Sunday, December 28, 2008

The shape of things to come

I wonder what we could all achieve if we just focused on it.

In a strange confluence of events, being slightly drunk and having just watched Dazed and Confused for the first time, I'm finding myself in an incredibly reflective mood. I think to the times of achievement in my life, getting into GHP, getting in shape, making certain films, and at some of those times, I was incredibly focused. More focused than ever, thinking back. Not that robot obsessed kind, but just really involved in whatever was at hand.

Today, I sometimes find myself so scattered that I tend to fall back into vices to compensate, e.g. eating too much, not reading enough, drinking too much, not running. What if I really tried? Why do our minds, or maybe it's just some people, stop focusing on what we want? I got Katie the latest from Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers. In yet another book where he breaks the macro level down to a sort of broadened mechanism, he talks about success and those who achieve and those who don't. I can't wait to read it. The topic fascinates me right now. We have the ability to possess incredible focus, and yet we don't always...why?

What occupies my mind these days? Wanting to be wont. I need to do. Why not? I've not been exhausted from doing a lot of nothing, so I should do more. Do until I'm well into my own mind. I'm not sharp, I've been doing badly at crosswords lately.

My mind is screaming at me to write. Katie's indulged that by getting me some notepads to carry in my back pocket. If only I had a pen. But there are always pens. No more excuses, eh? No more fast food, boozin', brushing aside. I've been reading Money by Martin Amis (courtesy of ol' Stephan two years ago at Secret Santa), and the character of John Self is excess incarnate. And it gets in your blood. You have to be careful. I think I've definitely gained weight since I've started reading that book. But it's gotten to the point where he acknowledges that he should be dead, and I have to reassess what's in my life.

I'm 24 now. Young, aging, full of aspiration, nothing concrete yet. Gotta give all of this a shot, may as well be disciplined. I think the best compliment I've gotten lately was that a coworker mistakenly thought I was still in school, because I was so, how did she put it? I can't remember. It was either "studious", "disciplined", or "driven", but I think it was either none or any of those, and I want to keep up those appearances.

I think by Wednesday I will have my new annual tradition of lists. I can't wait.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blogs don't age

So this is foreign, writing on here again. I've finally posted all of those blog posts I did over at CHUD. Getting married, it's overwhelming, and that being overwhelmed seems to seep into everything and carry on for a while. We're still recovering from the whole thing, trying to slow down. I think it's getting better.

About those CHUD posts. They are definitely geared towards that audience, so there's probably a bit more cursing and direct references to the site, which isn't that good. I've never understood it's organization and layout, though some of the writers are pretty good. And I thought the whole gig was sweet at first, but then I quickly realized that I was one of many, many goateed film geeks with nothing to do but blog all day. They all have really bad pictures, I just don't get it. These guys don't understand what makes a good picture, and they can't write either. Anyway, my point was that my style's a little bit different in those posts, which I've retro dated so they're fitting with the chronology of the year. I forgot about a lot of those movies I saw. I guess that's why blogs are good.

I think I've also returned here to collect thoughts. Time moves quickly, and thoughts and ideas and zeitgeists get lost in that rigmarole. I look back fondly at the recap of last year I did. So I wanted to make sure I get situated on here to do that again. The number of movies I have to see is growing as the awards season approaches. If I hurry, I'll see everything that's currently in theaters worth seeing.

Christmas is fast approaching, and since it's the Hawkins-Gaars' first Christmas, we're trying to generate some traditions. We took a walk to view the sparse lights and decorations in Cabbagetown, but it was lovely nonetheless. I'm going to figure out how to make cookies from scratch this week. We have Secret Santa coming up, which is quite a lovely tradition of its own. We need more holiday cocktails around the house.

The strange thing about the passage of time is that you forget what doesn't change. The chalkboard in our kitchen, for example. It had the same message on it for a long time, and I just erased it and now it's great again. New ideas, things to do, new colors and messages. For a while, it just started to blend into the wall. And when I clean up, I often don't clean what needs it the most, whatever's been so unaffected for so long that it doesn't even register. Like my drawer in my nightstand. I just emptied it the other day, uncloseably full of books. And there were receipts in there from last Christmas. We have to make sure we affect what's important or we'll forget it's there. Our bodies are part of that too. We just get into eating habits and get used to our bodies without thinking of changing them. Our minds, too. We have to explore new avenues or we'll forget to. Constant care and attention. That's the only way to make time slow down.

