Almost Famous

My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Entertainment Journalist

By Kimberlye Gold

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This issue:

The 30th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival, October 4-14!!

Greetings Heraldonians and welcome to my SEVENTH, yes, SEVENTH go-round at the Mill Valley Film Festival, now 30 years old, same as yours truly, give or take a few (shut up, naysayers, I am forever young in your hearts and mine). Once again, I got to hob nob with the masses, the stars and the up & comers, both on and behind the scenes, to see and be seen by the haves, have-nots and everyone else in between. Kudos as always to Mark Fishkin, executive director and founder of the MVFF, Zoe Elton, director of programming, Pam Hamilton of Hamilton Ink PR, Goddess of Publicity and their wonderful staff members for all your hard work. This year I did not get to remove my journalism hat to perform at the Outdoor Garden Club – I did, however, get to sit in and channel Janis Joplin one night with the wonderful jazz band Namely Us, featuring Kurt Huget and go toe to toe so to speak with guest singer Ben Fong-Torres.  And now, without further ado, let’s go on with the showwwwwww…..

This year I did not attend as many events and films as in years past, so this is brief overview of what I did experience. At the press conference, I saw Tamara Jenkins’ film The Savages, starring the always stellar Laura Linney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Phillip Bosco. The story about siblings who must care for their ailing father by putting him in a nursing home was a bit too close to home for yours truly, although my 83 year-old mother is still an Energizer Bunny on a walker, driving my own brother and me just as nuts as the father in this well done film.

Opening night we saw Ang Lee’s NC-17 rated film Lust, Caution, in subtitles with lots of sado-masochistic, graphic, yet beautifully shot sex scenes in between the drawn out espionage plot. A bit long but well done. The gala afterwards was held in one big tent in Mill Valley’s Lyton Plaza and was pretty uneventful. We missed Laura Linney, Ang Lee and the band and ate what was left of the appetizers that were served.

Sunday I saw Todd Haynes’ film I’m Not There, a sort-of tribute to Bob Dylan, featuring six actors portraying veiled versions of him, including some young African American kid, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere and an androgynous Cate Blanchet (!) in separate vignettes. I found the whole thing to be a confusing, convoluted mess that made no sense. Die-hard Dylan fans may have felt otherwise. I was not able to get into the musical tribute at 142 Throckmorton, hosted by Ben Fong-Torres, but I heard it was cool and Chris Issak jumped on stage at the end. 

Tuesday we saw Ben Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone starring his baby bro Casey. Tall and handsome Ben was late, due to a wanna-be jumper off the Golden Gate Bridge! When he and actress Amy Ryan finally arrived, he told us what an honor it was to be there and the film began. A taut suspense thriller about an abducted child with many plot twists and turns, Casey, Morgan Freeman and cast were in fine form. I ran into my San Francisco Chronicle pal Mick LaSalle and we had a lovely little chat about how much he despises George Bush. The film was a taut and well-constructed character study and crime drama that raised as many questions as it finally answered with several plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. At the Q&A after, Ben discussed how much he loved shooting in his native Boston and how he used many of the locals there to give the film its gritty authenticity.

Thursday we saw The Man In The Chair, written and directed by Michael Schroder and starring the wonderful Christopher Plummer. Both Mr. Plummer and young newcomer Michael Angarano gave nuanced performances, depicting how the elderly and the young can form a deep and sustainable bond through insurmountable odds if given the chance. At the Q&A, a passionate Schroder expressed his love for film as an art form and how so much of what is out there now ignores that opportunity.

Saturday, we attended a tribute to one of my favorite actresses, Jennifer Jason Leigh, interviewed by Ben Fong-Torres. Ms. Leigh looked stunning in a black dress with her now long blond hair, and was accompanied by her director/screenwriter hubby Noah Baumbach. After viewing clips from her long career of fine films, BFT and she conversed about her breakthrough role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, her psychotic roommate from hell role in Single White Female, her struggling cop in Rush, her producing, directing and co-writing hats in The Anniversary Party and so many others, all the way to the film we saw that night Margot At The Wedding, written and directed by her other half. Leigh said she has always been drawn to roles that are complicated, mysterious and fun to act, and that she is not a “careerist” type actress who will just accept any part. Unfortunately, I found her latest film lacking in a clear story line or character development, although it was fun to watch Jack Black and Nicole Kidman interact with the always watchable Leigh. Leigh was still in excellent form, even if the film left something to be desired. I was not able to speak directly to this J-Lo at the reception at the Outdoor Garden Club, but I did manage to congratulate her husband on the fine placement of music in the film and offer him my now annual CD Sycamore Street which he graciously accepted. Kurt Huget’s fine band Namely Us allowed BFT and I the opportunity to sit in, as afore mentioned and we had fun wowing the crowd.

I did not attend the Closing Night festivities so that’s all she wrote for this year’s MVFF, ladies and germs!

In other entertainment news, check out the Bay and Delta Yacht Charters Empress Events, or They also do private events.  Great food and live entertainment for your dining and dancing pleasure as you take a 4 hour cruise around the Bay – heaven!  Our tour featured the eclectic and fun Johnny Vegas and the High Rollers, who played everything from the theme from The Love Boat to K.C. & The Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” and beyond.

I recently had some songs featured on the ABC Daytime Drama All My Children! Please buy my CD Sycamore Street at and check out

See you next time…###

All contents © 2006 by Gene Mahoney