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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Final Decisions at the TCMFF 2014

The TCMFF is over. I, like many, had a good game plan. For 5 years I, and everyone else who attends the festival, make decisions ahead of time for what to see. There are often some pretty tough choices to make. However, I have a default system that is the deciding factor. Although it’s not perfect.

This is my fifth year attending the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF). I haven’t missed a year since the festival’s inception, and I don’t intend to miss any future years either. I love the opportunity of seeing so many films on the big screens of the Chinese Theatre, Egyptian and other venues, as well as the chance to see and meet the stars of the films I love so much. For four days there are so many great films, conversations and events scheduled that inevitably there are conflicts that force me to make a painful decision. This is the bittersweet side of the TCMFF.

However, that is not the case for me this year. I suppose it was bound to happen. After all, I do watch a lot of classic films, either on the TCM channel, special screenings, or on DVD. And this is the fifth TCMFF, and the end of the fest coincides with the channel’s 20th anniversary. So, there were a lot of what might be deemed “standard” classics on this year’s schedule. One such example was the anniversary screening of The Women, which just played at the TCMFF two years ago, and unless you’re Norma Sheerer herself coming back from the grave to present the film, I’m good for quite a few more years before I need to see that again - on the big screen that is. I mean after all, I only have so many films I can see in the time allotted and my priority is always on what I haven’t seen before. And that’s how I make the tough decisions. That is if there are any.

My initial reaction to this year’s lineup was, honestly, a bit of disappointment. It’s kind of an oxymoron to say that you’re disappointed with an incredibly great selection of movies, but that’s what I felt. This was simply because I had seen so many of the films on the brig screen already either at previous TCMFFs or at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), the Alex in Glendale, the American Cinematheque venues, The Silent movie Theatre, or one of the many other venues available to us in Los Angeles for watching movies the way they were meant to be seen, on the big screen. It is a wealth of riches for us here in the LA area, and I cannot fault the TCMFF for not servicing to my personal needs (darn it). But a little more variety or perhaps stepping away from the beaten path would have been nice.

As it turned out there was more than one screening slot when I chose not to attend any screening or event and instead decided to catch up on the demands of social media by tweeting about the festival or posting on Facebook. I even had three actual sit-down meals (the Pig and Whistle was a revelation providing both good food and service). And I will admit to one slot that did challenge me to attend either Stormy Weather or The Great Gatsby with Alan Ladd - I chose the former. I could have seen Gatsby the next night as it ended up being one of the reserved TBAs, however it was up against The Lodger with a live musical accompaniment and I couldn’t pass that up.

I will say that I noticed there were a lot more interesting events happening in the Club TCM, but I always prefer movies over those. Maybe next year I’ll give them a shot, but I’m hoping that this year was just a slump year for me and that next year I’ll be faced once again with the bittersweet challenges I’ve come to expect (and love) from the TCMFF. If TCM is going to repeat anything next year, please let it be the movie Shaft with Richard Roundtree in attendance. I had a tough decision the year it screened and have often questioned my choice. Perhaps the TCMFF will even do a special focus on blaxploitation films. Now, THAT would be awesome!

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