This blog is a good example of that. I'm glad to jumpstart it again. I'm excited about talking the new music I've been catching up on lately. And the films, once I actually see them. We just saw Milk. It was good, not great though. And we FINALLY saw the Lives of Others, which Santa brought last year. I still have movies from three, four Christmases ago to watch. Those DVD shelves need some attention.

Friday, September 12, 2008

CHUD: Revisiting Sideways

To be brief, I have not blogged in a long time because I am getting married. I will probably not blog for another three weeks. You understand.

In any case, a night of drinking and needing something to not really pay attention to, we decided on Sideways, a curious film by Alexander Payne. My favorite of Payne's work is his short that concludes Paris Je t'aime, for its incredible honesty and empathy. I haven't watched Sideways since before I was of legal age to drink, so three years later, it's quite the film to revisit, in terms of oenophilia and maturity.

The vernacular and vocabulary of the film is fun to be reacquainted with, both through times of pretension and legitimate understanding. I can see his obsession with the fruit and flavor and the other sensual qualities offered from wine. But at the same time, I found myself perpetually annoyed by Miles. His character is incredibly pathetic, and his authority as a connoisseur of wine really provides his only outlet in which he excels: his intelligence. He has the capacity to expound and pontificate, but he only teaches English to 8th graders. How much authority does he really have?

Additionally, Payne as a filmmaker treads both insight and cliche. The awful montage of Miles and Jack visiting vineyards before getting to Buellton reeks of middle-aged guffawing, crappy lounge music and split-screened kooky imagery. And yet, the scene where Jack, Miles, Maya, and Stephanie have dinner contains poetry, an ode to a night of belabored drinking. Miles indulges into self-pity through each glass of wine, only to dissolve through numbness to make a telephone call to his ex-wife. It's a profound sequence and insightfully executed. It's the drunkest cinema because it has the most clarity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Yes, sorry Blogspot. I've been cheating on you with CHUD. I'm going to repost all those film reviews I've been doing here. I'm kind of sick of writing them.

After reading some of the older posts, I'm impressed with how well written some of them have been. I'm going to have to post a recap of things soon. For posterity.

Friday, August 8, 2008

CHUD: Man on Wire - There is no "why"

I'll begin by alleviating any curiosity that Man on Wire is somehow a play on Man on Fire. It is not. The phrase "man on wire" is what's used in the police report under "Details" for Philippe Petit's trespassing and disturbing the peace charges. The buzz of the world that day, no more details needed to be given as to who this man was.

Man on Wire details Petit's illegal feat of walking a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Petit himself was destined to be in a documentary: a fucking rocket blasting off, animated, passionate, charismatic, driven. American Movie and Rock School come to mind with their idiosyncratic protagonists, except here, Petit is incredibly self-aware, having had his life to reflect on his passion. He's able to examine his life in the most objective of ways, and share his story with brutal honestly and whimsy all at once.

The film boasts an incredible amount of stock footage, which is combined with impeccably shot reenactments. In fact, the quality of stock footage is such that it was actually confusing for a moment in figuring out if this was Petit or an incredible look-alike. It's amazing that they documented so much of their progress at the time, and only more amazing is the condition and quality of the work.

Petit describes planning "le coup" as tantamount to a bank robbery; his girlfriend at the time recalls him watching endless heist films into the night. And indeed, director James Marsh very clearly sets out to envision this. His reenactments are, again, immaculate, with several shots recalling the camerawork from a Kubrick or Paul Thomas Anderson film. There's immediacy and danger to these scenes, and Marsh fuses the animated urgency of Petit's storytelling (as well as other members of the group) with the black and white images to create very tense retellings. But there's also a great deal of comedy and whimsy that all seemed to be part of the plan.

The film never loses sight of the poetry of what Petit accomplished. There is weight and finality once it's accomplished, an understanding that something so great has just happened, that the way things were could never be the same. These people all gravitated towards this one singular moment, which occurred before the world, and what else is left? When you finish a book, there is a sense of loss, and in this same way, when Man on Wire ends, you feel as if this apex of achievement ended a lot of friendships and relationships. People had to move on.

I commented to my friend after it was over that the story itself was so great and spectacular that the movie just had to tell it well to be great itself. The story stays with you more than the film itself, but I'm trying not be ungrateful by keeping in my mind that the film was great as well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CHUD: The Wackness

I tend to not pay attention to Sundance as it happens. It hurts too much, knowing I can’t be there. I’ve never been, but I would love to.

