying Yul Brynner, urging viewers not to smoke, as well as many commercials with happy-faced & long-dead celebrities, encouraging you & me to die of lung cancer just like they did. For more information on the indie fest, contact sfindie.com.
© 1999 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 12/29/99
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