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San Diego International Film Festival — Day 2

Tonight, I put my quest for finding a Buzz Box on hold, because I was on a quest to find Kathryn Hahn. I think she’s one of the most underrated actresses working today. I initially had it lined up to interview her before her appearance at the San Diego International Film Festival, but that fell through.

At the Night of the Stars, Hahn would be showing up and walking the red carpet, along with other Hollywood bigwigs. I pulled up to the Pendry downtown, and went to the valet. I normally cringe at the idea of paying to park when I have good parking karma. But I didn’t want to be late. I gave the car to the valet, and he told me it would be $20. Ouch!

We walked in, and got a table, and I went to town devouring the amazing selections of cheeses and meats they had set out for everyone. They always have such an incredible spread at the Festival. My wife said, “Are you trying to eat $20 worth of cheese to make up for that parking?”

I walked over and got a glass of champagne, to which my wife responded, “It would’ve been nice if you got me one, too.”

When she walked over to retrieve her own glass of bubbly, I got a phone call. I completely forgot that I was supposed to do a movie review on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco. I was rushing down the stairs, hoping I’d make it outside before we went live. There’s nothing worse than doing a segment on the radio, and the show host says they can’t hear a word you’re saying because of the background noise.

As I walked out I saw Zachary Levi (Chuck) walking in. I didn’t have a clue who he was, but my wife wouldn’t stop talking about how much she loves him and how nice he was, on the drive home. Perhaps she was trying to get back at me for my Kathryn Hahn obsession.

I did my movie reviews and walked back in. People were being seated, and I ran into a few people I knew. We also met an interesting couple that ended up sitting at our table.

The first award for “Rising Star” was given to Christian Navarro. I can’t tell you the number of teenagers I’ve met over the last year that loved him in 13 Reasons Why. The SDiFF crowd got to see him the previous night in the movie Can You Ever Forgive Me?

When he was handed his award he said, “This is as big as I am.”

He talked about his mom and dad both being New York City police officers and how they thought he’d be a cop, too. He said, “I just played a cop once on a TV show.”

The director and producer of My Name is Batlir, Not Butler, won the Chris Brinker Award (Brinker was a Point Loma resident who passed away, and it’s awesome that the Festival honors him this way). The director and producer, Stare Yildirim, is from Turkey. At one point before the show started, my wife told her how beautiful her dress was. It was cute seeing her so surprised, on stage thanking her crew for their hard work and talking about how hard it is making movies in a male-dominated society (that brought applause).

Her movie made its California premiere at the Festival. Don’t be surprised if you see it up for an Oscar in the foreign film category.

Alex Wolff (Hereditary, Jumanji) got the “Auteur Award”. He said of his birth, “I was an accident. It was a few seconds for my dad…and 9 months for my mom.”
After the big laughs he got with his speech, he also talked about how grateful he was. And he couldn’t have been nicer after the awards, taking photos with at least 10 women that approached him.

Topher Grace got the Cinema Vanguard Award” He said he had to look up the word “vanguard” and that is really Spike Lee (he did his movie BlackKklansman). He added, “So I’m accepting this on behalf of Spike Lee. I’m not going to give it to him, I’m going to keep it, but…”

He then talked about all the other stars in the room, and it was almost like a mini roast. It had the crowd in stitches. At one point he said, “Working with John Cho, made me realize how great it was….to work with Kathryn Hahn.” As the crowd laughed, he continued, “Every time I’d do a line, he’d say ‘That’s not how Kumar would’ve done it.’ And he once stole a costume from the set.”

It wasn’t all jokes with him, though. He sounded honored, and mentioned Nashville as one of his favorite movies of all time. So he must’ve been thrilled that the star of Nashville (who won an Oscar for the song in it “I’m Easy”) — Keith Carradine — was given the “Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence.”

When Peck’s daughter presented him with the award, she had the crowd in tears, talking of the friendship Carradine had with her dad. When she talked about him performing a song at her dad’s funeral, I completely lost it.

Carradine grabbed his huge eagle statue award, saying “I can honestly say…this is the biggest award of my career.”

He talked a lot about his career and how luck plays a big part in it. It was a theme Loggins had touched on.