So, the only film I’d really heard about coming out of Park City was The Wackness and some movie about a Cuban playing baseball, or something like that. Good reviews and buzz and a blurb on an NPR podcast etched the film in the back of my mind. So, one lazy Saturday morning, I ventured off to the nearest matinee showing.

Eh, it’s…it’s alright.

I feel like the one word to describe the film is uneven. But the film’s so well written at times, and nothing feels forced. It’s a shame it gets so much right, except the film couldn’t handle its own whimsy.

There are few moments of real whim that call attention to themselves, but when they arrive, they’re great. Josh Peck is absolutely awesome in the role, as he holds back too much at times and expresses too much at others. He’s incredibly convincing, and reminded so much of someone I’d met once before that it felt that much more grounded. And the moments when his character, Luke Shapiro, dictates to dance on the pavement like Michael Jackon’s “Billie Jean” video, you buy it and love it as it happens.

But the film never really finds that balance with the rest of itself. Dialogue steeped in the mundane, the poetics of teenage angst (although it calls itself on it; “That was real cheesy, what you said back there,” Ben Kingsley admits), musings on the era. That’s my other chief complaint: the film is set in 1994, and boy does it never cease to remind us. A Forrest Gump ad on a bus was all I needed, and the Cobain references and Notorious B.I.G. soundtrack works, but it crosses the line, I think, when Kingsley, having been spotted by the cops smoking a joint, pumps the pumps on his Reeboks.

But the film is raw in its truths and efforts, and I feel like it worked rather well most of the time. It’s funny and touching and knows its subject matter.

Now, I’m off to see The Dark Knight again, though I suppose I will have to atone for this later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CHUD: The Dark Knight

What with the near unanimous acclaim, what else can be really said about this film? I know that I need to see it at least two more times – once to take in all the details one more time, the other to bask in its 70mm IMAX glory. Which brings me to my first point…

Devin’s recent words on the film revolve around how well it did, and the seemingly gross amount of viewings fanboys took in over the weekend. His more cogent points revolved around people seeing this film multiple times rather than using those repeat trips to the cinema to watch something new, like an indie film.

That doesn’t make much sense. For one, an audience’s enthusiasm for a film that is actually good is kind of refreshing. I’ve often had similar thoughts to Devin where I think, “Why would ANYONE go see House of Wax when those funds could be given to me, fledgling filmmaker extraordinaire?” But The Dark Knight is actually quite the landmark, and, despite his rating, his review seemed to loathe many aspects of the film.

Now, I will not begin a rebuttal to his veritable dissertation on the film. It’s a very good review, and definitely had me rethink some of my initial feelings, but I doubt I’ll flip-flop on how much I loved this film. I mean, this movie had my friends and I completely blown away, and these aren’t sycophantic comic book droolers (though they do love comics, Harry Knowles they are not). We respect good, well-told cinema.

We are the ones seeing those films Devin would rather us see. But we get just as excited about There Will Be Blood on its opening day as we do The Dark Knight.

Please, see The Dark Knight. It’s a good film and, though it’s raking in the cash, it fucking deserves it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

CHUD: The Happening - Gone with the wind

This isn't so much a review of M. Night Shyamalan's most recent effort -- 'effort' is either sarcastic or ironic, take your pick -- as it is a eulogy to the man himself. The Happening is the nail in a coffin with many, many nails trying to seal it shut. In a way, I must have a sixth sense, because I do see dead people. It's you, M. Night Shyamalan. Well, your career, that is.

The Happening features a mysteeeerious airborne something that causes large groups of people to stop and kill themselves. The first sign is that it makes you talk in complete nonsense. Shyamalan's script is brilliant in that you are on the edge of your seat the entire film, wondering if the babble their speaking is the first sign that they're going to kill themselves, or if it's just more of the atrocious dialogue that's going to make me kill myself.

Wahlberg's performance is by now notorious for how stilted it is, but, you know, the forever cute Zooey Deschanel is honestly just as horrible here, riding the line between witty/sexy and fucking stupid. Wahlberg's science teacher is probably the most unevenly written character of all time, next to Zooey's. And John Leguizamo bites it with his one-dimensional shtick as a math teacher. Maybe that would have been a good advertising campaign for this film: "THE HAPPENING - Now in 1-D!"

