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Talking Film with Andy Horbal

August 21, 2009

This week we’re doing something a little different with our profile. Instead of speaking to an artist or local organizational notable (not that Andy isn’t notable), we talked to a lifelong cinema lover, Andy Horbal. He shared with us a ton of tips and tricks for keeping up-to-date on the film world, deciding what to see, and told us what he was looking forward to. Return of the Jedi Poster

When we asked Andy how he first got into film, he somewhat sheepishly laughed and said two words. “Star Wars.” After we reassured him that this was a completely acceptable answer, he revealed that when he was 15, he saw the original trilogy rereleased in theaters and thought it was the “greatest thing in the world”, seeing it 15 times. Star Wars transitioned into Starship Troopers, and then he and his friends were hooked on seeing movies. After high school, he attended University of Pittsburgh, tried his hand at filmmaking at Filmmakers, and ended up with a degree in Film Studies.

He then shared with us his techniques for figuring out when films are screening in Pittsburgh, “knowing where and when to look.” “Movie showtimes come out on Wednesday or Thursday,” he said “so you can get a jump on what’s coming up.” He also credited his advance knowledge to working at the Stark Media Services Center at Pitt’s Hillman Library. More suggestions? Talk to the people who organize showings, and see what they’re doing next, and check out the Andy Warhol Museum calendar regularly.

However, showtimes and calenders aren’t useful unless you know what you want to see. True to his film studies background, Andy says he reads tons of criticism before seeing movies. Before films hit theaters, he checks out Beyond the Multiplex, Andrew O’Hehir’s indie film blog at Salon and Karina Longworth’s postings at Spoutblog, which provide occasionally caustic but hilarious remarks on films people are currently talking about. For recent DVD releases, he recommends Dave Kehr at the New York Times, who helps put films in historical context. For more academic criticism, he mentioned Cinema Scope, an indie film journal that helps him “think things through.”

redactedWith all that research, one would expect Andy had never seen a bad movie. But when we asked him, out of curiosity, about the worst movies he’s seen recently, two came to mind. Redacted, by director Brian De Palma and Diary of the Dead, the most recent Romero film. Both integrated new media style web-cam clips and mimicked an informal, indie documentary look, and Andy felt that they came off as insincere, “substituting novelty for substance”.

After getting off that depressing subject, we talked about theaters in Pittsburgh that are worth checking out. Andy said that Regent Square really is his favorite place to see movies (and no, we didn’t pay him at all), but also has a soft spot for the Squirrel Hill theaters. He recommended would-be-moviegoers check out South Side Works on Mondays, for their 5 dollar films, and the Maxisaver in West Mifflin, which offers dollar movies, packed with excited high school students. CMU AB Films and the University of Pittsburgh sponsored films also got an honorable mention, as they tend to attract an “enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd”. He also plugged Jefferson Presents, a series of abstract films played at different local venues.

Finally, we asked him the most important question on our list- what movies he was looking forward to. In terms of stuff that will be showing soon, he mentioned Alien, which he’s “been meaning to rewatch for a while”, Tulpan and Made in the USA (Showtimes). More long term, he gave a shout out to Jacques Audiard’s new film festival favorite, A Prophet and Alain Resnais’s Wild Grass. On the American/Hollywood side, he mentioned the new Sherlock Holmes, which he said “has got to be terrible, but I love Robert Downey Jr and the momentum of Guy Richie movies.” Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, as something he’ll see because “it will probably be a reflection on cinema.”

As our interview was coming to a close, we probed about one of his other interests expressed on his blog- food. He recommended we check out culinary scientist Harold McGee’s yogurt recipe, as an awesome kitchen project that cuts down food expenses and produces amazing greek style yogurt.

Want to know more about Andy? Follow him on twitter @andyhorbal or check out his blog here.

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One comment

  1. […] Talking Film with Andy Horbal « Pittsburgh Filmmakers Weblog pghfilmmakers.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/talking-film-with-andy-horbal – view page – cached #RSS 2.0 Pittsburgh Filmmakers Weblog » Talking Film with Andy Horbal Comments Feed Pittsburgh Filmmakers Weblog Welcome! New videos by Heinz Endowments interns — From the page […]



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