It was nice for him to talk about how there are so many other talented people we may never hear from, all because luck plays such a big part in who does or doesn’t make it in Hollywood. He also mentioned his wife being pregnant. As the applause erupted, I checked my phone to figure out his age (he’s 69). His speech ended up showing what true class is. It should’ve been filmed, so other Oscar winners can watch and learn how they should accept their awards.

Tonya Mantooth, the CEO and Artistic Director of the festival, got up to give the award to Kathryn Hahn. I’m always so surprised at how well Mantooth does these. She’s probably running around all over the festival, trying to make sure everything is going just right, with a million things on her mind. Yet she walks on stage, looking gorgeous, and calmly gives incredible introductions for the people she brings out. And there’s never a single mistake as she rattles off the many movies they’ve done (as someone that has done these before and after a number of movies, I know how daunting a task that can be).

Hahn was as funny as she was in movies like Bad Moms and Step Brothers. She talked about how happy she was to be in San Diego, the “whale’s vagina” as Ron Burgundy called it. She laughed and talked about how her daughter has been in the hotel room since 4pm watching Mama Mia on a loop. She talked about a trip to the zoo, and how she probably still smells like a flamingo.

She talked a bit more about her career, before returning to her seat.

About 15 minutes later, someone else was on stage, and I saw Hahn was leaving. I figured it had something to do with her kid being holed up in the hotel. I went out a side door, and purposely crossed paths with her in the hallway. We spoke briefly, and I told her how much I loved the movie Afternoon Delight and thought her performance in it was worthy of an Oscar. She said, “Oh, thank you. That’s so great to hear, because that movie means so much to me.”

I didn’t keep her long, as the eagle award she was carrying looked heavy. So as I turned to walk back to my seat, I heard a woman scream to her “Oh my god, I love you! Can I please take a picture with you Kathryn?”

John Cho, who was so great in the movie Searching this year (which you could’ve seen at the Film Insider Series), got the “Spotlight Award.” I loved the enthusiasm host Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) had when talking about his various films. Mantz is such a pro at doing this, and I love that he seems to get excited even when talking to festival goers about movies they just saw. I always have to reign my wife in when she wants to go up to him and talk about their love of the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, hearing her bring the Eagles up reminded me….they were playing the Giants in Thursday night football. And since a few of those players are on my fantasy football team, that’s a sign that an event is a lot of fun, if I can stop thinking about football for a few hours.

The most thrilling event of the evening involved musicians. San Diegan Stephen Bishop was there to introduce Kenny Loggins, who got the “Music Icon Award.” Bishop sang his hit “On and On” (I wondered if anybody in the crowd realized that the first line “Down in Jamaica they got, lots of pretty women…” was originally “down in La Jolla” — San Diego fun fact). I also like the songs he did for Tootsie and Animal House. He didn’t talk about those films, as he was there to present his friend Kenny, who came out and told terrific stories. Since everyone is asking if his song Danger Zone will appear in Top Gun 2, he addressed that. He also said how he originally just did the song for the volleyball scene in Top Gun, but Jefferson Starship ended up dropping out after a disagreement, so they called him up about doing Danger Zone. Since he happened to be in a studio not far away, he came in and did it.

Loggins talked about all his other movie soundtracks, and his work with Loggins & Messina. What shocked us all is that he said he brought his guitar and was going to do a few songs. So the crowd ended up being treated to an impromptu Kenny Loggins show, where he did all his movie songs (I’m Alright from Caddyshack is my person favorite).

I was surprised that, after his show, he was back in the crowd. There were about 25 different women chatting him up and taking selfies. I went over to where Stephen Bishop was standing by himself at the table. I told him I loved his book “Diamonds in the Rough” and we talked a bit about his career.

As I was walking back to find my wife, a guy stopped me. He said, “Hey…you’re that movie critic guy, aren’t you?” I said I was. He then said to me, “I’m so glad to see you.” As I smiled, he continued, “Because I’m trying to find Kenny Loggins. My wife went to the bathroom, and we’d really like to take a photo with him, so if you could tell me where he is.”

I kept that smile on my face, as I pointed to the corner of the room where Loggins was with five other fans. His eyes lit up and he said, “Hey, thanks man” before darting off.

I wasn’t offended. Hey…Loggins wrote Footloose. He wrote You’re Mama Don’t Dance. I’m just a schmuck movie critic that can’t stop thinking about the fact that I dropped $20 just to park.