Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Plane, The Plane

Last year the first whiff I got of Ebertfest's chummy vibe was on the flight connecting Chiboogie and Champaign. Mark Zupan, the quad rugby team captain featured in Murderball, wheeled on the flight with the practiced air of someone all too accustomed to navigating public transportation in a chair, and I then realized I recognized at least half the faces on the flight from film journals and online buzz.

This year waiting to board I double-take at the getup of the guy standing before me before I even realize who it is: John Malkovich, here with Ripley’s Game, decked out in floodwaters (short chinos for ye non-‘70s babies), bobby socks, brand-new black Converse all-star low-tops, and that squinty, assessing stare that snakes into all of his films. J’love it. On the tinier-than-my-apartment plane I struggle to banish thoughts of Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper while Danny D. and Zach, here to shoot footage of la festi, chatter on. Across the aisle director Ramin Bahrani and actor Ahmad Razvi of Man Push Cart — two fellow Brooklynites and hustlers (in the very best way) — wolf danishes. Little do they know how completely we will be fed for the next five days. Cruise-ship passengers eat less frequently.

At the baggage carrel, it’s old-home week for many festival attendees. Grasshopper-legged Dusty Cohl, as subtly attired as ever in a big ole cowboy hat adorned with pins, ribbons, the kitchen sink, the 9-11 Commission final report, and his plane tix,* wraps me in a big ole hug instead of that either-coast airkiss to which I’ve grown scarily resigned. The festival, it has begun!

*guess which items do not festoon Mr. Cohl’s hat?


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