When did it happen, though? This new kid comes along, as we all know, and The Sixth Sense knocks it out of the park. He's able to write character, insightful back story, and delicate relationships, all of which are moving and entertaining. And then, around Signs, he gets a douchebag haircut*, starts using wide-angle lenses for dramatic close-ups, and suddenly he's incapable of writing any humor into his script that isn't ham-fisted. This time, however, he completely fists himself with impeccably bizarre attempts -- efforts -- that have Wahlberg call himself a douchebag and the already infamous scene where he talks to a houseplant.

The sad part is that it's obvious what he was trying to do. The guy's consistent. He has these actors speaking throughout the film in this quiet, mannered way. Some directors understand acting and how to direct actors to achieve a mannered performance, but David Mamet he is not. He seems to be aping that austere, sublime quality from other films, but in the process he has completely ignored his characters and his actors.

You really have to see it for yourself. It's audacious and relentless in how unthought out it is.

And in a way, an M. Night script is kind of like the airborne ailment in The Happening. It comes along, no one's sure what it is. It makes his actors speak gobbledygook, producers walk/bend over backwards for him, and then they all kill themselves.

Their careers, that is.

*I'm not sure when he got this haircut, this is just speculation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CHUD: Wall-E

All I’d really heard about this film before I saw it was that the beginning was nearly silent, no dialogue. People love to point this out (such as with There Will Be Blood or 2001: A Space Odyssey, to which this movie pays considerable homage), which is funny given the origins of animation, and film for that matter.

They were all silent in the beginning, and I think Wall-E was so refreshing for me it embraces those basic elements of visual storytelling. We’re given so much to look at in Wall-E’s world he’s created, and that’s what makes him so charming – he’s creative and unique and enjoys his world, despite no one being there to enjoy it with him.

Wall-E looks a lot like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, but watching the film, he really resembles and has more in common with E.T. The innocence, curiosity, earnestness, and self-sacrifice. He’s easy-going about it all, too. If you break his eye, he’ll just replace it with a new one.

I loved Ratatouille, and, upon seeing this, I started to wonder if I had just seen my favorite Pixar film. Of course, it immediately hit me that it’s completely unfair. Ratatouille is more complex, more sophisticated, but that arises from the story. Remy rides the line between the art of creation and pretense. Wall-E’s life is grand and simple, but the implications of his adventure are, as Remy would say, very important.

Ratatouille revolves around the growth of the individual, while Wall-E contrasts the minimalist life he leads with the grandeur of restarting humanity. It’s amazing how Pixar creates such fulfilling stories on any scale. And most of their films deal with pint-sized characters filling very big shoes, but I guess that is what makes it that powerful.

Wall-E is just amazing. He's so cute, you will probably cry. It's hilarious and poignant, and the copious 2001 references weren't so subtle but absolutely brilliant.

After existing in that wonderful environment for two hours, we felt as if we had landed on another planet when we left the theater.

Monday, June 23, 2008

CHUD: Across the Junoverse

I was just checking out Harry's list of DVDs on AICN, and on the cover of Charlie Bartlett , it says, "Like 'Juno' -- It's a movie with big laughs and a lot of heart. A clever crazy comedy!"

OK, so nobody's heard of that movie, yeah I can see drawing a comparison to Juno to draw some people in. But then there, on the fucking cover of Persepolis, "Marjane is a sass queen to rival 'Juno!'"

For fuck's sake!

I forgot, Diablo Cody, first sass queen to ever live, finally enabled women, including Marjane Satrapi, to have acerbic wit and quirk! Good thing she broke down those barriers for Satrapi, whose book published four years before Juno.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

CHUD: Iron Man sucked. Sex and the City...not so bad.

I know. Fuck me, right?

Some history: when you have a huge crush on someone, and she's got this show she really wants you to watch on her couch, you don't say no. So goes my experience with Sex and the City.

I've seen most of the series. Two-thirds, at least. I'd miss a few episodes, get the quick recap -- "Oh, she got pregnant. And then had the baby." or "Ron Livingston is her boyfriend?" -- and be prepared to join the pun-filled mania. As far as the series goes, it's a total love-hate relationship. I will just as often yell "Fuck you!" at the screen when they do something stupid or indulge in cute wordplay as I will cry or laugh. Mostly it's just nods of approval tagged with a smile. "Alright, that joke didn't suck." The show eventually developed into something pretty strong and watchable, with the occasional suicide-inducing zinger thrown in.

