Friday, March 25, 2011
Hemingway and Gellhorn in the Hood
Police signage has sprung up on Franklin and Hayes Streets surrounding the San Francisco Unified School District offices telling people not to park there today or Monday through Wednesday next week.
"Hemingway and Gellhorn," a made-for-HBO movie about Ernest and one of his photojournalist wives during the Spanish Civil War and World War Two, is being made by the local film director Philip Kaufman, who has had one of the weirdest careers in Hollywood history.
The 74-year-old writer/director's fairly infrequent films range widely over the last 40-plus years, from 1979's "The Wanderers" and the 1983 "The Right Stuff," to the screenplays for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and its sequels, writing/directing arty adult films like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Henry and June," and also writing/directing crap like the 1993 "Rising Sun" and the 2004 Ashley Judd vehicle "Twisted."
His only real masterpiece as a director, as far as I'm concerned, is the creepy 1978 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" with Donald Sutherland and Veronica Cartwright, where bad things happen in San Francisco's Civic Center and its Public Health Department, which means its topicality remains undiminished.
There is lots of lobbying at City Hall for more tax breaks and benefits to lure TV and movies here for location shooting, but in truth most of the filming ecostructure, such as food-and-drink craft trucks, are brought in from elsewhere, usually Los Angeles.
The occasional Hollywood shoots do provide plenty of money for the local stagehands unions, though, who are even being fed beautifully, though lunch is at 1:30 and they had better stop asking for more.
There were widespread calls for extras in this film, but they reminded auditioners that in the 1930s and 1940s, Americans weren't fat yet, and they were looking for "lean physiques," so I did not apply, and wasn't able to hang out for minimum wage with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen and hundreds of cigarette-smoking extras in the seismically unsafe auditorium at the back of the SF Unified School District building.