Notes from the back row 

Hunter S. Thompson returns?

Now that ski season is winding down, anyone looking for an awesome way to blow some of their trust fund should seriously consider a trip down south for the San Francisco International Film Festival, set for April 24 to May 8. Featuring over 200 flicks “The International” is the longest running film fest in the Americas and on May 8, closing night, they’re screening Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson , a new documentary focusing mainly on Thompson’s glory years in San Fran. It features tonnes of old footage and Johnny Depp will be on hand to read some of the good doctor’s work. With a varied and impressive collection of sources (from Jimmy Carter to ex-Hell’s Angels leader Sonny Barger) this flick might just be the closest we’ll ever get to a definitive HST movie. Flights to San Fran are going for about $300 bucks return.

For film geeks who are sans trust fund, or those who blew all their savings (and then some) during the Ski and Snowboard Festival, the reliable Village 8 has got your back. On Thursday, May 1, they’re offering advance screenings of the much-anticipated comic book adaptation of Iron Man, which looks pretty awesome (the trailer features the Black Sabbath song of the same name, find it on the net). Theoretically, you could catch Iron Man on Thursday night and be the coolest kid in school (or work) all day Friday. You’ll be beating the chicks off with a stick, trust me.

But that’s getting ahead of things– this Friday the Village 8 is opening Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo , the first big ‘stoner’ comedy of the year. Guantanamo is the sequel to the popular “mixed-heritage buddy comedy” White Castle, and while the same cast and directors don’t quite replicate the fresh feel of the original they add a whole lot more political lampooning. Nothing funnier than a heartbroken Indian kid getting caught smoking dope in an airplane bathroom and shouting out, “It’s a bong!” which everyone hears as “bomb.” Even after they escape Guantanamo and get back to the U.S., our unlikely heroes are hounded by an anti-terrorism agent strange enough to make Stanley Kubrick ( Dr Strangelove) shake his head.

Fear not, there’s still lots of drug abuse, nudity, and Doogie Howser, but in a time when the serious political dramas seem a bit lackluster it’s refreshing to watch things like racial profiling and the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists go through the pot-com wringer. Harold and Kumar end up making more memorable statements on things like racism, paranoia, and homeland security than the ‘real’ politicos, so chock one up for the stoners, and roll one up for this film.

Also dropping this Friday is Baby Mama , a single parent comedy in which a successful 30-something exec with a bum uterus (Tina Fey) hires a slobby, white-trash idiot (Amy Poehler) to carry her child. The two opposites end up sharing an apartment and so begins all sorts of odd-couple comedy, most of which we’ve seen before, albeit not so estrogen drenched.

Poehler and Fey are geniuses and it is refreshing and kick-ass to see a woman-dominated comedy, kind of the opposite of the Judd Apatow flicks. Baby Mama is decent, and will no doubt do well, but the script, written/directed by Michael McCullers — a Saturday Night Live scribe who worked on the Austin Powers films — frequently takes the easy way out and relies too much on the appeal of its stars. Still, Fey and Poehler sparkle and their chemistry is undeniable. I wish Tina had done the writing as well.

I also wish I was heading to San Fran so if anyone goes, keep me in the loop. Or buy me a ticket, you can afford it.

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