After an entire weekend of sold-out shows, we (me and the lovely lady I had a crush on those years ago) finally got to see it on Sunday. The movie is in a difficult position with critics (and men) because it really is just a continuation of the series. It's not going to stand alone. You need that history. It tries to play catch up and clue everyone in, but really it would not work on its own. It's a flaw embedded into the movie, and that's how it goes.

The movie is basically Season 6 Part III. It's just as long as another half-season and plays like one. The story encompasses about a year when it's over. Carrie's storyline is fucking huge and over-the-top, but them's the stakes with Big. Miranda surprisingly doesn't get nearly as much sympathy for what happens to her (not trying to give anything away here). Charlotte has her usual uber white fantasy tale, and Samantha leads the pack with a narrative about coming to terms with who you are and giving up what you love to be fulfilled. For being the most shallow character, she has the deepest realization to make.

Every mother fucker out there bitches about the length of this movie. Well, I actually thought it was too short. By the time the ending comes around, they're rushing through tying up all these storylines that we've invested 2+ hours in. If I'm going to sit through five goddamned fashion montages, I want my endings fully realized. It could have been at least ten minutes longer. However...

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson should've been dropped altogether (by the way, 'academy' so does not look like a word right now...aca-demy, weird). Completely worthless, and in fact Carrie would've been a much stronger person if she had taken care of the whole mess and handled it herself. It would've been much more interesting to see her overcome what happens on her own, but instead we get a bunch of puns about Louise from St. Louis. Great.

Speaking of useless assistants, let's get to Iron Man, the movie critics love to love because it doesn't suck.

I went with my friend Julian, and we didn't hate it while we were watching it. I laughed a few times. It was visually stunning to watch. But as he put it, "Oh good, a Marvel movie where the hero goes up against some sort of bizarro version of himself." We quickly realized that we were actually really bored by the whole thing. I mean, how long can we sit there and watch this asshole build a suit??

I have no idea why critics are blowing their load over this movie. The dialogue? It sounds like the snappy sort of dialogue from his other films of late, like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or even Zodiac. It's almost like the role was written with Downey's previous roles in mind, therefore bringing nothing new to the table!

Tony Stark seems to value human life but has no problems battling a Big Lebowski on a busy highway. By the way, why would they stage yet another fight on a busy highway?? It's been done countless times, why couldn't they think of anything more creative than slamming cars around?!

And what is the story of this movie anyway? He just builds the suit and then gets into a fight. There is nothing cerebral at all going on here. The most insulting part is that they are trying to act like there is a story, when there isn't. A movie like 300 has no story and knows it. And that is perfectly fine.

And Gwyneth Paltrow provides one of the stupidest Moneypenny characters ever. For being one of the two females in the film (one Stark fucks and tosses), it's not exactly a step forward for womankind. She provides coy sexual tension for Stark and fucking literally prances around in high heels, even when an electrical explosion of lightning bolts are heading right toward her. Helpless isn't even descriptive enough.

I did really like Jeff Bridges, though.

That's really the beginning of a rather huge summer full of supposedly awesome movies. I'm still rather excited, although I skipped Speed Racer because of the awful reviews, and I've yet to see Indiana Jones. Not hearing good things about that either.

I just can't wait for The Dark Knight and Pineapple Express.

Monday, June 9, 2008

CHUD: I'm going to make you watch this goddamned movie.

So, I'm in this theater company, and after rehearsals someone inevitably asks: "What movie are we going to watch?" This question becomes a taxing debate and leads to an interminable weighing of options. Seriously, we once spent 15 minutes deciding whether to watch House of Wax (with the Hottie) or Gregg Araki's Smiley Face (most of the group had already seen this). Some sort of improvised democratic process went into play, and, unfortunately for cinema, we went with the former.

And in these conversations, interjections of "You haven't seen this or that?!" come into play so frequently that an idea was spawned: get together, sit down, and let me show you this goddamned movie already. Each person would have the chance to show two films they personally felt were important and absolutely had to be seen. We all have our own personal list of greats and classics we haven't seen, a list we would surely trade for that ever-growing list of films we had the misfortune of seeing.

This new programming format comes with responsibility. Do you show that classic film that's important to filmdom, or the film that made you step back and reevaluate everything? Seven Samurai or The Idiots? Which is which, really? I have been treated to a handful of films so far, including Showgirls and The American Astronaut. Seeings Showgirls without the static blur of free cable transmissions was its own reward. And the mania and love behind The American Astronaut connected me with that film in a very primitive way.

