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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Filmfest Hamburg battles with Technological Demons

(Based on the Clement Clarks Moore classic Christmas poem, Twas the Night before Christmas.)

Twas the day before the 2018 Filmfest Hamburg, when the press showing of THE HAPPY TIME MURDERS was planned, not a coffee cup was stirring as the journalists held them tightly in their hand; the freshly renovated cinema lounge greeted us with care, in hopes that the projector soon would flicker with light over there.

The film critics were nestled all snug in their chairs, while visions of flying Muppets danced in their heads. And I with my pencil in my lap had just settled down for a long afternoon’s nap, when out on the screen there came such a clatter, I sprang forward to see what was the matter. Away with Brian Henson’s black comedy crime scene that moved like a flash, where a spree of murder cases were left open and, Muppet detective Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) and human detective Connie Edwards (Melissa  McCArthy) arrived.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen victims, gave the lustre of the midnight blood scenes to challenge the team’s convictions, when, what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a filthy and seedy X-rated film where orgasm, purple pubic hair and prostitutes are pole dancing around. With a little old detective, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be a film debut from the Henson Alternative Crew. More rapid than humans, the Muppet detectives came and whistled and shouted and called all the retired sitcom stars by name. Now to the top of the porch! And down the street! Dash away, dash away, and down they went, but the sitcom stars laid dead all in a row.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when the detectives met with an obstacle, they screamed with a cry. So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with a gun full of bullets, and some drugs too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the screen, the prancing and blitz as the detectives shouted something obscene.

As I wrote in my pad and was turning around, Connie Edwards and Phil’s secretary came in the house with a bound. They were determined to clear Phil of the murder and just as they were about to open the door, pop bang and the film was as black as the floor. The projectionist looked like a peddler just shrugging his shoulders. His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples were gone! His happy little smile was gone as he spoke not a word but went straight to work. He looked hard at the wall, and played with the console with no luck at all. He gave us a whistle and said it was a riddle, but I heard him exclaim, as he left the room, “Sorry film critics, we hope all is well and see you tomorrow for the opening of the Filmfest Hamburg and to all a good day!”

Note: I never did find out how Brian Henson’s THE HAPPY TIME MURDERS film ended but nor did I care. It did make me wonder how he must have grown up living with his father Jim Henson, the creator of Sesame Street and the amazing Muppet world that it has become. I guess when I was learning the ABCs and numbers that perhaps Brian received a long-going education which included sex education etc. or why would there be a company that specialized in adult content with the Henson Alternative crew. This film certainly isn’t for children and I am still wondering who would like this film? It certainly had its black humor and I could imagine making this film was a lot of fun using 120 puppets but it is a film that would suit only those who have a very strange taste indeed. I can also imagine that the other film critics most likely hated it about as much as I did.
I was told that the electrical black-out hit the entire neighborhood around the university and it was not the remodelling job that happened this summer at the Abaton.
There was only one other technical failure that happened at the Festival and that was with the tickets. Somehow I landed in a 2016 time warp where it showed that I did not reserve my press showings even though on my email the confirmation was there. I literally had to prove that there was a failure by taking a screen shot after using their little computers in the tent. They then had to email it to the technical crew who told us that that was impossible and a few minutes later called back and apologized. Yes, I had fallen into a black hole. They then had to reconfigure my info and – bam - I was back in business. The rest of the festival was a delight, full of great films, fun colleagues and good food. I am looking forward to next year.

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