Film Blog: Conan O’ Brien / Schweppes Film Fest

Becca Hoekstra
The Guardsman

Monsters lurk in the dark. Most of them are vicious, flesh-eating beasts, who want nothing more than to nibble some one’s unsuspecting head off… but in the black of the theater waits the Montage Monster, the devourer of cinema, providing movie reviews and Bay Area film festival coverage!

Can’t stop lovin’ Conan
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, the documentary about the talk show host’s struggle with leaving his job on The Tonight Show and the resulting cross-country tour, premiered to great success at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. It resonated so well with distributors that it’s seeing theatrical distribution starting June 24.

Rodman Flender’s documentary shows much more than the process and presentation of the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour”. It provides insight into a celebrity’s real emotions and shows Conan O’Brien’s honest addiction to attention and show business. Also – it’s hilarious.

Following the NBC time slot conflict, Conan O’Brien was banned from appearing on TV for 7 months. So what’s a man who has become accustomed to being in front of an audience almost daily to do?

Go on a 32-city live tour across America, that’s what.

Throughout most of the movie, Conan is seriously struggling with his lost career, and he admits that it hit him hard. His comedy has an angry, bitter edge to it. He verbally and physically abuses his staff, harshly mocks many of his dressing room visitors (like poor Jack McBrayer), and gets frustrated with his too-adoring fans. Even when he’s being a jerk though, he still comes off as a like-able guy, who’s struggling to get back up after being knocked down. He truly does care about his family, fans, and friends.

Performance and attention literally act as drugs for the star. He complains, constantly, about all that he has to do – yet when given the opportunity to put on a show, he hasn’t the willpower to say no. The documentary is aptly named – the man cannot stop. Even on his begged for days off he insists on performing spontaneous shows; he whines about his badgering followers, then goes out and visits them even when he’s told not to. He lives for that high.

The documentary presents a clearly visible aspect between the off and on stage Conan. When not performing, he is listless and depressed, usually found laying face up on the couch. But all that changes when he goes on stage – then the man resonates with passion and excitement, jumping around, waving his freakishly long limbs, and rocking out on his guitar. The dynamic between the two almost opposite sides of the same character is intriguing, and it’s impossible to look away from a man constantly in conflict with himself.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop shows the human side behind the celebrity. He isn’t always funny, and he isn’t always nice – yet still seems like a genuinely good person to be around, despite when he’s being an asshole. Maybe we can’t all be famous talk show hosts, but at least that’s an achievable aspiration.

The director will be available for questions in a live online chat about the film and his experiences touring with Conan Wednesday June 22 at 8 p.m!

Landmark’s Lumiere Theater Shattuck Theater
1572 California Street at Polk 2230 Shattuck Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94109 Berkeley, CA 94704-1416

Rodman Flender Chat:

Official site:

Film festival from your couch
With the rise of Netflix and other movie streaming services, you don’t always have to leave your home or shell out hard earned dough to get a unique movie experience. Introducing the online film festival!

The Schweppes Short Film Festival provides a different attempt at advertising that puts seven to 11 minute films up online, in a fancy (and charmingly cheesy) attempt to bring the theater atmosphere to home computers. It’s got predominantly silent protagonists, not too much product placement, and a fake bar with a fancy New Zealand bartender! The site layout emulates a physical movie theatre, with a lobby complete with fake patrons milling around. To the left waits the ‘bar’, where the bartender waits with pre-scripted conversations. The loading animations are practically short films in themselves.

Five films are available to watch at, all unified by a brief moment of promotion for Schweppe’s soda and a “schhh” moment.

My favorite is Signs, directed by Patrick Hughes. The heart-touching romantic comedy begins with a man who communicates intense loneliness through eyes and brows alone, isolated in a bustling city. He lives his days in silence, until he strikes up a relationship with the girl across the office hall – not with words, but with written signs. The two never speak – our main hero only makes one sound throughout the film, and it’s worth waiting for. This 11 minutes was full of plenty “awww-out-loud” moments!

James Pilkington’s Magnifique! is basically a well-paced dick joke shot in black-and-white. The French dialogue is quick and witty, and the shots are mostly montages of pretty girls, older women, and eventually men who all gander down at a man’s crotch and exclaim in excitement as they look up. The final shot

The remaining 3 dramas were also good, though not quite as cute as their comedic counterparts. Consequence, a Spanish film directed by Noah Marshall, had a good story, and an important message about the after-effects of our actions; Finders Keepers by Melanie Bridge was twisted and unique, and the final film, Kezia Barnett’s Jet Black, seems to be undergoing struggles on the site, but there is at least one entertaining shot of a man petting his pompadour.

After the films are watched, the viewer is directed to the ‘bar’, where they can leave mad-lib like reviews or view drinks that can be made with Schweppe’s products. Time to get digitally drunk!

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off to attend the theater this evening – in only my underwear.

Watch the whole festival here:

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