I plan on screening two documentaries, Hoop Dreams and King of Kong, two films about chasing dreams that really impacted me. We only have a four-hour window to show whatever we want, but I think I can be forgiven. But, can we be forgiven for having watched House of Wax over Smiley Face? Are we doing all of this to atone for that mistake?

No, I mean for fuck's sake we watched Showgirls.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Get it right

First of all, there is a glaring error in this article. I believe the scenario in question is from "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" and not the first film.

Oh, they were 'immigrants'

Secondly, MARTA needs to either be CONSISTENTLY LATE and never early or always early. It fucks me up when I go to wait at the bus stop and the bus never shows up. The paranoia begins, and I wonder whether the bus is going to be incredibly late (likely) or if I actually missed it by mere seconds because it was -- gasp! -- early. I hate MARTA.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Coming up

Film Festivals

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The 5th of April

So April 5th, as I have described it to people, was both the most stressful and the best day ever. Stress doesn't even begin to describe the great feeling that the universe was trying to stop us. I wouldn't be surprised if a big black smoke monster showed up to course-corrected our asses.

It all began on Saturday morning, which was really just a continuation of the somnambulistic night before (I got maybe an hour and a half of sleep). I was trying to get some sound tweaked in Final Cut Pro (our editing software for those unaware), and the sound would not do what I was telling it to do. Angered, I yelled to the heavens, "Stupid goddamn fucking Final Cut fucking Pro!" BOOM. A transformer in the distance exploded, the power went out. Our hard drives, computer, open file, everything was at risk of being completely lost. We had a meeting at the Plaza Theatre at 1:00 pm to test our projector and our footage for any last minute changes. The power went out at 11:45.

Without hesitating, we quickly unplugged and packed up Eli's monstrous computer (a contingency we had eerily discussed the day before as a near impossibility) and hauled it to Julian's house. By the way, it was kind of raining. And when we got there, Eli's monitor was acting up. Minor details aside, we exported the file as planned, which took half an hour, loaded everything up and drove the Plaza. Upon getting there, we quickly realized that had forgotten an important cable and a laptop that would work with the projector. Julian rushed back to the house and came back thirty minutes later. We hooked everything up around 1:55 pm (we had to be out by 2:30), and....! The projector was a piece of shit.

Every color, detail, whites, darks, all were turned to a murky cesspool of amateur-looking shit. Brights were too bright, darks too dark, colors would eat up other colors, nuances were completely lost. It was devastating. We had worked so hard and at the fucking final hour, everything might have been for nothing. We started working out other contingencies, among them borrowing a 300 pound projector from a friend, renting a projector from some unknown location, and drinking spiked Kool-Aid while wearing sweat pants and Nikes.

Long story short, we went and bought an HD projector from Best Buy, based on recommendations from several tech-savvy friends. This turned out to be the best decision of the entire, the decision that we were apparently course-corrected into. The image was absolutely perfect, it could not have been any better. With that out of the way, we were able to enjoy our tremendous effort to make the audience laugh and awkward. It was a wonderful experience, marred only by Diana's rump sitting on the DVD player during "Promote!" Luckily, it was my DVD player, so I know when it's powered off, it will restart exactly where it was if you just turn it back on. I still think it's hilarious that it happened. With the premiere over, drinking ensued.

And then it was Sunday. What do you do after all of that? Watch the Simpsons and nothing more. This week has been a breeze, I'm enjoying not doing much (except taxes, but I get a refund, which is going to a DVD-R Upconverting player with HD tuner card, hooray.).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Come to think of it, the Nazis weren't that bad either!

Glen Beck is stupidest putz on the planet:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Twinhead Production

As of today, we'll have been shooting for exactly one month. That's the 15th of February in this year two thousand and eight, so my planner tells me. And what a month. It's been one of the most logistically complex, rigorous, aggressive, and great shoots I've been on. But that's the thing, isn't it, is that it's not just one shoot but many many shoots. In this short amount of time, we've shot: a scene of high-class dialogue, a fashion show, a subversive documentary with politicians, a parody trailer, a party, a Southern party, a sports film, and some things that are really just beyond all reason and good taste. Even bad taste, for that matter.

