Rockstar Games and Red Dead Redemption in Pleasantville

The videogame community made an important outreach effort to movie nerds on Wednesday night, as representatives from Rockstar Games made the trek into Westchester County, New York, to demo their current release, the open-world Western adventure Red Dead Redemption, for the arthouse crowd. Presided over by erstwhile New York Times movie critic Janet Maslin, the game night was an unusual booking for the Burns Film Center, which is more inclined to host filmmaker chats with the likes of Werner Herzog and Jonathan Demme. Props to the powers that be at the Burns for recognizing that Red Dead Redemption is freaking awesome and giving Rockstar a venue for showing a bunch of hardcore film people (not to mention all the hip youngsters who brought hard copies of the game to be autographed by the Rockstar crew) what’s up in the increasingly expansive world of interactive entertainment.

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Werner Herzog in Pleasantville


It’s not exactly the hip neighborhood, but working out of Deep Focus World Headquarters in Sleepy Hollow, NY, has its advantages. One of them is the proximity of the Jacob Burns Film Center, an arthouse triplex in nearby Pleasantville that’s several times more comfy than any similar venue in Manhattan. (Well, with the possible exception of the fairly posh Sunshine Cinemas downtown. And the similarly appointed IFC Center, also downtown. But you get my meaning.) Tonight, the Burns center hosted Werner Herzog for a screening of his documentary about Antarctic research stations and the scientists who inhabit them, Encounters at the End of the World. In the course of a highly entertaining Q&A, he held forth on his Bad Lieutenant remake, described his rescue of Joaquin Phoenix in early 2006, and told the audience what he really thinks about film theory.

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Julian Schnabel in Pleasantville


Julian Schnabel hit the suburbs tonight, taking the stage at the Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY, along with erstwhile New York Times film critic Janet Maslin after a screening of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for a pleasantly rambling Q&A. Among the topics covered was the real genesis of the project, which apparently has its roots in Schnabel’s thwarted attempt to film Perfume. Schnabel described the connection in some detail, but it boils down in part to the similarities he saw between Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s ability to smell his way across continents and the paralyzed Jean-Dominique Bauby’s gift for traveling in his own imagination. (As an aside, both Schnabel and Maslin took the opportunity to trash the eventual adaptation of Perfume last year, by Tom Tykwer — which I didn’ t think was so bad, especially for a notoriously unfilmable novel, but whatever.)

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