February 22nd
"The Games Rich People Play"

Ah, the rich. How else to criticize excess than with excess (which seems to be something we're quite good at)? This was the first shoot I had to direct, which was strange to think about since I last directed "Me and My Bot" over a year ago. The scene is simple enough -- two couples sit and discuss some new territory. And the actors -- Geoff, Cherry, Diana, and Eli -- are so talented and fucking hilarious that I knew I didn't have much to worry about except the occasional suggestion. The big hurdle was the film-makin', remembering (or figuring out again), how to make all of this work.

I didn't draw up any storyboards for the scene, convinced that it would be pretty basic wide shot, two-shots, and then close-ups. Of course, this slightly bit me in the ass towards the end, but it looks and worked out just fine. I had never seen Diana's parents' house before (which was gorgeous and absolutely perfect!), so storyboarding beforehand seemed a little futile. It was a good reminder of how to think on one's feet during a shoot. However, I will never, ever go into a shoot without storyboards, because it's such a good time to think about composition and how to show character, dominance, etc., and to just be creative so don't end up shooting bland looking crap.

Alright, I will get pictures from this shoot as soon as possible.

"Gigli" Drinking Game


1. J. Lo showing up as expected - 1 drink
2. Dubious reason for using Gigli's phone - 1 drink
3. Showing off her bodacious curves - 1 drink
4. Anytime pseudo Rain Man says "Baywatch" - sip
5. Inappropriate music - sip
6. Every time Gigli says "Rhymes with 'really'" - 1 drink
7. Where are we? - optional 1 drink
8. Every time Gigli's hair is too big for the frame - 1 drink
9. What is happening? - Chug

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Real Top Ten

Just in time for the Oscars. I went to the AMC all day screening of the five Best Picture nominees yesterday. What a weird mess that was. It was cool, don't get me wrong, getting to see all five movies in a row and survive off mall food, sugar, and caffeine. But the crowd was not what I expected. Instead of raving film geeks eager to watch some of the best films from the year, it was mostly fat, middle-aged suburbanites looking to save a buck on their inevitably empty Saturday. After "There Will Be Blood," one of the fatter loudmouths got up at the end and said loudly enough so that all could hear, "I could have made that movie into five minutes" and then to her friend, "Thanks for not making me feel retarded. Terrible movie! Terrible!"

I had my own quiet revenge as the print for "Juno" was abysmal and blurry, thus ruining everyone's stupid fun. Plus, we all got free passes out of it. At the end, after Tommy Lee Jones recounts his highly important, metaphorical dream from "No Country for Old Men," the audience burst into angry interjections of "What!?" and "Ughhh!," a girl behind me declared "I'm never doing this again," and a man said, "One and a half out of five." His wife, presumably, said, "You give it 1/2 out of 5?" And he said, "No. One and a half out of the five movies was good." What a stupid fat shit. YOU CLEARLY DON'T ENJOY FILM, SO WHY BOTHER SEEING FIVE OF THE YEAR'S BEST IN A ROW????????

1. There Will Be Blood
2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
3. Zodiac
4. King of Kong
5. Michael Clayton
6. Into the Wild
7. Hot Fuzz
8. Paris Je T'aime
9. Control
10. Ratatouille

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Woman Under the Influence

I'm still slowly making my way through the John Cassavettes boxset I got two Christmases ago (nothing to speak of for the film noir boxset and the Hitchcock boxset from so long ago that I'm still working on). I sat down with a chai tea latte and watched "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974).

The most striking thing about the film is the idea of perception, being how society views behavior and how it labels that behavior. Gena Rowlands plays Mable, who's a very sweet, whimsical, although childish, mother. At first, she seems a bit overwound, but as the film moves forward, we see that her behavior is out of step with how we expect her to react. While it is odd, her behavior certainly is malevolent, just naive attempts at fun or humor. The point at which they're deemed unacceptable is announced by her husband, played by Peter Falk, often in the form of a loud reprimand.

At one point, he brings home a group of coworkers for lunch/dinner after a night shift. She doesn't introduce herself with a "Hello" or "My name is..." but instead asks, "Would you like some spaghetti?" Later at the dinner table, she begins asking the coworkers at random what their names are, and she asks one of the men to stand up and dance. He replies shyly, saying "No, I don't want to" or "I don't think so." Saying no but being pleasant and gentle about it.

It's at this point that Peter Falk tells her to "Sit your ass down!" that the scene becomes uncomfortable. The moment prior to this has tension, but it's benign, and we assume that she would have eventually given up asking the man to dance. But it's the declaration of Peter Falk that something extremely out of line and socially unacceptable is taking place. And I think there's weight and history behind the way he says it. It's not a sudden anger, but one that's always ready to surface in Falk's character. While he loves his wife and cares for her, it's the years of tension built from people asking what's wrong with his wife and dealing with her behavior that create this fury that can lash out and bring Mable back to Earth.

And this is no justification for his behavior. He often goes too far, screaming to the point of discomfort. And yet his wife's sanity is on the line, not his, because anger is an acceptable emotion, even in these extreme amounts. No matter how hot-tempered he gets, no one would say he's the one who's crazy. Her socially awkward behavior is what's under scrutiny because that's more unfamiliar, and we're not quite sure how to react to it. Anger makes more sense, in some regard, and becomes easier to react to and deal with. But the film shows clearly the damage involved in defaulting to anger to grapple with normalcy and acceptability.


This is the loveliest article I've ever read on the semicolon:

Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location

The whimsy and sort of nerdy joy celebrated in the article reminded me of my own nerdy joy. If watching films, reading film news, and writing about them were a paying job not coveted by every Ain't It Cool News reader who posts "First!," then life would be easier. Lately, a grain of thought that's been working in my mind is that I'm sick of waiting on a job or waiting to rely on a job like that. Obviously, if one were hired into that sort of ideal position, then that would be just perfect because it's just sitting there for you. But since that's an instance of waitin' and wishin', I dunno...I admire entrepreneurship. That's one of the things I most admire about Twinhead is their sort of natural camaraderie that comes from just wanting to do and create, and how work just blossoms from that desire.

I would definitely like this blog to become more geared towards production and following that along. I meant to take pictures during the shooting for "Are You the Love of My Life?" but next time, whatever we end up shooting this Friday.

In other news, I have been suddenly overtaken by chai tea lattes. Despite all of her efforts and orders of them, Katie hadn't converted me. No, it was a free sample in a box of Celestial Seasonings Green Tea and the adding of soy milk. It's not as harsh as getting a coffee and it puts me at ease, which I think is better for me. I love being fucking pepped up and going, but too many things can get distracting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

No, I discount Kroger!

So the other day Katie and I were looking for a bottle of wine, and when decided whether to get the 750 ml bottle or the 1.5 liter bottle, I noticed this strange discrepancy. Do you see it?

Without the Kroger discount, the larger bottle is the better value ($15.33 per liter). But with the discount, suddenly the 750 ml bottle is 67 cents cheaper per liter ($11.99 vs. $12.66). If you bought two of the smaller discounted bottles, thus equaling 1.5 liters, you'd be $1.02 richer than if you had bought the discounted 1.5 liter bottle. Wow, I know. I was amazed, too.

Sleep with one eye open Kroger, I'm watching you!


We are back from New Zealand. Every time we would tell someone, particularly New Zealanders, that we were only staying for a week, they'd say, "Only a week?" And we'd go "Blah blah we only have so much vacation time." And after the trip was over, I thought a week was definitely the right amount of time. Now looking back (all the way back an entire week) I think a week was short only in that I can't fully wrap my head around all we did. Still reeling from Arthur's Pass, which was definitely the highlight of the trip and featured the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. Sorry Sylva, NC. You're now a close second.

There is much to say about our trip, too much for one post. So, I'll probably break into up into a million smaller posts to give them their proper attention.

Maybe the air in New Zealand was too clean (and it really was. It was incredibly refreshing, and Christchurch was probably the cleanest city I've been in. Despite that, I still thought it was gross that people were walking around barefoot.), but within a few days, I have managed to get both strep throat AND the flu. It sucks, but on the upside Katie and I get to stay in and watch movies all day.

And I might spend more of today watching this:

Lost Theme Song

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Twinhead in 2D

So, we just had a meeting to discuss film ideas for this year, and I am very pleased and overwhelmed by how many ideas people came up with. 27, I think, was the final number. We're already forging ahead and figuring out screenings and planning what to shoot, it's a very exciting time. I can't wait to start shooting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

10 Days

Until New Zealand. Prepare for pictures, tales, etc.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Try this...

Step one:
Whatever the title of the article is, that's your band name.

Step two:
The last four words of the very last quotation on the page will be your album title.

Step three:
The third picture on the page will be your album cover.

Step four: Photoshop that shit.


I wish I worked at the Lost writer's office.